REMOVING THE BARB
By Dick Mason
Observer Staff Writer
The work is being done along the part of Foothill Road that passes through the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area. Fence removal has been done along the part of Foothill Road that runs south for about a mile from the wildlife area viewpoint to Oxen Springs.
The volunteer work is making the wildlife area more desirable for deer and elk. Many deer and elk regularly cross Foothill Road to reach Ladd Marsh.
Crossing the road has been difficult for deer fawns and elk calves because of the barbed wire fences. A number of fawns and calves have gotten their legs caught in the top portion of the fences. Several have not been able to free themselves without help from people.
The young deer and elk sometimes have been released unharmed, but other times they have suffered serious injuries and have had to be killed.
Over the past six years Dave Larson, manager of the wildlife area, has spotted two or three fawns and calves that were caught in Foothill Road fences. He advises people not to remove the deer and elk but to call the ODFW for help.
Larson said that deer and elk caught in a fence can hurt people by kicking.
It is safer to call us, he said.
Fawns and calves capable of getting past fences are sometimes intimidated by them. Jim Ward, a member of Friends of Ladd Marsh, remembers once seeing a desperate calf running back and forth along a Foothill Road fence after its herd had left it behind. It was a disturbing sight but fortunately the young elk later made it past the fence.
Presently about 100 elk are crossing Foothill Road on a semi daily basis to get to Ladd Marsh, Larson said. The elk come because there is less snow cover. They leave in the evening.
More elk will come if winter conditions get harsher. Larson said that as many as 400 elk have crossed Foothill Road daily to get to Ladd Marsh, particularly during hard winters.
In the summer 50 to 100 elk come to Ladd Marsh daily because there is more vegetation.
Fewer deer regularly come down to Ladd. Presently, 25 to 50 deer are visiting Ladd on a semi daily basis.
Friends of Ladd Marsh has been doing its fence work on the west side of Foothill Road. This land is part of an approximately 900-acre tract that was privately owned until a year ago when it was purchased by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The land is now being managed by the ODFW and has been made a part of the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area.
Friends of Ladd Marsh members have removed or altered more than a quarter mile of barbed wire fence. Group members altered some fences by cutting away the top and bottom portions. This is making it easier for deer and elk to jump over or go under the fences.
Larson welcomes the work being done by the Friends of Ladd Marsh.
They are a tremendous asset, Larson said.
Some fences on the new addition to the wildlife area will not be removed. Several will be left up to keep cattle on adjacent private land from coming on the property.
Other fences also are being left up because limited cattle grazing will later be conducted on the new Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area land.
The area where the Friends of Ladd Marsh have been doing their work is often referred to as the Miracle Mile for wildlife viewing. It is often said that this stretch has a greater diversity of wildlife than any other portion of Eastern Oregon, Ward said.