A rescue mule, bizarre humans and alarming politicians

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.


“I’ve heard of salmon jumping into boats, but never anything like this,” reports the Juneau Empire. Tom Satre, who runs a charter service out of Juneau, was taking a group cruising on his 62-foot fishing boat when four juvenile black-tailed deer swam toward him and circled the boat in the icy waters. “We could tell right away the young bucks were distressed,” he said. Satre opened his back gate, “and we helped the typically skittish and absolutely wild animals on board. …. I’ve never seen anything like it!” Once on the boat, the exhausted deer collapsed, shivering. Satre dropped his unexpected passengers off at the small community of Taku Harbor, about 22 miles southeast of Juneau. The first hopped onto the boardwalk, “looked back as if to say ‘thank you,’ and disappeared” into the forest. But the smallest deer, he said, was so knackered Satre had to take it “off the boardwalk in a wheelbarrow.” Fortunately, it quickly recovered and vanished into the trees.

Sometimes, if we’re lucky, animals save us. A 60-year-old man was riding his mule through Milo McIver State Park in northwestern Oregon, when he fell off and lay on the trail, unable to rise. Not long after, two hikers saw a mule coming toward them, acting very much as if it had stepped out of a long-eared equine version of the TV show Lassie. “It kept stopping and looking back to make sure we were following it,” said Doug Calvert, one of the hikers. The mule led them to its injured rider, reports the Oregonian, and they called 911. Its job done, “the mule went back on the trail” and disappeared. (The next day, it was found near the trailhead’s parking lot.) Both Hickory, the mule, and the unidentified man are said to be doing well.

Then there are those humans who behave bizarrely — never an endangered species in the West. In Bozeman, Montana, a man recently rode his horse into the Town Pump store, browsed a bit, then rode off without buying anything. “Store cameras recorded the odd shopping trip,” reports Q2 News. The store’s Facebook page politely suggested that next time, the rider should maybe “ask your bronco to wait outside.”

In Pocatello, Idaho, a birthday party at the Odyssey Bar got seriously out of hand after two men began arguing, reports the Idaho State Journal. The fight moved outside, and one of the men knocked the other down and starting slugging him. In response, the pinned-down man “grabbed the puncher’s head and bit off his nose.” The injured man was taken to the hospital, and both men were cited for misdemeanor disorderly conduct. There was a silver, or at least a nasal, lining: “Someone at the bar retrieved the nose and put it on ice so it could be reattached.”

Sometimes state legislators say exactly what they think, reports the Washington Post, an “outbreak of alarming honesty” that can get them into trouble. For example, Arizona state Rep. John Kavanagh, R, defended restrictive voting laws on the principle that “everybody shouldn’t be voting.” Since the “quality” of voting is what really counts, it’s no loss if “uninformed” people can’t do it.

And in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Republican state Rep. Jeremy Haroldson’s bill proposed rewriting the state’s public school curriculum. He said there are two sides to the history of American slavery, and Black Americans are stuck in a mentality “worse than slavery itself.” Haroldson, a freshman legislator and pastor, argued that “slavery was not maybe what it has been painted as in this nation, completely.” But when he denounced widespread ignorance of the U.S. Constitution, Haroldson came a cropper, thanks to Democratic state Rep. Cathy Connolly, who asked him about the 19th Amendment. Haroldson had to demur, saying he’d have to look it up. “It’s the right to vote for women,” she told him, “and it’s not in your bill. I’m curious about that.” Haroldson’s bill failed to advance on a 7-2 vote.

Then there’s Boise, Idaho, where lawmakers rejected a $6 million federal grant designed to improve early childhood education. As Republican Rep. Charlie Shepherd explained, the grant would hurt “the family unit” because no one should make it “easier or more convenient for mothers to come out of the home. …” This did not go over well with Idaho women, reports The Associated Press. Some protested at the Statehouse with signs like “Who let the moms out?” They urged legislators to accept the Trump administration grant, which would help library programs, child-care providers and homeschooling families. 

Tips of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected], or submit a letter to the editor

Note: This story was updated to correct the name of the newspaper to which Tom Satre told his deer-swimming story. It was the Juneau Empire, not the Sitka Gazette.

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