Llamas and coyotes and bears, oh my

 

THE WEST

We've always relished the anecdote about the brand-new Wyoming congressman who made the mistake of bringing his border collie to Washington, D.C. Border collies originally hail from the English-Scottish borderlands, and they are super-smart and quintessentially alert: They live to round up animals, including ducks and people -- virtually anything that moves if sheep are unavailable. Confined mostly to an apartment, the congressman's dog nearly perished of boredom; its only relief came on weekends, when it would herd visiting beer drinkers into a clutch after crouching down and staring at them balefully. In Battle Ground, Wash., Sue Foster faced much the same problem after her border collie, Taff, was kicked out of obedience school for herding all the black labs into a corner. To give her dog a purpose in life, Foster rented some sheep, reports the Wall Street Journal, an act that was merely the first step down a steep and slippery slope. For after Foster acquired another couple of border collies, she rented some grazing land and then finally bought some sheep of her own. But even this was not the end: Foster also found herself purchasing a "llama to chase off the coyotes that threaten the lambs that go to market to finance the sheep that entertain her dogs." Dogs, of course, used to be bought to herd sheep; now, owners get sheep for the sake of their dogs.

COLORADO

Richard Kendall of Craig, a ranching town in western Colorado, was pretty proud of himself after he shot a 703-pound black bear this November, reports the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. After noticing gigantic tracks just before the end of bear season, he got a license, and the next day followed the footprints to the bear's den. Kendall crawled into the lair, and after hearing the bear's teeth chatter, shot him dead. His local paper, the Craig Daily Press, wrote a big feature about it, and afterward, Kendall told the Sentinel, strangers on the street stopped to congratulate him for bagging the animal, which stretched 9 feet 6 inches from nose to toes -- a possible state record. But as the weeks passed, public reaction changed, increasingly reflecting dismay if not downright repugnance. One critic told the Craig paper, "The killing may be legal, but it is definitely not ethical." A letter-writer to the Sentinel asked, "What sport is there to track a bear to his den and shoot him at point-blank range while he is in a stupor? When an intruder breaks into our homes ... it is called murder." Kendall says he's now sick of the whole thing. But it's not over: In early January, the state's Wildlife Commission asked its Division of Wildlife to draft a regulation prohibiting the hunting of bears in their dens.

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected]

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