Friday, June 29, 2012

Mountain Town News

Express Staff Writer

Wolf keeps distance, but that may change

JASPER, Alberta—Eventually, somebody's going to get hurt, say officials in Jasper National Park.

That assessment was uttered after a wolf chased a dog that had been running ahead of a woman jogging on a trail in the park. She heard a shriek, then saw the dog tearing back to her, a large, gray wolf in hot pursuit.

"He really wanted to eat my dog," the woman told Jasper's Fitzhugh newspaper.

The dog at her side, the woman emptied her can of bear spray, to no effect, then picked up a large stick. Thrusting the stick at the wolf, she backed down the trail several hundred metres to a road, where she was rescued by a passing motorist. The wolf stalked them the whole way.

A dog last November in the same area wasn't so lucky. It, too, had been running free.

Steve Malcolm, a wildlife conflict specialist with the national park, told the Fitzhugh that the wolf pack there appears habituated to human beings. They do not yet see people as prey, but with habituation, that will change.

"Wolves will eventually move from this stage, where they're just hunting their natural prey (dogs, coyotes and foxes), to looking at people as a food option," he said.


Meanwhile, two wolves were killed on the TransCanada Highway in Banff National Park. That leaves the Bow Valley pack at just four wolves, experts tell the Rocky Mountain Outlook. Wildlife officials suspect the wolves got onto the highway at cattle guards.

Also killed on the highway recently was a rare swift fox. Wildlife specialists aren't sure from whence it came, as the swift fox, like the bison, prairie wolf and plains grizzly, had mostly disappeared early in the 20th century. The species had been extirpated from Alberta altogether in the 1970s.

Mudluscious races proliferate at ski areas

TRUCKEE, Calif.—Obstacles races with names like Tough Mudder, Spartan Race and Muddy Buddy have proliferated during the last decade.

As their names suggest, many have a component of mud as well as the usual sweat. But the obstacles seem to come from the same minds that created reality TV shows.

A competition planned for July 14 at Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort will include tree stumps, truck tires and a mud pit among the obstacles.

"To an increasing number of people, adding an extra level of punishment to the equivalent of a half-marathon is all part of the weekend's plan," reports the Sierra Sun.

"This segment of the market has just blown up," explains Sean Sweeney, an organizer of a mud-run event called Sierra Recon.

In Colorado, obstacles at a race at Beaver Creek included "Shocks on the Rocks," an icy pool stocked with 45,000 pounds of ice in what is called an "Arctic enema." Another leg required participants to scale an oil-slicked wall on "Everest," while another was to swing across 300 feet of monkey boars over a muddy pit in "Funky Monkey."

Tough Mudder will hold dozens of events around the world this year after an inaugural event last year at Beaver Creek that drew 10,000 participants. Across Vail Pass, a "mudder" one at Copper Mountain drew 17,500 participants and 9,000 spectators. This year, Copper expects the numbers to rise.

The obstacle races fit with a new effort by ski areas to develop their non-skiing economies under federal legislation approved last year that gives them greater authority for summer-time use of national forests.

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