Increased security at the Pierce College farm has been requested after a report of a stolen sheep was filed with the campus Sheriff’s Department late last month.
On the morning of Monday, April 20, student-worker Stacy Carpio discovered a newly-tagged baby sheep was missing. The one-week-old male, known as a ram lamb, disappeared from a locked pasture. A hole was found in the pasture’s fencing.
“Stacy told us there had been a lamb stolen from the sheep unit and that she was the one who discovered the cut fence,” said Joan Ostergren, an animal science agricultural enterprise student.
Agriculture and natural resources department chair Leland Shapiro, the director of the pre-veterinary science program, said he believes it is a person, not a coyote, responsible for the animal’s disappearance.
“It was behind an eight foot high fence,” Shapiro said. “So it’s not possible for a coyote, and if somehow it was possible for the coyote to get in, there would be drag marks and blood.”
Ostergren worked with the sheep this semester, and performed various medical procedures as part of the Animal Science 506 lab course.
“Is it an inside job? Is it a student or somebody that works here that decided to take the animal,” Ostergren asked. “I would hope not.”
Shapiro confirmed that though instances are “rare,” animals have been stolen from the farm in the past.
“It’s mainly equipment people steal, like copper and wire,” Shapiro said. “But we have the Sheriff here and if they look and catch them, they’ll be arrested.”
Shapiro asked the deputies to monitor the farm more at night, and said he was told by vice president of administrative services Rolf Schleicher that the school has ordered more cameras for the property.
If found, the suspect could potentially face charges of grand theft. Section 487 of the California Penal Code defines the unlawful and intentional taking of any farm products valued at more than $250 as grand theft. Section 487 explicitly includes horses, sheep, pigs and crops in the law’s language. Shapiro estimated that the ram lamb was “probably worth a couple hundred dollars.”
“I would hope that when they go to jail and get convicted,” Shapiro said. “It would be known among the prisoners that they cruelly took an animal.”