Friday, April 8, 2011

Mountain Town News


Aspen opts against plastic bottle ban

ASPEN, Colo.—A ban on plastic bottles? Not in Aspen, which has instead decided to emphasize the positive, the high quality of its native waters high in the Rocky Mountains. The idea for the ban came up after a City Council member noticed all the plastic bottles littering the water in the British Virgin Islands while on a vacation earlier this year, notes The Aspen Times.

But Aspen has decided to follow in the footsteps of Telluride to discourage plastic bags, and it hopes for coordination with other municipalities in the Roaring Fork Valley in adoption of a policy.

Whistler has also talked about crimping the proliferation of plastic shopping bags. But the city's environmental coordinator, Nicolette Richer, recently said that the initiative must come from the business community, particularly the three grocery stores that account for 70 percent of plastic bags issued in Whistler.

Pique Newsmagazine, talking with two of the groceries, reported some hedging by one about "two sides to the coin," but more clear enthusiasm from a second grocery.

"It does make sense to change over and get rid of the plastic, so we're fully supportive of something that will work for Whistler," said Kent Dawson of Whistler's Creekside Market.

Bear collars from Aspen now headed to Durango

ASPEN, Colo.—The electronic surveillance collars placed on bears in the hills surrounding Aspen are now being removed, to next be used in a study of bears around Durango.

The Aspen Times explains that the collars had been placed on 62 bears during the last five years in an attempt to better understand whether bears get addicted to human food. Sharon Baruch-Mordo, a doctoral candidate at Colorado State University who led the study, concluded that bears will remain in the wilds when natural food, like berries and acorns, are plentiful. In years when they are not, the bears look to glean what they can amid Dumpsters, garbage cans and even houses and garages.


Last year, 10 bears were killed under Colorado's three-strikes policy. The year before, there were 20. In some cases, bears were relocated 100 to 200 miles away, but still returned to Aspen to rustle their meals.

The Times explains that with this first study done, wildlife graduate student David Lewis is starting another study.

"We're trying to find out if Aspen is a source for the bear population or a sink for the bear population," he said. "Aspen should be a source, because it has such good habitat, but it may be a sink because of the euthanizations—because of conflicts."

Animal rights group claims vandalism

WHISTLER, B.C.—A Los-Angeles based group called North American Animal Liberation Front has claimed responsibility for vandalism to the storefront of a company in Whistler involved in the killing of unneeded sled dogs.

A number of sled dogs no longer needed for a commercial operation in Whistler were reportedly killed last year in a bloodbath that shocked British Columbia and many others beyond. By one account, the killings numbered 100 dogs. They came to light earlier this year.

Just what role the targeted company had in the killings is not clear. Outdoor Adventures Whistler then had a partial financial interest in the company, and it has admitted it knew some dogs would be euthanized for quality-of-life reasons. But the killings seem to have gone far beyond that, to economic reasons. There wasn't enough business after the Olympics to justify so many dogs.

Whistler Animals Galore, or WAG, has plans to find homes for remaining dogs no longer used for commercial sledding, but warns that these are not your normal pound puppies. They need high doses of regular exercise and are not particularly domesticated.

Lindsey Vonn changes her first name, sort of

VAIL, Colo.—Last Friday was April Fool's Day, and it's a time-honored traditional in ski-town newspapers to play fast, loose and fun with the news, shadowing reality in ways that produce a smile.

This year's funniest story, at least until it outran its core joke, was also in the Vail Daily. Lindsey Vonn, the ski racer, had agreed to formally change her first name to "Vail's," as in "Vail's Lindsey Vonn." But it wouldn't make much difference, noted the paper, as that's how she is always called anyway.

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