Heard around the West

 

When we saw a copy of the Boobyprise out of Cody, Wyo., we thought: "That's it! This endangered species stuff has gone too far." For there was a photo of a flying dinosaur carrying off a human being.

Worse than the photo was the headline - "Dinosaur reintroduction in Yellowstone Park has gone better than anyone expected," and the caption - "The reintroduced pterodactyls quickly learned that large numbers of plump, slow-moving prey liked to habituate the steamy geothermal areas." Photographer Dewey Vanderhoff, who is behind the Boobyprise, explained that every few years he spoofs his home town and state. This summer, in honor of Cody's centennial celebration, which he says "was pretty much a dud," he published his eighth spoof in 22 years. Copies (of the spoof) are available for $3.50 from The Boobyprise, Box 1271, Cody, WY 82414.

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The Wallowa Chieftain out of eastern Oregon is one of the West's more conservative newspapers. Nevertheless, there in black-and-white was hard-line environmentalist Andy Kerr, who was hung in effigy in the area not so long ago, debuting as a columnist. That surprised Imnaha rancher Larry Carpenter:

"And where did Andy Kerr learn so much about the beef industry... at Earth First!'s ecoterrorism school? He certainly didn't learn it on the land, since he's never done an honest day's work in his life." Carpenter ends his letter to the editor with a rhyme: "Andy Kerr is a disgrace, to the whole human race." Carpenter is not the only cranky person in the tiny town. One Imnahan told the Chieftain of the Forest Service fire-fighting efforts: "Hell, let it burn. What good is it? We can't log the timber, we can't graze the grass, we can't cut firewood ..."

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It's not just Imnahans who are out of sorts. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in Jackson, Wyo., is usually good-natured, staying out of sight until after Labor Day tourists have departed. But this year, on Sunday, Aug. 25, with the town packed, INS agents raided scores of motels and restaurants, deporting 109 workers and wrecking the Labor Day weekend for many businesses.

So far, the INS's crankiness hasn't spread over Teton Pass to Idaho. Reporter Jennifer Liberto writes in the Idaho Falls Post Register that deportation in rural Idaho generally "follows the farming season." INS representative Randy Robinson, out of Helena, Mont., told her: "When the spud sheds close down, they become more mobile and have less to do. We arrest ones that start to get involved in criminal activity."

In addition to keeping down crime, INS keeps down unemployment. U.S. Department of Labor analyst Phil Bowman said, "When there's surplus (labor) and no work, Immigration kicks in."

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The Old West is remembered as wild, what with train robberies, rustling and High Noon shoot-outs. But the New West makes the Old West look dull and predictable. What could Zane Grey write to compare with Christina Erminy's adventure in Vail, Colo.? The Venezuelan visitor told the Denver Post that her hot-air balloon ride was over almost before it started, and that it never got above tree level. Where were the panoramic views of snow-capped peaks she had expected for her $99? Rather than complain to the Better Business Bureau, she simply grabbed the balloon's basket as it was starting its next ascent, expecting to delay the flight. But the Balloon America Pilot was determined to soar, no matter what.

In moments, Ms. Erminy was dangling 20 to 90 feet above the ground, depending on whose story you believe, finally getting the adventure she had paid for. In the end, no one was hurt. Vail police declined to bring criminal charges, telling everyone to hire lawyers and go to the civil courts.

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Tourism can also be dangerous for wildlife. A grizzly that mauled South Carolina visitor Ken Larson in Glacier National Park this summer will apparently be let off with a slap on the paw, but for awhile it faced execution. AP reports that park officials finally decided the animal "had merely displayed the natural surliness of a grizzly whose personal space had been invaded." (Another example of the West's mood this summer.) Although badly wounded, Larson was pleased the grizzly was let off.

But the 70-year-old, early-morning jogger isn't going back to Glacier, ever.

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