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for people who care about the West

Durango bear attack, a driver swerves to avoid bees in Montana, Tucson wins worst streets award and more.

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.


It didn’t take more than an hour or so for Jacob Pool, 33, to spill his guts to Idaho Fish and Game investigators. In a “straightforward and crass account,” he detailed how he poached a beloved — and quite tame — buck in a Twin Falls park, afterward tossing its antlers in the Snake River and taking home some of the meat. The mule deer was considered a celebrity in the town, distinguished by its huge antlers, and everybody had pictures of it, said Forrest Andersen, manager of a local pawnshop. He called it “tame as a dog.” But Pool, after learning that the deer hung out in a canyon between the Amalgamated Sugar Factory and the Snake River Canyon, decided he’d rather shoot the animal with a gun than a camera, reports Magicvalley.com. According to investigators, who said they pursued the case as zealously as if it were a murder investigation, Pool recalled the scene theatrically, with a touch of boastfulness: “I’ve never seen a deer that big. … I went after that (expletive) deer by myself at nighttime. I was all alone, you know, crawl across that field for two (expletive) hours. … I was (expletive) exhausted, tired.” Once in chat mode, Pool added nonchalantly that he’d “poached a couple deer in my life, you know. This is like the third time. …” Charged with felony killing or wasting a trophy mule deer during a closed season, felony destroying or concealing evidence, and hunting big game with an unlawful weapon, a seemingly chastened Pool expressed second thoughts: “You guys, I’m (expletive) sorry, man. I feel like I robbed the community of that deer.”

Most likely drawn by the smell of food at an illegal encampment near a tech center just outside of Durango in southern Colorado, a bear attacked and mauled two men, reports the Durango Herald. It came close to killing Joshua Barber, 21, who was nursing a broken toe and quietly reading a book in his tent when something big smacked the side of it. The something was a bear, which ripped through the mosquito netting and then stepped into the tent. Quick as a flash, Barber says, he jumped up, threw a bunch of sunflower seeds at the animal, unzipped his tent and fled toward a ravine where friends were camped. But the bear reached him first, knocking him over and biting him in the neck and head. “My first thought was I was going to die.” Somehow, he scrambled to his feet but the bear tackled him again. Fortunately, his friends heard his screams and came running, and with the help of their dogs kept the bear at bay for 15 minutes, long enough for a couple of them to grab Barber and flee, with the bear in pursuit. One chilling note: According to a police report, “As police and medical personnel were helping Barber, the bear sat down in the dirt next to the parking lot and watched.”  Later on, Robin R. Derendy, 33, told officers that a bear attacked him through his tent, though he fought back and struck it with a knife. Wildlife Services tracked down the bear with dogs and killed it after it climbed a tree. Several people commented on the Durango Herald’s story, some lambasting the campers for being slobs, some sympathizing with the homeless people, as well as with the bear. Barber, who suffered serious wounds to his neck and head, said he wanted it known that he’d been cleaning up the debris in the area, not creating it. Homeless since he was 14, Barber said, “I live in a camp graveyard. I couldn’t have created all this trash myself nor would I have wanted to. … It’s very insulting to me.” And Marcus Shirley, one of the friends who’d came to Barber’s rescue, said that even before the bear came on the scene, a fox had attacked a nearby tent. Shirley’s conclusion about all this outdoors drama? “I’m done with the camping.”

Be prepared to bounce through potholes in Tucson: The town recently won top ranking as having the “worst streets” of 11 Western urban regions, as compiled by the University of Arizona and two other groups. “Tucson’s roads are terrible, and like light speed, photosynthesis, and the UA’s superiority over ASU, it’s now a scientific fact,” said tucson.com.

In other vehicle news, a driver near Missoula “created some buzz” after his car was spotted swerving all over the road, while inside a bunch of bees swarmed over his windshield. The driver, who seemed unfazed by his flying companions, told troopers that his five hives of Russian honeybees were harmless, reports the Billings Gazette. The driver was cited for careless driving; no word on the bees.