Heard around the West

  • Billboard says eating meat could cause impotence

  • Climbers Jesse O'Connor and Angelo de la Cruz

    photo courtesy Hendrik van den Ende

Professional vegetarians really know how to hurt a guy. A proposed billboard campaign throughout the West from PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, features a busty babe wearing a bikini and a big grin, while a string of bologna cascades over one shoulder. But the billboard says there's a problem: "Eating meat can cause impotence." Boise Weekly reports that no billboard company will take the raunchy ads, but surprisingly, the director of the Idaho Cattle Association was amused by them: "We kind of got a kick out of it," said Sara Braasch, "because based on nutritional research done by university experts and the beef industry, beef really is the natural Viagra." Though PETA fixed on a manhood theme because it could not fail to hit "below the belt," campaign coordinator Bruce Friedrich said a new billboard campaign will aim for a softer approach.

When you're a single mother with five children, life can be tough. For an underweight wolf in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park, things just keep getting worse. First, a car killed her mate on a park road earlier this summer. Forced to become sole supporter of a large family, the mother was then trapped by the paw in a snare set for grizzles. The capture gave biologists a chance to see what the wolf was up against. Her biggest problem: No sharp teeth. All but one were ground down from chewing on the wires of a holding pen a year and a half ago. To give the mother and her brood a shot at fast food, biologists have been picking up roadkill and spreading it around for the taking. Yet even this isn't a slam dunk. The family of wolves must compete for meat with coyotes, bears and other wolves. The family must also steer clear of nearby "slow elk' - cows. As Franz Camenzind of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance sees it, the saga of feeding a family on the brink indicates the complexity of restoring a wild species: "Here we have a wolf that is watched day and night because of cattle nearby. She got caught in a trap set for grizzly bears so biologists can study how human use of the road affects the bear. This is intense wildlife management."

The balancing act some take for granted in Yellowstone National Park can shock foreigners. A group of game wardens from the Serengeti of Africa, Tanzania, recently toured the park and found its urban qualities upsetting - particularly tourists roaming free outside of their cars to fish, hike, walk dogs and ride bicycles. In Tanzanian parks, the wardens said, animals enjoy free rein while humans have to stay inside open-topped vehicles. That way, said Noel Lowasaari, "we don't have problems with people being attacked by lions," Associated Press reports.

A brazenly blunt politician has emerged in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jim Bradley, considered the frontrunner in the race for mayor, says the city should fleece spectators at the 2002 Olympic Games. During a debate with 12 other mayoral candidates, Associated Press reports, Bradley spelled out how locals could be spared possible debt from the world-class events: "The hotel transient room tax has to be jacked up as high as we can possibly do it. We have to raise the car rental tax as high as we can possibly do it - even shamelessly high - to generate revenue ...We have to look at opportunies like that to just screw 'em."

If you're ever moved to kiss a rattlesnake, resist the urge. Ken Hale, 26, was entertaining friends at his home near Carlsbad, Calif., when they dared him to smooch with his pet rattlesnake. Hale puckered up, reports AP, but the rattler lunged first and snagged him on the lower lip. At the least, the bite could have been disfiguring, since venom can kill tissue. It took 25 vials of antivenom to keep Hale alive, and, a doctor concluded, "If he'd waited another half-hour at home, he'd probably be dead."

A big part of the fun for photographers lined up at Alaska's Brooks River Falls is watching grizzlies chow down. The bears line up, jaws open wide, and migrating red salmon leap into their mouths. Meanwhile, camera shutters click as fast as they can. But tourists recently saw something more dramatic when an angry grizzly known as BB came on the scene, reports Bear News, published by the Great Bear Foundation in Missoula, Mont. The foul-tempered BB is "huge and very aggressive, though not with people," says Mark Wagner, Brooks Camp manager for the National Park Service. Rangers think BB is the same bear that killed a 500-pound grizzly two years ago. This time, BB charged two adult bears, who ran off, and two cubs, left alone briefly while their mother fished. BB "pounced" on one cub and devoured it, right in front of 23 shutterbugs.

Who climbed Grand Teton first has been debated for more than a century. Was it William Owen, the surveyor who convinced Wyoming public officials that he was the first, in 1898? Or was it Nathaniel Langford, first superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, and James Stevenson, who left their Hayden Survey party to climb the 13,770-foot mountain in 1872? Perhaps no one will ever know for sure, but this summer three climbers successfully retraced the earlier Langford route, reports the Jackson Hole News. His claim was questioned because no flag or rock cairn was found on the peak by later climbers and the last stretch of 700 feet seemed off, says reporter Angus Thuermer. But Jesse O'Connor, Angelo de la Cruz and photographer Hendrik van den Ende followed the 19th century route faithfully, even standing on one another's shoulders at one point, just as Langford and Stevenson said they had. They also dressed the part, looking notably nerdy in suits, ties and hats. But the trio used plastic garbage bags for rain shelter and modern climbing ropes instead of hemp, which broke frequently in trials. The climbers say they're convinced that Owen is an also-ran and that Grand Teton was first summited 127 years ago.

Eco-News of Arcata, Calif., reports that a photographer caught four men in the act of illegal logging on state land in southern California. Disguised as transportation workers, the men - all surburbanites - were photographed as they spent their free time chopping down or poisoning some 60 eucalyptus trees. The tall trees had blocked a view of the ocean from their homes. The faux loggers face a $2 million suit filed by the state.

Heard around the West invites readers to get involved in the column. Send any tidbits that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal anecdotes, relevant bumper sticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or betsym@hcn.org.