Slow-speed chase; intrepid coyotes; bear boxing

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.


OREGON: They’re not wrong.
Char Corkran

Jen Mignard of Billings was racing her dog sled team one night in October — working on their “gee” and “ha,” or as we would say, “left” and “right” — when the team unceremoniously dumped her in the snow and took off running. Mignard was sure the four huskies would head back to her pickup, but they had a better idea, which was to race off down the highway as if they were in the mushing competition they were training for. They were, as Mignard said, “hard to miss — four dogs attached to a dog sled with a bright red bag,” and as soon as she posted on Facebook, she started getting calls. Meanwhile, two police officers — who happened to be K9 officers — saw the runaways just after they bounded off. But the dogs were having too much fun to stop, so they led the police on a “slow-speed chase,” reports The huskies were finally apprehended, and we trust they had an appropriately “mushy” reunion with their owner.

The Los Angeles Times recently asked its readers for their favorite snake stories. Some were doozies: Ben Wolfe III, for example, decided to demonstrate his reptile-wrangling skills at Death Valley by picking up a baby sidewinder with kitchen tongs and showing it to his son and friends. The snake, clearly unimpressed, responded by biting Wolfe’s finger. Within 10 minutes the finger had swollen and changed color, and not in a good way. When Wolfe confessed that he’d been holding the snake when it bit him, the emergency room doctor had a surprising reaction: “You are an atypical snake victim: You’re not drunk, you don’t have any tattoos, and you’ve got health insurance.” One day and eight vials of anti-venom later, Wolfe was released from the hospital. Best of all, his insurance company called it an accident and paid the bill.

Then there was the backpacker who was stuck in a tent for three days and nights of constant heavy rain. When the skies finally cleared, he hiked to a river with a beautiful waterfall, took off his clothes, stretched out on some rocks and basked in the warm sun. Then an unusual rattling noise woke him: “I opened my eyes to see a very large rattler in a raised striking position close to me.” The hiker grabbed a nearby tree branch and “swished him off me as I made a fast retreat.” The next day, he returned to the area, “and sure enough, (the snake) was coiled up. That was his sunbathing spot — and I gladly let him have it.”

When coyotes want a date, they head for a certain neighborhood in midtown Tucson. We’re not talking romance: The dates are the ripe edible kind that rain down from date palms, and they draw coyotes like bees to honey. Wildlife officials told the Arizona Daily Star that they saw six intrepid coyotes in the Catalina Vista area. They paint-balled three of them, but “the coyotes’ sweet tooth brought them right back.” Mark Hart, spokesman for the wildlife department, said paintball guns make coyotes leery of people, but not so leery as to give up dates. But that’s OK, said Hart. “The goal is to coexist. They’re here. They’ve been here, they’re going to be here.”

One night around 8:45, a 71-year-old man in Pine, Colorado, heard noises in his kitchen. He checked and “found a mother bear and her cub eating a loaf of bread,” reports the Denver Post. We can think of many possible outcomes to such an encounter, but in this case it resulted in a “boxing match”: The mother bear attacked and the man “punched” it, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Reinforcements arrived in the form of the man’s wife, who “rushed in and hit the bear with a baseball bat several times,” and the bear and her cub escaped “through the same screen door they had used to enter.” The feisty couple were uninjured, except for some scratches the man received, but the bear was less fortunate: Colorado wildlife officials tracked her down and euthanized her. Her cub, however, was not found.

When a county decides to fight the federal government, taxpayers get stuck with the bill. Documents newly obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune reveal that San Juan County paid out-of state lawyers $360,000 from 2016-2018 to sue the federal government in a case involving rights of way in Recapture Canyon. Attorneys from San Diego, California, billed the Utah county for flying first-class and working at a rate of $500 an hour — even after the case was consolidated with the Utah attorney general’s similar state-funded case in 2018. And the bills might keep coming: “The case is not expected to be heard in court for years,” reports the Associated Press. Recapture Canyon is the site of former San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman’s ATV protest ride, which occurred just after Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s standoff with federal officials over public-land grazing fees. Lyman was arrested and sentenced to 10 days in jail and received a fine of $96,000 for trespassing in an area that had been closed to protect Native American ancient sites.

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

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