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February 1, 2012
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Heard around the West

An embarrassment of riches brought together two families of grizzly bears in Grand Teton National Park: delicious piles of guts discarded by hunters, plus numerous carcasses of elk and the carcass of a bison. Unfortunately, the late-November reunion — like many others this holiday season — did not always go harmoniously, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide. The two heads of the families — the larger 399, and 610, her daughter from 2006 — tussled several times over the spoils, rolling “in the snow during one brawl,” said photographer Tom Mangelsen, who kept a close watch on the action as it unfolded. He said the sows' cubs, five in number, tried to join in, and one of 399's cubs was “a real scrapper,” not just charging at the other cubs but also chasing its grandmother. “The scene made for amazing wildlife viewing,” Mangelsen said, but if the two grizzly sows had not been related, he speculated, “it would be a fight-to-the-death sort of thing.”

Bob Ream, chairman of the state, Fish Wildlife and Parks Commission, was driving to north-central Montana just before sunrise to hunt deer, when a deer jumped in front of his car and made the trip unnecessary. The deer was a goner, “but only its hind quarter was damaged,” reports the Independent Record, “so Ream tagged it.” Even though his job involves setting hunting regulations, Ream apparently didn't know that tagging a road kill is illegal. After he told a game warden what he'd done, the animal was confiscated and Ream was issued a warning. That wasn't even the worst part: The deer also totaled his Subaru.

We won't go into the Freudian implications of hunters who covet wall decorations fashioned from the enormous antlers of the deer or elk they “hunted” on a fenced game ranch, but in Texas, where everything is supposed to be bigger than life, the desire for giant racks has gotten entirely out of hand. Smugglers have been hauling in bucks with huge antlers to breed with the state's “delicate native deer,” reports the Wall Street Journal. The result: deer with racks that can span four feet and are “often festooned with dozens of thick knobs and nubbins,” reminiscent of Dr. Seuss' creations. Federal agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently nabbed one of the smugglers — Billy Powell, 77, who was sentenced to up to six months of home confinement, $1.5 million in penalties and the forfeiture of 1,300 vials of frozen deer semen, said to be worth close to $1 million.

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The VailDaily Updated Feb 1, 2012 12:35PM Published Feb 1, 2012 12:31PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.