By MITCH LIES
Vandals, who identified themselves as members of an eco-terrorist group, have struck a Scio, Ore., pheasant breeding operation, cutting down a fence and releasing 75 birds into the wild, according to the operation’s owner.
Gary Bochsler said the vandals cut open a 200-foot long fence in freeing the birds.
Bochsler breeds the birds to sell to game preserves in Oregon for hunting.
“Most of these birds probably will not live very long,” Bochsler said March 16, less than 48 hours after the vandals struck.
“There are probably not more than 20 percent of these birds still out there,” he said.
The vandals, in an e-mail sent to the Capital Press by an animal liberation website and magazine, said they “infiltrated” the farm the night of March 14. They identified themselves as members of the Animal Liberation Front.
The Linn County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crime.
In the e-mail from Bite Back magazine and website, they characterized ringneck pheasants as specifically bred to retain their wild characteristics and instincts. “We have no doubt that these animals can survive in the wild upon release,” they said.
Bochsler, who has operated Queener Ridge Pheasant Co. for four years, disputed the assertion.
“I don’t know how many of these birds they’ve raised, but I can tell you that’s not true,” Bochsler said. “There are a lot of predators around here, and the birds have been on feed, so when they get out there, they don’t know what they are looking for to eat.”
“Hardly any birds” were present on March 14, he said, because it is the end of pheasant hunting season.
He didn’t have a damage estimate, but said the cost was minor.
“The problem is now I’ve got to stop it somehow,” Bochsler said. “I’ll have to put up lighting and booby traps: Try to catch them just like I catch the varmints, like I catch the skunks.”