Guns are welcome, Idaho poachers, and a popping eyeball.

  • UTAH Although even the finest marksmanship is not always appreciated by the target.

    Greg Woodall
 

IDAHO
A secretive predator stalks the elk, moose and deer that roam the forests of north Idaho, reports the Spokesman-Review, and according to George Fischer, a state Fish and Game conservation officer, these two-legged, stealthy animals are "probably killing as many (game animals) or more than wolves … that is the shock-and-awe message." Poachers have a shockingly high success rate, based on a detection factor of 5 percent; Idaho estimates that about 600 elk, 80 moose, 260 mule deer and 1,000 whitetail deer are illegally killed every year. What's really surprising, says state conservation officer Barry Cummings, is that nobody talks about poaching's devastating effects, though if four-legged predators were suspected of this level of carnage, "Holy buckets, we would be setting budgets aside." It's not clear why people don't turn in known poachers, said Mark Hill, a senior conservation officer for Idaho. Maybe they figure, "If I turn in so-and-so, I'm going to be reflecting on some of the things I do, and they will turn me in."

COLORADO
Aspen has a "dirty little secret," writes Lorenzo Semple in the Aspen Daily News, and it's a real bummer for spring skiers. Blame the lingering effects of the "snirt-storm" – a mix of dirt and snow – that hit on March 31. That night the sky turned orange and a giant cloud of dust called a "haboob" swept over the resort town and its famous mountains. This was no "thin layer of dust," says Semple, or even the year's only dust storm, but hopefully, the last coating of the season. Brown snow increases runoff and evaporation and also makes ski turns look a lot like "fudge-swirl ice cream." Which might sound yummy, but doesn't improve the skiing.

THE NATION
In Wyoming, former U.S. Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and the Big Horn Basin Tea Party have been debating the proper role of sheepdogs, reports Gregory Nickerson in Wyofile. Robert Ruckman of Powell told the Cody Enterprise that the Tea Party has merely acted as the conscience of the Republican Party – much like sheepdogs, he said – who are "geared toward protecting and helping others." If this is the group's role, responded the always blunt and acerbic Simpson, "we are all in trouble." Simpson, who is pro-choice and supports reforming not only Social Security and Medicare, but also defense spending, asked: "Why should the sheepdogs force and foist their religious and political ideas on the rest of us? I thought the Republican Party was about these things: Government out of your life, the precious right of privacy and the right to be left alone. Did I miss something?" In more letters, Tea Party adherents replied that indeed, Simpson did miss something; in fact, they said, he was sounding like a dreaded liberal. As Tea Party member Ray DiLorenzo put it, Simpson has "either forgotten, never understood or IS the liberal that looks at every compromise as getting closer to their goal of secular socialism." But then DiLorenzo attacked the Tea Party's very own sheepdog metaphor: "I don't need a political 'shepherd' to guide me through life … I'm an American!" So far, no comment from sheepdogs, who tend to keep their political views to themselves.

THE WEST
In a fine piece about a group of Western thinkers rafting the shrinking Colorado River in Harper's Magazine, Christopher Ketchum includes a telling quote from the writer Bill deBuys. With 200 dams sucking up river flows, and declining reservoirs threatening the delivery of water to millions of people downriver, rational decision-making about water allocation is going to be tough, he predicted: "Drought erodes society's confidence, goodwill, trust. It gives people plenty of time to erect defenses, pick sides, and meditate on the defects of their neighbors."

ALASKA
It's hard to beat this local-color lead in the Alaska Dispatch: "The eyeball popped out when the man blew his nose, shortly after receiving the punch. He pushed it back in before heading to a Dillingham doctor, who said he would need to get surgery in Anchorage." The victim, who said he did not know who punched him, noted that he "had never had an experience where his eyeball popped out after blowing his nose." We're willing to take his word for it.

COLORADO
Shades of the 1960s: An 18-year-old senior at a charter school in Colorado Springs, The Classical Academy, was told he must cut his shoulder-length hair or be barred from classes, reports the Independent. So far, Charlie McGrath, who plays drums in two bands, has refused: " A lot of my friends like my hair. It's nice for being in a band." We're hoping his hair stays long for graduation.

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

High Country News Classifieds
  • 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
  • ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING MANAGER
    The City of Fort Collins is seeking an Environmental Planning Manager in the Natural Areas Department. The Department has an annual budget of approximately $13...
  • 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