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Elk Viewing - a popular Oregon Coast activity
Oregon Coast Notes - News

Elk

Elk can be seen year-round, but certain times are better for viewing than others. Probably the best month is September, when the males (bulls) are trying to establish dominance for mating rights with the females (cows). They are very active during this time, making loud vocalizations (bugling), and breaking brush with their antlers to impress cows and intimidate their rivals. If you plan to visit during September, try to arrive during the week. Elk viewing has become very popular and weekends are crowded. Another good time to view elk is from late April through early May. Elk are active throughout the daylight hours eating the new green growth and there are few people out to see them.

Watch bull Roosevelt elk gather in open meadows to bugle and battle as the fall rut, or mating season, swings into full heat. Listen carefully for bugling. The long, high-pitched whistle is beautiful to hear and will help you zero in on the elk's location. If you are really lucky, you may even see two bulls sparring in an epic battle for dominance.

Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area

DeanCreek03_009The Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area is the year-round residence for a herd of about 100 Roosevelt elk. A mild winter climate and abundant food allow the Roosevelt elk to remain at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area all year. Morning and evening are the best viewing times, but elk may be out at any time of day.

Start at the interpretive facility. A series of panels tells about elk and the environment of the Dean Creek area. Use the spotting scope at the facility or your own binoculars or spotting scope to scan the area. You may spot elk anywhere throughout the meadows. They may be lying down, so do not neglect to carefully peruse the tall grass. The viewing area stretches almost 3 miles along the south side of the road, so be sure and drive its length. There are turnouts along the way where you can stop to watch.

From Reedsport, Oregon, and U.S. Highway 101, travel about three miles east on Highway 38 until you see the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area signs. From Interstate 5, Highways 38 and 138, head west to Reedsport and the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area. Travel time from Roseburg or Eugene, Oregon, is approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. Physical Address is 48819 State Hwy. 38 Reedsport, OR 97467.

Jewel Meadows Elk Viewing Area

jewell_meadows_elkTucked in the Fishhawk Creek Valley of the coast range, next to the hamlet of Jewell, a mile-long stretch of Highway 202 passes neatly-trimmed meadows.

Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area is managed to provide winter habitat and supplemental feeding for Roosevelt elk. Open pastures border a state highway, offering excellent viewing of up to 200 elk during winter and spring. Other wildlife species also are abundant. The main meadow is a year-round refuge with no hunting or public access. The wildlife area has two paved parking areas, four viewing areas and interpretive signing.

The best bet is to start at the developed parking and viewing area by the wildlife area headquarters. Restrooms, an interpretive kiosk, and brochures about the area are available there. From the parking area, there is an expansive view south and west across the meadow next to Fishhawk Creek, where elk congregate. Beyond the meadow is dense forest. Scan the surrounding area for bull activity.

From Portland, travel west on Hwy. 26 to the Jewell Junction, just west of Elderberry Inn. Turn north on Hwy. 103, which parallels the Nehalem River for nine miles to Jewell. At Jewell travel 1.5 miles west on Hwy. 202 to the refuge area on Fishhawk Creek. Parking areas are provided at strategic points to aid viewing. The Beneke Creek tract is north of Jewell on Beneke Creek Road.

Roosevelt Elk Facts

WapitiRoosevelt elk live in the coastal and Cascade ranges of the Pacific Northwest. During summer, they are found in high, open mountain meadows, and in winter they move to lower wooded slopes, and can often be found in dense woods. Also known as Wapiti and Olympic Elk. They are primarily grazers and eat many plants. Roosevelt elk stand from 41⁄2 to 5 feet in height at the shoulder and 8 to10 feet in length. Males typically weigh from 600 to 1,000 pounds and females weigh around 350 to 650 pounds.

Roosevelt elk are a brown or tan color with darker underparts. Their rump patches and tails are yellowish brown. Along with many-tined antlers that measure up to 5 feet, males also have a dark brown mane on their throat. Females do not have antlers. Active at dawn and dusk, they dig wallows in the ground with their hooves and antlers. During rut, the males will rub their antlers on saplings and shrubs. Their racks of antlers are also used as weapons in fights with other males for females. They are social animals and live in very large herds. The breeding season, or "rut," occurs from late August to early October. Gestation lasts nearly nine months, after which time the cows leave the herd to give birth to single calves weighing 30 to 35 pounds (twins are very rare). After a week, the cows and calves return to the herd. Roosevelt elk live from 14 to 25 years.

Roosevelt elk have a secure status. They are protected and regulated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Historically, elk were in danger of being overhunted. President Theodore Roosevelt was one of the first to try to protect the elk by creating the Olympic National Monument, now the Olympic National Forest, partly to protect the calving grounds and habitat of the native elk herds.

From Reedsport, Oregon, and U.S. Highway 101, travel about three miles east on Highway 38 until you see the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area signs. From Interstate 5, Highways 38 and 138, head west to Reedsport and the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area. Travel time from Roseburg or Eugene, Oregon, is approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. Physical Address is 48819 State Hwy. 38 Reedsport, OR 97467.
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