Get Home Delivery of The Observer for only $8.50 per month, $9.50 for motor routes. Just click here and after filling out one simple and secure online form you could be on your way to learning more information about local, state and world news.
A billboard about the wolf/cattle conflict can be seen on Highway 84 in Island City. CHRIS BAXTER / The Observer
A new billboard about the wolf/cattle conflict can be seen on Highway 84 in Island City.
The billboard replaces one announcing a reward for a wolf shot dead last fall on the Umatilla National Forest sponsored by Northeast Oregon Ecosystems — a sign that was removed 24 hours after it was erected.Ramona Phillips, Wallowa County rancher, said when she heard about the reward billboard she called Meadow Advertising, the billboard company. She asked what she needed to do to have a sign put up that represented the ranchers.
Phillips worked with Meadow Advertising who then erected a billboard depicting a snarling wolf and cattle grazing in a pasture.
“The property owner approved of the sign Meadow Advertising designed,” Phillips said. “The billboard says, ‘Wolves are protected. Why not cows, people and property rights?’”
Phillips said about 20 people put up the $1,200 needed for the billboard. It will remain in place for 2 1/2 months.
“We received donations between $25 and $100,” Phillips said.
The idea of the billboard has spawned a movement started by five Wallowa County stockgrowers, all women. They presented their ideas to help educate the public about ranching and its lifestyle at last week’s Wallowa County Stock Growers meeting.
All tax-deductible donations to the newly formed Education Committee can be made directly to the Wallowa County Stock Growers, Phillips said.
The committee plans to take its ranching message to classrooms and promote it through a letter-writing campaign.
“We are trying to get our story out,” Phillips said. “I’m not against the wolf. I just want to protect my animals.”
The committee doesn’t intend to focus only on wolf/livestock intervention issues, Phillips said.
“For a long time, ranchers have been portrayed as bad guys,” she said.
One way that Phillips and her husband, Charlie, have worked to educate youth about ranching has been through the 4-H urban rural exchange program where kids from Sunnyside Elementary School in Portland come to Wallowa County and stay a long weekend with a ranching host family.
The committee has also hired a videographer to spend a month recording the workings of area ranches. These videos will be shown on YouTube and on the Wallowa County Stockgrowers’ website, Phillips said.