Natural World | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Natural World

Give wildlife a chance, will ya'?

Closure of certain public lands for the protection of wildlife is an absolute necessity. Nowhere have we seen it more plainly than in the Millican off-road vehicle (ORV) playground. When Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologists discovered off-road machines were literally running all over some of the best Sage Grouse nesting habitat in that huge tract of land, it became imperative the area be closed during nesting time.

Since those heady days the BLM has discovered several other wildlife areas where ORVs, bikers, hikers, climbers, horseback riders and the general public are making it near-impossible to preserve the native wildlife using "The Land." I capitalized The Land because it deserves that honor.

Aldo Leopold was an American author, scientist, ecologist, forester, conservationist, environmentalist, and founder of the science of Wildlife Management. Wildlife biologists and land-managers agree with Leopold's ethics as the most effective way at managing — preserving, if you will — The Land for wild places and wild things.

Closure of certain lands has to occur if we're going to have golden eagles flying around this part of Oregon. Up north of Madras there's now a closure on an area rock climbers love. I know several who about busted a gut when they found those BLM seasonal closure signs.

Between Bend and Redmond, there is a golden eagle nest directly across from the little BLM recreation spot at Jaguar Road. There are three volunteers keeping an eye on that breeding territory, trying to keep intruders from chasing out the adult eagles, and thereby causing the nest to fail.

One volunteer, who lives on the opposite side of the nesting territory, has shouted at invaders to get them to leave. Often, they are carrying firearms, and choose to stand on the edge of the rim directly over the nest. One group of invaders shouted back at her, "We have every right to be here!" in language that would make a sailor blush. The miscreants may have thought it really was OK for them to go where they wanted to, and shoot what they wanted to shoot, because vandals pulled down the BLM's closure signs.

There's a pair of Golden Eagles trying to raise young in a closed canyon north of Hwy 126 between Sisters and Redmond. The all-terrain vehicle (ATV) riders have not only violated the closure, but have carried out lots of vandalism doing so. The BLM has provided ATV users a large play area less than two miles away. Despite that, people continue to violate posted non-motorized vehicle areas, showing utter disregard for regulations, wildlife, and habitat. 

And it's not just the ATV people, either. The paint gun crowd has also invaded that area. One of the Oregon Eagle Foundation volunteers (with permission and blessings of the Prineville BLM) hauled TWO large pickup-loads of garbage out of the area. Here's hoping the eagles will return.

There are many favorite recreation places the BLM has to keep closed if we are going to preserve The Land for native wildlife, and I'm very pleased to say that most of the recreational community is going along with the closures, and asking their friends to do likewise.

All except those villains who parked their rig right next to the BLM's closure signs at Jaguar Road one day and went right in. Yep, my wife and I watched them violate that closure, and we're the ones who called the sheriff, who responded very rapidly. I hope the invaders told their friends about their experience. Please, think about what The Land means to the wildlife that lives behind the signs. Thanks!

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