Wandering sheep elude police, pose risks

Medford officer says animals are a Barnett Road traffic hazard
Rick Ash, owner of Advantage Appliance, attempts to herd a sheep with his delivery truck Wednesday near East Barnett Road in Medford. He was trying to help police, who hope to corral a pair of sheep that have been wandering in the area for at least a week. Mail Tribune / Julia MooreJulia Moore

A pair of wily sheep have made a patch of grass off East Barnett Road their home, escaping would-be captors and causing concern for police who say the animals pose a danger to traffic in the area.

Community service officers with the Medford Police Department tried to wrangle the sheep on Wednesday, but soon learned that the animals are fleet of foot.

The CSOs attempted to lasso the sheep but weren't able to get within hailing distance, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.

"If livestock gets loose in city limits, it's up to us to deal with them," Budreau said. "Just like bad guys, sometimes we have to take animals into custody."

The sheep — whose presence was first reported last week — graze in the grassy area that formerly held the off-ramp from Interstate 5 to Barnett Road. They have made camp near the pond there, but sometimes cross the road to explore the areas near the Dairy Queen and the baseball fields on the north side of Barnett.

On Wednesday, Rick Ash, who owns Advantage Appliance, was delivering a refrigerator when he saw the CSOs pursuing the sheep.

Ash decided to help wrangle the animals, as the CSOs appeared to be struggling to keep up with them.

"They need to be on a farm and not by the side of the road," Ash said of the sheep.

Ash tried to herd the sheep toward the CSOs, but the sheep outmaneuvered the wranglers.

They sprinted to the Dairy Queen parking lot and then to the Motel 6 on Alba Drive. Things got dicey when the sheep approached the motel, Ash said.

"I saw the sheep looking into an open door at the motel and I thought it was going to run inside," he said. "For a minute, I thought we were going to have to chase them through the motel rooms."

The sheep thought better of entering the motel and fled to the nearby ballfields.

Ash used his delivery truck to try to herd the sheep toward the CSOs, but the sheep were able to squeeze through a fence and escape for good.

The sheep certainly are cute critters, but they are not meant to wander the streets of Medford, Budreau said.

"It's actually a misdemeanor to allow your livestock to wander," Budreau said.

Police are attempting to contact the owners of the sheep, Budreau said.

If the sheep remain free for much longer, the department will call a team of volunteers to wrangle them and return them to the owners, Budreau said.

Until then, Budreau asks motorists in the area to be aware of livestock in the road.

"They can do serious damage to your car or could cause an injury accident," Budreau said. "We want them to be returned to their pen."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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