Oregon Commissioner Rejects Requests To Stop Her From Hanging Cow Heads Along Road

Colleen 003.half-contentThere is an interesting controversy in Portland Oregon where residents have complained about cattle heads that appeared along a road. Various people complained to the government that the heads smelled and were disgusting sight. At least one official already knew. The heads belonged to Port of St. Helens Commissioner Colleen DeShazer (left) who refused to remove them. Here are the pictures.

DeShazer says that she is dying out the heads for sale. She insisted that she is within her rights because “[t]hose are my cows. We legally butchered them . . . If you don’t like it, don’t live in the [expletive] country next to a farm.”

Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson has told citizens that DeShazer because they are placed within her property and “[t]here’s no state law or county ordinance to prohibit that.”

There is the question of a public nuisance. It creates an interesting question of local conditions and practices. DeShazer views this is a standard country practice that city slickers simply do not understand. It is a conflict that is becoming common as people move into rural areas. However nuisance can be an evolving concept and we no longer enforce the “coming to the nuisance” defense that barred people who complain of conditions found in an area where they have moved. It is certainly true that, while gambling, plants and other issues are expressly identified as public nuisances under Oregon law, this appears the only provision relating to public nuisances and carcasses.

§ 601.090¹
Requirements as to conduct of business and construction of premises
Every person engaged in the business of disposing of the bodies, carcasses or parts of animals shall conduct such business and shall construct, arrange and keep the premises on which such business is conducted in accordance with the following requirements:

(1) All buildings on such premises shall be constructed as to allow them to be kept in a sanitary condition and shall be provided with properly drained concrete or cement floors. Such buildings shall be fly-tight and so constructed as to exclude rats, other rodents and vermin.
(2) Such place shall be so situated, arranged and constructed as not to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property by any of the residents of this state.
(3) In case such dead bodies, carcasses or parts of animals are to be disposed of by rendering, the cooking vats or tanks shall be airtight except for proper escapes or vents for steam used in rendering or cooking. Such escaping steam shall be released through traps, or other means, in such manner as not to cause unnecessary annoyance or create a nuisance in its disposal.
(4) All storing, skinning and dismembering of dead bodies, carcasses or parts of animals shall be done within a building on the premises in such a manner that no public annoyance or nuisance shall be caused by the unsightly appearance or stench of such bodies, carcasses or parts of animals.
(5) In no case shall the process of skinning, butchering or dismembering of animals or parts of animals be commenced except at the place where the process of rendering, burning or burying is to be completed.
(6) In case dead bodies, carcasses or parts of animals are disposed of by burning, the place where such burning is done shall be so located, constructed and arranged as not to essentially interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property by residents of this state. All parts of such bodies, carcasses or parts of animals not entirely consumed by such burning shall be disposed of by burying, as provided by this section, or in any such manner as may be directed by the State Department of Agriculture.
(7) In case dead bodies, carcasses or parts of animals are disposed of by burying, they shall be buried to such a depth that no part of any such body, carcass or part of an animal shall be nearer than four feet to the natural surface of the ground and every part of such body, carcass or part of an animal shall be covered with quicklime and by at least four feet of earth.

Putting aside this provision, there is also the possibility of private nuisance actions by citizens. (Most public nuisance actions brought by citizens require a showing of an injury greater than the injury suffered by the public at large for standing). The problem is that this is facing a public road so it is not clear if any argument can be made for the denial of use or enjoyment of private property by joggers or passing residents. Yet, in many areas of the country, leaving the severed heads of animals along your property would be treated as a health or nuisance question by the local government.

Of course, there is simply the issue of being a good and responsible neighbor, which most people would include simple courtesies like not hanging dead animal heads along roads. But then again I may not be sufficiently “country.”

31 thoughts on “Oregon Commissioner Rejects Requests To Stop Her From Hanging Cow Heads Along Road”

  1. Texan born and bred out on acreage in the country. Never heard of anybody doing this. Thought the hicks hanging catfish heads on fence were jerks because the rotten smell wasn’t cool, (I’m country but was raised with more respect for animals and fellow people). Cow heads… Now that’s just a sicko pretending to be morally upright and proper. It isn’t normal to enjoy the smell of rotting flesh or feel that subjecting other people to your stench is perfectly fine. Move over Vlad, we have a live one.

  2. itchinBayDog: you are on target with this comment – the city can be a disgusting place, those are the reasons people move out – too much dirt all around and NY is one of the worst offenders. I personally love culture but hate the city, no trees (and I really NEED trees and blue sky and sweet fresh air) and too much pushing and shoving, altho, once you get their attention, city people can be as kind and caring as any other. I just do not think we were meant to live like that. BUT the cow heads are still a disease-liability and should be kept away from the public.

  3. You folks from the suburbs and the cities come out to the country and get offended about a dried cow head. When we country folk come to the city and see the grafitty we wonder about your sanity. Cant you clean those walls, those train cars, off all that scribble and clean those turds off of the sidewalk?

  4. Those folks need to listen to some folk music and get acclimated to the country. Here are the lyrics to a John Prine song:

    She was a level-headed dancer on the road to alcohol
    And I was just a soldier on my way to Montreal
    Well, she pressed her chest against me
    About the time the juke box broke
    Yeah, she gave me a peck on the back of the neck
    And these are the words she spoke

    Blow up your TV, throw away your paper
    Go to the country, build you a home
    Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches
    Try an’ find Jesus on your own

    Well, I sat there at the table and I acted real naive
    For I knew that topless lady had something up her sleeve
    Well, she danced around the bar room
    And she did the hoochy-coo
    Yeah, she sang her song all night long
    Tellin’ me what to do

    Blow up your TV, throw away your paper
    Go to the country, build you a home
    Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches
    Try an’ find Jesus on your own

    Well, I was young and hungry
    And about to leave that place
    When just as I was leavin’
    Well she looked me in the face

    I said, “You must know the answer”
    She said, “No but I’ll give it a try”
    And to this very day we’ve been livin’ our way
    Here is the reason why

    We blew up our TV, threw away our paper
    Went to the country, built us a home
    Had a lot of children, fed ’em on peaches
    They all found Jesus on their own

    Read more: John Prine – Spanish Pipedream Lyrics | MetroLyrics

  5. Mr. Ed,

    It looks like there are a number of offers on E-bay for cattle skulls ranging from $50 to $100, but few bidders. Who actually buys these things? How big is the real market?

  6. I’ve been in and around the cattle business my entire life — something seems odd about this.

    It could just be in language use, but I’ve never heard of cow heads being “dried out” to sell. I have, however, seen completely cleaned cow skulls being sold regularly (all soft matter, including brains, removed and the bone completely dried). If that’s the case, it is best to leave the head in the open, so that, say, buzzards can get at it, but not in a position for coyotes to drag away — so that could be the reason for hanging it (the description seems unclear on specifics).

    We find that tossing them in a red ant bed gives the best results, for those interested in such things.

  7. A veterinarian told me he was testing his neighbors when he dressed his deer in his driveway. I’m thinking, like god and the vet, she is testing her neighbors as well.

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