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Jim Ward photo Prickly situation: Some wildlife and forest managers are a bit perplexed as to the decline in porcupine populations throughout the state in recent years. Itís not an uncommon subject among hunters and other forest users as well. Some suggest the upswing in cougar populations may be the culprit as the big cats do prey upon porcupines. Some suggest an increase in human interactions might be to blame. Although porcupines can kill young trees, experts suggest that notion is a bit overblown. Actually, their habit of partial-girdling of tree tops and the subsequent formation of branch produces formations attractive to nesting and roosting owls, other birds and small mammals. Porcupines give birth to one young, which comes with four teeth and a full set of more than 30,000 needle-point quills. The young leave their mother at about two months of age. JIM WARD photo
Note: Wildlife viewers and anglers need a parking permit to park on the wildlife area. The $7 daily or $22 annual permit can be purchased online or at an ODFW office that sells licenses or at a license sales agent. Learn more about ODFW’s expanded Wildlife Area Parking Permit Program.
Tule Lake Public Access Area and the Auto Route are closed for the season. Tule Lake Public Access Area will be open to foot traffic only Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday and holidays during the pheasant and waterfowl seasons. The Glass Hill Unit is open to public access for foot traffic only. Visitors are advised to carefully read posted signs and consult game bird regulations before entering the wildlife area. Dogs are not permitted within the wildlife area, on or off leash except during authorized hunting seasons. There are numerous quality-viewing opportunities from county roads that pass through the area. Binoculars or a spotting scope will help as many animals are best viewed from a distance.
Hot, dry weather reduced most wetlands and dried many up completely. Recent cooler temperatures and precipitation have allowed some wetlands to begin filling. Most shorebirds have left the area as they continue their migration south.
Winter residents such as spotted towhee, dark-eyed junco, white-crowned sparrow and northern shrike have arrived and may be seen in a variety of locations within the wildlife area.
For more information on access rules for Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, consult the Oregon Game Bird Regulations or call the wildlife area at 541-963-4954.
Herons are common and can be observed throughout the Wallowa Valley feeding along creeks and rivers.
Waterfowl species such as Canada geese and mallards can be observed on Wallowa Lake and throughout the Wallowa Valley feeding in agricultural fields.
Prairie falcon, red-tailed hawk, northern harrier and Swainson’s and Ferruginous hawks, as well as a variety of owls, can be observed throughout Wallowa Valley and Zumwalt Prairie. Most raptors can be easily observed from county roads. A good pair of binoculars will improve viewing opportunities.
A wide variety of songbirds can be observed from now through the summer in forested areas north of Enterprise, and along rivers and streams throughout Wallowa County.
Mule and white-tailed deer are common in agricultural areas adjacent to Highway 82. Animals can be observed during early morning and late evening hours.
Persons willing to drive down the rough Imnaha River Road will often observe bighorn sheep north of Cow Creek near Cactus Mountain.
Elk can often be observed along the Zumwalt Road near Findley Buttes. Another good location to observe elk during winter months is on the Wenaha Wildlife Area near Troy. A good place to look is along the Eden Bench Road during early morning or late afternoon hours.