Vandals killed 50 pheasants at Richland High School and allowed dozens more to escape, according to a release from the Richland School District.
Officials said maintenance employees found vandalism at the district’s athletic fields Wednesday morning including a tipped portable toilet and a tipped piece of irrigation equipment valued at $4,400.
At 5 p.m. the same day the high school agriculture teacher was checking on a pheasant-raising project, and found a shed was forcibly entered. The teacher found dead birds on the floor and the watering mechanism tipped over. A second shed was also entered where more dead birds were found and three walls were damaged to the point that birds could escape, according to the release.
Out of 150 pheasants in the program, 50 were found dead and about 50 escaped.
"It absolutely goes to another place. I think we have the same question everybody has. 'Why? What's the purpose of this? What did this wildlife do to anybody around here to deserve something like this?'" Richland Center High School Principal Jon Bosworth said.
The district said the pheasant-raising project is funded by the local FFA chapter. The project raises day-old chicks from June to October, and then releases them into the wild on local landowner’s property
“Not only is this a horrible loss of pheasants, but a real blow to a student project that benefits classroom studies and local land owners,” the release stated.
Richland Center police are working with school district officials who believe both incidents are related.
School officials have decided to continue with the pheasant-raising project, which is in its 16th year at the school. They are hoping some of the birds that escaped will return to the enclosure in search food and water.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call Richland Center police at 608-647-2103 or Crime Stoppers at 608-647-2583.