An udder distraction: Wild cows on highway

By Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer January 15, 2014 09:18 am

 

An Oregon Department of Transportation sign reading “Wild Cows on Road” has more than a few motorists, well, udderly confused about what’s going on along Highway 101 between Gold Beach and Humbug Mountain.

The term “cattle drive” is taking on a new meaning in the north end of the county.


“I see one at least every other day,” someone posted on www.wildcowsonroad.com, set up to monitor the cows’, er, moooovements. “I drive from Port Orford to Gold Beach, and on the way home, it’s nuts. I forget they’re there and, just like that — horns!”

ODOT officials erected a lighted road construction sign in the area after people starting complaining about a small herd of cows crossing the road, forcing drivers to, um, steer clear of them, especially at night or in the fog.

“There have been cows in this area for quite a while, but it’s only recently come to a head,” said Dan Latham, ODOT spokesman, apparently oblivious to his own pun. “None of the nearby landowners are claiming them, and it’s getting to be more of a problem.”

It’s possible the herd of about 10 cows and a bull migrated from somewhere else, he said.

The website lets people know when the bovines have been sighted, what weather conditions in the area are and if anyone’s ... herd ... what the cows might be thinking that day.

Instead of potholes, ODOT officials are dealing with potential pot roasts.

“One cow has been hit by a car, and there’ve been several near misses,” Latham said. “They’re a little malnourished, and the bull is getting aggressive. Some ODOT people have tried to shoo him off the roadway, and he’s not cooperating.”

ODOT officials are working with the Department of Agriculture to ... grab the problem by the horns ... and see if the cows can be rounded up and relocated.

Until then, the wildcowsonroad website offers alerts, provided by people who drive through the area on a regular basis.

The most recent one, posted last Friday, read, “Word has it ODOT’s been herdin’ cattle all day! The most common area affected is northbound between the white line and the guardrail. They get trapped in there where there’s no shoulder. Keep a sharp eye out and go slow at all times, especially at dusk and in the dark.”

“Road report: Dark drive home. One between the rail and the white line again. Right-side horn and the tail hanging in my lane.”

Comics are in abundance, with one posting: “Two in the upper field; focused grazing activity noted,” and another, “I’ve had several in-depth conversations with the leader; they mean no harm. They’re just learning about us.”

In another section of the site, someone penned, “A small Honda Civic can complete the most-excellent 720 (turn) with the slightest whip of a tail! There are definitely ‘no trespassing’ signs up. Heed this advice; you don’t want the bull to think you’re competition for the cows. Stay in the car! Be safe! Carry a GPS at all times! Always wear a life jacket! Don’t forget your sunglasses! Wear a weight belt and bring a flashlight!”