Heard around the West
WYOMING A man working
in a brushy area of his horse pasture in Big Horn, Wyo.,
looked over his shoulder and suddenly noticed he’d been
stalked: A mountain lion stood 10 feet away. The man, who told the
Cody Enterprise he wished to remain anonymous,
did everything right: He straightened up, yelled and banged his
shovel to appear threatening. The lion stayed put. When the man
tried to edge away, the lion charged. But the man still had his
shovel, and he swung it at the lion and connected, while also
shouting for help. The combination did the trick, and the lion
retreated; later, the animal was treed by dogs and shot by state
On Oct. 22, a dozen or so skiers in Silverton in
western Colorado couldn’t wait for the ski season to begin:
Ten inches had fallen on the town, nestled high in the mountains at
10,000 feet. The skiers headed out to the still-closed Silverton
Mountain Ski Area and were having a great time, reports the
Silverton Standard & the Miner, when they
saw a fracture line shoot across the snow above them. An avalanche
immediately released, sweeping one skier over a cliff and some 800
to 900 feet down to the valley below. Amazingly, the skier lived to
tell the tale, though he was found buried up to his neck in snow
that had set like concrete. He suffered mainly from hypothermia
— the avalanche had stripped off all his clothes from the
back to the West in 1995, wolves are flourishing in and
around Yellowstone, but they still get in trouble whenever they
feast on private property in the form of calves, lambs or llamas.
Environmentalists protest that wolves are then killed for doing
what comes naturally — eating — while ranchers complain
that wolf packs threaten their livelihood. The man dealing with
their criticism for the last decade has been Ed Bangs, team leader
for wolf recovery for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Bangs
isn’t retiring, but he’s looking to pass on his hot
seat to Montana staffers at the Department of Fish, Wildlife and
Parks. Let the state decide when and where to kill problem-causing
wolves, he told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
Bangs joked that he’s ready for a tame job in a coffee shop,
the kind where "people come to you for something they want, you
give it them, and they thank you."
UTAH Thanks to the Moab-based
Canyon Country Zephyr, we saw a list
of constitutional amendments that might just have passed Nov. 2 had
they made it onto the state ballot. In the Top 10: "All Internet
traffic passing through Utah must be baptized at the state line,"
"Separation of church and state shall not exceed three minutes,"
"God shall provide adequate water for lawns in all years," and the
no-brainer for men: "Marriage shall consist of a union between a
man and as many women as can tolerate him."
MONTANA Talking about wolves in the
middle of the night can make some people trigger-happy.
That’s what happened to a 38-year-old hunter from Florida,
who got "scared to death" by a conversation about wolf packs with a
guide and another hunter. Later, when he was alone in the dark near
Livingston, Mont., David Williams heard something moving and fired
three rounds of his .300-caliber magnum rifle toward the noise.
What he hit was his 25-year-old guide, J.C. Davis, who’d been
walking his horse toward Williams. The Associated Press said the
blast "blew a hole" in the guide’s upper left arm, causing
extensive damage; Williams has been charged with reckless
THE WEST Is
anyone else annoyed by the full-page Volkswagen ads in
glossy magazines for the company’s all-terrain Touareg SUV?
The car is ballyhooed as so special that "the highway is just a
suggestion." A photo shows the car lured by white lines peeling off
a highway and up into rugged desert, because "you actually could go
just about anyplace you get the urge to." Not so on most public
land in the West. Here’s a suggestion for VW: "Roads are for
driving. Stay on the road."
Betsy Marston is
editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country
News in Paonia, Colorado. Tips of Western oddities are
always appreciated and often shared in the column, Heard around the