In the Dubious Achievement category, let’s send the 2003 Biology Award to Texas A&M’s vet school, which just cloned a white-tailed deer with a rack measuring 230 points on the Boone and Crockett scale. The lead researcher told the Houston Chronicle that the trophy buck is a "conservation tool." The bottle-fed deer, dubbed Dewey, joins a menagerie of copies at the vet school, including a calico cat, pigs, cattle and a goat.
Then there’s the category of Stupid People Tricks. The Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City features a display of objects that people have tossed into animal enclosures, including knives, cigarettes, combs and bullets. Zookeepers now can add the lethal, adult-size blue fleece glove that killed Andy, the "vivacious" polar bear that ate it. The glove lodged in the bear’s intestines, reports the Salt Lake Tribune, causing death in a matter of hours. Andy was only 14, middle-aged for polar bears, which can live to age 30. The zoo’s only polar bear, he was a favorite of its 770,000 visitors.
Talk about stretching the truth! In a Denver Post insert, Neumann Homes boasts about the "sweeping mountain vistas" you can see from its new homes outside Denver. Well, maybe if you’re an eagle and it’s a very clear day. Coloradan Brad Snyder noticed that the "panoramic view" on the flier is clearly of the Grand Teton Range in northwestern Wyoming.
Workers at a potato chip plant in Salem, Ore., were feeding potatoes into a sorting machine designed to eliminate anything unpotato, when a 3-pound bomb bounced out. Luckily, the bomb, and a second bomb that followed it, were duds, reports Capital Press. "They find them all the time" on the Pasco, Wash., farm that the potatoes came from — a former practice bombing range. The potato sorters also found a cell phone once. Says a plant manager: "If it’s a muddy day when they’re harvesting, everything’s covered in mud."
All 2,000 residents of Monticello, Utah, were honored last month when the city council named everybody in town "Citizen of the Year." Facing terrible drought, with no water reserves, the council severely restricted water use last year. But townspeople came through, reports the San Juan Record, cutting their water consumption in half. Everybody found themselves honored at the annual Monticello High School holiday music concert.
It’s hard to exaggerate how rural Wyoming is, but The New York Times has managed to do it. In a Dec. 14 story on natural gas drillers in Sublette County, reporter Felicity Barringer wrote that the county "is so rural that it does not have a single stop sign." Actually, the 4,882-square-mile county has plenty of stop signs, just no stoplights.
Most of us automatically delete e-mailed penis-enlargement offers from unknown spammers. But reader Greg Woodall was fooled into opening one recently. Why? It claimed to come from "The Bureau of Land Management."
Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, D, recently revealed a surprising amount of humility for a public official. Chafing at the "gubernatorial cone" that enveloped him in his office, Freudenthal started traveling the state to talk to people who work for nonprofits and other groups. "If they have a good idea," he told the Jackson Hole News & Guide, "I take it in a heartbeat." He added, "The thing that’s apparent, 11 months after the election, is I’m no smarter than I was before, but I have a lot more problems."
What do grizzly bears and cows have in common? They really don’t like anyone getting between them and their babies. A jogger who encountered a protective cow on land leased by Boulder, Colo., last year, is now suing the city for $25,000. Elaine Kingston told the Denver Post she wasn’t aware mother cows were a problem — until one locked eyes and then "head-butted" her, sending her airborne and breaking her pelvis.
Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country NewsI in Paonia, Colo. Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared in the column, Heard around the West.