BOLTON — A Wellesley woman who was volunteering at a farm was killed Saturday when a sheep attacked her, police said.
Kim Taylor, 73, a retired nurse, was alone in a pen at Cultivate Care Farms, feeding livestock, when a sheep repeatedly rammed her, according to a Police Department news release.
Police and medical workers responded shortly after 9 a.m. Taylor, who went into cardiac arrest, was rushed to UMass Memorial — Marlborough Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
There were no witnesses to the incident, according to the farm.
Cultivate Farms, at 401 Main St., is a nonprofit farm that focuses on therapy, wellness and community outreach. The organization's website outlines its approach: "Through physical work and connection with the animals, clients gain insight into their own abilities for positive change within themselves and in relationships with others."
The farm has a range of animals including goats, sheep, alpacas and rabbits. Goat yoga is among its offerings. Some programs, such as a support group for teens, are headed by case managers.
Staff, volunteers run farm
Besides staff workers, volunteers help run the farm.
“Kim was beloved by all who worked with her during the 14 months she volunteered at the farm," Megan Moran, farm director, said in a statement. "I, along with the Cultivate Care Farms Board and the entire team, wish to express our deepest condolences and our heartfelt love and support to Kim’s family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.”
Cultivate said it was working with investigators to sort out the circumstances of the case. Safety measures are continuously reviewed, the farm said.
Taylor's family, in a statement distributed by Cultivate Care, said she enjoyed her work at the farm.
"Cultivate continually gave our mother so much joy through her volunteering, and we take solace in that,” Taylor's family said.
Taylor was a nurse at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Boston. She leaves two daughters and two grandchildren, according to her obituary.
Bolton Animal Control Officer Phyllis Tower is working with Cultivate Farm to determine the fate of the sheep involved in the attack, according to police.
The farm appeared to be closed to visitors Monday morning, with chairs and traffic cones obstructing its entrance. The farm's red barn had been decorated with wreaths and ornaments for a winter market scheduled Saturday, which was presumably canceled after the incident.
Not an uncommon occurrence
Injuries caused to people working with livestock are not uncommon, according to Dr. Mark J. Ledoux, a large-animal veterinarian based in Brookfield.
"I probably know of someone killed by every kind of livestock," Ledoux said. "You have to be careful with all livestock."
As to why a sheep might suddenly attack, Ledoux said there could be many explanations.
This time of year is the very end of the breeding season which could cause a ram — a male sheep — to act erratically. Such attacks in livestock are more often carried out by males, Ledoux said, though neutering can help deter some aggression.
And when these attacks happen, it's not necessarily motivated by the animal's desire to kill a human, he explained. Animals lack the logic to know that their actions could hurt someone and might be acting on their territorial nature or simply their desire to move from one place to another and someone is in the way, Ledoux said.
Part of the problem is that the relationships between people and livestock isn't always what it should be.
"People try to make these things into pets," he said. "We have to be very cautious with animals. It's not like Walt Disney cartoons."
Attacks can be relentless
Attacks by animals are as old as farming. A gravestone in a Warren cemetery details how the young man buried beneath it was killed off yoking a team of oxen more than 200 years ago.
Animal attacks can be relentless.
A New Braintree farmer tending his sheep in March of 2016 was brutally battered by a ram for at least 30 minutes, Hardwick-New Braintree Police Lt. Kevin Landine said.
"A customer who came to buy hay found him," Landine said. "He was semiconscious, was bleeding with injuries to his head and neck and had internal injuries."
The farmer languished for months, succumbing to his injuries six months later.
Ledoux said that most of the animals used in petting zoos are smaller, like Nigerian dwarf goats, and are female, but that doesn't mean they can't leave someone injured.
"They can knock you down," he said, adding that it's best to use caution and make good decisions about how to interact with livestock.
$1 for 6 months: Introductory telegram.com offer for new subscribers
This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Kim Taylor of Wellesley, volunteer at Cultivate Care Farms in Bolton, dies after attack by sheep