Barbara Ronchetti, owner of Island Alpaca Farm on Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs, said Tuesday that vandals struck her farm sometime between Wednesday night, August 26, and the following morning, resulting in injury to one of her animals.
Thursday morning the alpacas were found in a different pasture from where they were left Wednesday evening, and a 16-foot gate panel was down and a 16-foot board removed. Several split-rail fences were broken.
In addition, one alpaca and her baby, who had been confined in a small paddock that night, were found released from the paddock. The two, Purl and Paloma, were put in the paddock due to the baby having a small injury.
“It’s impossible for an alpaca to open that gate, the way we had it secured,” Ms. Ronchetti said.
The following day, a staff member lifted the tail of Purl, the mother alpaca, to take her temperature, after noticing the alpaca displaying lethargic behavior and not standing up all day. The staff member noticed Purl’s whole back end was swollen.
Veterinarian Dr. David Tuminaro of Caring for Animals said it looked like bruising trauma.
“So we thought it was a weird coincidence that this was the only alpaca that was confined and that was easy to catch and easy to grab and easy to hold, or easy to sit on, or easy to slap with a piece of wood or something,” Ms. Ronchetti said. “It could be that she’s down because she’s potentially got a fractured pelvis or something like that.”
She said Purl is now doing better, and is able to stand up enough to nurse Paloma, her 2-week-old baby.
Farm staff contacted the Oak Bluffs Police, who responded and said they would patrol the area more frequently at night.
“The sad thing is she’s one of our best females, and ideally in Mother Nature, they’re most receptive to rebreed two weeks after they give birth,” she said. “But sadly we’re not going to be able to rebreed her at all this year because of this injury. We wouldn’t dare risk damaging her any further.”
“Alpacas are harmless, and their only defense mechanism is to run,” she said. “It’s a sad thing; you never want to believe this could happen.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Oak Bluffs Police at 508-693-0750 or the Alpaca Farm office at 508-338-2886.