Heard around the West

Betsy Marston



It’s better not to mess with a macho moose when he’s in the mood to make whoopee. As Alberta Laktonen watched from across the street, a rutting bull moose head-butted her Toyota Prius and then turned its attention to her mailbox, whirling around to crash its antlers against the metal. Both targets remained standing, though the car suffered an estimated $5,600 in damage, reports “The Week” magazine. This is actually typical behavior for a young bull seeking a mate, said a spokesman for Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game. “Basically, it means their hormones are raging.”



Facts have found a fan in Susan Bolton, a senior U.S. District Court judge for Arizona. In a recent ruling, she said that despite receiving a pardon from President Donald Trump, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio may not tell the world that he was never criminally convicted. Arpaio had been charged with illegally ordering his department to target and arrest anyone who looked Mexican-American, and despite being ordered by a judge to stop, he continued his “racial profiling,” reports the “Arizona Star.” But Bolton, whom a colleague describes as an “impeccable judge,” said that a presidential pardon does not mean that Arpaio can expunge his criminal record.

“The power to pardon is an executive prerogative of mercy, not of judicial record-keeping,” Bolton wrote, and a pardon does not “revise the historical facts of this case.”

Arpaio, who served no time in jail because of Trump’s pardon, has said he will sue to have Bolton’s decision overturned.



For Katelyn Zak, 29, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Beth Rittenhouse, 28, from Boulder, Colorado, a day hike had unintended consequences. The women, who had never met, were each hiking solo on the Dark Canyon loop not far from Crested Butte, Colorado. They ran into each other on the trail as the sun was setting and the night was getting cooler. And that’s when they realized they were in a fix: They were miles from their destination and thought they might be lost. But they got lucky, says “Colorado Central Magazine”: “They stumbled upon an outfitter’s drop camp, complete with a tent, firewood, cots, food and a lighter, where they spent the night.”

And the next morning, they met two locals who gave them food and directed them back to the trailhead, where, by another coincidence, they found their cars parked side by side. “It was bizarre, absolutely bizarre,” commented Mount Crested Butte police officer Matt Halverson, in the “Gunnison Country Times.”

A hunter near Vail, Colorado, was less fortunate in October. He’d spent several days in the backcountry before successfully bagging a large 6x6 bull – meaning one with a total of 12 antler points. He’d made several trips to his truck to pack out the elk, says the Vail Daily, but on the final one, he discovered a thief had made off with his trophy elk’s antlered head. There’s a $1,000 reward for helping to find the culprit: Call 800-972-TIPS or go online at TipSubmit.com.

On the other hand, Gail Binkley, editor of the “Four Corners Free Press,” learned a lot about neighborliness after a sudden squall swept through Cortez. She and her husband were at home, when suddenly “there was a loud crack!” close by. A microburst ripped a 50-foot-tall blue spruce completely out of the ground, yanking the tree’s roots up from under the concrete driveway. The fallen giant completely enveloped her car and blocked the front door. Binkley barely managed to squeeze out, only to find the porch filled with broken limbs and bristly needles. Then something wonderful happened: “People started appearing” – not her immediate neighbors, but folks from blocks away.

“Everyone oohed and aahed over the giant tree. And then they set to work.”

In short order the volunteers chain-sawed the tree’s strewn limbs while other people she’d never met arrived in pickups to carry off the wood, destined for the landfill the next day. Before long, her car was freed, she could open her front door and the tree had been reduced to a stump.

Says a grateful Binkley: “They didn’t know me, what religion I was, or what political affiliation I might have. They asked nothing in return. They simply saw an opportunity to help, and took it.”


The West

Is a live bobcat worth a thousand times more than a dead one? Absolutely, says Biodiversity and Conservation, an international science journal. True, a hunter or trapper in Wyoming pays $130.53 for a license, and might earn $184.64 by selling the pelt. But a bobcat living freely for a year in Yellowstone National Park is such a valuable tourist attraction that it has a value of $308,105. This analysis of the economic impact of wildlife came from two nonprofits, Wyominguntrapped.org and the international Panthera.org, dedicated to preserving wild cats.


Betsy Marston is the editor of Writers on the Range, the op ed service of High Country News (hcn.org). Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared, betsym@hcn.org.


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