Heard Around the West

Brief by Betsy Marston

Heard Around the West – April 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine

Wild Animal Vengeance

Two stories that tell us things never go quite as planned: In British Columbia, Canada, a man recently shot himself in the leg with a pistol he carried in case he ran into bears. The accident occurred while he was fleeing a black bear and her two cubs, reports the West Kootenai Weekender.

And in Helena, Mont., a porcupine nailed its assailant by doing what comes naturally — attaching quills to whatever it came in violent contact with. A 22-year-old man was charged with kicking the animal to death outside a night club, and investigators easily proved they’d gotten their man by checking his shoes. The man was fined $125, AP reports.

It’s Not So Batty After All

Albert Bartlett of Boulder, Colo., tells us he was surprised while driving through a small town in Montana to see a school billboard bragging about the “Home of the Bats.” Then he noticed the town was named Belfry.

A Major Headache

A two-headed deer? A wildlife biologist for Montana said he’d never heard of it before. But it was true. One deer head was alive and attached to its body, while the other had been severed from its torso, most probably after a head-butting, antler-locking duel between the two bucks.

Robert Kercher of Great Falls shot the living four-point deer, then surmised that the entangled deer — also a four-point — had been dragged around, apparently for days. “Eventually the body fell off,” reports the Great Falls Tribune, leaving just the head and antlers trapped in the winning buck’s rack.

Coyotes may have also gotten involved by moving in to feed on the trapped animal. Kercher and his five hunting buddies say they were anything but amused by the bizarre discovery. One said, “You think of the agony the animal had gone through.” Added state biologist Jim Williams: “It’s a tough life being a buck.”

They Ain’t Fireflies, But They’re Hot

Some radioactive debris at the 560-square-mile Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington is leaking and heading right for groundwater; some of it roils and boils within huge metal canisters. That’s old news. Now comes word that seemingly harmless insects, ranging from gnats and fruit flies to ants, may be randomly spreading radioactive contamination throughout the isolated area, AP reports.

About 10 acres containing office buildings and trailers have been closed to workers because of spot contamination, and 13 different areas are now known to set off Geiger counters. A “wet garbage” area attracting flies and gnats seems the hottest spot so far, registering 10 to 12 millirads per hour, which is about the same amount of radiation released by an hourly dental x-ray.

Phone Sex Hits The News Again

In Las Vegas, Nev., a constable admitted that he took time off from work to hang around strippers at one of the city’s top “exotic clubs,” according to the Las Vegas Sun. But taxpayers were never cheated, the constable claimed, because “he was always available by cellular phone.”

Watch Out For Those Really Big Predators

A modest two-bedroom, two-bath house on pricey Red Mountain overlooking Aspen was priced at $3,256 recently. Does this sound like a bargain? It wasn’t; it was merely the cost per square foot.

The 1,121 square-foot bungalow actually sold for $3.6 million and will be torn down and replaced by a much larger structure, reports the Associated Press.

And while we’re on the subject of real estate, the Jackson Hole News asked locals recently if they were worried about wolves “coming into Jackson” .

Ray Brence, who described his work as “mostly anything,” replied: “Who is afraid of a few wolves when there are so many sharks in the valley?”

Something To Beef About

At a junior high school in Taylorsville, Utah, it’s the battle of the banners. It all began when principal Lori Gardner allowed a fast-food flag to fly at the school. “Out of all the business partners, and we’ve got some great ones, McDonald’s has made a point of really being part of the school,” she told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Way too much a part, says the animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. So every week its members demonstrate their opposition to hamburger and other McDonald’s fare at the school.

Now some students are fighting back with a banner of their own; it says “META: Meat Eaters who are Thankful for Animals.” “We’re kind of tired of them (PETA) being at our school and trying to rip down the flagpole and stuff,” said eighth grader Ross Quigley. PETA’s Bruce Friedrich says he’s challenged the principal “to find one thing on a McDonald’s menu that makes good dietary sense.”

Peddling Toward Population Control

“Mountain bikes are our planet’s salvation!” crows Jim Stiles, editor of the distinctly opinionated Canyon Country Zephyr in Moab, Utah. Why?

Because the uncomfortable seats of bikes press on a man’s penile artery and this can lead to impotence, concludes a specialist from Boston University.

Stiles, never a fan of tourists swarming through town in day-glo tights, asks, “With penile arteries being flattened like prairie dogs on Interstate 70, can population stabilization be far behind?”

Canine Cologne

Finally, a story of the New West from Kemmerer, Wyo. A woman called the county sheriff to report that a gas leak threatened her home. On investigating, officers discovered that the family dog had been sprayed by a skunk, and that was causing the stink. Its odor was so strong that deputies “cleared the residence fairly fast as the woman thanked them for the timely response.”

Betsy Marston is the editor of High Country News (www.hcn.org). She can be reached at HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or betsym@hcn.org.

High Country News