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Friday, October 2, 2009
But I Digress

By Mike Suchan
ESPNOutdoors.com blog columnist



Blog calendar:
Sept.17 | Sept.10 | Aug. 30

posted Sept. 17
Why is it exactly that you want wolves?

I'm a touch befuddled. I mean more than ordinarily so.

In this case, I'm talking about ESPNOutdoors.com's poll question, "Would you want wolves in your state?"

Well, not the question so much as the responses.

Of those who cared to click, more people seem to want them than not. Hear me scratching my head?

The answer "No way" leads the way with 40 percent of the 2,800-plus votes, but the "Yes" at 38 percent and the "Sure, we already have some" at 15 percent gives those wanting wolves a 53 percent majority.

Let it be noted that the yellow states, those that predominantly voted "Take ours, please," are Montana, Idaho and Alaska. Back to them in a second.

It's only fair to add that Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, along with Oregon, were in the bring on some more category, turning the entire state green on the poll results.

The Southeast mostly voted as a block not wanting wolves, while a line of states from Massachusetts to Nebraska voted for having them. It was surprising that states like Texas and California voted Yes.

Also of note is Wyoming, which is split evenly on yes/no with 13 percent each and 38 percent each for adding more or taking what they got. (Hey, that's 102 percent. Crazy math, those percentages.)

You might remember that Wyoming was one of the states where the grey wolf was reintroduced. While a management plan to hunt them hasn't been approved there, neighbors Idaho and Montana, where the canine's endangered status was dropped, are holding hunts.

Ranchers have been allowed to kill the occassional wolf or pack that attacked their livestock, but state plans for hunts this year after delisting drew some fire. The poll idea came from Colin Moore's report of environmentalists filing an injunction to stop the hunts and calling for a boycott of Idaho potatos. The nerve.

A plucky legislator moved to pass a bill sending wolves to other states, but alas, no takers.

A judge subsequently allowed the hunts in Idaho and Montana. Good thing, too, because both states took in a chunk of change from license sales, the Missoulian reports.

Idaho is also considering putting on auction 10 special tags, the Spokeman Review reported. The states will need the money as expenses to manage wolves will no longer be handled by the feds.

On Wednesday, a hunter reported the first wolf kill in Montana, but the New York Times reported that wolf hunts aren't so easy.

In Idaho and Montana, they voted overwhelmingly to "Take ours, please." Maybe they know something. Maybe they're jaded. Maybe only ranchers have computers there. Dunno.

I'm curious as to why so many voted for wolves. They're pretty to see? You want to hunt them? C'mon, help me break it down.

Send an email here or state your case on the conversation link.

posted Sept. 10
Watermelon, cherry spitting contests yes, but cricket spitting?

Oh, the craziness of the Central Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis — pop. 61,254, sal-ute!

Somewhere between the Open Class Beef Judging and Dan Kirk, the Juggler with the Yellow Shoes (sounds scary), there was a cricket spitting contest on Saturday.

Now I've heard of spitting contests with watermelon seeds and cherry pits, and I've even seen a cowpie throwing contest — and a lot of hand washing after — but I'd have never thought of a sticking a cricket in my mouth and seeing how far I could hurl it using lung and mouth power. (Though fish seem to spit the worm on the end of my line out quite regular-like).

Now, it's not a live cricket. The ones used in the fairgrounds hockey building had been frozen for four days, probably even lost a leg to two, which would help with the spitting. Brian Johnsrud of Marshfield picked one off the platter and sent it 22 feet, 8 inches to win.

His son, Jared, after a few tips from dad, did his best spit-take to win the 9-11 division.

His dad's advice was simple, the Marshfield News Herald reported in this story:

"Pick the biggest cricket you see, put it upside down on your tongue and spit. But take a deep breath before you put it in your mouth. You know why? Otherwise you might swallow the cricket when you breathe."

That's a winner.

Feddick and co-organizer Gary Bymers said a good turnout will probably make it an annual thing, and the Johnsonruds said they'll be back to defend their title.

Spitting must be some sort of genetic trait. In the International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship in Michigan — say that three times fast — Rick "Pellet Gun" Krause was a 10-time winner.

He held the record at an amazing 72 feet, 7 inches until, you guessed it, his son, Brian "Young Gun" Krause, spit in his eye. He hawked a pit 93 feet, 6 inches for the current world record.

No word if Young Gun or Jared are the spitting image of their fathers, ah-ha.

By the way, the standing record for watermelon seed spitting is 68 feet, 9-1/8 inches set by Lee Wheells in 1989.


posted Aug. 30
Not many really want to dance with wolves

Kevin Costner might have done it, but not many others want to get down with a wolf.

With antis fighting Idaho's planned hunt to thin the state's timber wolves, Sen. Gary Schroeder sponsored a bill to offer other states their surplus wolves.

Any takers?

Anyone?

Buehler?

Schroeder, quoted in Colin Moore's "Wolves or Taters?" on ESPNOutdoors.com, said the state got back 27 no thank yous, while "The rest of the states ignored us."

Connecticut was one of the first states contacted, since it was there that the call to boycott Idaho potatoes began if the spud state went ahead with the hunt. Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral called for a national boycott, and her group will present its case to stop the hunt today.

U.S. Circuit Court Judge Donald Malloy will also hear from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which compiled information from a wide range of sources in this brief. It basically says that states should be able to manage animals within their borders. Who better than state game and fish agencies to know the sustainable numbers?

Schroeder added that Idaho didn't have much say when the government re-introduced the wolves, which were taken off the endangered species list last spring, are thriving and now need a slight trimming.

With ranchers complaining of attacks on livestock and managed herds of elk being killed by the canine pack predators, along with some attacks on humans, we asked readers on our Sports Nation poll if they would want wolves in their state.

"No way" was leading with 44 percent of the vote, while "Yes" had 37 percent of the vote. In with 11 percent was "Sure, we already have some." Eight percent picked "Take ours, please," including dominating in Idaho and Montana, states that could have their Sept. 1 wolf hunts shut down.

Check out the results here to see if people in your state want to dance with wolves or not.

You could also comment on the end of the story explaining why you would or wouldn't want wolves in your state, or email me.




About the author: Mike Suchan has been editor at ESPNOutdoors.com the past three years. He's worked in journalism for 25 years, winning state and regional awards. Email him here.