Between 75 and 100 Chinese ring-necked pheasants were let loose from a pen at the Queener Ridge Pheasant Company sometime Wednesday night, said Linn County Undersheriff Bruce Riley.
The ranch, located at 40485 Queener Dr. , raises the birds for “controlled release for the purposes of hunting and dog training,” Riley said.
A statement sent to Bite Back magazine — signed by the Animal Liberation Front — took responsibility for the act and “liberating (the birds) into the night sky.”
“Although the number of animals freed represented only a tiny fraction of the thousands more still held captive on this farm, we feel that every life saved — no matter how few — is a victory,” the statement said. “Ringneck pheasants are a naturalized species to this region … so we have no doubt that these animals can survive in the wild.”
The ranch disagreed. In a statement posted on its website , it said the released birds would likely die.
“If these numbskulls had brain one in their empty heads, they would know that pheasants are short flighted birds and stop flying after short distances,” the statement read. “They nest on the ground, and as such, are subject to extreme predation by many surrounding animals, including hawks, skunks, raccoons, etc.”
In any case, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident, which caused more than $4,000 in damage to one of the ranch’s pens, Riley said.
Those responsible face state charges — but possibly federal charges as well, Riley said, “because this is a form of domestic terrorism.”
Investigators ask anyone with information about the incident to call the sheriff’s office at 541-967-3911.