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MailTribune.com
  • Heat wave kills up to 40 sheep in Marion County

  • PORTLAND — A heat wave reaching a peak early this week in Oregon appears to have claimed the lives of up to 40 sheep in Marion County.
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  • PORTLAND — A heat wave reaching a peak early this week in Oregon appears to have claimed the lives of up to 40 sheep in Marion County.
    Circling buzzards led neighbors to discover more than a dozen sheep with full-grown wool that had dropped dead of the heat in a field near Turner, authorities said.
    On Monday, the sheriff's department said deputies had found 30 to 40 of the animals dead and decomposing. More than 200 survived in the 80-acre field covered with standing green grass.
    Deputies who went to the field Sunday evening gave the remaining sheep water and food, sheriff's office spokesman Don Thomson told Salem Statesman Journal.
    A caretaker told deputies he was looking after the sheep for his grandfather, and had checked them recently but hadn't seen that any of them had died, Thomson said.
    The deaths remained under investigation, and the case would go to the district attorney's office to determine if there's evidence of neglect or if a crime was committed, Thomson said.
    The deaths came as the state expected high temperatures to continue through Wednesday, with some relief expected after that. Monday and today were expected to be the hottest days with highs in the interior of Western Oregon in the 90s and highs on the east side of the Cascades over 100.
    Meteorologist Shawn Weagle in Portland said the heat wave is unusual for its humidity.
    "A lot of times when we get into the 90s, there's still a dry offshore flow that helps us cool off," he told the Eugene Register-Guard. "But when it's humid like on the East Coast, it's a little more oppressive. Our natural cooling systems here don't work as well."
    Moisture from the rain that fell before the start of the current heat wave may be a contributing factor.
    "The ground started off a bit wet, and then the heat wave came right after," Weagle said. "The winds have been rather calm since the whole thing started, so there's been nothing to scour out the humidity."
    State officials advised workers to take precautions and said that 35 Oregonians had gotten workers compensation benefits for heat-related illness from 2008 to 2012.
    "Workers in Oregon aren't acclimated to working in this type of heat," said Penny Wolf-McCormick of Oregon OSHA.
    "It's important to drink water, seek shade during the day, and recognize the signs of trouble."
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