Heard around the West

  Being a senator is a rough job. It takes a good deal of toughing it out, sucking it up, upper-lip stiffening and other-cheek turning. Take Mark Hatfield, the Republican senator from Oregon who recently lobbied to extend the "logging-without-laws' salvage rider: "Seeing the photos (of fallen ancient forest trees) chills my blood," he said on the Senate floor. "But it would also chill my blood to walk into a slaughterhouse and see how sausages are made. But I still like sausages."

Donna Barsalou also likes sausages. But unlike Sen. Hatfield, she is comfortable with the entire sausage-making process. Cowboy poet and radio commentator Baxter Black recently recalled the way Barsalou bagged her deer in 1992: The Salmon, Idaho, secretary was heading to work in her yellow Subaru with a pony tail dangling from the trunk and a bumper sticker that read "Kids in trunk," when, about a mile from home, she came upon some deer. Although hunting season was nearly over, Barsalou hadn't gotten her deer yet because she'd been busy building a barn. She dashed back to her house and got her rifle. She shot her buck, then unceremoniously took off her cashmere sweater, her earrings and her haircombs. Clad only in her bra and skirt, she gutted him. She got to work a little late. By the end of the day, her story was out. By the end of the week, the first of five blaze-orange bras were trickling in from her friends and admirers.

"All I was doing was what I really needed to do," she told the Idaho Falls Post-Register. "I'm not really a hunter - I just get panicky each fall until there's meat in the freezer. I can't afford to buy meat."

Meanwhile, animal rights activists in New Mexico are furious about an annual Easter "scramble" in which children tackle bunnies on the run to take home as pets. "It is very frightening for the bunnies to be chased, and they could have heart attacks very easily," Mary Morrison of the House Rabbit Society told the Albuquerque Journal. Casper Baca, organizer of Belen's Easter Bunny and Barnyard Scramble, begged to differ: "I have yet to see a bunny injured in all the years we've been doing it. If we didn't have this scramble, more than half of these rabbits would be taken to slaughter to eat or would be killed to make fur coats."

Hollywood director and revisionist historian Oliver Stone has joined environmentalists and Native Americans opposing a buffalo hunt in New Mexico. The buffalo - nine aging members of the Fort Wingate Army Depot's herd of 60 - are currently protected from their executioners by a federal judge's preliminary injunction (HCN, 2/5/96). Judge Martha Vasquez based her decision on the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires an environmental analysis of activities on federal lands.

Although New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and other officials have pointed out the herd's elderly buffalo are prone to malnutrition and starvation, Stone remains stalwart in his opposition to the hunt: "While I had a wonderful time filming Natural Born Killers in New Mexico, such a betrayal of the public trust cannot go unanswered," Stone told Indian Country Today. "It seems clear that the majority of people are being forced to abide with the wishes of a gun-toting few."

Elsewhere in the Land of Enchantment, Carlsbad Caverns has been named a World Heritage Site by the World Heritage Convention, an organization loosely tied to the United Nations. How did the local people react to the honor of having the caverns named one of 400 sites worldwide and only 19 in the U.S.? Tepidly, to put it mildly. "I just don't feel like I want to turn over any part of our park to be a part of a foreign organization," Eddy County Land Use Committee member Marvin Watts told the Carlsbad Current-Argus. He and other circumspect New Mexicans were soothed by the National Park Service's Jim Charleton. "We are members of the convention, but we are a sovereign nation," Charleton said. "We will continue to run (our natural areas) in our way."

And Wyoming, it seems, will continue to run things its way. State Game and Fish Director John Talbott may have given up his position Jan. 31 after he was caught fishing without a license last summer (HCN, 3/4/96). But he was put back on its payroll for five days last month. He was paid $1,900 and allowed up to $2,500 in expenses to represent the state at a meeting of the Western Governors' Association in Salem, Ore. Wyoming brass told the Casper Star-Tribune that "in this instance, the best person with the most background and who could cover it best for the state was, in fact, John Talbott."

*Lisa Jones

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 bumpersticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or HCNVIRO@aol.com