Five deer were found dead in a field near Smith Rock by neighbors in the area in the past week. Oregon State Police determined the cause was accidental poisoning.
“One of us had lived up there since the middle-70s and none of us had seen anything like this,” neighbor Gene Rohus said.
On Friday afternoon, Rohus‘ son was scanning the field near his family’s homestead when something caught his eye.
“He saw groups of crows on what looked to be deer bodies. He was glassing it and he counted four out there,” Rohus said.
As a former hunter, Rohus‘ initial reaction to the dead deer was a case of poaching.
“It’s totally irritating because that’s the first thing you think of is, ‘Well, somebody’s just out here shooting animals’ and it’s a resource that will eventually go away if it isn’t curtailed,” Rohus said.
Upon further inspection, Rohus noticed jugs of farming chemicals scattered in the area near where the deer were found. He also says he saw OSP disking — a form of soil management — near where the jugs were laying. He realized those were likely the culprit.
“Yesterday when I came by, I noticed that they’d had either a harrow or a disc out, and had disked that up. So it made pretty good sense to us that it was probably poisoning with the jugs,” Rohus said.
In an email, OSP told Central Oregon Daily that troopers determined the animals were unintentionally poisoned and cited that it was actually rodent poison that had spilled from a bag in the area.
Rohus and his family are just grateful for OSP’s swift response to figuring out what was going on.
“This is our neighborhood. We don’t live in town, but this is our neighborhood. And as long as we’ve lived here, we want it to stay the same without something catastrophic. You know someone doing something they shouldn’t be doing, and changing it.” Rohus said.
OSP said it is not pursuing any charges as the case is believed to be unintentional. Police also said it is always important to be aware of substances that may be harmful to wildlife and to clean up any spills to avoid unintended consequences.