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Dark days for bovines

* Heard Wedding photo *

WASHINGTON: "It's all downhill from here, sweetie." Courtesy Alexis Alloway.

COLORADO

These are dark days for bovines. In northeastern Colorado, 50 cows keeled over this summer, most likely from anthrax, which thrives during drought. That sad news came on the heels of a grisly spate of livestock mutilations in the western part of the state. A horse near Gunnison was shot and its head skinned and its anus removed, according to the Denver Post. A nearby cow suffered a similar fate, the fourth such incident in the area this year. 'It looks like a ritualistic issue,' rancher Mike Clarke told the Post. 'Either that, or they are high on drugs (the mutilators, not the cows). There is just no logical explanation.' Southern Colorado's been plagued, on and off, by mysterious livestock dissections ever since 'Snippy' the horse was eviscerated in the San Luis Valley in 1967, and speculation, logical and illogical, is rife about who or what is doing the slicing and dicing. Suspects include the aforementioned satanic junkies, space aliens (naturally), agents from a secret military installation near Dulce, N.M., doing genetic tests, and faddish chefs trying to satisfy a new culinary hankering for sauteéd l'anus de la vache. (We just made that last one up, but these days, who knows?)

NEW MEXICO

One way to find out who's responsible for animal killings is to stake out local pastures. That tactic, reports the Albuquerque Journal, sort of worked for the prairie dog advocate/vigilantes trying to bust whoever shot a dozen or more of the rodents at a particular intersection in Santa Fe. Prairie dog vigilante Steve Dobbie was keeping watch when he caught Steve Wienke -- a guest scientist at Los Alamos who works on algorithms -- taking a pop at the p-dogs with a pellet gun. Wienke told police that he had never shot at these particular rodents before; he just happened to notice them as he was getting cash at the ATM and figured they were good targets. Dobbie told the Journal that he would continue to watch over the p-dog colony until the animals go into hibernation.

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From my Alaska trip: I flew into a small town that is not reachable by road, then hopped on a motorboat and drove across lakes and rivers for 2.5 hours to reach the scientists' camp way out in the boondocks -- out there they have a few rough cabins and a generator that makes electricity only in the evening and two outhouses -- and lo and behold, for reading material in the outhouses they have issues of the Economist magazines and HCN -- amazing to discover HCN readers way out there!

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