Outdoors: Mother’s Day fun at Silver Falls this weekend

Silver Falls State Park will host its annual Mother’s Day Birding and Wildflower Festival Saturday and Sunday, May 13 and 14.

Come see the migratory birds and spring blooms at the park this time of year. The event coincides with World Migratory Bird Day.

The festival includes guided birding and wildflower hikes, a wildflower show, live raptor presentations, a native plant sale and educational presentations and discovery tables. The birding guide is a woodpecker expert so visitors are likely to spot a few of the birds in addition to these frequent fliers: Wilson’s warblers, Pacific wrens, varied thrushes and American dippers.

“It’s a great time of year to visit because the migratory birds should be here in force,” said Silver Falls Park Ranger Matt Palmquist.

If you’re all about the blooms, the park will be filled with trilliums, bleeding hearts, violets and some calypso orchids. The wildflower show features at least 100 species of flowers on display as well.

Most activities will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an early bird hike each morning at 7:30 a.m. All activities take place in the South Falls day-use area, with the exception of some birding walks.

All activities are free, but a $5 daily parking permit or Oregon State Parks annual parking permit is required to park at Silver Falls State Park.

BLM to Acquire Central Oregon Land

The Bureau of Land Management approved a plan this month to acquire about 4,000 acres of private land in central Oregon to increase public access to recreation opportunities and restore healthy landscapes. The land is located on the west side of the John Day River, approximately 14 miles east of Wasco. The area is generally referred to as McDonald’s Ferry and is on the west side of McDonald’s Crossing, which was used in the 1800’s as part of the Oregon National Historic Trail.

Once acquired, these lands will be managed in accordance with the Bureau of Land Management’s multiple-use mission and will provide the public with a wide range of recreational opportunities, including boating access, camping, and hiking. These lands will also be managed to maintain and restore healthy rangelands and wildlife habitat, including the restoration of critical habitat for the Mid-Columbia Summer Steelhead.

“The majority of feedback we received about the proposed acquisition was positive,” said Acting Central Oregon Field Manager Stephanie Mckinney. “We look forward to expanding dispersed recreation and hunting access along the John Day River.”

The BLM will acquire the lands from the Western Rivers Conservancy based on the parcels’ appraised fair market value with financial support from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The BLM still must complete the necessary realty transactions before obtaining the title to the land and will announce when public access is available. Until such time, the BLM requests that the public respects private property rights.

The Decision Record approving the acquisition is available on the BLM’s ePlanning website.

The public may also request a copy of the documentation from the Prineville District Office by calling (541) 416-6700 on weekdays between 7:45 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., excluding federal holidays. Those interested may also contact Chris Ryan, Project Lead, at (541) 416-6700 or at [email protected].


May 15 Deadline for Controlled/Premium Hunts

Time to finalize your game plan and submit your Controlled and Premium hunt applications.

The deadline for submission is May 15 but applications can be edited online for free through May 25.

Controlled hunts are limited in the number of participants and Premium hunts have an enormously long duration, both of which greatly increase your success rate and overall enjoyment of the experience.

Apply online, at a license sales agent, or at ODFW offices that sell licenses.

Report Shows Weak Wolf-Population Growth

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s wolf conservation and management report for 2022, released April 18, shows weak population growth of only three wolves more than the 175 counted in 2021, and a high 17 human-caused wolf mortalities in 2022.

The minimum known count of wolves in Oregon at the end of 2022 was 178 wolves, an increase of three wolves over the 2021 minimum known number of 175, according to the annual report .

A record 24 packs were documented (up from 21 last year) and 17 of those packs met the criteria as breeding pairs, with another 14 groups of two or three wolves also identified. Last year also marked the first year that four breeding pairs of wolves were documented in Western Oregon (west of Hwys. 97-395).

This annual count is based on verified wolf evidence (like visual observations, tracks, and remote camera photographs). The actual number of wolves in Oregon is higher, as not all individuals present in the state are located during the winter count.

“The population increase in Northeastern Oregon has slowed in some areas as available habitat is filled up and with the turnover of breeding adults in some packs. But wolves are growing in numbers and expanding in distribution in Western Oregon,” said Roblyn Brown, ODFW wolf coordinator. “We are confident in the continued health of the state’s wolf population as they expand in distribution across the state and continue to show an upward population trend.”

At year-end there were six resident groups of wolves in the Cascades, compared to four groups last year. The number of wolves increased 39 percent in the West Wolf Management Zone (WMZ). Three new packs in the West Zone were successful breeding pairs (Gearhart Mountain in Klamath County, Upper Deschutes in Deschutes County, and Warm Springs in Jefferson County), meaning they produced at least two pups last spring that survived through the end of 2022. This was the first year that wolves in the West WMZ reached the conservation objective of four breeding pairs. If four breeding pairs are documented at the end of 2023 and 2024, the West WMZ will move into Phase II of the Wolf Plan.

Wolf activity (tracks) was documented in Curry County in the Coast Range after public reports during the fall (though no wolves were documented during the winter count). In addition, an intact radio-collar was found by an ODFW survey crew in a stream in Curry County.

The collar had been placed on a Chesnimnus wolf in 2016 that later dispersed to California and last provided information in 2018. The collar was found 45 miles from where wolf tracks were documented last year and the tracks and collar are likely from different individual wolves.

ODFW confirmed 76 incidents of wolf-livestock depredation after 121 investigations, documenting the death of 71 livestock animals and three working dogs.

The majority (85 percent) occurred on private land. Consistent with the Wolf Plan, livestock producers implemented non-lethal measures to minimize depredation prior to any department approval of wolf lethal removal. Six wolves were lethally removed in response to chronic depredation in 2022.

The level of illegal wolf take in Oregon remains “unacceptably high,” according to ODFW, with seven wolves illegally killed in 2022. Six cases are still under investigation but USFWS Office of Law Enforcement and OSP closed the case on the shooting death of a yearling radio-collared wolf in Wheeler County in July. The gray-colored wolf was shot by a man who turned himself in and reported that he misidentified the animal as a coyote. The Wheeler County resident paid a civil fine for unlawfully taking a federally-endangered gray wolf.

For more information see the 2022 Annual Wolf Report online at odfw.com/wolves.

Museum Takes in Bobcat Kitten

A male bobcat kitten, approximately 8 months old, is in the care of the High Desert Museum.

The public will begin to get to see the yet-to-be-named kitten periodically in the Museum atrium across from the permanent Spirit of the West exhibition.

The bobcat arrived at the Museum in October, weighing less than 3 pounds. Individuals near Portland, Oregon removed the kitten from the wild and reached out to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). Biologists with ODFW informed them that animals will often leave their young for a period of time to feed, only to return later.

The officials placed the bobcat back where he was found in the hope that his mother would return. The kitten was brought back into ODFW six days later by another individual, prompting ODFW officials to consider other options.

Four Indigo pack wolves are caught on camera in February on U.S. Forest Service land in Douglas County. Photo courtesy of the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

It is unknown whether the bobcat was truly orphaned or was simply separated from its parents by a well-meaning citizen. In either case, the kitten could not be returned safely to the original location, and rehabilitation of bobcats is not generally allowed in Oregon to avoid releasing human-habituated predators on the landscape. Seeking other options, ODFW then placed him at the High Desert Museum.

The bobcat currently weighs 15½ pounds and is thriving in his new environment. The wildlife team at the High Desert Museum has expertise in caring for feline predators, and staff are training him to voluntarily crate and to participate in husbandry and vet care.

It will take about another year for the bobcat to reach a full size of 20 to 5 pounds. Wild bobcats eat a wide range of prey including birds and small mammals. The Museum wildlife team does its best to mimic a wild diet for the animals in its care, and the bobcat enjoys meals that include rats, mice, rabbit, quail and other whole-animal foods. He has done well so far and is a smart animal who has taken quickly to training and working with wildlife staff.

“The best thing to do when discovering baby or injured wildlife is leave the animal there and contact the local ODFW office to report it,” said Museum Curator of Wildlife Jon Nelson. “The best outcome is always to locate the mother so the animal can be raised and live in the wild, but ODFW is well-equipped to determine if the animal is legitimately abandoned or otherwise requires long-term human care.”

Bobcats are very common in the High Desert and are remarkable hunters. They are solitary animals that can thrive near humans and can be seen at times in suburban habitats. We encourage people to learn about, appreciate and coexist with our native wildlife.

“Caring for young wildlife is work that requires total dedication, and once again our wildlife team has risen to the challenge to give the bobcat the best possible home,” said Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw. “Although not generally a danger to humans, bobcats are also not housecats. Our team is working with him daily to ensure he will thrive here.”

For the coming weeks, the bobcat will periodically be visible in the atrium where Gert the gray fox presently resides. They cannot be in the atrium at the same time, so they will rotate and visitors will have the opportunity to view and learn about a gray fox or a bobcat, both with important stories and lessons we can take home to help conserve their habitats.

The opportunity to name the new bobcat will be auctioned off on Saturday, Aug. 26 at the High Desert Rendezvous, the museum’s largest fundraising event of the year.