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for people who care about the West

Flying fish; grizzly bear hunts; cougar telepathy

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.


Lauren Taylor lives in Ashland, Oregon, in a house whose living room looks a lot like the outdoors, with plants and tree branches built around the stairs, says the Oregonian. So perhaps it was not surprising that a mountain lion in need of a nap strolled through a door she’d left open, and once inside, flopped down for a six-hour snooze behind a couch. But Taylor, who says she has extensive experience working with animals, remained remarkably unflustered. She recorded some of the lion’s visit and posted it on Facebook — where a million or so viewers have seen it — focusing especially on the time that the large long-tailed cat woke up. “Cats are psychic and perceptive of energy,” she wrote, “so I consciously raised my frequency, gazed lovingly, and then slow-blinked, which is feline-speak for expressing trust and goodwill, and she did it back!” After some more back-and-forth eye batting, the lion slumped back down and “showed no inclination to leave.” So what do you do when a sleepy lion is determined to crash in your living room? Taylor’s solution was telepathy, sending the animal “pictures of the routes out of the house.” She also opened all the doors and asked a friend to begin drumming in order to call in support from “Native ancestors.” Right before dawn, her video shows the lion walking out from behind the couch, being briefly startled by its reflection in a mirror and then calmly walking out a door. Taylor called it a perfect ending to a “blessed encounter that could have been dangerous if approached from a lower frequency.”

For the second year in a row, Death Valley National Park snagged the award for the hottest month ever. In July, the park’s aptly named Furnace Creek weather station recorded average daily temperatures of 108.1 degrees Fahrenheit. “Congratulations to this national treasure that is truly an unstoppable inferno,” said Live Science. The breath-stopping heat, however, did not deter a group of hikers from exploring Hanaupah Canyon, a remote area of the park. According to the Park Service, the hikers noticed three men installing irrigation hoses near a spring and asked them what park project they were working on. One of the men responded with unexpected honesty: “Growing marijuana. You won’t tell the cops, will you?” The hikers did tell the cops, however, in this case the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management, which raided the grow site July 3. The rangers found over 4,000 pot plants in four garden sites where native vegetation had been scraped away. There was also evidence that the pesticide carbofuran, which is highly toxic to both wildlife and humans, had been used. What’s more, with each plant using up to six gallons of water a day, the illegal plants had been sucking up a huge amount of water from desert springs, reports the Park Service’s Abby Wines. She advises any hikers who come upon secret marijuana farms in Death Valley to leave quickly, then notify the Park Service at 760-786-2330.

The last grizzly bear hunt in Wyoming was 44 years ago, but “unless it gets slowed or blocked by lawsuits,” reports Mountain Town News, the big bears will be hunted again starting Sept. 15. Altogether, 3,500 Wyoming residents and 2,327 out-of-staters applied for a hunting license to kill a grizzly. But only 10 won, and one of them — photographer Thomas Mangelsen — is approaching the hunt with a very different ethic, and trophy, in mind. Known for his large-format pictures of grizzlies in the wild, he says the only way he’ll ever shoot one of the bears is with a camera.

Three cheers for John Yokoyama, 78, who recently sold his Pike Place Fish Market to the four fish-throwing employees who had worked for him for decades at the Seattle landmark. “He worked all of us like sons,” said Jaison Scott, 45, one of the new co-owners. He told the Seattle Times that when he was a 7-year-old, Yokoyama taught him “how to pick out the freshest fish, how to spit and how to curse.” Scott and his fellow mongers, Ryan Reese, Samuel Samson and Anders Miller, became equal partners this July, signing a deal that Yokoyama described as working with “the kids” to make it possible. Yokoyama also talked about how the tradition started of making fish “fly” — tossed from the icy displays in the front to scales at the back: “It took me 100 steps. So one day I just said ‘Here kid, catch!’ and threw the fish. He caught it and I said ‘Man, I just saved 100 steps.’ ” Once freed of 12-hour days at the fish market, Yokoyama said he plans to do some things he’s never had a chance to do: travel, play golf, and yes, go fishing.

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected] or tag photos #heardaroundthewest on Instagram.