I’m on my way to the Zumwalt Prairie with my younger brother. We’ve arrived at the Oregon township of Imnaha, population 12, which sits nestled in a deep canyon of exposed yellowish-orange rock along the Imnaha River.
We’re being served a beer and a story at the local Tavern-General Store-Restaurant, which is decorated with rattlesnake skins, pictures of women holding elk antlers, and old-timey jokes about fishing. The Tavern makes no bones about its position on Canadian wolves being introduced to nearby Idaho with signs: “Govt. Sponsored Terrorism: CANADIAN WOLVES!!”, “Canadian Wolf…Tastes like Chicken” and, “Canadian Wolf…It’s What’s for Dinner!”
Eating wolves may sound like bumper sticker banter, but up until a few years ago, Imnaha served barbecued bear along with rattlesnakes at its yearly Canyon Days festival. Animals play a big role in conversation here. Cougar sightings, where the salmon are biting, wolf politics, and of course rattlesnakes. The tavern itself keeps a freezer full of rattlers, ready for the barbecue.