After a two year break, winter moose feeding tours are back in the Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area.
Each winter, the conservation area, which is located near Seaside and Astoria, provides supplemental nutrition to approximately 200 Roosevelt elk in efforts to enhance the public’s viewing experiences and help keep elk away from adjacent private farmlands.
“It’s a great way to get up close and personal with wildlife in a managed environment that is safe and done in a biologically valuable scenario,” said Braden Erickson, a biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “There aren’t many scenarios where you’ll see animals up close and personal, and this is one of them.”
Tours usually start at 9:00 AM and last about an hour. During the tour you have the opportunity to drive an open wagon to various locations in the nature reserve. You get alfalfa hay bales to throw over the side of the wagon for the moose to eat. A volunteer or biologist will also be there to answer any questions about the moose, the programs or wildlife conservation in Oregon, Erickson said.
There are about 15 people in the cars, and as for who should join the tours, Erickson said all ages are welcome.
“We’re trying to put the experience together with the people on the car,” Erickson said. “We can put it together any way we want. It’s open to people of all ages.”
The nature reserve offers guided tours from December to February, but reservations are required. The staff will start making reservations on December 1st at 8am. Call the scenic area at 503-755-2264 to make a reservation.
Other things to do at Jewell Meadows
In addition to the moose feeding tours, Jewell Meadows offers other viewing experiences. There are two paved parking areas and four viewing areas with interpretive signage. Elk can be seen most days during the winter months, and the best viewing times to see the wildlife are in the mornings and late afternoon or evening hours.
The nature reserve is also home to a variety of other animals. Bird species vary with the time of year, but you may be able to spot bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, or many owl species. Also hear about more than 40 species of songbirds that spend time in the area. You may also be able to spot other wildlife such as coyotes, bobcats, black-tailed deer, river otters, and beavers.
You are not allowed to enter the field, but you can view wildlife from one of the four lookouts or roadways.
Travel directions: From Portland, head west on Highway 26 to Jewell Junction, just west of Elderberry Inn. Turn north on Highway 103, which parallels the Nehalem River for 15 miles to Jewell. At Jewell, head west on Highway 202 for 1.5 miles to the refuge on Fishhawk Creek. Parking spaces are provided at lookout points.
Parking permit: A permit is required for parking at the nature reserve. Parking permits can be purchased at ODFW online or from local sellers.
Visiting hours: Always open.
Best time to visit: November – April for elk viewing. All year round for bird watching.