What do salmon, shellfish and bees – yes, bees – have in common, other than that they don’t have much in common? Well, according to a California court, they’re all really fish at heart. In 2018, a trio of conservation and food security groups wanted to protect our pollinator friends. Unfortunately, the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) does not provide space for bees and other non-marine invertebrates. So bee advocates have resorted to some clever legalese, arguing that the CESA definition of “fish” could actually include any invertebrate – air-breathers and suckers. We could also add politicians to this list. After some back and forth in state courts, the 3rd Appellate District settled the case in late May, allowing the California Fish and Game Commission to list bees where they belong: as protected fish. And now we know how Bumblebee Tuna got its name.
For the past half-century, Marty Bluewater has been the sole inhabitant of a 380-acre island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Well, the sole Human inhabitant. According Review of 1889, Protection Island has many other long-time residents: puffins, gulls, rhinoceros puffins, bald eagles and other feathered species. And that’s just the birds; seals, sea lions and deer have also taken up residence there. At one point, sea otters even locked themselves in Bluewater’s septic tank. (Not related to “woman in port-a-potty”, see story below.) The various tenants have the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to thank for their Shangri-la, because in 1988 it was officially protected as a National Wildlife Refuge.
So how did Bluewater become the only two-legged resident?
He bought land for $7,000 in 1971, built a cabin, and learned to live off the grid. At the time, a dozen other houses stood on the island. KREM reported that when the US Fish and Wildlife decided to designate it as a sanctuary, people were given the option of staying forever, but Bluewater was the only one who chose “lifetime use.” After his death, the federal government will assume responsibility. John Donne said, “No man is an island”, but Bluewater might just be an exception. After 50 years, we think he’s earned it.
Who knew coyotes and wolves hate flashy disco lights? WyoFile reported on a “Westwide Depredation Reduction Demonstration Project” in which livestock owners fit animals with motion-sensing LED ear tags to prevent predators from snacking on the benefits of owners, not to mention the bodies of their animals. Wildlife conflict reduction researchers have retrofitted small solar-powered lights — the kind that adorn a car rim — to attach to tags.
Similar solutions have been tested elsewhere, often to protect animals from motorists. Finnish reindeer herders, for example, paint reflective paint on antlers. And a New Brunswick artist came up with the “Vamoose Animal Alert System”; reflective stripes painted on highways to help drivers avoid moose. The thesis of Aaron Bott, holder of a doctorate from the State of Utah. student researching wolves, includes a chapter on the 4,000 cattle flashtags in western states. We relish the thought of happy cows boogie all night to the beat of Stay alive.
In June, we told a story of The Kitsap Sun about a California woman who fell into the pit of a Washington addiction while trying to retrieve her phone. It was an accident heard through the news wires. The (Port Townsend) Chief followed by the transcript of the 911 call she made from inside the pit, accurately noting that “she lost her balance, but not her sense of humor”:
Dispatcher: “911. What’s your emergency?” »
Caller: “Hi. I can’t believe I’m that person. Um. I’m stuck in a port-a-potty.
Dispatcher: “In a port-a-potty?”
Caller: “In a port-a-potty… And my phone fell, then I slid in. And I tried to get out. And I just need a lift.
The caller epitomizes “grace under pressure,” and more.
Caller: “I can’t believe I’m that person.”
Dispatcher: “It happens.”
Caller: “I just need a strong man to pick me up, because I can’t do it. (Laugh.)”
Caller: “Yeah, okay. But, I mean, you’re not hurt? You’re just stuck in there, aren’t you?”
Caller: “I’m not hurt, I’m just stupid.”
At one point, the dispatcher attempts to chat, politely asking, “So other than that, how are you finding Washington so far?” »
“Otherwise, it’s beautiful,” the woman replies, adding, with commendable honesty, “It may be the worst view I’ve seen.”
The transcript of the 911 dispatch is well worth a read, we promise.
Tiffany Midge is a citizen of the Standing Rock Nation and was raised by wolves in the Pacific Northwest. His book, Bury my heart at Chuck E. Cheese (Bison Books, 2019), was nominated for the Washington State Book Award. She resides in north-central Idaho near the Columbia River Plateau, home of the Nimiipuu.
Advice on western quirks is appreciated and often shared in this column. To write [email protected]or send a letter to the editor.