The last happy agency biologist — and other April Foolery
Public servant decides it's time to put his feet up and relax
On the shelf behind Mark Intyme’s desk rests an assortment of animal skulls, rocks, and a 2004 award signed by Interior Secretary Gale Norton commending Intyme for his "exceptional spirit of cooperation."
Intyme has worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1969, and he’s seen a lot of changes. Although some of his colleagues complain that their work has been unduly influenced by politics in recent years, Intyme shrugs off the notion that a "culture of fear" prevails among the rank and file at the agency. "Bush, Norton, Cheney — they’re the best thing that’s happened to me since Nixon," he says. "Ol’ Tricky Dick was so busy with Watergate he didn’t even notice that Congress had passed all sorts of bothersome environmental laws."
These days, Intyme is appreciating the chance to relax: "I used to be so busy writing reports, counting bunnies and worrying about ‘compliance’ that I couldn’t get a moment’s peace."
Intyme says he has learned the value of "taking care of numero uno." He’s currently working on his memoirs (tentatively titled Men with Nets: My Life with Fish), and enjoys playing Tetris, e-mailing jokes to his friends, and making origami animals out of public comment letters. "Nowadays, as long as I sign the papers Washington sends through the field office," he says, "I have the whole rest of the day to work on the things that are truly important to me."
by FIFI McSNEAKY
The author is a freelance writer who really hopes she gets her check on time for a change.
Fanged cattle chomp into wolf controversy
The West’s wolves may no longer be top dog on the range. A small bio-engineering company in Montana, Moreau’s Sky Island Institute, has come up with an innovative solution for ranchers fed up with losing livestock to these cunning predators: a genetically modified cow that fights back.
The mutated Angus cattle, nicknamed "The Termoonator" by researchers, incorporate genes from a Siberian tiger, a Tasmanian devil and common garlic. According to Dr. Gene Tampring, head scientist at the Institute, the modified bovines successfully fend off wolves 97.9 percent of the time and also terrify underage drinkers prone to tipping the cows at night.
The tiger gene gives the Angus cattle elongated front molars. "Any wolf that goes after a calf with eight-inch fangs deserves to be removed from the gene pool," says Tampring. Scientists also manipulated the animal’s personality with DNA from Tasmanian devils to trigger rage in the otherwise docile grazers. "These cows don’t just moo in terror," he says. "They actually kick up tornadoes of dust and turbo-attack the predators." Tampring says that the garlic DNA helps pre-marinate the beef, and also repels the elusive chupacabra and vampire bats.
The Society for non-Livestock Ungulates Including Elk and Deer and Some Rogue Llamas (SFNLUIEDSRL) has filed a lawsuit, saying the technology will unfairly endanger wild species that lack genetic modifications.
But ranchers are enthusiastic. "Watching those freaky cows chase my neighbor’s dogs is even better than ‘American Idol,’ " says Ricky Rawhide, a rancher near Kalispell who almost lost three cows to wolf attacks last year. "I say bring it on!"
by BESSIE LeBOeuF
The author writes for "Purple Pastures," a congressionally funded nonprofit that supports the reintroduction of color to the nation’s bland landscapes.
On April 1, 3,413 local and national environmental groups banded together for the "Million Bush March" in Washington, D.C., many carrying signs reading "We’re green and we’re not dead yet." The march’s theme was variously interpreted: Some wore masks of the president, while others came dressed as foliage. "At least no one cut down any actual bushes or trees," says organizer Willow Rainbow. "That would have been counterproductive." The president, apparently thinking the gathering was a support rally, gave the crowd a big thumbs-up from the White House lawn.
A normally soft-spoken black-tailed prairie dog is squeaking out about the cyanide gas being piped through his town. But it’s not his neighbors’ deaths that landowner Fuzzy Meadowteeth resents, it’s the loss in property value: "There’s no way I can sell my land to developers now." With help from the Mountain Steaks Legal Foundation, Meadowteeth is suing the government under "takings" legislation.
Often criticized for his environmental record, President Bush yesterday announced a new Wetlands Conservation Bill, which extends federal protection to the nation’s swimming pools, hot tubs, and "those nice colorful drinks with the little paper umbrellas." Bush also designated the nation’s first Wild and Scenic Log Flume Ride, located at the amusement park Six Flags Over Taxes.
A firestorm of controversy has erupted over the raging use of out-of-control metaphors in the fiery struggle to write about burning Western issues (HCN, every issue since the beginning of time). "Language activists are blazing with indignation," says Elroy Gumption. "It’s time we threw cold water on the smoldering embers of the linguistic cliché conflagration."
— Linda Fewbucks
Miranda Fescue of Mad Bat, Okla., a scientist who says she knows a hell of a lot more than the rest of us, took us to task for several recent inaccuracies. The semi-detached hydrostatic panjandrum is no longer listed as endangered, as we reported; its status has been downgraded to threatened, on the grounds that it doesn’t really exist. We confused the state of Wydaho with Nevadizona in our article about square dry Western states and how they got that way. And we misquoted Under-Undersecretary of the Exterior Buford Paunce in the story about water being taken out of one river, channeled into another, stashed behind a dam, piped across one state, stored underground in another, and ultimately used to fill water-skiing lakes in Las Vegas. Instead of simply telling our reporter to "Go away and leave me alone," Paunce actually said, "If you ever call me again, I will personally arrange for a toxic-waste dump to be built on the site of your office."