Writing Switch: These creatures need no (re)introduction | AspenTimes.com

Writing Switch: These creatures need no (re)introduction

Benjamin Welch and Sean Beckwith

talk of reintroducing wolves to Colorado has been somewhat controversial. Those against bringing back the predators cite concerns over farming and safety. We’re assuming most proponents’ reasoning is the video on Facebook where they let wolves loose in Yellowstone and the general ecosystem is rejuvenated. But then there’s us. We’re solely interested in seeing the most badass animals possible, so we thought we would — actual written, researched arguments accompanying — give a few suggestions as to what species we’d like to see brought back to the Rockies next.


BW: Sean and I are big fans of the bulbous, bright-breasted bird with habitat spanning the West. There aren’t a lot of rules on The Aspen Times copy desk, but one of them is that we make sure every story from The Associated Press, Denver Post or Colorado Sun about sage grouses makes it into our back pages. Mostly, I am completely for installing every mechanism possible in growing the sage grouse numbers, including a yuge wall around North Star, and removing them from the endangered list. So I can hunt them.

Don’t be alarmed; I’m not doing it for sport. I’m doing it so I can have a stuffed sage grouse above my fireplace. Taxidermy runs in my family, but last time I tried to mount an animal I got banned from Wagner Park. It’s astonishing how professionals make those corpses so lifelike, especially after I’ve blasted it to smithereens. How do they just have so many spare eyes, beaks and talons laying around in the shop? Now I’m definitely not going to consume any of that meat, gross.

While stalking the sage grouse, you can use a mating call to alert the birds to your location. First, pucker up, then squeeze your lips together like a tube of toothpaste while crying “hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy.” As a threatened species they are attracted to such poignant songs highlighting injustice.

I also propose fast-tracking sage grouse DNA into the lab program tasked with splicing new genes to recreate previously extinct animals. Ten-foot-tall flightless birds known as phorusrhacids used to roam the Earth, and I’d rather have a trophy of a fancy-plumage version of one of those. Instead of sitting on the mantle it can go right in the foyer, next to my rhinoceros tusk chandelier, pangolin vase and white tiger carpet.


SB: Why are we stopping at gray wolves? It’s time to return a little Darwinism to the Rockies. The only way to get people to respect nature is to let them get mauled and/or killed by it. No, that’s not the mushrooms kicking in, you damn Wookie, it’s a pack of rabid animals straight out of “Game of Thrones.” Maybe next time don’t attract the beasts with an endless stream of jam bands and beef jerky.

I’m not saying people who get lost trying to take shortcuts on fourteeners shouldn’t be rescued, I’m just saying if they happen to get picked off like a sick member of the herd in the time it takes Mountain Rescue to get in the field, the next person might not be so eager to veer from the path.

I understand wolves are harmful to livestock, but at the same time, we’ve been euthanizing pigs and cows for a few months now and I’m still finding ribs and steaks on the shelves.

Also, there would finally be a good reason to enforce the leash law. Your dog possibly getting ripped apart by dire wolves is definitely more incentive to keep it close than just appeasing hikers who “aren’t dog people.”

And there’s always the off chance of rescuing a litter of dire wolf pups, parsing them out between you and your siblings and raising them to be your personal body guards. That way, when the U.S. enacts to martial law following the November election, you have great but also free protection.


BW: Humans haven’t figured out when exactly the last Pokemon left our shores for the regions of Johto, Kanto and Galar. But who can argue that having our own Rolodex full of creatures to carry out our bidding, accomplish our chores and beat the shit out of each other for our amusement wouldn’t be beneficial? Pokemon have evolved quite a bit since the Red and Blue versions were released on Gameboy in 1998. We went from Charmander, a cute little fire-breathing lizard, to Klefki and Trubbish, which literally are a key ring with eyes and a pile of garbage with eyes, respectively. OK, then.

But if I could reintroduce any Pokemon to live alongside our modern species, I would choose Lapras. Basically a plesiosaur/Loch Ness Monster with a big shell on its back, Lapras would be a great companion to have along for any water-based activities, like pulling randos’ innertubes through Twin Lakes so I’m not forced to on my SUP.

Yes, the sea was angry that day, my friends. The waves buffeted me, my craft and the shirtless, shoeless guy I was playing Theodore Tugboat for. Eventually, the combination of choppy water, rowing against the current and imbalance from having an extra 230 pounds attached to me proved too much, and I tipped into the lake.

When you suddenly fall overboard, you have to concentrate on four actions at once: close your eyes, hold your breath, pinch your nose, don’t let go of the paddle, and start kicking upward in the direction you hope your paddleboard is. Oh, that was like five-and-a-half things. And that’s the predicament of capsizing: even when I’m sitting on my couch in a blankie and concentrating, I can barely remember what the steps are, let alone when freezing cold liquid fills your lungs as you gasp underwater and all your vision is green bubbles and the hot mermaids from “Goblet of Fire” staring back at you.

I manage to crawl back onboard, tie my soaked Old Glory headband around my paddle and, like George Washington crossing the Delaware, let out a mighty yell at Poseidon — part terror, part invigoration, part because I just watched “Full Metal Jacket” the night before.

And then up from the depths like a breaching sperm whale comes a sympathetic Lapras, gracefully towing us back to the beach where our friends have long been at safety, when otherwise we surely would have missed the shore by half a mile and been marooned on a shale of jagged rocks and I would have to crawl up in my flippy-floppies, exhausted legs and arms convulsing, to find the road and self-rescue. Whew, sure is a good thing that definitely didn’t happen.

With beer in hand, joint between lips and pals cheering me on, I reward the Lapras by throwing a Master Ball and catching the legendary monster! Big, stupid turtle, should have let me drown and join the mermaids. Now you’re just a house pet with superpowers and must show me affection or be trapped in this digital chamber forever. #Don’tCancelPokemon


SB: The brown bear derives its name from a football team in Chicago. They’re twice as awesome as black bears, as you can see by their massive size and claws, which are double the length (4 inches) of a black bear’s (2 inches).

The perception that they’re aggressive is often misguided as is evident in the nature documentary series “The Yogi Bear Show.” The bear’s enthusiasm for picnic baskets aside — rarely if ever did I see tourists at Jellystone use bear-proof containers — he had plenty of chances to maul and/or kill Ranger Smith but opted for more unconventional tactics.

Also, if we reintroduce wolves and brown bears, they’ll theoretically battle within the animal kingdom, thus sparing precious livestock with the bonus of possibly happening across a real bear vs. wolves showdowns. (I don’t have the betting odds for each ratio of wolves to bear matchup but the bear would be favored most of the time.)

I’m sick of these poorly animated Animal Planet reenactments. It’s not animal cruelty if two alpha predators come across each other in the wild; it’s just nature.

Hell, if Leo can survive an attack from a grizzly and an evil Tom Hardy in the 1800s, I’m 73% certain bear attacks will not end in death 100% of the time in 2020.

Have an animal you’d like to pitch? Think about it quietly in your head and keep it to yourself. sbeckwith@aspentimes.com bwelch@aspentimes.com