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Hunters indicted for dog shootings

In Ochoco National Forest

   Two hunters were indicted Sept. 28 by a Crook County grand jury on charges of animal abuse and criminal mischief for shooting and killing three Great Pyrenees dogs owned by Gordon Clark, of Madras.
   The men, brothers Craig Johnson, 59, of Bend, and Paul Johnson, 66, of Roseburg, will face three counts each of first-degree animal abuse and first-degree criminal mischief for the shootings, which occurred on Aug. 27.
   The dogs, part of a group of five, were guarding a band of sheep on a grazing allotment in the Walton Lake area of the Ochoco National Forest. Signs advised visitors to the area of the presence of the guard dogs.
   When Deputy Bryan Bottoms arrived to investigate, he discovered three large sheep dogs lying in the forest with what appeared to be fatal gunshot wounds, according to Sgt. Jim Chapman, of the Crook County Sheriff's Department.
   "Deputy Bottoms investigated the scene and recovered spent .223 caliber casings lying in the road along with other evidence that he collected," he said.
   Bottoms interviewed people at bowhunting camps in the Walton Lake Snow Park area, off U.S. Forest Service Road 4210, and determined that the two men, who initially denied involvement in the shootings, had been camped close to the crime scene.
   When Bottoms returned later for a second interview, the men confessed to shooting the dogs, Chapman noted.
   "Both brothers gave statements to Deputy Bottoms indicating they shot the dogs because they believed they were wild dogs and they were unfamiliar with the large sheep herds in the same area," Chapman commented.
   Bottoms seized a Ruger Mark II .223 caliber rifle that is believed to be the weapon used to kill the three dogs.
   Clark has been raising the highly trained dogs, which are bred specifically for guarding sheep, for the past 15 years. The dogs are valued at about $2,500 each.