Sunday August 31, 2014

Looking for love in wrong places

Ranchers feud in court over trespassing bulls

A heifer bull

Drawn by the lure of the opposite sex, they broke through fencing and crossed the Nicola River.

Once on the other side and downriver, bulls from Nicola Ranch smashed through another fence to get at the female cattle owned by neighbouring Chutter Ranch.

Not only did they breed with the heifers, causing overweight births, heifer and calf deaths as well as delivery problems, legal action filed in B.C. Supreme Court claims the bulls carried in their coats the burrs from a noxious weed, causing infestation on grasslands.

Chutter Ranch owner Dave Chutter filed a notice of claim seeking to overturn a provincial court judge’s ruling at a small claims hearing last year.

Documents filed in court claim the trespass by Nicola Ranch bulls happened over five years ending in 2009, when the ranch’s cow boss moved the bulls far away in order to prevent further problems.

Chutter is seeking $25,000 in compensation.

Documents filed in court show Chutter asked Nicola Ranch, owned by the Liu family, for compensation but was rebuffed.

“I attempted to settle the dispute in a neighbourly fashion and avoid going to court,” Chutter wrote in an affidavit.

Nicola Ranch eventually agreed to put up electric fencing or use other measures to stop the trespass, Chutter’s documents state. But it would not compensate.

“As an experienced rancher you should have realized the potential consequences of putting your cycling heifers next to them and made arrangements, or be prepared to accept the consequences,” stated a letter from Nicola Ranch.

After a pre-trial hearing, Chutter’s affidavit said a provincial court judge ruled the claim for damages on the heifers was outside a statute of limitations but the suit for weed infestation could move ahead.

Chutter is asking B.C. Supreme Court to overturn that decision and send both claims to a trial in small claims court.

Nicola Ranch has not yet filed a statement of defence.

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