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Beware of area's burgeoning baby critter population

A fawn at Lewis & Clark National Historical Park peeks out from the brush. (Seth Conner/Lewis & Clark NHP)
Thursday, July 15, 2021

Forest babies are everywhere.

Elk calves and adolescent elk are roaming through the region. And deer fawns with their spotted backs can be seen wandering through town with their mothers.

“Baby deer have been spotted throughout the park!” Lewis and Clark National Historical Park proclaimed June 29 on its Facebook page. “Visitors -- and rangers -- have been fawning over them. While they're very en-deer-ing, remember to keep your distance from all wildlife - for their safety and yours!”

Each year, Oregon State Police’s Fish and Wildlife Division remind people not to try to help baby critters found alone in the forest; deer and elk mothers often go off searching for food, leaving the calves and fawns in the brush.

Carla Cole, who is chief of the Natural Resource Program at the park, has seen an explosion of rabbits, too.

“I’m seeing a lot of brush rabbits outside my office today,” Cole said. “It’s a good time to see the brush bunnies.”

In and around the park, adventurers could come across weasels on the Netul River Boardwalk, various frogs, plenty of Roosevelt elk.

“And so many deer,” Cole said. “There seem to be deer here who have gotten used to our operations. We have inadvertently created some pretty nice accommodations for the deer here by our (headquarters) office.”

At least three herds of elk wander in and out of park boundaries – the airport herd with 40 to 80 members, the 60- to 80-member Camp Rilea herd, and a smaller herd in the Hammond area.

“Our park’s pretty small, so we don’t have the resident herds like the big national parks, but there are over 100 elk going in and out,” Cole said.

People should never feed the deer or elk. It encourages them to come into residents’ yards, where they can be destructive, even threatening.

“If you see wildlife, stick your arm out straight, put your thumb up, and close one eye,” the park service writes. “If you can look down your arm and cover the entire animal with your thumb, you’re at a safe distance. If not, slowly back away and get to a safe spot to observe.”

Some of the larger animals you might spot in and around Warrenton:

Roosevelt elk, the largest hoofed animal in Oregon.

Columbian black-tailed and white-tailed deer.

Cougars, found throughout western Oregon.

Bobcats, which like all regions of the state except dense urban populations and high altitudes.

Black bear, which can be found in the Cascades and west to the Pacific. It is the only bear species in Oregon and can be blond, brown, cinnamon or black.

Coyotes, which are prevalent throughout the state, but more sparsely so in Clatsop County.

Gray fox, found west of the Cascade, and red foxes, found throughout the state.

American beaver, which loves Clatsop County’s riparian habitats and abundant trees.

Raccoons, mischievous and meticulous.

Longtailed weasels, which are found throughout the state.

Minks, which love our marshy waterways.

River otters, found throughout western Oregon.

Western spotted skunks and striped skunks call all parts of the state home.

Nutria, a large rat-like semiaquatic rodent, which is considered an invasive species.

Virginia opossum, introduced to northwest Oregon between 1910 and 1921, they are considered an invasive species.

Fawns, adolescent elk and their mothers feed on grass in Fort Stevens State Historical Park. (Cindy Yingst)

A coyote pup spotted in Astoria. (Cayden Weaver/Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

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