RICHLAND CENTER (WKOW) --- Authorities says several dozen pheasants were destroyed during an act of vandalism at Richland Center High School.
A maintenance employee found a portable potty and irrigation equipment tipped over at the athletic fields Wednesday morning.
Later in the day, a High School agriculture teacher found damage to the pheasant-raising project, and 39 dead birds.
Authorities say two sheds were found to have been forced open and feeding and watering mechanisms were damaged.
Principal Jon Bosworth says it's unclear whether the young pheasants died of water deprivation, or were attacked, or panicked and crashed into parts of their enclosure.
Richland Police officials say there are 150 pheasants in the program. Officials says as many as seventy birds escaped during the vandalism.
"There are some birds that are loose and coming back for some food and water," Bosworth tells 27 News.
The pheasant raising project has been operating for sixteen years. It involved a group of 5-10 FFA students who raise day-old chicks from June to October and then release them into the wild to help promote wildlife conservation.
School officials say they intend to keep the project going, after rounding up escaped birds, and reviewing security.
Richland Center Police Chief John Annear tells 27 News the pheasant project facility was vandalized a year ago as well.
"We had pheasants that were purposely released from the enclosure," Annear says. "The enclosure was compromised, and pheasants were allowed to escape." Annear says no one responsible was found.
Richland Center Police ask if you have any information on this week's vandalism, call 608-647-2103.