PORTLAND—Last week, the Humane Society of the United States and Predator Defense received the news that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and Lane County Sheriff’s Office needlessly killed a bobcat kitten who was found at Oak Hill School in Eugene, Oregon. Yesterday the groups learned that the kitten was not “humanely euthanized,” as ODFW claimed in multiple public statements. Instead, an agency official informed Predator Defense in an email that the kitten was killed by blunt force trauma to the head.

“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,” said Kelly Peterson, Oregon senior state director of the Humane Society of the United States. “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.”

“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 based out of Eugene, Oregon. “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.”

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association* the use of blunt force trauma is not a humane approach, nor is it euthanasia by definition. Euthanasia is a painless method to end a life to relieve pain and suffering. This kitten was not hopelessly sick or injured. Furthermore, the use of blunt force trauma to kill the bobcat kitten is not reflective of Oregon’s humane values. 

“I was dismayed with the unprofessional way ODFW handled the recent incident with the bobcat kitten at Oak Hill School that led to its death,” said wildlife ecologist John Laundré, Ph.D. “In public statements they seemed to indicate they made informed, professional, and concerned decisions, when in reality no ODFW personnel were actually at the scene. Consequently, the decision to kill the animal by using one of the most cruel methods possible was based on second-hand information and behavior they never actually observed.”

The groups are demanding that the matter be investigated, and the agencies held accountable for this indefensible act. They are calling for the ODFW Commission to take immediate action to prevent such situations from occurring in the future, including by updating the agency’s wildlife conflict response policies to prioritize nonlethal options whenever possible and by allowing only the most humane methods of euthanasia when lethal removal is necessary. 

*The American Veterinary Medical Association’s 2013 Guidelines on Euthanasia clearly defines when blunt force trauma may be used to euthanize an animal, which is only in rare circumstances.

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