Encounter: Inga Thompson, Rancher and 3-time Olympic Cyclist

We met Inga Thompson on a snowy day on her ranch in Halfway, OR where she invited us out on a horse-drawn sled to add hay to her cow’s grass-fed diets.

When I first contacted Inga, she mentioned that she enjoyed rural living in part because of the wildlife but she hadn’t seen wolves in the area yet. Half a year later, remote game cameras on her property documented the presence of two wolves. She appreciates wolves and other wildlife, and even protected a black bear on her property from hunters even though she doesn’t appreciate its appetite for the apples in her orchard.

The complexity of wolf recovery hit her hard, however, one day when a prize mare disappeared. From the mare’s tracks and animal behavior she pieced together a scene that wolves may have cornered the mare against a barbed wire fence, the horse panicked, tore through the fence into a dense thicket and did not survive her injuries.

Inga is now in the middle of jumping through Fish and Wildlife’s hoops, a lawsuit, and questions about what tools are available to balance the needs of the animals under her care and local wildlife.