TURNER, Ore. Circling buzzards led neighbors to discover more than 30 sheep with full-grown wool had dropped dead in a field in rural Marion County near Turner.
Sheriff's spokesman Don Thomson said deputies arrived Sunday and gave remaining sheep water and food. Some of the sheep appeared to have died recently, while others were partially decomposed, Thomson said.
"The smell kept getting worse," said neighbor Floyd Noel. "There was buzzards flying all around and the noise of the flies was like a friggin' horror movie."
Noel said he's complained to the sheep's owners in the past. Other neighbors said they have long been concerned about the care of the sheep, the Statesman Journal reported.
The dead sheep were found in a pasture on Little Road SE. The temperature was in the 90s at the time. Deputies said more than 200 sheep were still alive in the pasture, which was covered with green, standing grass. There was also a large container of a liquid mixture of soy, water and molasses in the pasture.
Noel said many of the sheep were bunched up under some shrubs along a fence because that was the only shade available. His wife gave one of the sheep some water.
"It kind of stood up and it kind of quivered a little bit, and then just fell right back down again, so I think it was in the early stages," Noel said.
The caretaker of the property told deputies that he didn't see any dead sheep when he last checked on them. David Etzel said he lives in a nearby farmhouse and cares for the sheep for his grandfather.
Thomson said deputies plan to meet with a veterinarian to determine if there is any evidence of neglect. The case will be submitted to the Marion County District Attorney's Office.
No charges have been filed.
"If you're gonna own them, and you're gonna keep them, you need to take care of them," Noel said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.