Out-of-this-world fest; territorial disputes; bear-family affairs

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

 

OREGON
Aliens and starships and lasers (oh my!) from a galaxy far, far away dropped in on downtown McMinnville for the 22nd annual McMenamins UFO Festival, May 13-14. The two-day festival—“for believers and skeptics alike”—featured speakers like Whitley Strieber, author of the bestselling book Communion; Politico correspondent Bryan Bender; journalist Alejandro Rojas; and ufologists Irena Scott and Kathleen Marden. While there was no shortage of little green men, other out-of-this-world activities included live music, dancing, street vendors, and the cherry on top of the proverbial flying saucer (or is it a giant floating eyeball? See ufofest.com), the alien costume parade — always a crowd favorite — and a costume contest for pets. Because there’s no denying that cats, particularly long-haired ones, make terrific tribbles for a Close Encounter of the Purred Kind. 

The Oregonian reported that the festival originated 22 years ago, when historian Tim Hill was researching the history of McMinnville’s McMenamins Hotel. He found an article and photographs dated 1950, on the front page of the McMinnville Telephone Register, which recounted how Evelyn Trent and her husband, Paul, saw a flying saucer hovering in the sky near their farm. Paul Trent snapped some photos that captured the attention of the Associated Press, and a media frenzy ensued. Realizing that 2000 marked the 50th anniversary of the sighting, Hills decided to launch a festival in honor of it. And the festival has been in orbit ever since, save for a brief hiatus, when, like so many other things, it vanished into the black hole of the pandemic.

WASHINGTON
It’s not every day that you come home to find a pair of bald eagles in your neighbor’s backyard, locked in a rumble like the Jets against the Sharks. Gee, where’s Officer Krupke when you need him? But that’s exactly — or almost exactly — what Seattle resident Kim McCormick witnessed and filmed. This was no quick schoolyard scuffle; McCormick told King 5 reporters that “the birds were clashing outside her neighbor’s home from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.” Emily Meredith, rehabilitation manager at PAWS Wildlife Center, said, “The fight was likely a territorial dispute between two male or two female bald eagles.” The birds rarely get that physical, although lengthy arguments do occur. “Usually, the eagles do a lot of posturing and communicating without engaging with each other to try to say, ‘This is my territory, go away,’” Meredith said. But once they get into it, the feathers start flying; the determined birds will stick it out until the very end, since giving in or letting go is seen as a sign of weakness. As bald eagles recover from their once-endangered status, fight reports have increased. “I think people are seeing it more and more as they fight for the prime territory to nest and forage,” Meredith said. Apparently, they call eagles “fierce” for a reason.

WYOMING
They grow up so fast: Jackson Hole News&Guide reported that Grizzly 399 and her four cubs have parted ways, with each youngster setting off into different areas of Grand Teton National Park. The famous fivesome emerged from their den over Easter weekend. Normally, grizzly cubs leave home after two years, and Grizzly 399’s cubs have been together since their birth in 2020. “This is fully what we were anticipating,” said Justin Schwabedissen, the park’s bear management specialist. “As the family group separates and these cubs go off on their own, we’re certainly concerned that some of these cubs may move south outside of the park and head onto private lands.” Two of Grizzly 399’s cubs — subadults now, actually — were spotted in the Solitude subdivision about 2.5 miles south of park headquarters in Moose. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is watching out for the bears, along with a legion of fans, photographers and wildlife advocates.

Meanwhile, Grizzly 399 appears to have re-entered the dating-and-mating game; no mooning over an empty nest for this lady. Wildlife photographers and bear watchers think that her suitor might be Grizzly 679, otherwise known as “Bruno,” but park officials have yet to confirm his identity. Three of the cubs attempted to “visit” with Grizzly 399 — do mama bears also get stuck with their kids’ dirty laundry? — only to be run off by the new suitor. Schwabedissen said, “We watched repeatedly as (the) male grizzly was chasing the cubs off.” Procreation is a complicated affair for most of us, and grizzlies are no exception; “courtship” in the wild isn’t all Valentine hearts and red roses.

Tiffany Midge is a citizen of the Standing Rock Nation and was raised by wolves in the Pacific Northwest. Her book, Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s (Bison Books, 2019), was a Washington State Book Award nominee. She resides in north-central Idaho near the Columbia River Plateau, homeland of the Nimiipuu.

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

   

High Country News Classifieds
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE: NEAR CHRICAHUA NATIONAL PARK
    2 (20 acre sites): 110 miles from Tucson:AZ Native trees: Birder's heaven: dark skies: Creek: borders State lease & National forest: /13-16 inches of rain...
  • DIRECTOR - SONORAN DESERT INN & CONFERENCE CENTER
    The Sonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center is a non-profit lodging and event venue in Ajo, Arizona, located on the historic Curley School Campus. We...
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Field Seminars for adults: cultural and natural history of the Colorado Plateau. With guest experts, local insights, small groups, and lodge or base camp formats....
  • PLANNED GIVING OFFICER
    National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the nation's oldest and largest national parks nonprofit advocacy organization seeks a Planned Giving Officer. Do you find energy in...
  • DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    The Methow Valley Citizens Council has a distinguished history of advocating for progressive land use and environmental values in the Methow Valley and Okanogan County...
  • ACTING INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS DESK EDITOR
    High Country News is seeking an Acting Indigenous Affairs Editor to oversee the work of our award-winning Indigenous Affairs Desk while our editor is on...
  • GRANTS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Cinnabar Foundation seeks an enthusiastic, team-oriented and knowledgeable Grants Program Director to work from their home in Montana. Established in 1983, the Cinnabar Foundation...
  • ARTEMIS PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Artemis Program Manager will work with National Wildlife Federation sporting and public lands staff to change this dynamic, continue to build upon our successful...
  • ALASKA SEA KAYAK BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Well-known and successful sea kayak, raft, hike, camp guiding & water taxi service. Sale includes everything needed to run the business, including office & gear...
  • MEMBERSHIP AND EVENTS PROGRAM COORDINATOR
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness seeks a detail-oriented and enthusiastic Membership and Events Coordinator to join our small, but mighty-fun team to oversee our membership...
  • PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT FACILITATOR
    ABOUT THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM Since opening in 1982, HIGH DESERT MUSEUM has brought together wildlife, culture, art and natural resources to promote an understanding...
  • LAND STEWARD, ARAVAIPA
    Steward will live on-site in housing provided by TNC and maintains preserve areas frequented by the visiting public and performs land management activities. The Land...
  • DEVELOPMENT WRITER
    Who We Are: The Nature Conservancy's mission is to protect the lands and waters upon which all life depends. As a science-based organization, we create...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Driggs, ID based non-profit. Full time. Full job description available at tvtap.org. Submit cover letter and resume to [email protected]
  • ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSTRUCTION GEOPHYSICS
    - We find groundwater, buried debris and assist with new construction projects for a fraction of drilling costs.
  • SPRING MOUNTAINS SOLAR OFF GRID MOUNTAIN HOME
    Located 50 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada in the pine forest of Lee Canyon at 8000 feet elevation. One of a kind property surrounded...
  • MAJOR GIFTS MANAGER - MOUNTAIN WEST, THE CONSERVATION FUND
    Cultivate, solicit and steward a portfolio of 75-125 donors.
  • NATURE'S BEST IN ARAVAIPA CANYON
    10 acre private oasis in one of Arizona's beautiful canyons. Fully furnished, 2123 sq ft architectural custom-built contemporary home with spectacular views and many extras....
  • HEALTH FOOD STORE IN NW MONTANA
    Turn-key business includes 2500 sq ft commercial building in main business district of Libby, Montana. 406.293.6771 /or [email protected]
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.