At press time, 880 members of the Yellowstone bison herd have been killed this year in a combination of hunting and capture/slaughter operations. In their honor, I reprint the words of Bob Jackson, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Park Service in Yellowstone, an excerpt from his March 1 posting “A Sickening Slaughter”:
“What Yellowstone has allowed to happen on their soil today, to my ‘alma mater,’ is sickening. I ask the rank and file in Yellowstone; rise above the fear of job retaliation and remember why you joined the Park Service.
“To cower in the closets of your Ranger Stations, maintenance sheds, and Mammoth administration buildings may secure careers, but every year of compromise means adding another year of personal slow death. Is it worth it?”
In a similar vein—that being population control—it’s time for all you valiant exotic fish-fighters to once again take up rod and reel, as 2008 Spring Mack Days begin Fri., March 14. Every Fri.–Sun. through April 27, pull all the lake trout you can hook out of Flathead Lake. Of course, be sure you can correctly identify the different species, as taking bull or westslope cutthroat trout will get you far more than a slap on the wrist. All manner of cash prizes are available to the scaliest among you, so head to mackdays.com or call 883-2888 ext. 7294.
Speaking of killing, or at least practicing the art, the annual convention of the Montana Bowhunters Association begins Fri., March 14, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Missoula. The number of events and raffles is baffling, and far too exhaustive to display in this humble column, so we invite all amateur Rambos and Robin Hoods to visit mtba.org.
The Trail Head aims to get you drooling for the upcoming watersports season—tee hee—as they present the third annual Reel Paddling Film Festival at 7 PM on Fri., March 14, in UM’s Urey Lecture Hall. More than 30 short films comprise this visual buffet, one of which includes footage of hooking a 125-pound shark from atop a kayak. Tickets cost $13, or $10 in advance, so call 543-6966.
As these people study the stuff, maybe they know something I don’t: UM’s Physical Therapy students encourage you to gorge on gluten and then take a jog when they host the inaugural All-You-Can-Eat Pancake Breakfast and Bust-A-Gut 5K Race on Sat., March 15. Registration begins at 7:30 AM, with breakfast at 8 and running beginning at 9. French toast, eggs, bacon and sausage are also available, if they seem like better options. $10 includes breakfast, or simply pay $5 to run. Call 721-8720 or 243-4753 for more details on this perplexing offering.
The second annual Whitefish Mountain Skier Cross takes place Sat., March 15–Sun., March 16., and consists of qualifying races on day one and final death-matches on day two. If the words “banked slalom” bring visions of glory and eventual corporate sponsorship to mind, get yourself registered by calling 862-2910.
We’re pleased to inform you of a concurrent competitive possibility, this one taking place at Lost Trail Powder Mountain: The David Shepherd Memorial Hillclimb also takes place Sat., March 15–Sun., March 16. This is the last warm-up race for the pros before they head to Jackson Hole, Wyo., to determine who’s the champ, but you can get in on all the fun of jumps, rhythm sections and steep terrain when you visit rmsha.com/index.asp. You understand this involves snowmobiles, right?
A less motorized harbinger of spring rears its pretty head with the return of Missoulians on Bicycles’ group rides. Start off with the Sat., March 15, Happy Trails ride, which meets at 10 AM at K-Mart—or 10:30 at the Conoco in Lolo—for a 35-mile cycle along the bike trail to Bass Creek and back. Call Lech at 543-4889.
Ride all weekend long when you join that rowdy MOB again for the Sun., March 16, Tour d’Turah, which leaves at 10 AM from the Eastgate Shopping Center for the 25-mile round-trip. Call Vickie at 721-8540.
Bring it inside when Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Native Species Coordinator Kristi DuBois presents a talk about Montana Bats at the Rocky Mountain Grotto meeting at Pipestone Mountaineering at 7 PM on Wed., March 19.
If you envision an Idaho with intact roadless areas, your comments are urgently needed in advance of the April 7 comment period closing date, and to inspire you to action, activist-author Howie Wolke presents a slideshow lecture on the issues involved at 7 PM on Thu., March 20, in Room 123 of UM’s Chemistry Building. Call 544-3385.
From my underground bunker of infinite recreational wisdom, I wish safe yet nail-biting adventures this week to you all. Keep in touch.