At last, I’ve made it to Wallowa County, Oregon’s hotbed of wolf conflicts. I’ve been meaning to get out here for awhile now to see the turf I’ve spent so much time writing about.
In my first few hours here I noted a few things that alerted me to the fact that I am now in wolf country. I’m thinking this list will grow over the next 24 hours (feel free to pitch in your own observations):
- There are anti-wolf posters in local taverns.
- The local newspaper’s opinion column features a letter to Santa Claus warning him not to let the wolves get his reindeer when he comes to town.
- When you mention wolves while dining out, the restaurant owner pulls a locally published book from behind the counter. It chronicles all the wolf-related happenings of the past year and includes pictures “not suitable for children under 13” of pregnant cows and fetuses that have been killed by wolves.
- A conditional-use permit application for a bed and breakfast turns into a debate about wolves (more on this later). A related letter to the editor begins: “First, the permitting process must not be affected by the presence or absence of wolves in Wallowa County.”