Wandering sheep lead to strife in suburbs

Dozens of sheep are roaming in southwest suburban Cook County, and that's not going over well in unincorporated Lemont.
May 1, 2013 8:55:15 AM PDT
Police calls. Trespassing claims. Now a lawsuit. They're all over a herd of sheep grazing in an unincorporated area of southwest suburban Lemont.

"No one believes me when I tell 'em we have sheep running around our backyard," said neighbor Dale Yirsa.

"I came home from the store one day and the dogs trapped me in my car! They wouldn't let me out," said neighbor Pat Yirsa.

"My main concern is I have two small kids. We can't even go outside because we don't know when we're going to have sheep or dogs in our yard," said neighbor Heather Ellis.

Heather Ellis snapped pictures as a herd of sheep shuffled into her yard. And with them, came intimidating dogs.

PHOTOS:See a photo gallery of the suburban sheep herd

Neighbors say they've called the police, they've called animal control, and they've tried to talk to the owner.

"I'm human and certain things have happened but there's no desire on my part to cause a problem," said Andrew Tokarz, the Cook County sheepherder.

ABC 7 Chicago found sheepherder Andrew Tokarz after a nearly half-mile hike. His property isn't reachable by road. He invited ABC 7 Chicago though a ragged fence and "in" to what he sees as his little slice of heaven.

"This project is more of a labor of love than a direct return and economic benefit," said Tokarz.

Tokarz's flock of 50 sheep includes many little lambs. He uses the adults to graze his land and others' for money. The lambs get sold for meat.

Tokarz sees himself as the ultimate urban farmer. As for the feud with his neighbors?

"They had access to the property. They weren't owners. They weren't paying property taxes. They were using it no cost involved, just pure benefits. Everyone would like that," said Tokarz.

The deputy commissioner of Cook County's zoning department tells ABC 7 sheep herding is a legal use for the 25-acre property. However, neighbors are fighting the sheepherder's attempt to connect his property to a road that cuts through their community.


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