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Montreal goes wild for sheep

You’re not imagining things: there really are sheep quietly grazing at Parc du Pélican in the middle of the bustling urban borough of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie. These wooly celebrities are at the heart of an eco-pasture project called Biquette à Montréal, a recipient of one of WWF-Canada’s 21 newly awarded Go Wild Community Grants presented by TELUS. The goal of the pilot project is threefold: trim, teach and celebrate.

Two of the seven resident sheep in Parc du Pelican, in the borough of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, Montreal, Quebec. © Laurence Cayer-Desrosiers

Two of the seven resident sheep in Parc du Pelican, in the borough of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, Montreal, Quebec. © Laurence Cayer-Desrosiers

Practiced in cities across Europe and with a growing presence in the northern United States, eco-pasture is an alternative and eco-friendly way to maintain urban green spaces with the help of our grass-eating friends. In the case of Biquette à Montréal, the herbivores in question are sheep. These helpful ruminants do an amazing job of replacing lawn mowers — they produce no carbon emissions, fertilize the soil naturally and help increase urban biodiversity by making the city more inviting to bird and insect species that usually make themselves scarce due to noise and mechanical equipment.

Two boys are curious to learn more about the sheep. © Sophie Paradis

Two boys are curious to learn more about the sheep. © Sophie Paradis

This week, WWF-Canada’s Montreal team set out to pay a visit to the sheep and their caretaker, event founder Marie-Ève Julien-Denis. Along with her partner on the project and co-shepherd Laurence Perle Barchichat, they answer the public’s many questions about eco-pasture, teach visitors about its benefits, and of course, do everything possible to care for the sheep they love so much.

The sheep’s presence in the city is to do more than mow the lawn. They are creating a direct link to nature, and for Marie-Ève, the educational and participatory aspects of the project might just be the most important part. “We really want to create a place that brings people together around the sheep, to bring back that connection to wildlife that’s so often lost when we live in urban centres. People of all ages have told us what it means to them to connect with nature, and how peaceful it is to have animals in the middle of downtown,” she says.

The program for the project has intergenerational appeal, including educational workshops for kids, events on urban agriculture, an opportunity to be a shepherd for a day, a documentary screening, yoga and more. The sheep will be in the park until August 6. You can visit the project’s Facebook page for more information.

WWF-Canada received 255 innovative Go Wild proposals from across the country, including nearly 40 inspiring projects from citizens, community groups, schools and nonprofits in Quebec. By investing in projects that protect, restore and celebrate nature, Go Wild is empowering communities to keep nature top of mind and take a leadership role in conserving the natural environment around them. The final selection of Quebec’s two winning projects was made by well-known singer-songwriter and author Arthur L’aventurier.

Do you have an idea on how to help nature thrive in your community? Stay tuned this fall for your next opportunity to Go Wild with WWF-Canada and TELUS, or get inspired by other great projects at wwf.ca/gowild


  • CdnYsguy says:

    This is a great story, but it is incorrect to say sheep ‘produce no carbon emissions’. To begin with, sheep, like all respiratory creatures on earth, produce CO2 when they breath. These are considered biogenic emissions, and therefore are not counted in carbon accounting, but that doesn’t mean they don’t occur. More importantly, sheep and other livestock also produce methane and nitrous oxide, greenhouse gases that have 32, and 298 times the global warming potential of CO2 respectively. This is why livestock farming is so harmful to the climate.

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