Elk and Barbwire Fences


On the expansive ranches in eastern Oregon, barbwire fences are a common sight. Their purpose is to keep cattle from leaving the property.

Herds of Rocky Mountain Elk graze in the same areas, but tend to move around a lot. This of course brings elk into contact with the fences.

Ranchers get frustrated because they are always having to fix fences. Elk will bunch up and push their way through.

However, it’s hard on the elk too, especially the young ones. As the photos show below, even mature elk can get caught up in the barbwire.

(By the way, I hung back and took the photos with a telephoto lens so that my presence wouldn’t contribute negatively to the animals’ movements.)

The moral of the story is that life in Eastern Oregon is a series of trade offs, always has been and always will be.

Large herd of Elk near Zumwalt Prairie, getting ready to go through two barbwire fences and over the Buckhorn Road

Large herd of Elk near Zumwalt Prairie, getting ready to go through two barbwire fences and over the Buckhorn Road

Elk Cow tripping while jumping the fence

Elk Cow tripping while jumping the fence

Elk Cow's leg obviously caught in the barbwire

Elk Cow’s leg obviously caught in the barbwire while young calves struggle with getting over the fence

Elk Cow frees her leg from the barbwire and runs off

Elk Cow frees her leg from the barbwire and runs off while calves continue to look for a way though

Young Bull Elk through the fence and running to catch the herd

Young Bull Elk through the fence and running to catch the herd

The main herd has made it over the road and through the fences, but few calves are evident

The main herd has made it over the road and through the fences, but few calves are evident

Another mature Cow Elk caught in the barbwire fence

Another mature Cow Elk caught in the barbwire fence

Calf Elk looking for a way through

Calf Elk looking for a way through

Group of young Elk giving up for the time being

Group of young Elk giving up for the time being

 

 

Categories: Eastern Oregon OutingsTags: , , , ,

1 comment

  1. This must have been difficult to watch, John. I saw this with a doe and fawn in Central Oregon along hwy 20. the doe jumped over the fence easily but the fawn ran into the fence over and over. We were worried that it would break its neck or suffer another permanent injury. Many cars had stopped to watch this. Finally, my mom told two big guys to grab the fawn when it had crumpled to the ground (yet again) and throw it over the fence. It worked. I’ll never forget the cry of the fawn every time it pummeled into the fence, panicked that it wouldn’t get to its mother. Definitely a Bambi moment for me. But the ranchers need their fences–no easy answer. if only the elk could manage the stiles.

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