Wikimedia Commons A historical photograph from 1910 shows sled dogs working in Ile-a-la-Crosse, Sask. Decades later, changes in northern life means descendants of dogs like these are left to roam the area as strays.

Each spring as dogs enter mating season, some people in northern Saskatchewan turn to culling.

Duane Favel, mayor of the remote village of Ile-a-la-Crosse, says during this time of year untagged canines that litter the streets are in heat and aggressive.

“They start bunching up outside the schools,” said Favel. “They become extremely dangerous.”

It’s been like this since Favel can remember. One explanation, he said, is northern society has changed and dogs are no longer necessary for transportation.

But without a permanent veterinarian to neuter animals or a bylaw enforcer to regulate pet owners, Favel said Ile-a-la-Crosse has few options.

“Sometimes we have to resort to culling, which is unfortunate because we certainly don’t want to do that,” said Favel.

He could not estimate how many dogs have been killed in the process.

A poster hung at the village office around three months ago, says administrator Diane McCallum, seeks pest control personnel who have firearm acquisition certificates.

Saskatchewan Dog Cull Poster

“It took a while before we got anyone,” said McCallum.

Even though most don’t want to shoot dogs, tragedies are fresh in the minds of those who live in isolated places.

This season, two young girls were attacked and killed in rural Manitoba on separate occasions. In 2009, a six-year-old boy was mauled in Ile-a-la-Crosse.

Favel said he is consulting with residents on an action plan and there is a need for a holding facility for dogs to stay until claimed or brought to a shelter, which could be difficult to finance.

Louise Bowden-Leonard, a supporter of animal rights based in Nova Scotia, says the federal and provincial governments should step in to help find better solutions and contraceptive methods. She shared the pest control ad from Il-a-la-Crosse on Twitter to raise awareness.

“It’s really tragic that these things need to constantly happen in order for anyone to realize there’s a problem,” said Bowden-Leonard.

A spokesperson with the Ministry of Government Relations in Saskatchewan, who requested not to be named, said animal control is not the province’s responsibility.

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