Farmer outraged at crop damage caused by irresponsible driver

By Kirsten Dennis
August 11, 2017 - 7:10am

SYLVAN LAKE - A local farmer is both outraged and saddened by the damage done to his family’s crops Monday night by a large vehicle.

Dennis Duncan of Coulee Ridge Farms, near the north shore of Sylvan Lake, said he found the damage Tuesday morning and thought it was just a small loop in his field, which they’ve seen happen before.

“Then I got down on the highway and looked up and went what the heck is going on up on the hillside. So I walked into the crop and thought oh my god, look at this mess. I tried to take some pictures but that didn’t really work,” said Duncan.

With the use of a drone camera, he was able to get better pictures of the extensive damage, showing the numerous loops through the wheat.

“We knew it was a big 4 x 4. It happens quite regular, but it’s usually only a loop out thirty or forty feet," he explained. "This was spinning donuts and ripping up the ground; it was pretty major.”

The damage will affect Duncan’s ability to harvest that area on top of the crop loss caused during the vehicle’s joy-ride. Duncan added that the monetary value is hard to estimate, but that insurance does not cover this type of damage.

“It’s pretty well a direct loss to us," he said. "It’s just the frustration of raising a beautiful crop and the satisfaction of harvesting and having something like this happen is just, not devastating, but it’s sure upsetting.”

Duncan, a third generation farmer, said the family has seen damage in the past and that the neighbouring farms see it as well. He added that in recent years the extent of damage and quantity of garbage in the fields has increased.

“I think it’s just an ongoing thing in the community where we are finding more and more garbage in our fields and this type of things. It’s just frustrating and aggravating and there’s no recourse or anything that will change it,” he said.

Damage used to be caused by ATVs but Duncan said that with the new county rules they’ve seen a decrease in those incidents. The majority of damage caused to the fields now by non-weather events has been vehicular, he added.

After posting his experience to Facebook, Duncan said he received numerous comments of people saying the family should put up fences.

“If we were to fence all our land, 2000 acres, it would be $100,000 and in the winter with the snowmobiles they just snip the wires anyway. So it would deter vehicles, but it’s just an excessive cost we can’t justify," Duncan said.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Duncan and his wife woke at 12:30 a.m. to headlights shining into their bedroom and a loud muffler. The vehicle was stealing gas and the cuplrits managed to commit six other thefts in the neighbourhood that same night.

“[On Facebook], we got so many comments that people said ‘oh we are so sorry’ but the basics of what I was trying to do, I wasn’t trying to get sympathy, I was just wanting to show people what’s going on out here and how frustrating it is that there’s no consequences.”

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