It was reported today that OR 7, better known as Journey, has returned to Jackson County and has been hanging out near Emigrant Lake. Emigrant Lake is a large reservoir and popular recreation site five miles south of Ashland. An interesting bit of trivia is that when the lake was expanded in 1960 it completely submerged the tiny town of Klamath Junction.
Journey has gone as far south as Yreka in his recent travels, twice crossing over busy Interstate 5. This is as far west as he has ever traveled. Before returning south on his travels, he trotted north to Douglas County, near Diamond Lake.
Ashland is where I live, and people here are excited to know that a wild, grey wolf is close at hand. If there were ever a place where wolves would be accepted, Ashland is it. Our population tends to be progressive and environmentally concerned. Ashland was a top ten finalist in Outside Magazine’s search for the best town in America in 2011. Nestled in the Rogue Valley, with the Siskiyou Mountains looming behind us, Ashland is truly a wonderful place.
But when I drive past Emigrant Lake this morning I gazed at all the small farms in the area, with fields full of cattle, goats, horses. Would Journey be enticed by an easy meal? I talk to my good friend, Ann Barton, about the arrival of Journey and she jokes that maybe he’ll come into town and relieve us of our surplus deer population. Ashland is known for these resident deer, well over two-hundred of them at last count. They eat gardens, saunter across busy roads, occasionally attack dogs and humans. When my son Dylan was in his teens, he was hurrying home late at night when he inadvertently stepped between a doe and her fawn. Next thing he knew he was on the ground, battling a pair of sharp hooves. I told him the deer were actually hired by the Ashland Police Department to enforce the midnight curfew. He didn’t buy it, but he did develop a healthy respect for deer.
My daughter, Megan, an avid runner, often takes Rhaja, her Rhodesian Ridgeback on long treks around Emigrant Lake. She is going this afternoon. I told her to keep an eye out for a slim, grey wolf, or at least his footprints. And I told her to keep Rhaja close at hand, knowing how lonely that wolf must be.