Mountain Town News: Grizzly cubs victims to their own in Banff |

Mountain Town News: Grizzly cubs victims to their own in Banff

Allen Best
Mountain Town News

BANFF, Alberta — It’s a bear-kill-bear world in the Kananaskis Country south of Banff National Park.

A male grizzly is suspected of killing a yearling cub recently, and a conservation officer tells the Rocky Mountain Outlook that young grizzly are often killed by males. Their motives? Sex.

“It’s the tail end of mating season, and male bears do kill yearlings or cubs that are traveling with females,” explains Arian Spiteri. “They do it out of a drive to reproduce. When a female loses her cub, that can induce the female into estrus and make her able to mate again.”

The wildlife officer also said that boar grizzlies may kill the yearlings in order to eat them.

The sow in this case has lost a great many of her cubs. She’s now 12 and was first captured and collared in 2006. She has produced eight cubs since then, but so far five have died. Not all were necessarily killed by males, however, and one was the victim of a rare attack by a female grizzly. “We don’t know what the motivation was,” Spiteri said.

When smoke gets in your eyes …

WHISTLER, B.C. — Fires in British Columbia last week left Whistler in a thick blanket of smoke. Those same fires also made the air smoky and unpleasant for people in Denver.

But while Denver has been drenched since May with rain, Whistler could use a little more. The resort received just 11 millimeters in June, compared to the average 60. (For Yanks, that’s less than a half inch compared to the average 2.4 inches). This comes after a forgettable winter.

Now, with 80 percent of its reservoirs allocated for fighting forest fires, Whistler is talking about a crisis in its water supply. City officials are reported to be considering a ban on irrigation of plants, an unheard of notion in a place accustomed to splishing and splashing.

Climate change alone doesn’t explain fires

KETCHUM, Idaho — Wildfires are on the upswing, but it’s not just a result of the changing climate.

Researchers from the University of Idaho and the U.S. Geological Survey examined fire records for Idaho and western Montana and compared them to weather records. There was a lot of wildfire a century ago, including the famous summer of terror in 1910 remembered as the Big Burn. Recent decades have seen an uptick in fire. In both cases, the fires can be linked to weather.

But the report published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE also points out that a changing climate alone does not explain the surge in wildfire since 1985. Fires were suppressed zealously in the mid-20th century, leavings forests older and more susceptible to fires.

Major assemblage of private jets in Idaho

SUN VALLEY, Idaho — In 2013, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos began the deal to purchase The Washington Post at a conference held in Sun Valley. That same Allen & Co. conference germinated Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of mobile messaging service Whatsapp.

So what happened at this year’s gathering of many of the most powerful, richest elites in the American media, technology and sports worlds?

We’ll find out later. As the Idaho Mountain Express observes, the ink-stained wretches known as reporters are denied access to the proceedings, being forced to shout out questions to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Google co-founder Larry Paige, and other attendees from behind velvet ropes.

Here’s a small sampling of this year’s participants: chief executives Tim Cook from Apple and Bob Iger from Disney, California Gov. Jerry Brown, and Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel. Plus: Bill and Melinda Gates, media heavyweight Rupert Murdoch, King Abdullah II of Jordan, and a few dozen others with the means to fly first class if they don’t already have their own jets.

The Express reports that how many photographs are taken as people walk by the ropes on their way to get lunch is one way of measuring how important the business press sees an individual. When Cook and Iger passed, the “cameras sounded like small bursts of rapid gunfire,” reports the newspaper. NBA commissioner David Stern and MLB commissioner Bud Selig? Not so much.

Whistler falls behind in greenhouse goals

WHISTLER, B.C. — Unlike most mountain towns, Whistler gets nearly all of its electricity from hydroelectric sources. But it still has a carbon footprint, and efforts to shrink that footprint went in the wrong direction last year.

Community emissions last year were 17 percent less than in 2007, but they were 1 percent above 2013.

A 4 to 5 percent cut was needed to keep Whistler on track toward its 2020 reduction goals.

That mirrors the story in Aspen, which also has ambitious carbon-reduction goals. The story in both places is that what’s good for business isn’t good for carbon reduction.

In Whistler, the story is about car transportation that fuels a robust summer economy.

“Over the last couple of years we’ve had some of the busiest summers on record,” Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden told Pique Newsmagazine. “A lot of those visitors come by car.”

Transportation is responsible for 57 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, followed by natural gas consumption of 33 percent.

In Aspen, an expansion of the airport runway has allowed planes to take off with more passengers, necessitating more jet fuel. As such, emissions from air transportation and ground transportation are up 15 percent from the 2004 baseline.

Unlike Whistler, the largest demand for energy in Aspen and Pitkin County comes from residential development.

Looking ahead, Whistler sees the need for deeper cuts in the transportation sector. Earlier cuts were achieved in large part because of major infrastructure projects. For example, the landfill was capped and the methane captured.

Cannabis sales 1% of retail sales in Aspen

ASPEN, Colo. — Sales of marijuana now constitute 1 percent of all retail sales in Aspen. The city levies a 2.4 percent sales tax specifically on marijuana in addition to its normal sales tax. There are also taxes applied by the Colorado government.

Vail Resorts readies new Park City brand

PARK CITY, Utah — Get ready for a new name for the ski area formerly called Park City Mountain Resort. Vail Resorts plans a new logo and will announce that and other rebranding elements in late July, reports The Park Record. But a recent press release used the name “Park City Mountain.”

Diving more difficult in high-altitude lakes

GRAND LAKE, Colo. — A man drowned in Granby Reservoir over the July 4th weekend, raising questions about why, with so many reservoirs in the Grand Lake-Granby area, there isn’t a local dive team to carry out rescues or, at least, body recoveries.

One answer uncovered by the Sky Hi News is that drownings are relatively infrequent. The last one occurred in 2006. But then keeping such teams outfitted and trained costs a lot of money.

Body recoveries become more difficult at higher elevations because of the thinner air. At between 8,000 and 9,000 feet, divers must descend more slowly, to avoid what is commonly called the bends. At Granby Reservoir, that means 10 minutes of the oxygen supply is used to go down, 10 minutes for looking for the body, and 10 minutes to rise, with 10 minutes left over for an emergency.

To locate bodies, search teams use Sonar technology.

Ask about resort fees when booking a room

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Resort fees appear to be proliferating on top of basic hotel charges. Writing in The Washington Post, consumer advocate Christopher Elliott says it was uncommon a few years ago to find a hotel with a resort fee higher than $20 a night, and only in places like Las Vegas and Orlando.

“Today, they’re everywhere,” he writes. “Several resorts have cracked the $50-a-night mark, and at least two hotels charge more than $100 a night.”

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission says that resort fees are legal but must be disclosed. “But you can always exit the screen or hang up the phone and book a different hotel. And nothing sends a message about resort fees quite like an abandoned reservation,” Elliot says.

Latinos pass whites in California in 2014

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Last year, the number of Latinos surpassed non-Hispanic whites for the first time in California. It’s the third state overall — after Hawaii and New Mexico — without a white plurality, state officials say.

In 1970, Latinos accounted for 12 percent of the California population, reports the Los Angeles Times, and that increased to 25 percent by 1990. Now, Hispanics are 39 percent of California’s population, compared to 38 percent for non-Hispanic whites. Asians are another 14 percent and blacks 6 percent in California.

Legal immigrants make up more than 80 percent of California’s Latino population, reports the Sacramento Bee. While millions of Latin Americans arrived in the last three decades of the last century, the population gains during the past decade or so come from a high number of births and low number of deaths.

Hispanics are projected to be 49 percent of California’s population by 2060.

California, notes the LA Times, is a harbinger of the national rise in Latinos. The nation’s Latino population has grown 57 percent since 2000.

Visitors from China swell in Jackson Hole

JACKSON, Wyo. — Transportation security agents at the airport in Jackson Hole have encountered a new language barrier since visitors from China began arriving in droves.

Some things can be communicated easily enough, but words such as “computer” were sticklers. Now, they have been given flash cards, to help ease communication and keep lines flowing better.

It’s part of the adaptation process as Jackson Hole and the broader Yellowstone region respond to the rapid growth in Chinese visitors. Experts tell the Jackson Hole News&Guide that there were 300,000-plus visitors last year, and 450,000 are expected this year.

If each visitor spends $6,000 per trip, as has been estimated, that probably puts $1 billion into the Yellowstone-area economy, says Brian Riley, who has published a new magazine aimed at Chinese visitors.

What draws the Chinese to Wyoming? The same as what draws Americans: big open spaces.

People in Wyoming hew to traffic lines

JACKSON, Wyo. — People in Wyoming drive differently than those in the East, say traffic engineers. People of the Cowboy State pay more attention to highway lines, while drivers from the East take their cues more from signs.

This distinction came up in a story reported by the Jackson Hole News&Guide. The two-lane highway south of Jackson struggles with the current traffic load, and engineers project traffic volumes will continue to grow.

Locals, represented by the Teton County commissioners, are fine with an expansion to three lanes. State and federal authorities are insistent that the highway be widened to five lanes. With just a three-lane highway, warns John Cox, director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation, drivers will use the middle lane for passing, instead of for turning, as intended. Tourists, he said, would struggle to figure out where passing lanes end “until they’re in the ditch.”

Teton County has been sticking to its guns, even offering to forfeit $30 million in funding so that roads near the coal town of Gillett could instead get the extra work.

In an editorial, the News&Guide colorfully described the state and federal highway bureaucracy as the windshield and Teton County as the bug. “There will be no compromise, no scale-back on the highway 89 project. It’s a take-it-or-leave-it-deal,” the editorial summarized. Take the deal, advised the newspaper.

Jackson Hole’s air link to outside world grows

JACKSON, Wyo. — Jackson Hole’s airline link to the outside world of big cities continues to grow stronger.

A proposed schedule calls for expanded links to Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles, but also New York and New Jersey. Mike Gierau, co-chair of the Jackson Hole Air Improvement Resources, says the increased service will yield a 10 percent increase in available incoming seats.

What may be more remarkable is that Jackson Hole airline boosters are not posting revenue guarantees for flights during busy times.

Crested Butte gains link to Los Angeles

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. — Crested Butte has gained a new twice-a-week direct flight from Los Angeles next winter. Crested Butte Mountain Resort points out that Los Angeles is the No. 1 domestic market for destination skiers and snowboarders in the United States. Airline consultant Jeff Hartz points out that unlike New York, which has three airports, LAX is entirely the story in Los Angeles.

Wyoming more accepting of gays than was depicted

JACKSON, Wyo. — Gary Gwin lives in Cheyenne, the Wyoming state capitol, but came upon an objectionable story in the Jackson Hole News&Guide recently. The story, he contends in a letter to the editor, improperly suggested that Wyoming tends to be unfriendly toward gays.

Gwin said he has known and continues to know a number of gay people during his life, most of which has been spent in Wyoming. The state is not hostile to gays.

“I currently work with two gay men here in Cheyenne and am friends with an openly gay, biracial couple that were recently married here,” he reports. “My best friend’s son is gay and I have a few members of my extended family that are gay. Rarely have any of them been hassled for being gay. Sure, there are occasional comments from some people, but no more than anywhere else in the country.”

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