Suspicious piles of food test positive for poison, prompting warning from police
Suspicious food and substances left in an Evanston greenspace have tested positive for poison, prompting a warning from police.
Emergency crews were called to the Evanston Square N.W. area on Thursday, and again on Friday and Saturday where piles of food were found. Members of the Calgary Fire Department Hazardous Materials team were called in and the substances were determined to be poisonous.
“The first one was a mix of bird seed, bread crumbs and household solvents and lubricants, things that are easily purchased and just mixed together,” said Const. Dennis Smithson.
“The next one we found the following day had too much rain in it, we couldn’t get an analysis of it, and the third one was pizza crusts and leftover foods with peroxides and more solvents and such.”
Police are now working to determine who left the food there and why.
“CPS would like to remind citizens to call pest control professionals if they have a pest issue,” reads a release.
“Poisonous substances left unattended in public areas is a safety risk to all animals and small children, and is a criminal offence.”
Pet owners are being reminded to use caution when walking their animals.
The punishment for poisoning an animal illegally can include up to a $10,000 fine and up to five years in jail, said Smithson.
Children also regularly play at a nearby greenspace and playground, making it even more dangerous.
The amount of solvents and liquids found were enough to kill a small animal and could have made a child quite sick.
“Then we’d be looking at serious charges for poisoning,” said Smithson.
Nathalie Bechard, who comes to the area often with her children, was surprised when she noticed the pile of suspicious material.
"At first, I thought someone was being really sweet and they're just feeding the birds, but then I immediately thought about the post that I had seen."
She called officials about it and said a bylaw officer came right away.
"The bylaw officer that ended up taking care of everythiing confirmed that in the evening, after testing was completed, that there was hazardous chemicals."
Bechard adds the situation has made her very uneasy.
"I know that a few neighbours have felt the same," she says. "I think everyone is just a bit disappointed and on guard."
Valentina Renzi lives in the area and says the discovery is especially concerning as her kids play there.
“They’re always playing in the trees, they’re playing hide-and-seek, they’re climbing the trees, they’re on the playground, and the concern is not only for people’s pets but the wildlife and our own kids,” she said.
No deaths of animals or pets have been reported related to the poison.
Smithson said police have received a “vague” description of a possible suspect.
Anyone with information is asked to call the police non-emergency line at 403-266-1234 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
(With files from Bill Macfarlane)