Friday, September 23, 2011

Mountain Town News


By ALLEN BEST - MTN TOWN NEWS SERVICE

Bad month for bears in Rocky Mountains

WHITEFISH, Mont.—From Colorado to British Columbia, it's been a bad month to be a bear—and occasionally a person. Wildlife officials have felt obligated to take out, euthanize, destroy or otherwise kill a number of bears that had shown too much comfort being around people.

In Revelstoke, B.C., officials killed five bears that had wandered into town. The bears had been eating garbage, birdseed, compost, fruit trees and pet food. The Revelstoke Times Review says the berry crop at high elevations is nearly nonexistent.

No such excuses were offered at Crested Butte, Colo., where a 500-pound black bear was shot after it invaded a house.

"He wasn't scared of me in the least," a man told officers.

Apparently the bear was afraid of others, who chased him out of the house and into the woods. A few hours later the bear was seen in a vehicle. That did it. Officers chased the bear and shot it. It was found dead the next morning, reports the Crested Butte News.

In Montana, two grizzlies were shot and killed in separate locations. The Whitefish Pilot reports a 370-pound grizzly was killed after it approached homes in Whitefish, broke into a chicken coop and scarfed up dog and cat food. Worried that the bear might be a danger to people—and not just their property—wildlife officials authorized the killing.

Also in Montana, near Red Lodge, an older, heavier bear was "euthanized," according to the Carbon County News, because of its reputation for killing cattle on a ranch. It was the second cattle-killing spree for the grizzly.

In the panhandle of Idaho, another grizzly bear was killed, but not until after having killed one of its would-be killers.

Finally, in British Columbia, wildlife officials killed three cougars that were making themselves entirely too much at home in backyards of Squamish, near Whistler.

"When one of the cougars was located it was just kind of rolling around under a trampoline in a backyard with people around. It had no concern whatsoever, and not only that, some of the complaints indicated the cougars had an interest in people. So there was the risk that an attack could occur," wildlife officer Chris Doyle told Pique Newsmagazine.

Wildlife officers said the big cats were "destroyed."

Gas rigs may get close to Steamboat

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.—Steamboat has had coal-mining camps south and west since long before it had ski lifts, so it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that oil and gas drillers are now approaching, too.

The Steamboat Pilot reports mineral leasing—and well-drilling applications—to within eight miles of the resort town. Whether much will come of this is another matter. But Royal Dutch Shell intends to bore down to nearly two miles underground to test the prospects for natural gas and oil.

The newspaper talked with the owner of a 35-acre ranchette who bought the property in 2009 and knew that it did not include the mineral rights. Still, she never imagined that drilling rigs might arrive so soon.

Go figure: Sales tax up, real estate down

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo.—Go figure. From across the region come reports that it was a pretty healthy summer in mountain towns, at least in terms of collections of sales taxes. In Breckenridge, for example, collections were up nearly 18 percent. Those in July were up 5 percent. And lodging during August was up 21 percent compared to last year.

Real estate, however, took a dive during July, as the U.S. Congress was in gridlock about spending. In Aspen, for example, sales were half the volume of last year. No reports have surfaced about August sales.

Aspen gets tougher on plastic bag issue

ASPEN, Colo.—Aspen has had a change of mind about imposing a fee of 20 cents on plastic grocery bags. Now, several members of the City Council want to flat-out ban all plastic bags.

"Why don't we just get to the ban right now if that's what we want to do," said Adam Frisch, a councilman, at a recent meeting covered by The Aspen Times.

But there's a hiccup if Aspen does change course. It had talked with two other local municipalities, Basalt and Carbondale, and there had been something of a consensus that a fee, instead of a ban, was the way to go, and they were better off working in unison.

Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland argued against changing course.

"Now we're going to throw them under the bus and say, 'We didn't really mean that,'" he said. "I don't like that."




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