Born to run

When I first moved to Portland in the late '70s, there were possums everywhere. I was told they were a legacy of the old city of Vanport, north of what was then Portland. Vanport was destroyed by a catastrophic flood in 1948. Its residents, many being from the southeastern United States, reportedly raised the possums for food. When Vanport was wiped out, the story went, a lot of the people left, and well, where they were going, there were plenty of possums. And so they left theirs behind.

The beasts were all over Portland in the '70s and '80s, especially as roadkill but also in your yard. I remember hitting one in the head with an empty beer can trying to get it out of my vegetables. The possum just stared at me as if nothing had happened.

The possums are pretty much gone, as far as I can tell, but you might see one now and then around town, along with raccoons, and especially coyotes. One early evening a couple of weeks ago, a coyote was casually trotting by our house as I pulled up. A teenage-looking guy, on his way to feast on somebody's hapless house cat.

But with all the wildlife running around the 'hood, nobody expects a wolverine. Especially in Oregon, where that animal hadn't been seen in decades. Until last year about this time, that is. One of those bad boys showed up on the Columbia River east of Portland. Then he was spotted in Damascus and Beavercreek. (Or maybe it was she.)

Now it's that time of year again. About six weeks ago, a wolverine showed up in Barlow. In March, one was seen in three towns on the north and central Oregon Coast. Last week, one popped up in south Eugene. They say these critters can cover 30 miles in a day. Could it all be the same one? I'll bet it is.

Anyway, I'm rooting for the wolverines. The experts say they may be coming in from Washington State, where the population is big enough to breed. Oregon's a much better place, at least if you don't have to pay taxes.


  1. My bet is that the Wolverines are visiting from Michigan.

  2. We had one here near the nexus of Clackamas, Marion, and Yamhill counties a few weeks back. I sure hope it's the same guy/gal making all these stops.

    Go little rock star.

  3. Strangest thing I ever saw was a possum, 20 feet up a tree hanging by its tail.

    1. Probably should have mentioned, it was in the late 40s’. Before the coyote population started growing.

    2. I seriously doubt that Coyotes would confront a full grown opossum. Unless it had been injured or something. They are more opportunistic hunters, and usually only go for easy prey.

  4. Yep the 70s possum population in Portand was immense. They were everywhere. Now it's rats, raccoons and coyotes.

  5. I regularly go on early morning walks in NE Portland and have noticed many more bunnies over the past year despite the coyotes.

  6. This isn't normal behavior for a wolverine. They avoid people. I wouldn't be surprised if it is escaped from captivity.


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