Heard around the West

  • STUBBORN BISON: Waving a glove didn't help

    Bruce McClelland photo
 

For two years a buffalo dubbed Bart lived without incident at a Tucson, Ariz., guest ranch, apparently content in its confinement. But recently the 2,000-pound animal busted out of his pen and the puzzlement began.

No one, it seemed, knew how to corral a truly wild beast, and every attempt to trap, harass, entice ("Come on, big boy") failed, reports the Arizona Daily Star. Bart ripped through ropes and moved where Bart wanted, staring balefully at his would-be captors. Freedom didn't last, alas. A water-buffalo "whisperer" from India convinced the giant animal, sometimes described by media as big as an RV, to go back to its pen. But Bart's breakout may not have been in vain. The headline of a recent Star editorial said "Free Bart" and more than one Tucson resident railed against confinement of an animal whose ancestors freely roamed millions of acres.

Not so long ago, comedians joked that by the year 2,000, everyone in the United States would either be a prison guard or an inmate - considering the astounding rate of jail construction. But what if you built a jail and no one came? That's the problem Santa Fe, N.M., faces after spending $27 million for an "adult correctional facility." Private operators of the 648-bed facility have found few takers from other states for the hundreds of extra beds. Some reasons: Crime rates are plummeting nationwide, competition from private and publicly run prisons has depressed room rent, and Texas, which had been deficient in prison beds, now has plenty. In fact, Texas imports prisoners from seven states, reports the Los Angeles Times. American Jails magazine warns - perhaps too late for New Mexico - that if a state decides to build jails to generate jobs and revenue, it could be walking a path toward "correctional bankruptcy."

Hit and amble. A California man riding his bicycle in Glacier National Park collided with a bear recently. The man, who suffered a broken collarbone, was taken by ambulance to a hospital, while the bear wandered off, apparently unhurt. Reports the Treasure State Review in Montana: "Officials were unable to determine what make of bear was involved."

"Some huge birds just walked in here," said a volunteer at a visitors' center atop 10,500-foot Grand Mesa near Grand Junction, Colo. Huge is no exaggeration when you're talking about condors, which the three birds indeed were. The carrion-eaters sport 10-foot wingspans. Condors are also curious, reports AP. These big birds had boldly flown farther than any of the other 19 members of their group, an experimental population near Grand Canyon that still gets fed to make sure they survive in the wild.

Why do a few Western toads live to cross the road? Because a "toad patrol" of volunteers in the central Oregon town of Sunriver detains the toads with a 6-inch drift fence, then gathers them up for ferrying across busy highways. Only 10 to 15 breeding pairs are known to survive nearby, and the toads must hop across roads that lie between their breeding area and hatching ponds, AP reports. "Automobiles were killing two-thirds of all the breeding adults," says Jay Bowerman, who works for the Sunriver Nature Center. "It was rare to find one that made it to the center line before being run over." Just 10 years ago, the Western toad was the most widespread amphibian in the Northwest; these days the number of toads has dropped dramatically. In Sunriver, a resort town, cars seem a major factor in the decline. Bowerman says in 1993, the last big breeding season for the toads, offspring "got slaughtered on the roads."


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 [email protected]

High Country News Classifieds
  • ADOBE HOME
    Passive solar adobe home in high desert of central New Mexico. Located on a 10,000 acre cattle ranch.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Western Slope Conservation Center Paonia, CO WSCC seeks a dynamic leader who is mission-driven, hardworking and a creative problem-solver. Position Summary: The Executive Director leads...
  • ARIZONA STATE DIRECTOR
    A LITTLE ABOUT US Founded in 1951, the Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all...
  • CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT/HOSPITALITY SERVICES
    Seasoned ranch manager of award-winning conservation ranch seeking position as nature reserve/resort or ranch manager. Visit philipmoonwalker.com for resume and certifications. Contact: [email protected]
  • PART-TIME OREGON GRANT WRITER
    Help advance rights for people, communities, and nature - Part-time grant writer. The Oregon Community Rights Network (ORCRN) has been active over the last six...
  • UTAH PUBLIC LANDS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Job Title: Utah Public Lands Program Director Location: Southern Utah Position: Full Time (40 hours per week) Supervisor: Conservation Director About us: The Grand Canyon...
  • FSBO PROPERTY-SOUTHEAST ARIZONA
    Located in an area steeped in history, this gentleman's ranch sits at the entrance to the renowned Cave Creek Canyon. Enjoy picturesque views of the...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition, based in Ely, Nevada is looking for a new executive director to replace the long-time executive director who is retiring at...
  • LAND CONSERVATION PROJECT MANAGER
    JOIN OUR TEAM! The New Mexico Land Conservancy in Santa Fe is seeking a Land Conservation Project Manager who will work to protect land and...
  • HOME NEAR CAPITOL REEF NP
    Comfortable home at foot of Boulder Mountain, on one fenced acre. Amazing views!
  • STEVE HARRIS, EXPERIENCED PUBLIC LANDS/ENVIRONMENTAL ATTORNEY
    Comment Letters - Admin Appeals - Federal & State Litigation - FOIA -
  • LISA MACKEY PHOTOGRAPHY
    Fine Art Gicle Printing. Photo papers, fine art papers, canvas. Widths up to 44". Art printing by an artist.
  • LOG HOME IN THE GILA WILDERNESS
    Beautiful hand built log home in the heart of the Gila Wilderness on five acres. Please email for PDF of pictures and a full description.
  • NEW MEXICO PROPERTY - SILVER CITY
    20 acres, $80,000. Owner financing, well, driveway, fencing possible, very private, sensible covenants, broker owned. Contact - 575-534-7955 or [email protected]
  • SECLUDED COLORADO HIDEAWAY
    This passive solar home sits on 2 lots and offers an abundance of privacy and views while being only 15 minutes to downtown Buena Vista....
  • CARETAKER
    2.0 acre homestead needing year-round caretaker in NE Oregon. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • SEEKING PROPERTY FOR BISON HERD
    Seeking additional properties for a herd of 1,000 AUM minimum. Interested in partnering with landowners looking to engage in commercial and/or conservation bison ranching. Location...
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.