Central Oregon and Eastern Oregon are home to a wide variety of native wildlife. Many of these native Oregon creatures are struggling to find a way to survive and are considered threatened or endangered. Road development, expansion of towns, increasing development of industry, including sprawling windfarms, ranches and farmland, all force native wildlife to share an increasingly smaller area for their habitat. Non-native species that are brought in and released into the wild also have an impact on the native wildlife, who are then forced to compete for food, water, and space.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has an informative website on both game and non-game wildlife, native and non-native species, as well as recreational hunting and fishing information for central Oregon.
Oregon State University offers some tips for seeing wildlife, including: slow down, spend some time studying local field guides and animal behavior, learn about the habitat, physical appearance, and behavior of your quarry, and use your eyes and nose to look for evidence of an animal's presence, through tracks, hair, feathers, scat, burrows and holes, and chewed vegetation.
Oh, and leave the dogs at home or keep them on a leash. Not only will it decrease your chances of viewing wildlife by frightening creatures away, it will prevent your dog's exposure to dangerous or noxious animals, such as rattlesnakes, porcupines, and skunks. Consider the voice of experience, and imagine being forced to spend several hours in an enclosed space, like a car, with a dog who recently lost a face-off with a skunk, porcupine, or rolled in a dead fish.
Your trip through the high desert area of Eastern and Central Oregon may include sightings of any of the following native species. How many have you ever seen in the wild?
• Bighorn Sheep
• Skunk - Here's a handy Skunk Deodorizing Recipe