Trespassing aliens; Garbage privacy; Brand your calves

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

  • MONTANA Rest in peace, Rosebud.

    Mike O’Connell
 

OREGON
Once you put your garbage
in a can by the curb, whose garbage is it? For decades, the Portland, Oregon, police considered it free for the picking. An old story from Willamette Week is making the rounds, detailing how police even swiped the trash of a fellow officer to help build a drug case against her. Multnomah County Circuit Judge Jean Kerr Maurer “rubbished this practice,” ruling that scrutinizing garbage is an invasion of privacy that requires a proper search warrant. After the district attorney’s office vowed to appeal what it called the “very unique” judge’s position, two reporters at Willamette Week decided to find out how elected officials would feel if their own garbage was searched and cataloged. This “junkaeological dig,” as reporters Chris Lydgate and Nick Budnick dubbed it, required thick gloves and a strong stomach, but their garbage gleaning was worth the effort. Police Chief Mark Kroeker, for example, had stated: “Things inside your house are to be guarded. Those that are in the trash are open for trash men and pickers — and police.” But when the reporters spread highlights from the chief’s own trash on a table in front of him, he was appalled: “This is very cheap,” he complained. Some of the chief’s throwaways were highly personal: a summary of his wife’s investments, “an email prepping the mayor about his application to be police chief of Los Angeles,” a note on a napkin “so personal it made us cringe,” and a newsletter from the conservative group, Focus on the Family. (When reporters asked whether he was a member of the group, Chief Kroeker replied, “It’s none of your business.”) No whiff of scandal was detected, the reporters concluded, though they agreed that “there is something about poking through someone else’s garbage that makes you feel dirty — and it’s not just the stench and the flies.” Rummaging through someone else’s garbage to build a case against them isn’t just an invasion of privacy, the dumpster detectives warn: “This is a frontal assault, a D-Day, a Norman Conquest of privacy.”

THE WEST
When it comes to sneaking a peek
at what goes on inside factory farms, however, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 1 that Idaho’s “ag-gag” law is unconstitutional. The case stemmed from 2012, when Mercy for Animals, an animal rights organization, went undercover to videotape cruelty to animals raised and slaughtered in the state’s $2.5 billion dairy industry. Nation of Change reports, “Idaho felt a deep threat,” so it passed a law in 2014 making it a crime to “surreptitiously videotape agriculture operations.” But the court overturned it, saying it “criminalizes innocent behavior” and targets free speech and investigative journalists. Ag-gag laws remain in place in seven other states, including Montana, Utah, North Dakota, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and North Carolina, where it’s still illegal for activists to smuggle cameras into industrial animal operations.

ARIZONA
Too many extraterrestrial visitors
can get on a person’s nerves, reports The Week. An Arizona man said he has bumped into “dozens of aliens trespassing” on his 10-acre desert property. Not only that: He said they once tried to “draw (his wife) into the craft.” Now John Edmonds is fed up and selling his ranch for $5 million. Caveat emptor: Prospective purchasers should be “well grounded,” Edmonds warns, “because the energy here has the tendency to manifest with whatever is going on with you.”

UTAH
Another wildcat has gone missing
at the Salt Lake City Zoo, reports The Associated Press. Two years ago, a 60-pound leopard squeezed out of its enclosure and turned up snoozing on a wooden beam near the ceiling. This time, an 8-pound Pallas’ cat, known for its glower, has escaped. Zookeepers plan to entice it home with yummy treats at night, when it’s active.

THE WORLD
After Environmental Protection Agency boss
Scott Pruitt claimed that human activity was not a “primary contributor” to climate change, the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility asked what evidence he relied on to make that judgment. Apparently, the public will never learn about the reasoning, scientific or otherwise, that formed Pruitt’s opinion, because the Justice Department — representing the EPA — considers PEER’s Freedom of Information Act request “a trap” that would mean “an endless fishing expedition.” Paula Dinerstein, PEER’s counsel, said the request was not all that complicated. “We presume Administrator Pruitt must have had some factual basis for his public statements, and we merely seek to see what it is.” The agency did do one very odd thing, despite refusing to search for efforts: It produced “links to large amounts of archived material that had been removed from the agency website. However, all that material contradicted Pruitt. … As such, it was not responsive to PEER’s request.”

COLORADO
Bumper sticker
seen on a truck in Basalt, in western Colorado: “Trust everybody. But brand your calves.”

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

High Country News Classifieds
  • GRANT WRITER (PART-TIME, FREELANCE CONTRACT)
    High Country News seeks an energetic, eloquent and highly organized grant writer to support a growing foundations program. This position works closely with our Executive...
  • ASSOCIATE PROGRAM MANAGER
    Associate Program Manager ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND Parks California is a new organization working to ensure that our State Parks thrive. From redwood groves and desert springs...
  • ATTORNEY AD
    Criminal Defense, Code Enforcement, Water Rights, Mental Health Defense, Resentencing.
  • LUNATEC HYDRATION SPRAY BOTTLE
    A must for campers and outdoor enthusiasts. Cools, cleans and hydrates with mist, stream and shower patterns. Hundreds of uses.
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.
  • FREE RANGE BISON AVAILABLE
    Hard grass raised bison available in east Montana. You harvest or possible deliver quartered carcass to your butcher or cut/wrapped pickup. Contact Crazy Woman Bison...
  • CONSERVATION ASSOCIATE - OKANOGAN LAND TRUST (NORTH CENTRAL WA)
    Do you enjoy rural living, wild places, and the chance to work with many different kinds of people and accomplish big conservation outcomes? Do you...
  • CARDIGAN WELSH CORGIS
    10 adorable, healthy puppies for sale. 4 males and 6 females. DM and PRA clear. Excellent pedigree from champion lineage. One Red Brindle male. The...
  • A CHILDREN'S BOOK FOR THE CLIMATE CRISIS!!
    "Goodnight Fossil Fuels!" is a an engaging, beautiful, factual and somewhat silly picture book by a climate scientist and a climate artist, both based in...
  • DIGITAL ADVOCACY & MEMBERSHIP MANAGER
    The Digital Advocacy & Membership Manager will be responsible for creating and delivering compelling, engaging digital content to Guardians members, email activists, and social media...
  • DIGITAL OUTREACH COORDINATOR, ARIZONA
    Job Title: Digital Outreach Coordinator, Arizona Position Location: Phoenix or Tucson, AZ Status: Salaried Job ID Number: 52198 We are looking for you! We are...
  • DESCHUTES LAND TRUST VOLUNTEER PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Deschutes Land Trust is seeking an experienced Volunteer Program Manager to join its dedicated team! Deschutes Land Trust conserves and cares for the lands...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming seeks an experienced fundraiser to join our team. We're looking for a great communicator who is passionate about conservation and...
  • INDIAN COUNTRY FELLOWSHIP
    Western Leaders Network is accepting applications for its paid, part-time, 6-month fellowship. Mentorship, training, and engaging tribal leaders in advancing conservation initiatives and climate policy....
  • MULESHOE RANCH PRESERVE MANAGER
    The Muleshoe Ranch Preserve Manager develops, manages, and advances conservation programs, plans and methods for large-scale geographic areas. The Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area (MRCMA)...
  • ARTEMIS PROGRAM MANAGER
    Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF or Federation) is America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 52 state/territorial affiliates and more...
  • ASSISTANT OR ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL HUMANITIES
    Assistant or Associate Professor of Environmental Humanities Whitman College The Environmental Humanities Program at Whitman College seeks candidates for a tenure-track position beginning August 2023...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA) in Crested Butte, CO is seeking an enthusiastic Executive Director who is passionate about the public lands, natural waters and...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS
    Are you passionate about connecting people to the outdoors? The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) is looking for someone with volunteer management experience to join...