Wild wolves invade downtown Imnaha! Okay, maybe "wolves" is stretching it a bit. Certainly there was one. Wild? Yep, that part is true. Downtown Imnaha? Dang near. We'd have to stretch the original town plat a bit for that part to play true. I encountered a wolf on the Imnaha Highway. The wolf stayed in its lane and I stayed in mine. It was an amazing and nearly spiritual experience right there in the moonlit shadow of the Imnaha Church.

It was six feet away as the car drifted by at 10mph. I saw wolf tracks in the snow last fall. This is the first wild wolf I've seen.

In February, I'd expect critters to be a bit on the skinny side. This animal appeared to be healthy and in its prime. Big, black, strong. Blacker than the winter asphalt. Its fur was remarkable. Each hair seemed to stand out to its fullest length. A bushy tail curved above its back. The wolf's eyes glowed yellow in the headlamps. Long I will remember those.

It was an ancient, ethereal sight. Perhaps there is something in our DNA or other genetic material that has tumbled along before us that remembers things beyond our current conscious ability. It was not a feeling of "this is enemy" but more of "respect this". Though it moved not, I have a feeling that it experienced a prehistoric snapshot of humans as well. Who knows the mind of a wolf? It did not seem fierce at that moment. It was magnificent.

It is hard to tell what folks will do about wolves in our area, how they will react to wolves in our town.

If Mr. Black and Shiny were to bound the fence and endanger my dogs and chickens, I'd want to pick up a rifle, breath, aim and squeeze. That sort of thing. I don't feel in danger from one wolf, but I feel obligated to protect the animals I am responsible for.

Maybe the State of Oregon could send a gunnysack of rubber bullets to Imnaha Canyon. Perhaps those that shoot well could deliver the sting of fear before anything has to die.

The fishing picture remains steady on the Imnaha River. Catch rates are not overly high but success comes to those that fish consistently. Fisher-folk that venture down Cow Creek way report high numbers of Steelhead hooked. Many people eagerly await the large run of hatchery fish that has been predicted.

Red-Winged Blackbirds have once again made their presence known in the canyon. They seem to believe they are lord of all they survey and are not shy when it comes to letting the world know about it. Whether airspace or a perch, they are quick to claim and proclaim. They were Grandma's favorite bird.

If anyone is interested in a job that involves driving around and looking at the glorious flora and fauna of Imnaha Canyon, there is one available. Details may be found at the Imnaha Post Office. Rumor has it that it might also have something to do with delivering the mail.

Robin Townsend is the Chieftain's Imnaha correspondent. Contact him at robrites@gmail.com.

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