By Logan Smith

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) — Eight sheep penned at Colorado State University’s research facility died late last year in two separate attacks by predatory cats. An animal rights group that monitors abuses of animals at research facilities has now asked that CSU be punished.

Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN) referred to the deaths as negligent and asked for the federal government to levy a $10,000 fine against CSU for each of the deaths.

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Four adult sheep were killed in two separate attacks between October 19th and November 23rd, according to a copy of a USDA inspection report that accompanied the SAEN press release. A bobcat was believed responsible for the first attack, and either a bobcat or mountain lion for the second.

Some of the sheep were found dead. An unknown number were euthanized due to their injuries.

The USDA report classified the incidents as a critical violation of the Animal Welfare Act’s regulations for outdoor facilities.

The sheep were housed in a two-acre paddock lined by 10-foot panels of “no-climb” wire – except at a 6-foot-high gate of the same material.

“Perimeter fences are not required for domesticated farm-type animals, such as sheep, as long as the facility has effective security measures in place,” the USDA inspector’s report stated. “These multiple predation incidents indicate that security measures are not effective to protect the animals from harm.”

(credit: CBS)

“Security measures used must be effective in protecting the animals. A corrective plan with a reasonable timeline for completion must be developed.”

Mike Hooker, a CSU spokesman, told CBS4 the university consulted personnel from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife after the first attack and hired a trapper. That was not successful.

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After the second attack, “Additional traps were set up, motion sensor lights were installed, and a radio was provided and played at all hours in the area where the remaining sheep are housed, to discourage these predators. There have been no further incidents of predation.”

Hooker also noted that the Cameron Peak Fire was burning at the time, pushing wildlife out of the mountains eastward.

The CSU Foothills Campus where the attacks occurred sits west of Fort Collins against the foothills.

The University reported the incidents to its Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and also notified the National Institutes of Health which was funding studies on the sheep that were killed.

“The accusations made by SAEN are misleading,” CSU’s Hooker explained. “Reducing livestock loss due to predators is an age-old challenge across Colorado. At CSU we deal with the same challenge.”

A research analyst for SAEB, Stacey Ellison, said “It is clear the staff of this facility is unable or unwilling to do the minimum necessary to keep the animals in outdoor pastures safe. This carelessness and negligence must be punished so corrections can be made.”

On Monday, the same day SAEN’s press release was received in the newsroom, CBS4 asked SAEN to comment on the legalities distinguishing predation at a research facility from predation at a livestock operation. A response has not been received.


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Logan Smith