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Central Alberta village pleads guilty to improper application of pesticide in case that saw 2 dogs die

A photo of a sign that was posted at the CJ Peacock Centre in Cereal, Alta., after strychnine was applied in the area.
A photo of a sign that was posted at the CJ Peacock Centre in Cereal, Alta., after strychnine was applied in the area. Supplied by Alberta Environment and Parks

The Village of Cereal, the village’s foreman and a campground caretaker have pleaded guilty to improper application of a pesticide in a 2017 case that saw two dogs ingest strychnine and later die in central Alberta.

Alberta Environment and Parks issued a news release on Thursday to say the central Alberta village and village foreman Kenneth William Rude each pleaded guilty to one count involving the improper application of strychnine under the Pesticide Sales, Handling, Use and Application Regulation.

The ministry said campground caretaker Darcy Gene Olds pleaded guilty to a different count under the same regulation involving the improper application of RAMEX. However, other charges they had been facing were withdrawn.

According to an agreed statement of facts, the Village of Cereal applied strychnine and RAMEX “in a manner of at a time or place that causes or is likely to cause an adverse effect” on or about June 6, 2017.

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Strychnine was applied in the area of the CJ Peacock Centre, which has served as the community’s council chambers, municipal office, community centre, public gym, library and playground. RAMEX was applied in the area of the village’s campground, which is next to a baseball diamond.

Alberta Environment and Parks began its investigation after the department learned of two dogs ingesting strychnine near the baseball diamond in late July during Cereal Sports Days. Both animals died.

READ MORE: Alberta does not support federal proposal to ban strychnine against gophers

According to the agreed statement of facts, the village council passed a motion several weeks before the pesticides were applied to “treat the grounds at the CJ Peacock Centree for gophers.”

Rude was asked to take care of the problem and told council he was “just going to get some poison and poison [the gophers].”

Rude used strychnine which he had stored in his garage by mixing the liquid with oats, aplying the mixture to a stick and throwing them down gopher holes near the centre and playground. He then posted signs to indicate the area had been “treated for gophers” but did not mention strychnine had been used. He later acknowledged he should not have used the product.

Olds was instructed by the local board of trade to deal with gophers in the campground and the agreed statement of factsshows his idea was to “exterminate them.”

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Olds spooned pellets of RAMEX to some gopher holes and signage was put up after.

The Village of Cereal has been fined $5,000 for its role in the pesticide applications plus an additional $750 victim fine surcharge.

Rude and Olds have each been fined $2,500 plus a $375 victim fine surcharge.

Cereal is located about 300 kilometres east of Calgary.

Watch below: (From July 7, 2016) A warm and dry spring has created the ideal conditions for the gopher population, and as Global’s Sarah Komadina explains, farmers are looking for new ways to manage the rodent, and protect their crops.

Farmers looking for ways to protect crops as gopher population rises
Farmers looking for ways to protect crops as gopher population rises