CORVALLIS, Ore. - Temporary snares put in place at the Oregon State University sheep barn to protect hundreds of animals involved in education and research are being deactivated, after several community organizations and individuals expressed concern about the traps.

The 16 snares were placed on interior fences around the barn by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Wildlife Services program, as part of a program to protect livestock in areas where predators present a problem. They served as a last line of defense for about 250 ewes, and in coming weeks, an expected 400 lambs -- especially vulnerable to coyotes and other predators -- as well as for the staff who work round the clock at the facility during lambing season.

Federally approved and commonplace on many farms throughout Oregon, the snares supplemented other, non-lethal deterrents OSU has in place at the facility, including full perimeter fencing, cross fencing, two kinds of electric fencing and three guard llamas. Despite those deterrents, some animals are able to navigate their way through to interior fencing and encounter the snares.

Sheep at the facility are used in education and research at OSU, and the extra layers of protection have been necessary to ensure their safety. As was noted in media coverage last week, a coyote was fatally trapped in one of the snares last month. Last year, at least 12 lambs and ewes were killed in a single night in a suspected coyote attack.

While the snares have been used appropriately and for the purpose for which they were intended, the university has deactivated them and is working to enhance other deterrents during this sensitive breeding time. Officials with the College of Agricultural Sciences and USDA will assess safety and protection measures at the barn and determine whether protection is sufficient to safeguard the sheep entrusted to their care.

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