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Animal predator disrupts peaceful farm life

"Photo: Mel Ogden, Sr., stands in the pen with his two dead pygmy goats. Whatever killed them escaped over the fence with the third goat in its jaws.JIm Larsen / staff photoFor 30 years Frances and Mel Odgen, Sr. have enjoyed their barnyard paradise, but now something is killing their animals.Tuesday at midnight a large dog or some other animal vaulted a five-foot-high steel wire fence, killed two baby pygmy goats and then jumped back over the fence, apparently with the third, bigger goat held in its jaws.Wednesday morning, the two little victims, about 10 pounds each, lay dead in the grass in their pen, each with its windpipe bitten through. About a month earlier an adult pygmy goat twice their size was killed and disembowled at the site.Those aren't the only animals the Odgens have lost at their farm, located at the corner of Maxwelton and Midvale roads. For years it has been a peaceful place, with ducks, chickens, turkeys, geese and goats enjoying themselves in their protective pens. Frances likes to sit in a chair by a picnic table, shaded by one of their many trees, listening to the cackles, quacks and honks, and watching the goats play. But now there's a pall over the farm; the animals have been moved to the pens closest to the house; and the Ogdens wait for the killer to strike again.In 30 years we've never had this problem, said Mel Odgen as he looked at the two dead goats. The missing goat he estimated at 20 pounds in weight. We lost a goose and some chickens, Ogden said. We figured 'coons, but this was no raccoon. He noted that the goats were double fenced, so the predator actually had to negotiate two fences to reach to its prey. It had to be a big dog, he said.The Ogdens' grandson, Jason, 20, heard the goats bleating that night, but by the time he got to the pen the killer was gone. We heard the goats screaming, and he heard one dog going over the fence, Me said. It's not easy to get over.Perhaps it was the same animal that killed 11 of their 20 English call ducks, one of their 20-pound geese, and a turkey. But their bodies weren't found littering the ground. You don't find'em dead -- they're gone, said Francis Ogden. Another time recently, 20 chickens were killed. He left 'em laying there with their heads bit off, she said.Island County Animal Control Officer Carol Barnes visited the Ogden farm on Friday. She too was amazed that a dog could carry a goat over the fence. She said a racoon might have killed the chickens, but not necessarily. I had a dog bite the head off a duck a little while ago, she said. She advises other animal owners in the area to take extra precautions.The Ogdens are frustrated and ready to take action themselves against the killer animal. Mel said they'll put another goat inside a cage, and wait for the predator to come.We're going to bait 'em and we're going to shoot the dog. That dog's going to die if we get a chance, said Frances.Barnes said it's legal to kill a dog that is killing livestock. It is illegal for anyone to let a dog off their own property unless it's on a leash. Anyone in the area with similar problems is asked to call Animal Control at 321-5111. "

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