Attempt to set deer free doesn't worry ranchers


by AP

Posted on October 17, 2010 at 7:11 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) -- Deer ranchers in Jackson County say they're not worried about their animals despite an act of sabotage last week against a deer ranch in Molalla.

A section of fencing was removed Saturday in an unsuccessful attempt to allow deer to escape into nearby forest.

An anonymous e-mail posted by the North American Animal Liberation Press Office claimed the incident was the work of the Animal Liberation Front.

Carol Ferrara has a state license to raise up to 63 deer on her White City farm and has been selling venison for 10 years. The Ferraras have suffered no vandalism and do not worry about being targeted by animal-rights extremists.

"It never entered into my mind that someone would be interested in that," she told the Mail Tribune.

If freed, she said, her deer would not survive in the wild. "These people are really stupid, pardon my description," she said. "They don't get it. These aren't wild deer."

Ferrara said captive deer would be quite simple to retrieve.

"All you'd have to do is hold up the red bucket and they'd come running," she said.

The anonymous e-mail on the North American Animal Liberation Press Office website said the fencing in Molalla was removed so captive deer could escape into surrounding forest.

"The venison meat industry remains small in this country, but as long as they exploit sentient animals, they will remain a target of the ALF," the message stated. "For the animals enslaved, mutilated and murdered by this society: we will be tearing down the fences to set them free."

FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele in Portland said agents are investigating the case. Steele called the vandalism minor and noted that no animals escaped.

Steele said ALF is not an organization with a hierarchy and membership, but a movement in which anyone could commit acts and take responsibility for it as an ALF act. The only other Jackson County person licensed to hold deer, Melinda Golis of Central Point, said she has fewer than a dozen animals that she received from a defunct Jacksonville ranch about 11 years ago. She does not sell or butcher them.

"They just need a place to be," Golis said.

Oregon has 24 ranches licensed to raise deer or reindeer, said Michelle Dennehy of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Ranchers may sell venison butchered at a licensed processing facility or may sell deer to another licensed facility, Dennehy said.

Under state law, captive deer and elk must be kept separate from wild stock to curb the risk of disease to wild animals, she said.