EUGENE, Ore. – The Humane Society of the United States and Predator Defense are speaking out after learning the bobcat found at Oak Hill School was killed by “blunt-force trauma to the head.”
The groups said an agency official revealed this information to them in an email.
Earlier, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife claimed the animal was “humanely euthanized” after being found inside the school, saying it posed a danger because it was encroaching on a human dwelling.
“Let’s be clear, this bobcat kitten posed no threat to anyone,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of the national wildlife advocacy group Predator Defense. “And unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Most of these cases go unnoticed by the general media because ODFW always says they ‘humanely euthanized’ the animal. They didn’t. It didn’t meet that criteria. They killed it. In my 40+ years of working with wildlife, I’ve never seen a more brutal, callous example of this agency’s indifference to an animal in need of a helping hand—like letting it out the window.”
The Humane Society said the use of blunt-force trauma is not considered humane by the American Veterinary Medical Association and is not classified as “euthanasia,” which they describe as applying only to painless methods to end life to relieve pain and suffering.
Oregon State Police spokeswoman Mindy McCartt said in a statement to KEZI 9 News that OSP and ODFW follow AVMA guidelines and blunt-force trauma is a recognized method to humanely euthanize an animal.
In the statement, McCartt described why the bobcat was killed in the way it was:
"An Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Trooper responded to the situation at the school along with Lane County Sheriff Deputies. After the bobcat, which was exhibiting abnormal behavior, was captured on the end of a catchpole by a responding Deputy it was able to be removed from the school. The Deputy was able to get the animal outside the school, however with the Deputy's close proximity to the animal, the Trooper dispatched the bobcat in the safest manner to ensure the safety of the Officer. Based on the abnormal behavior of the juvenile bobcat and in consultation with ODFW wildlife biologists, OSP euthanized the bobcat using blunt force trauma."
McCartt also noted that euthanasia drugs can only be administered by a licensed veterinarian and discharging a firearm carries with it safety concerns.
Earlier in the day, the Humane Society of the United States issued the following statement from Humane Society Oregon Senior State Director Kelly Peterson:
“The bludgeoning of a young animal, whose only wrongdoing was being in the wrong place at the wrong time, underscores an indifference to the welfare of the wildlife they’ve been sworn to protect. There is no excuse for such an inhumane action when, as we’ve seen with the second bobcat who was found at the same school and released unharmed earlier this week, the first kitten could have easily received that same treatment. We implore ODFW to listen to the intense backlash it’s received and adopt a policy prioritizing nonlethal responses to wildlife conflicts.”
Officials said the second kitten that was found was released back to the wild because it was not found inside a building.
The Humane Society and Predator Defense are demanding an investigation and want the agencies held accountable. They also want the ODFW Commission to work to prevent future situations and update their wildlife conflict response policies, prioritizing non-lethal options and allowing only the most humane methods of euthanasia when necessary.