Heard around the West


In North Dakota, when they say extension agents have contacts in high places, they aren't talking about the halls of North Dakota State University. They're talking about heaven.

Flood-prone Devils Lake, N.D., has inundated thousands of acres in recent years. When an uncharacteristically warm spell caused an anxiety outbreak among local residents last month, extension agent Marietta Kemmet helped mail letters to more than 100 pastors around the state, urging them to pray for the return of cold weather. A day of prayer later, temperatures cooled.

"It kind of made you wonder," Kemmet told the Bismarck Tribune.


If God is in charge of flood control, Jesus is arguably in charge of fishing permits. At least that's the way Gerald Laurhammer of Hagerman, Idaho, sees it. He recently argued to a local magistrate that he didn't need a license to fish in nearby Oster Lakes, since the Bible makes no mention of such things. Laurhammer argued that Jesus fished with his disciples, fed 1,000 people on two fish and said that man rules over everything, including the fish in the sea. But his argument didn't hook the judge, according to the Idaho State Journal in Pocatello.


And the Bureau of Land Management is apparently in charge of birth control. The BLM recently rounded up 267 wild horses in the Nevada desert and injected them with a contraceptive made from the membrane that surrounds the ova of pigs, reports the New York Times. The agency hasn't been able to control burgeoning wild-horse numbers through its Adopt-a-Horse program. The contraceptive is also being tested in some zoo animals, on deer in the East and this summer it will be tried on elephants in South Africa.


Meanwhile, the Bureau of Reclamation and its foreign compatriots are doing their part to keep the earth spinning. The 88 reservoirs built worldwide over the last 40 years have apparently lessened the slowing of the earth's rotation caused by the tidal drag of the moon by 0.2 millionths of a second a day. A total of 2.4 cubic miles of water is now stored in mid-latitude reservoirs, decreasing the amount of water stored near the equator, and lessening the pull of the moon, reports the New York Times.


Maybe God likes all this help. But maybe She doesn't, and is playing a few tricks on us to get us back. Tricks like putting Bipedus giganticus, a.k.a. Bigfoot, on the list of species considered endangered in King County, Wash. The listing was discovered when farmer Jim Baum tried to sell his land and learned that the value of the 17-acre plot had taken a dive because it was home to up to 350 endangered species, including Bigfoot. Whether the listing was a joke or not, Bipedus giganticus will remain an endangered species because, as one county official explained, "It would cost too much to change."


Meanwhile, divine intervention may have induced the founders of the newly formed Northwesterners for More Fish to tip their hand. The group's goal is not, as its name suggests, to protect the area's dwindling salmon populations, but to uphold the complex of hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River blamed for decimating salmon numbers (HCN 3/18/96). When a Washington, D.C., communications firm was hired to design a logo for the group, the fish incorporated into the picture wasn't the intended salmon. Opinion is split on its species; it's either a bottom feeder called a yellow-bellied sucker, or a major predator of young salmon, the squawfish.

"Whatever it is," reports the Seattle Weekly, "It has very cute, if distinctly un-salmonid, lips."

Heard around the West invites readers to get involved in the column. Send any tidbits that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal anecdotes, relevant bumpersticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or [email protected]

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