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  • July 29, 2008

    This Week in Montana: Wolf and Bigfoot Sightings-3


    One species has recently landed back on the federal endangered species list as the result of a ruling by a sympathetic judge. The other has never been recognized as a viable species by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service—or any other wildlife or scientific agency, for that matter.


    Yet both creatures—the gray wolf and Sasquatch--were identified in separate sightings on the same interstate highway this week in Montana.

    Is it any wonder why this state is referred to as “The Last Best Place?”

    Authorities with the Montana Department of Transportation say a gray wolf carcass was found along Interstate 90 near the Idaho border. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials subsequently reported that the animal had injuries consistent with a vehicle collision.

    A few miles to the east, a motorist driving along I-90 near Alberton called 911 to report that he saw a Bigfoot approaching a couple who were fly-fishing on the Clark’s Fork River.


    According to a report in The Missoulian newspaper, the motorist said the Sasquatch was more than 7 1/2 feet tall, with long arms, a skinny frame and brown hair.

    But even the director of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization in California (oh yes, it exists, alright) told the newspaper that he believes the report is suspect.

    The BFRO’s Matt Moneymaker said he was skeptical because the sighting allegedly occurred where there were dozens of motorists and in broad daylight, but only one person called 911.

    So, if Bigfoot really exists and frequents locales around Interstate 90, as Moneymaker and others of his ilk would have us believe, then why has one never turned up as roadkill, or dead of natural causes in the woods?

    “You can walk in the woods in Montana your whole life and never come across the remains of a mountain lion and they outnumber the Bigfoot 1,000 to one,” Moneymaker explained.


    Me either.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • July 29, 2008

    JR's Random Outdoor Quote-0


    “Most of all, a great dog never stops teaching its owner. And if an owner is wise, he’ll never stop learning. A synchrony exists between an old dog and its owner, a synergy that builds with time spent together communicating in voice tones and body language. Birds might have first drawn us to the sport of wingshooting, but it’s likely that our dogs have kept us in brush pants and double guns.”

    -Chris Dorsey
    “Exclamation Points”
    A Breed Apart, 1993

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • July 28, 2008

    S. Louisiana Wedding: Here Comes The Dog-1


    When B.J. and Josh LaJaunie were pre-planning their wedding that took place in a tiny chapel in Thibodaux, Louisiana last Saturday, they considered some important qualities they wanted in the flower girl/ring-bearer for the service. They agreed they were looking for loyalty, good behavior and trustfulness—in addition to a close friend of the family.

    The choice turned out to be an easy one for the 28-year-old bride and 30-year-old groom.

    Remi, a chocolate Lab that has been part of both their lives ever since B.J. presented the female retriever to her duck-hunter boyfriend easily fit all their criteria.


    So in Saturday’s joyous ceremony, Remi (which is short for Remington—Josh’s first shotgun) carried their rings in a special lace dog collar matching B.J.’s wedding gown.

    The Lab sat obediently as guests filed into the chapel, many greeting her with pats to the head. Then, when her moment in the limelight arrived, she performed her duties as flawlessly as she recovers a downed teal from a South Louisiana bayou.

    “I thought Remi was the best flower girl,” bridesmaid Ellen Diedrich told a reporter from the Lafourche Parish Daily Comet newspaper. “I don’t think they could have had a more meaningful ringbearer.”

    And, Diedrich added, Remi behaved far better than many flower girls she’s seen at other weddings.

    The bride, who said she gave Remi to Josh four years ago to mark the anniversary of their first date, admitted--like many hunting dog owners--they spoil Remi rotten.

    “She was supposed to live outside because she’s a hunting dog,” said the bride, while confessing that their “baby” spends a lot of time in the house, and sometimes is allowed to jump on their bed.

    No bed-jumping for Remi during the honeymoon, though. Instead, it’s kennel time!

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • July 23, 2008

    Deer With Extra Gear on the Mend-0


    A six-legged whitetail fawn is recovering at a Rome, Georgia animal clinic after surviving an attack by dogs this past weekend.

    Veterinarian Dan Pate, who performed surgery on the 4- to 5-week-old deer, said that X-rays indicated the fawn has two distinct pelvises. It also had two tails, one which was amputated during surgery, the vet said.

    “It is really an anomaly. It appears it had an identical twin that didn’t form all the way,” Dr. Pate told the Rome News-Tribune.


    Its movement appears somewhat labored, as it utilizes one leg from each pelvis, with the other two dragging motionless behind.

    Watch the video of the deer here—it’s pretty wild.

    “Somehow it has a fairly normal gait, although the center legs seem to get in the way,” said Pate.

    Ted Touchstone, who’s been with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for 34 years, told the Rome paper that he has never seen anything to compare with the six-legged freak whitetail.

    Touchstone, who received the initial call about the injured deer, said he consulted with George Gallagher, a professor of Animal Science at Berry College, and the two decided to bring the fawn in for medical treatment.

    “The reason we all did what we did was to preserve the animal momentarily so the Georgia Department of Natural Resources could deem what was the appropriate thing to do,” Touchstone said.

    Touchstone said he believes the animal with likely be taken to the deer facility at the University of Georgia for further study.

    How about it Newshounders? You may recall the December, 2006 story about the teenaged Illinois hunter who shot a doe with an extra leg dangling from its chest—but have you ever seen anything like this critter?

    Photo by Brittany Hannah of The Rome News-Tribune.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • July 22, 2008

    India: Crocs Deployed as Forest Guardians-2


    Foresters and wildlife conservators in India have come up with a novel approach to prevent the depletion of sensitive mangrove forests in a remote wildlife sanctuary.

    Areas of the southern-most portion of the 400-square-mile Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary are becoming visibly affected by wood-poaching and unlawful cutting, say foresters. According to Express India News, the residents of settlements within the sanctuary jurisdiction are increasingly responsible for destroying mangrove forests and illegally converting the land to green fields and paddies for shrimp cultivation.


    With limited enforcement personnel and resources at their disposal, Orissa forest personnel have enlisted the help of a native species with a historic reputation for, uh, protecting territory, so to speak.

    After a trial program last year, forest authorities released nearly 60 captively bred crocodiles last week into the water in Kharinasi, Batighar, Ramnagar and Jamboo areas of the sanctuary.

    “We are pressing into service these reptiles for forest conservation,” says Golakh Rout with the Rajnagar Mangrove Forest Division. “Once crocodiles are firmly ensconced in the water inlets, human intrusion would be greatly curtained.”

    Who could argue with that reasoning?

    “Fear of croc attack would keep the human trespassers away from the water sources,” said Rout. “As the people here take the water route to sneak into the forest, we feel the crocs may come in handy to protect the forest.”

    Since naturally occurring crocodile populations in other parts of the sanctuary seemed to be preventing human exploitation to any major degree, why not simply expand the deterrent?

    Funding-strapped state game and fish agencies take note. Here at the Newshound, we’ll just bet most state conservation agents could quickly recommend several locations where they would love to enlist the help of some 12-foot-long trespassing deterrents.

    Then there’s those pesky personal watercraft riders…

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • July 22, 2008

    JR's Random Outdoor Quote-1


    “Simply put, I love dogs, large or little, yeoman or sissy, working stiff or pampered pet. I have to confess, though, that I love gun dogs most of all. They like what I like, which is to poke around and shaggy piece of countryside where certain birds are likely to be found and to test out collective skills of nose and gun against their capabilities for survival and flight--exercises performed in the sheer animal exhuberance of taking part, of being immersed in a world whose rhythms and mysteries are so vast that the deeper we penetrate, the more its margins fade away.”

    -Michael McIntosh
    “Tales From The Dark Side”
    A Breed Apart, 1993

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • July 21, 2008

    Snapping Turtle Kisser Speaks With Forked Tongue-3


    Hey Newshounders! We admit that we’re sometimes just as amazed as you with some of the odd tales we track down about life in the outdoors.

    And just when you think you’ve seen and heard everything weird that could possibly occur between people and wild critters, we’d like to introduce you to Calvin “Clicker” Embry.

    Embry, a 41-year-old laborer and turtle hunter from Wayne City, Ill., told Evansville Press & Courier columnist Len Wells that he’s performed his crowd-pleasing turtle-kissing act about a hundred times--and he’s never been bitten once.

    Until this past Fourth of July, that is.


    That’s when Embry, at the urging of one of his friends during a local fireworks display, decided to show folks how he can hypnotize a 15-pound snapping turtle by rubbing its underside, and then kiss it on the nose—just above its namesake jaws.

    (As a disclaimer, before I write any further, I have absolutely no idea whether alcohol was involved in the incident as it subsequently unfolded.)

    In Clicker’s words, here’s what happened.

    “I got him out of the truck, tilted him down at just the right angle and started rubbin’ his belly. I must have tilted him the wrong way, ‘cause he woke up. I can usually kiss him on the snout, then lick their eyeballs before they wake up, but something went really wrong.”

    Wrong, indeed.

    With the business end of the snapping turtle firmly attached to his tongue, Embry said he found it difficult to instruct a friend on the finer points of prying its jaws open with a knife.

    “Do you know how hard it is to talk with a 15-pound snappin’ turtle hanging off the end of your tongue?”

    Later, with the snapper successfully removed, Embry headed to the nearest hospital emergency room, where he was surprised to learn that the attending physician thought his accident and injury were unlike anything he’d ever seen in his long medical career.

    “That doctor hadn’t ever seen anything like this, so he took some pictures for the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine,” Embry told The Courier-Press columnist. “I got a tetanus shot and he sent me home.”

    As for Clicker, he figures it was just another day in the life of a turtle hunter.

    Except that he’s going to have to work on pronouncing words beginning and ending with “s” and “th” for awhile.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • July 17, 2008

    Pot Look-Alike Case Up in Smoke-1


    A lawsuit that began in 2005 when law enforcement authorities mistook a Mississippi hunting club’s deer food plot for an illegal marijuana-growing operation is apparently finally done with its long run in the court system.


    Last week, a federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of the original 2005 lawsuit naming a former Mississippi county sheriff who seized what he believed were pot plants from a hunting club’s property, but instead were 500 kenaf plants grown as a legitimate deer plot on land leased from a timber company.

    Here at The Newshound, we’ve been covering the look-alike lawsuit since it first broke in March 2005.

    The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a federal judge in Mississippi who threw out the lawsuit against the Harrison County Sheriff. Marion Waltman, representing the Boarhog Hunting Club, was seeking $225,000 in compensation for the plants from now-former Sheriff George H. Payne Jr.

    Acting on an anonymous tip, Sheriff Payne and Harrison County deputies were assisting agents assigned to a federal drug enforcement team when they removed the plants from the property.


    The 5th Circuit upheld an earlier U.S. District Court judge’s ruling that Sheriff Payne made an honest mistake and could not be held liable for damages. Last week’s decision affirmed that Payne’s search was legal under the “open fields” doctrine, which allows officers, under certain circumstances, to seize evidence in plain view without a warrant.

    Kenaf is popular as a deer attractant and supplement in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia. It comes in several varieties, one with leaves that resemble marijuana, the other with heart-shaped leaves similar to the hibiscus plant.

    The kenaf variety in question has a single leaf with seven lobes. Marijuana (cannabis) plants have seven or nine leaves joined at a common stem.

    Where are Cheech and Chong when you need them?

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • July 14, 2008

    British Olympic Pistol Shooters May Train at Home-0


    Here’s an item to help Newshound readers really put the June 26th U.S. Supreme Court District of Columbia vs. Heller ruling in perspective: For the first time since handguns were banned from Great Britain in 1996, the country’s Olympic-hopeful pistol shooters have been granted special permission by the government to train--inside the borders of their home country!

    By the way, the 2012 Olympic Games are slated to be held in London. We can only presume the British government will make the same type of broad-minded and tolerant gesture when it comes to the Olympic pistol venue in 2012 and for the world-class shooters attending from foreign countries.


    In case you missed it, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed-in late last month on the right of Americans to not only use pistols for competitive target training, but to own them and keep them in our homes for personal protection.

    It’s that Second Amendment thing, doncha’ know?

    Since the British handgun ban became effective more than a decade ago, pistol competitors there have been relegated to training facilities located in countries such as Switzerland and Northern Ireland, reports The London Times. The Times story says the ban has contributed to an overall decline in interest and participation in the sport, with the country failing to send a single pistol shooter to an Olympics since the Atlanta Games in 1996, despite the sport having been one of Britain’s strengths in previous years.

    No British shooters are scheduled to compete in the pistol events in Beijing this summer.

    The British Olympic Association (BOA) welcomed the government’s move.

    “The BOA has been working on a campaign to allow pistol shooters to train on British soil for many years now and we’re delighted that the British Government has responded positively,” a BOA spokesman said.

    In the past 12 years, the British Government has granted dispensation for handguns only once, during the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. At that time (get this!) competitors were escorted from Heathrow Airport under armed guard, while armored vehicles transported their guns to the shooting arena. There, spectators watched from behind screens while the shooters were constantly observed by armed authorities.

    Makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it?

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • July 10, 2008

    Wolf Advocates to Have Sleepovers With Sheep-3


    OK, you probably remember the hit movie Dances With Wolves.

    Coming soon to an animal advocacy movie screen near you: Sleepovers With Sheep!


    As part of a summer-long program designed and funded by a national wolf-protectionist organization, field workers armed with radio-tracking gear, air horns and blank-firing starter pistols will be spending overnights with sheep herds in the central Idaho mountains.

    Be advised, my good Newshound readers, I wouldn’t fleece you about this.

    As part of the $25,000 Defenders of Wildlife program aimed at reducing wolf depredation on domestic sheep herds during this summer’s high country grazing season, the dedicated wolf lovers will spend nights in the field, accompanying herders and Great Pyrenees guard dogs.

    By the way, it should come as no surprise that Defenders of Wildlife thinks air horns and popguns are preferred tools at managing livestock- and game-killing predators. It is the same group that has opposed the planned 2008 wolf quotas and hunting seasons that have been recently approved by the state wildlife agencies of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

    In addition, the organization is one of the primary litigants in a lawsuit that seeks to reinstate federal protection for the species under the Endangered Species Act, effectively blocking the proposed hunts.

    The gray wolf in the northern Rocky Mountains was officially delisted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this past March, and the management of the species was transferred to each appropriate state fish and wildlife agency.

    [ Read Full Post ]
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