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Know the West

Bullying bulls; pup poop problems; email missteps

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.


When you visit California’s wonderful new Sand to Snow National Monument, better keep your eyes peeled for a gang of horny marauders. There are 150 unbranded bulls and cows roaming the monument, which is near Palm Springs, acting like bullies that own the place, reports Louis Sahagun in the Los Angeles Times. Recently, five feral bulls, “each the size of a small car,” glared down from a ridge on hikers, “snorting, stamping and pawing the ground — postures indicating they were ready to charge.” Instead, they lumbered off to ravage trails, waterways and native plants. Cattle have been “ripping up the monument and scaring the heck out of folks,” said Terry Anderson, a board member of the Society for the Conservation of Native Sheep. Don Line, 63, a monument tour guide, can describe the danger firsthand: He was doing trail maintenance when a bull suddenly appeared and charged him from 30 feet away. “Line said he grabbed a fencepost he had been carrying and swung it like a baseball bat, hitting the bull in the side of the head.” The bull dropped, then quickly bounced up again and trotted off, apparently unfazed. The feral cattle are believed to be the descendants of herds that grazed ranchlands a century ago; driven to lower elevations by drought, they’ve merged into one herd that takes “an even bigger bite out of the lowland’s sagebrush and grass.” They’re not the only exotic inhabitants visitors should avoid: A pack of wild pit bulls is also roaming the place, targeting some of the wild cattle.

Spring brought the overwhelming odor of skunks to the New Mexico town of Hagerman, population 1,200. Wandering about looking for mates, the skunks showed up early after a mild winter, reports the Associated Press. Now residents want somebody to do something about the distinctive cologne that’s hanging like a pall over the town. Police have started setting up traps, and any healthy skunks they catch will be relocated to the east side of town near a river.

In Breckenridge, Colorado, it’s the smell of dog poop that is fouling the air. Dogs owned by residents of four town-owned apartments are said to be the source of dozens of complaints, reports the Glenwood Springs Independent. Now the frustrated town is considering “CSI for canines.” Pet Scoop, a Denver-based company, offers a DNA-testing service for dogs, which costs $40 to $50 per animal. Once the dogs’ cheeks are swabbed and their DNA profile established, said company owner Sam Johnson, “most properties will see a 70-90 percent reduction in uncollected dog feces. …” Should the puppy poop problems persist, tests to identify the culprit cost an additional $60-$80 each. Some 60 to 70 communities have signed up for his “PooPrints” DNA service, Johnson says. Its mere existence has a deterrent effect, because once they’re aware of it, the behavior — at least of the owners — changes fast.

Maybe it’s a trend, but in Winter Park, Colorado, residents of a newly built town-owned apartment house are also failing to do their dooty duty. While the ski-resort town mulls DNA testing, resident Suzie Royce Cruse told Sky-Hi News she sees another species as the problem: “I think we should DNA those visitors who continually leave trash cans and bags out for wildlife and locals to pick up. Come on, VRBO renters — get a clue.”

A Utah State Bar email advertising its 2018 Spring Convention in St. George was accompanied by something unexpected — an attached photo of the top of a very topless blonde. On Twitter and over texts, some male attorneys reacted with amusement: “I can’t circulate this fast enough — hysterical,” said one lawyer who sent it to KSTU-TV. The State Bar’s executive director was not amused: “We are horrified,” said John Baldwin. “We are investigating to discover how this occurred. Our goal is to find out what happened and (e)nsure it never happens again.” Several hundred female attorneys belong to the State Bar, but none were asked what they thought of the remarkably inappropriate photo in the email, which was apparently put together “in-house,” reports the Associated Press.

In another example from the bad-decision department, the Las Vegas police recently raffled off a custom AR-15 rifle similar to the weapons with which Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and injured more than 700 others. The department’s honor guard, failing to detect any irony in its actions, set up the raffle to raise money for activities that included participation in a memorial service for Charleston Hartfield, an officer killed in the mass shooting in Las Vegas Oct. 1. Police spokesman Rich Fletcher tried to reassure critics of the raffle: “Please understand, that rifle was meant for all good intentions,” reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The raffled rifle even had a bump stock similar to the kind used by the murderer.

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