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
  • ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ASSOCIATE
    Job Announcement: Environmental Justice Associate Announcement date: June 18, 2021 Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and first review will begin: July 13,...
  • COMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATE
    Job Announcement: Communications Associate Announcement date: June 18, 2021 Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and first review will begin: July 13, 2021...
  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT DIRECTOR
    Colorado Wild Public Lands (COWPL), based in Basalt, is an exciting nonprofit working to keep public lands open and accessible. Our growing organization is seeking...
  • BUSINESS SUPPORT ASSISTANT (PART-TIME)
    High Country News, an award-winning media organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a part-time business support assistant to provide...
  • SOCIAL MEDIA AND DIGITAL ADVERTISING SPECIALIST
    The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), Utah's largest conservation organization, has an immediate opening for a full-time Social Media and Digital Advertising Specialist. This position...
  • SPRING-FED PARCELS ON THE UPPER SAC RIVER
    Adjacent parcels above the Upper Sacramento river, near Dunsmuir. The smaller is just under 3 acres, with the larger at just under 15 acres. Multiple...
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Greater Yellowstone Coalition seeks a development professional to coordinate the organization's individual giving program. The position description is available at http://greateryellowstone.org/careers Please email a letter...
  • IDAHO STATE DIRECTOR
    The Wilderness Society is seeking a full time Idaho State Director who will preferably be based in Boise, Idaho. At least 8-10 years of experience...
  • COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER AND BEARS EARS EDUCATION CENTER MANAGER
    Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring for two positions. We seek a Communications Manager to execute inspiring and impactful communications...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Wilderness Volunteers Wilderness Volunteers (WV), a 24-year leader in preserving our nation's wildlands, is seeking a motivated person with deep outdoor interests to guide our...
  • HECHO POLICY AND ADVOCACY MANAGER
    Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) was created in 2013 to help fulfill our duty to conserve and protect our public lands for...
  • FISHERIES BIOLOGIST
    Under the direct supervision of the Director of Shoshone-Paiute Tribe's Fish, Wildlife & Parks, in coordination with the Tribal Programs Administrator and the Tribal Chairman,...
  • REGIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR NORTHERN ROCKIES, PRAIRIES & PACIFIC REGION
    Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation has grown into America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 53 state/territorial affiliates and more than...
  • STEWARDSHIP MANAGER
    STEWARDSHIP MANAGER Job Vacancy and Description Posted June 2, 2021: Open until filled The New Mexico Land Conservancy (NMLC) is a non-profit, regional land trust...
  • KSJD - MORNING EDITION HOST/REPORTER
    KSJD is seeking a host/reporter. Please see for www.ksjd.org for more information. EEO compliant.
  • ON THE EDGE OF CEDAR MESA/BEARS EARS
    Quiet, comfy house for rent in Bluff, Utah. Walk to San Juan River. Bike or hike to many nearby ruins and rock art sites. Beautiful...
  • CARPENTER AND LABORER WANTED.
    Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rain forest on the coast, Hike the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg meadows,...
  • PROJECT MANAGER
    Title: Project Manager Reports To: Program Director Salary Range: Negotiable; starting at $60,000 Location: Bend, OR The Deschutes River Conservancy seeks a Project Manager to...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Deschutes River Conservancy seeks a Program Director to join our dynamic team in restoring streamflow and improving water quality in the Deschutes Basin. WHO...
  • POEM+ NEWSLETTER
    Start each month with a poem in your inbox by signing up for Taylor S. Winchell's monthly Poem+ Newsletter. No frills. No news. No politics....