Amidst murder, mayhem, and tragedy, wildlife stories top the news state to state

foxWhenever we travel, I like to pick up a copy of USA Today, principally for the State-By-State section that reports the top news story in every state. The April 22, 2015 edition was particularly interesting.

In Alaska, I learned that the Division of Forestry was warning drivers to “limit their use of logging roads during the muddy breakup season.” Good advice for Mainers, too. In Arizona, the Four Forest Restoration Initiative has created a plan to “save swaths of forest from devastating wildfires” by removing small trees through logging and prescribed burning. Here in Maine, landowners are working on a similar plan to respond to an expected outbreak of spruce budworm.

While Portland recently banned plastic bags and other cities and towns are considering that, The Huntington Beach, California city council just repealed their 2-year-old ban on plastic bags and a 10-cent mandatory charge for paper bags.

Of course, murder and mayhem were top stories in some states. In Connecticut, a woman beat a bicyclist with a baseball bat. Maybe the bicyclist was hogging the road? The story doesn’t say. And in Maryland, a man was headed to prison for distributing fentanyl and calling it heroin, which resulted in a person’s death. Meanwhile, in Fairfax County, Virginia, adjacent to our nation’s Capital, they recorded the lowest crime rate since 1970.

And speaking of the District of Columbia, a new group called GetDCTrees has created an interactive map that shows where the city’s vacant tree boxes are located, to encourage citizens to plant trees in those boxes.

Schools in Kansas are closing early because of budget problems, while in New Jersey, sixteen rural school districts are fighting for more state funding for preschool classes. In Lafayette, Louisiana, an ordinance is being debated that would ban smoking in bars and clubs.

I’ve been questioning Maine’s tourism slogan, “It must be Maine,” for some time now, and was interested to read that the new executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism wants to spice up his state’s slogan, which is “It’s all here.”

I’m going to pick up a copy of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book, Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Biography, after reading that South Dakota’s state-owned publishing house is printing more copies. Actually, I was fascinated to learn that South Dakota has a state-owned publishing house.

Having visited North Dakota’s oil fields last fall, while hunting pheasants in the area, I was interested to read that an energy company in that region’s oil patch was offering help to ranchers affected by a grass fire started by gas flares from an oil well. While we’ve had a very wet spring, more than half of Oregon is experiencing severe drought.

In Rhode Island, officials are hot on the trail of a guy with a paint roller, a well-known graffiti tagger who writes about being lonely, using white and pink paint. Seems like black paint would be more appropriate.

Wildlife stories are always entertaining. In New York, nesting Canadian geese at the White Plains High School are attacking students, so officials blocked off the area awaiting the eggs to hatch. I’m not sure the hatching of the eggs is going to do anything to stop those pesky geese. In Dallas, Texas, a giant Sulcata tortoise wandering the streets was returned to its owner. Legislators who are about to tackle bills to revise Maine’s exotic animal laws, take note.

In Hawaii, one of Kauai’s oldest nene died after being struck by a car. I had to look up nene. Turns out they are a special species of Hawaiian goose. The dead nene, named Black XL, was brought to the island in 2000 as part of a repopulation project.

Spending all day Tuesday of this week in a legislative hearing on alewives in the St. Croix River, I was reminded of the news story from Vermont that large numbers of alewives were washing up dead on the shores of Lake Champlain. In Wyoming, the largest wolf pack in the west had two litters of pups in 2014.

And from Wisconsin, came a tragic story of the death of a 42-year-old father of eight, killed in a collision with a deer as he drove his wife to the hospital to deliver a baby boy.

Maine’s top story was a doozy. “A tree felled by a beaver caused a power outage that impacted 2,900 Aroostook County customers Monday night, the Houlton Pioneer Express reported.” You gotta love our state!


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.