Manitoba prosecutors to review 2012 hog barn case

Manitoba’s Chief Veterinary Office has completed its investigation of a hog barn in the province’s south-central region where 1,300 young pigs were euthanized last fall.

“The investigation has concluded and the file has been referred to the Crown prosecutor to determine if charges should be laid,” said a spokeswoman with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives.

Last August, officials responded to reports of animals in distress at the barn near Austin, about 50 km west of Portage la Prairie. The barn was in the midst of being depopulated by its operators, brothers Bernie and Menno Bergen.

The pair had been ordered to vacate the property, owned by HP Farm Equipment Ltd. At the time, a representative for the company said the Bergens were six years behind in their rent.

Provincial officials had offered the operators assistance in depopulating the barn, but the offer was declined.

When officials from the Chief Veterinary Office entered the barn they encountered a disturbing situation, requiring the euthanization of the 1,300 young hogs.

The incident attracted further attention when barn manager Tony Heppner went public, criticizing the use of small-calibre rifles in the euthanization process and defending the actions of staff at the facility.

Since that time, the operation has been under investigation for the inhumane treatment of animals under the Animal Care Act.

“Investigations such as this generally take six months to a year to complete,” said the spokeswoman, adding the Crown has up to two years to lay charges following an incident.

— Shannon VanRaes is a reporter for the Manitoba Co-operator in Winnipeg. A version of this article appeared in the Aug. 22, 2013 issue.

Related stories:
Province offered aid before pigs shot at Manitoba barn, Oct. 10, 2012
Man. workers’ shooting of pigs in ‘distress’ questioned, Sept. 7, 2012
Hundreds of weanling hogs euthanized at W. Man. farm, Aug. 28, 2012

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