John Hillock shows the wolf deterent device he and son Jared built. A solar power and a gel battery power a microcomputer and MP3 player to play random loud noises at random times to scare away wolves. It comes complete with a strobe light and is contained in a waterproof cooler. KATY NESBITT
ENTERPRISE — A device created locally to act as a wolf deterrent was unveiled at the Wallowa County Stockgrowers’ Dollars for Scholars dinner Tuesday night at Cloverleaf Hall in Enterprise.
John Hillock’s latest invention looks like a Coleman cooler with loudspeakers and a strobe light screwed into its lid. It was designed and built by Hillock and his son, Jared.The Hillocks worked with rancher Bob Lathrop, who lost two calves to wolves, on the concept. A gel battery, a microcomputer and an MP3 player are kept in the water-tight cooler and attached to a solar panel.
The Hillocks’ invention is similar to the radio-activated guard boxes that are set off by a signal from a collared wolf, but the Hillocks’ apparatus does not need a radio trigger.
A battery-run computer controls an MP3 player that periodically sets off sounds through the loudspeakers of tractors, diesel pickups and helicopters.
With the combination of the solar panel and the battery, Hillock said the kit should work for a long time without maintenance.
“We talked to the biologists about the benefit of the random ability of the box. They recommended this method so the wolves don’t get used to it,” he said.
The Hillocks used their own money to develop the prototype, but they anticipate wildlife agencies may be interested in using his invention.
Both Hillock and Rod Childers were honored at the annual event. Hillock received an award from the Oregon Fair Association and Childers was recognized by OSU Extension.
Nancy Carlsen, Greg Johnson and Randy Garnett presented Hillock with a plaque commemorating his volunteerism. Hillock was chosen by the Oregon Fair Association from a pool representing all of Oregon’s 36 states.
Hillock’s most recent contribution involved coordinating grants, tax credits and the installation of solar panels on Cloverleaf Hall. Hillock and his company have donated many hours installing an irrigation pump and ongoing electrical upgrades at the fairgrounds over the years, Johnson said.
Childers was recognized at the OSU Extension Agent annual conference in November, Extension Agent John Williams said. Since Childers was unable to attend that conference, Williams and 4-H Extension Agent Debi Schreiber presented him with the OSU Extension Cooperator Award in the category of 10 years or more at the Stockgrowers dinner.
Williams listed Childers’ involvement as county fair livestock superintendent and member of the Extension advisory board as some of his many contributions.
Dollars for Scholars is held to raise funds for scholarships for Wallowa County students. The pie auction showcased German streusel, peach cobbler and huckleberry pie fresh from the kitchens of talented Wallowa County bakers.
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