[midvalleybirds] Wapiti wandering widely

clearwater at peak.org clearwater at peak.org
Sat Jan 11 05:31:55 PST 2020

During our coverage of the Palestine rural neighborhood for last Sunday's Airlie-Albany CBC, one of the most surprising sights for my son Wil, his partner Linn Vennerholm and me was a herd of at least 200 WAPITI (ELK) out in the middle of an open grass field north of Ryals Road, about half a mile east of Adair Village. It was hard to tell how many because they were in a tight herd, with many lying down while the others were standing. 

We were guessing that they had wandered out from Dunn Forest by way of the Coffin Butte landfill's "buffer" lands and E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area, crossing over both Hwy 99W and the Southern Pacific railroad along the way. Later on in the week we got partial confirmation of their route from my daughter Martha who ran across the tracks of a large elk herd while she was out in the south part of the wildlife area. 

A couple of summers ago when a fuel tanker truck spilled its load of gasoline and diesel fuel along Hwy 99W at milepost 74 just south of the landfill, one side effect of the ODOT cleanup/containment efforts was to clear brush along the edge of the densely forested "buffer" lands, opening up a regular Wapiti walkway for elk to come out of the forest and cross over the highway. For two years I've urged ODOT to put up "elk crossing" signs to warn motorists of the possibility that a herd of these enormous animals might come thundering across their route, but so far there's been no action. 

Joel Geier 
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis 

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