Heard Around the West

  • Something stinks coming from city hall, and it's not the politics

    MATT JENKINS
 

OREGON

Lucky, an elk that was hand-raised by residents of Tillamook County, was by all accounts a cute calf. You could see the little elk along Highway 101, in a pasture where bull elk like to hang out with milk cows. He was comfortable with people and would jump into a pickup bed as easily as a dog, reports the Statesman Journal. But then Lucky got bigger and wasn't so cute anymore. He started getting pushy with the neighbors and jumping into the wrong pickups, says Herman Biederbeck, a state wildlife biologist. Lucky had to go. But once relocated to a remote part of the county, the elk still "found his way to a house and went inside." Lucky was picked up for a second attempt at relocation, but this time the elk who seemed to think he was a dog was trucked much farther away, to the Cascades. Oregon biologists say the saga of unlucky Lucky shows what can go wrong when young animals get taken from the wild. Although they hope Lucky makes it in the mountains, they're not very optimistic: The elk has no experience as a herd animal and has never had to find food or escape from predators. Their advice to humans: Never "rescue" a young wild animal, and always assume that its mother will return. 

CALIFORNIA

State health officials gave away lunchboxes festooned with healthy slogans, hoping kids would follow their advice to "Be Active" and "Eat fruits and vegetables." Sadly, the attempt backfired: The colorful containers of green and blue canvas were made in China and possibly contaminated with lead, said the California Department of Health. It announced a recall of 300,000 of the lunchboxes, which had been distributed at health fairs and other venues since 2004, reports the Los Angeles Times. "It's unfortunate that an item we're using hopefully to promote healthy behavior is discovered itself to be a potential health hazard," said Mark Horton, director of the state's public health department. 

COLORADO

We can probably expect great things of 6-year-old Josh Barber of Broomfield, Colo. Waking up early and really hungry for some chicken nuggets, he took matters into his own hands while his dad was at work, his grandmother was asleep, and his mother recovered from surgery. The child found car keys, went outside, unlocked the car door, adjusted the seat so he could see over the steering wheel, and started on down the road toward those chicken nuggets. "I hit the gas," he told a Denver television station. Unfortunately, the car was parked in reverse, reports the Associated Press. Backing up 75 feet, Josh hit a pole and knocked out phone service and electricity to dozens of houses. "I crashed into these things, and then what happened is, I didn't know what to do," Josh explained. The boy promised that he wouldn't take the wheel again. Not for a few years, anyway. 

THE NATION

Three cheers for 90-year-old Harold Burgess, volunteer extraordinaire and particular advocate of trumpeter swans and black-bellied whistling ducks. After putting in 33 years as a national wildlife refuge manager and biologist, Burgess volunteered for the next 27 years at various refuges. Last July, when he turned 90, he "quit" his second career as a volunteer, reports Refuge Update, published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Asked which work he enjoyed more - paid or volunteer - Burgess said the latter. "I don't have any boss. I just go ahead and do it." 

ARIZONA

Trust the Arizona Republic to get readers' blood boiling. All it took was a little story headlined "Way too hot, way too late in the year." For the 15th straight day, temperatures were far above normal, and on the day of the paper's story, Nov. 6, the temperature hit a steamy 91 degrees. What was worse, "the Valley's hot fall is merely a continuation of what has been a fairly miserable year." One unsurprised reader reacted with mockery: "We've got trouble ... right here in Desert City! We're oblivious to the need for shade or water conservation. We're in denial about the heat island effect." Another agreed, saying that moving out of Phoenix was only a question of when. Still, the nation's fifth-largest city had its avid supporters. More than one said the heat was just fine and that people fleeing would mainly mean "a few less people on the freeways." 

CALIFORNIA

Bears burgling houses around Lake Tahoe are a familiar story. But the number of bears killed by cars - 75 - set a record this year, reports the Reno-Gazette Journal. Also new are efforts by some people to feed the animals in the forests, a move condemned by most wildlife specialists. One woman spent $10,000 on nuts and fruits, dropping off the goodies as she walked through the trees, and "pilots have also dropped food from their planes." Ann Bryant, leader of a local group, the Bear League, defends the practice: "It's a whole lot more natural if bears are foraging in backwoods and finding food than picking through someone's refrigerator." 

Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado. Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared in the column, Heard around the West.

High Country News Classifieds
  • SENIOR ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNER
    The City of Fort Collins is seeking a Senior Environmental Planner to lead the Nature in the City team. This interdisciplinary position is housed in...
  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ASSISTANT
    The Idaho Conservation League (ICL) is seeking a dynamic community engagement assistant. The individual will work to identify and empower members, supporters, volunteers, and others...
  • VOICES OF WISDOM 2019 SOUTHWEST
    May 25 & 26 At the bank of the Colorado River, at Riverbend Park in Palisade, Colorado, the Sacred Fire Community in the Grand Valley...
  • PHILANTHROPY COORDINATOR
    Wyoming Wildlife Federation - collaborates with the Executive Director and staff to ensure the effective implementation of all philanthropic activities. https://wyomingwildlife.org/hiring-philanthropy-coordinator/.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    HawkWatch International is hiring an Executive Director to lead the organization. The next leader of this growing organization must have: 1. Enthusiasm for conservation, birds...
  • EVERLAND MOUNTAIN RETREAT
    Everland Mountain Retreat includes 318 mountaintop acres with a 3,200 square foot lodge and two smaller homes. Endless vistas of the Appalachian mountains, open skies,...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Home Resource is a non-profit community sustainability center. We work with, in, and for the community to reduce waste and build a more vibrant and...
  • COUNTRY ESTATE NEAR KINGS CANYON AND SEQUOIA PARKS
    Spectacular views of snowcapped Sierras. 15 miles from Kings Canyon/Sequoia Parks. 47 acres with 2 homes/75' pool/gym/patios/gardens. 1670 sq.ft. main home has 3 bdrm/1 bath....
  • BRN DEVELOPMENT & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
    Borderlands Restoration Network 501c3 is hiring a full-time Development Director. Description and job details can be found at https://www.borderlandsrestoration.org/job-opportunities.html
  • GILA NATIONAL FOREST NEW MEXICO
    Beautiful off-the-grid passive solar near the CDT. 9.4 acres, north of Silver City. Sam, 575.388.1921
  • WEB DESIGN AND CONTENT MANAGER
    We are seeking an experienced designer to be the team lead for web development and digital media. Part creator and part planner, this person should...
  • CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
    at RCAC. See the full description at https://bit.ly/2WJ3HvY Apply at [email protected]
  • GRASSROOTS ORGANIZER
    The Utah Rivers Council is looking for an energetic individual with strong communication and organizing skills. The Grassroots Organizer works to ensure our campaigns are...
  • JOHN DEERE SNOW BLOWER 24"
    Newly refurbished and tuned. Older model, great condition. Gasoline engine. Chains on tires. Heavy duty for mountain snow. Call cellphone and leave message or email.
  • STRAW BALE, ADOBE, TIMBER FRAME, HEALTHY HOME, NEAR LA VETA PASS, CO
    unique custom home in Sangre de Cristo Mountains of CO near La Veta Pass, 3 bed, 2 1/2 bath, private gated park, two hours from...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, KANIKSU LAND TRUST
    Kaniksu Land Trust, a community-supported non-profit land trust serving north Idaho and northwest Montana, is in search of a new executive director. The ideal candidate...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Flathead Lakers are seeking a dynamic, self-motivated and proven leader to be our next Executive Director (ED).
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Blackfoot Challenge, a renowned collaborative conservation org in MT, seeks our next ED.
  • COPPER CANYON MEXICO CAMPING & BACKPACKING
    10-day tour from Los Mochis airport, 2/nyts El Fuerte, train, 2/nyts canyon rim hotel, 5/nyts camping. 520-324-0209, www.coppercanyontrails.org.
  • STAFF ATTORNEY, ALASKA
    Earthjustice is hiring for a Staff Attorney