Briefs: Killer of 6 deer near Heppner sought

HEPPNER -- Authorities are looking for someone responsible for illegally killing six deer and leaving them to waste in Morrow County.

Sgt. Tim Brown of the Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division in Heppner said the deer -- which included a whitetail doe and four mule deer does -- were killed between Aug. 20 and Sept. 1 within five miles of the Heppner city limits.

Two deer were killed in Sanford Canyon, one in Lunceford Canyon, one along Balm Fork Road and one on Sand Hollow Road. All of the deer appeared to have been killed in the same manner, during the evening.

A reward of up to $250 is being offered through the Turn in Poachers (TIP) program, which is administered through the Oregon Hunters Association, for any information that leads to the arrest of a suspect or suspects.

Anyone with information in this case is asked to contact OSP Trooper Mike Mayer at (541) 561-7581 or the TIP hotline at 1-800-452-7888. Information may be kept anonymous.

Inbreeding threatens spotted owls

CORVALLIS -- Declines in populations of the endangered northern spotted owl are leading to inbreeding and a resulting lack of genetic diversity needed for survival, making the birds more prone to disease and other problems, a report by an Oregon State University scientist concludes.

The problem, a "population bottleneck," likely will make recovery even harder, said Susan Haig, a wildlife ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, at OSU.

"Previous recovery plans were reporting the birds were doing OK. They're not," said Haig.

She conducted the largest genetic study ever on endangered birds by taking blood samples from owls throughout the West.