Animal sanctuary searching for sheep on the lam near E.C. Row Expressway

A Dresden, Ont., animal sanctuary is trying to locate — and rescue — two sheep that have been spotted on and around the E.C. Row Expressway in Windsor.

Charlotte's Freedom Farm and its volunteers have taken two trips out to the area to find the animals in recent days.

It's not clear who owns the sheep but the organization believes they escaped from a vehicle somehow because they're within the city, where sheep aren't permitted.

"The assumption is they jumped out of some sort of transport at that spot," said Charlotte's Freedom Farm founder Lauren Edwards.

The animals are believed to have been out there for a few weeks. A dash cam video posted to a popular Windsor social media group on June 17 shows a sheep in the middle of the expressway with traffic on the road.

Two missing sheep are believed to be on in the area near École Secondaire E.J. Lajeunesse off the E.C. Row Expressway in Windsor.
Two missing sheep are believed to be in the area near École Secondaire E.J. Lajeunesse off the E.C. Row Expressway in Windsor. (Mike Evans/CBC)

Based on what they saw on social media, the group went out to the area, near École Secondaire E.J. Lajeunesse, last week — at that time looking for one animal.

The sheep, however, was on the expressway itself and safety was a concern. The volunteers could not catch it.

"We needed a bit of a better plan," said Edwards.

Volunteers put out food for the sheep missing off the E.C. Row Expressway in Windsor.
Volunteers put out food for the sheep missing off the E.C. Row Expressway in Windsor. (Mike Evans/CBC)

After preparations were made, a larger group went on a second trip on Sunday.

They learned the sheep had relocated in a fenced area off the expressway, and while the location was safer, the size of the area and dense brush made it harder to catch, Edwards said.

The group also found out they had double the work on their hands when they spotted a second sheep.

The pair are estimated to be about six months old and 40 to 50 pounds, Edwards said. Because of their age when they escaped, Edwards says she believes they were raised for consumption. One is white with a dark face and the other is tan.

Edwards said they didn't have a good chance of catching them because of the size of the area and the animals' fear of humans. Volunteers left them food and water.

"They are fast and they are terrified," Edwards said.

As of Monday afternoon, at least one of the sheep was still in the area. It was spotted by a CBC video producer.

Edwards hasn't given up on catching them.

She says the group is open to advice and looking at additional options to help capture the sheep such as using traps, tranquillizer guns, herding dogs and tracking them with trail cameras.

But the sheep will be hard to trap since they have an unlimited supply of food to graze on, and there's a risk to any herding dogs if they enter the roadway, Edwards said.

"We need a one-in-a-million rescue to happen twice now to rescue both of them," she said. "Worst case is obviously we get a phone call that they've caused an accident or been hit by a car."

Edwards is discouraging anyone from going out there to search for the sheep on their own.

Once caught, the group wants to give the sheep a home. Charlotte's Freedom Farm is a non-profit that is home to more than 200 animals, including six sheep.