OSU has “deactivated” the snares it put around its sheep farm after Eugene-based Predator Defense and OSU neighbors protested the lethal traps that they say have caught and killed everything from raccoons to coyotes to a baby fawn.
Neighbors say traps have been within 200 feet of at least one home, and well within the range of children, dogs and cats.
The snares, which were set by the USDA’s Wildlife Services, “wantonly destroy predators and target anything coming through that fence,” according to Brooks Fahy of Predator Defense.
Neighbor Pamela Darcy has lived near the OSU sheep farm since 1982. She says her dog has been caught in the traps and alleges that in the past an OSU shepherd killed a puppy for wandering under the fence and also killed another neighbor’s dachshund, “all in the name of protecting the sheep.” She wonders why the school has not made more use of the llamas that once effectively and nonlethally patrolled the fence.
OSU says that last year at least 12 lambs and ewes were killed in a single night in a suspected coyote attack.
But Fahy argues that the school should explore nonlethal methods, such as trained guard dogs and guard llamas, and better fencing before turning to what he calls the “cruel” method of snaring and trapping.
“These animals suffer,” he says. “I don’t think we can overstate that. They linger and die over a period of days or chew their feet off.”
Also, he says if a coyote can kill 12 sheep while snares are set, the method isn’t working.
Fahy says ironically, while one department uses Wildlife Services, which he calls a “rogue agency,” to trap and kill predators, OSU scientists in another department publish studies on how predators are a necessary part of a healthy ecosystem.
While OSU has removed the traps, Fahy says he has not been assured that the lethal methods won’t be brought back.
Fahy questions what having a government agency set traps teaches students. “It’s beyond belief they are having Wildlife Services doing the work for them,” he says, adding, “It indoctrinates the students: ‘If you have a problem, call the government.’”
Fahy has worked with Congressman Peter DeFazio to end federal funding for Wildlife Services, which kills predators through means such as trapping, aerial gunning and poisons.