A Snowball’s Chance in…Oregon (continued)

I am fascinated with the Snowball the deer case for the simple reason that it is one of the most egregious examples of bureaucratic abuse of power in a state where bureaucratic abuse of power is the norm. Honest people can argue about land use policies that effect all Oregonians, but no one who is not insane, stupid, dishonest — or all three — can argue that there is any benefit to anybody, least of all Snowball, in keeping the deer from the Family who loves her or in the expenditure of over $90,000 (so far) in tax dollars to do so.

The Oregon Court of Appeals, a wholly owned subsidiary of the OPEU and the Oregon Democrat Party, ruled on November 26 that Snowball will not be returned to the Filipetti family because they do not have the proper permits to keep her. A pretty weasely decision from a court that has had no problem making up laws with no basis in Oregon’s constitution or reality and who, without resorting to its usual flights of fancy, could simply have ordered ODFW to issue the appropriate permit.

But this case is not about the law, it’s about power.

ODFW has admitted that the Filipetti property meets the standards necessary for keeping Snowball, their chief biologist has stated that the deer was in excellent health (aside from its congenital deformities) when seized, and extremely well cared for.

The ODFW could issue the appropriate permits any time, but has chosen instead to use the power of the state to bludgeon and persecute the Filipettis.

Althought there are specific guidelines fo rthe issueance of permits the Director of ODFW is empowered to issue permits at his discretion (translation: whenever and why ever he feels like it), but ODFW has chosen a different path. According to friends in Salem, at least one of whom spoke directly with the then ODFW Director, immediately after the seizure last year the Director was telling anyone in Salem who would listen that ODFW agents had found a meth lab on the Filipetti property in one of the slimiest smear campaigns ever undertaken. Funny how we didn’t see the State Police hazmat team in there decontaminating the property and hauling away the Filipettis in handcuffs.

The Governor could order ODFW to issue the appropriate permits and return Snowball, but that would mean that he would actually have to do something besides sit on his ass and wait for Chip Terhune and Tim Nesbitt to tell him what to do.

In a classic example of fascistic bureaucratic logic Ron Anglin, wildlife division chief for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said of the State’s legal expenditures “There would have been no cost at all if they hadn’t picked up the deer to begin with.” The parallel with the law enforcement officials who used to tell minorities that if they didn’t want to get assaulted for insisting on their civil rights that they shouldn’t insist on their civil rights is scary. Maybe it’s just imagination, but I can almost hear Mr. Anglin sniff and turn on heels after making this remark.

Snowball is now the star attraction at a wildlife park where, by the way, she has less room that she did at the Filipettis. If I was cynical I would say that the management of the wildlife park wanted to hang onto her for financial reasons and that their friends at ODFW are using tax dollars and government power to see that the park doesn’t lose a money making attraction.

Why should you care about Snowball and the Filipettis? It’s simple. Any bureaucracy willing to go to these ridiculous lengths over a pet deer is capable of any abuse of its citizens.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn Post to Reddit

Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 7 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • John Fairplay

    ODFW is one of the few State agencies I ever have any contact with – and that’s only second-hand when I buy my annual fishing license. I think I may take a pass on said license in 2009 in protest.

  • Birdy

    $90,000?! ODFW must have forgotten who puts money into this agency. The money could have been put to better use by improving our game herds/fish that we buy licenses/tags to hunt. The appropriate thing for ODFW would have been to issue a moderate/minimum fine to the family for interfering with wildlife and then had the family pay for the permit to keep the deer. Now ODFW only has egg on their face instead of added revenue and a reputation for fairness. It would serve the agency right if every hunter/fisherman took a year off from supporting them.

  • Icky Boxhead

    How soon we forget what really started this cluster flup. If Lars Larson had not egged the issue on for weeks and weeks we all could have forgotten about the whole thing in one day and the ODFW would have that $90,000 to waste on something else. The local media idiots would not have paid any attention for more than one story on one day but it got championed by Lars and ran up the flag pole of interest. Don’t get me wrong I like Lars but it is still his fault. The deer belongs to the state and even if they did not charge the people with a crime for having it without a permit that does not set a president to reverse any court decision. LET IT DIE AND LET US GET ON WITH OUR LIFE.

  • cc


    Oh, Icky,

    Oh, Icky,

    ever hear the phrase “Don’t shoot the messenger”?

    Here’s another one: Don’t try to shift the blame to a private individual for pointing out the indefensible actions of idiotic, dangerous, paranoid drones who WORK FOR YOU.

    dean would be soooo proud.

  • dean

    A lot of idiocy and obstinance all around on this one. The Filepettis should have given Snowball up right away. They broke the law, they know it, and they have a share of responsibility here. Lars should have found something else to make hay over, but then that might have cost us all even more. And ODFW should have found a way to walk away from this early on rather than get their knickers all in a twist. A waste of time, money, and bad public relations.

  • Kenny

    Free snowball!!! Rudolph where are you?

  • Joanne Rigutto

    It wasn’t just Lars who championed Snowball. Victoria Taft did too, and Mark and Dave talked about the deer and the Fillipettis as well.

    ODFW could have handled the whole incedent much better. I do think they should have issued a permit to the family and allowed them to keep the deer. I also think that the Fillipettis should have been required to educate themselves on the proper care of cervids. Rossi Possi could have been brought into the loop there, as could the various cervid breeders associations. I understand that there were some problems with Snowball, her hooves needed to be trimmed for one thing, and the fact that the buck she had was fully mature and acclimated to humans actually did make him a risk.

    Having worked with various species of animals over my life, including quite a few wild species, I can tell you first hand that the buck, coming into rut, could very easily have become agressive toward humans. This is a function of how deer and other wild animals are behaviorally. Heck, I even see this type of behavior in domesticated animals that aren’t handled properly. Bottle fed animals have the greatest potential for these types of behavioral issues, but tame wild animals can go sideways on you pretty fast unless they are handled properly, and with the appropriate respect, and even then the potential is always there. That’s something that people who work with these types of animals accept as an inherent risk of keeping them. I’ve experienced it my self, and had to do training with animals to make them less agressive. You don’t know what fun is untill you’ve had a 50# wild turkey tom go after you…..

    ODFW people working with the buck said that he was pushy, which is an hint of things to come during the rut. Personally, I’m glad that they released him up in Bull Run. Hopefully he won’t run into any people during rut. People who work with cervids will tell you that you don’t go into the pen with the bulls or bucks during rut unless there is an emergency, and even then I wouldn’t do it with out a tranq. for the animal. Any other time of year is OK, but not during the rut.

    All of that having been said, keeping animals like deer can be a wonderful experience, and I just think that the whole thing could have been handled a lot better. This could have become a great ‘teaching moment’ for ODFW, the public, and the Fillipettis. Instead we got more of the same old same old with the government coming down like a ton of bricks on citizens, and the citizens having to hire a lawyer and go to court which cost everyone, except the lawyers, more than we really could afford to spend on a deer. I’m sure that Wildlife Safari will care for the deer well, just as the Fillipettis could have. I’ve known some of the cheetah handlers down there. Everyone at that facility is there because they care for the animals, they’re all animal nuts – but the good kind, who live for the animals in their care. If you go over to my art website, the cheetah portrait on the main page is one of the Wildlife Safari cats. https://www.jrigutto.com/home.htm That portrait was commissioned by that particluar cat’s handler.

    I just get really tired of the state and other groups acting like we’re all idiots and too stupid to live without every little thing in our lives being regulated by government officials for our own good. This is especially true in the area of animal keeping, both for domestics and exotics. We’ve got everyone from PETA to the OIE in Paris France wanting to tell us what we can and can’t do, how we can keep our animals, what we can feed them, how to handle them, etc. And that includes that idiot prop 2 that passed in California this year. But that’s a whole ‘nuther rant….

    On the other hand, if we could just get more people educated in how to keep animals, educated in basic animal behavior, and in the particulars for any given species, etc. then there wouldn’t be a problem with someone like the Fillipetti family taking in a crippled fawn. But instead we have to all be regulated up the wazoo and told what we can and can’t have. If issues like keeping different types of exotics were talked about openly with a free exchange of information, the Fillipettis might have still taken in the deer, but perhaps they would have had her spayed so that she wouldn’t have had the buck, and the vet who treated her wouldn’t have had to worry about being charged with a crime for treating an unlicensed deer.

    I remember when I was a kid, if you took in an animal, you could call the zoo, OMSI, etc. and they’d help you out with information, and if you learned anything new, they encouraged you to call them back up and share the info with them. Everyone worked together. Sometime in the late 70’s -early 80’s that all changed. The information resources all closed up, wildlife became very regulated. I used to be in the Long Island Ocelot Club. I knew people who had big cats, and knew one lady who was a zoo dealer. She kept clouded leopards, and she said that the private owners and the zoos all used to work together. But things changed and, there was a sea change in wildlife, conservation, etc. and over a relatively short period of time, the public and private animal cultures went from working together to being enemies, and it wasn’t the private keepers who did it. It was a profound change in how government viewed the private keeping of animals, especially exotics, as well as things like conservation.

Stay Tuned...

Stay up to date with the latest political news and commentary from Oregon Catalyst through daily email updates:

Prefer another subscription option? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, become a fan on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Twitter Facebook

No Thanks (close this box)