By Joseph T. O’Connor EBS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
BOZEMAN – The number of wildlife mishaps are rising, but neither hunters nor zoological recruiters are to blame. Mother Nature, once thought to be faunas’ close cohort, is proving to be more foe than friend.
Montana State University sophomore and Bozeman local Randi Thompson witnessed the phenomenon first hand earlier this winter when an elk slipped high on the east Gallatin Canyon wall along Highway 191.
“It was real bad,” said Thompson, 20. “I was just driving down the road, and there she came, sliding towards me on my left. I know they ain’t got no claws,” she added, “but that don’t mean she can’t scramble out of my car’s way with them hooves; they’re sharp!”
According to Thompson, the young elk slipped on an icy boulder then slid down a steep, snowy embankment in January forcing the student’s 1987 Oldsmobile sedan into the guardrail along the Gallatin River near mile marker 58. The elk pranced off uninjured, Thompson said, but her Cutlass Ciera sustained over $2,000 in damage.
“I didn’t get a close look at her, but she didn’t have no horns,” said the angry student.
Mother Nature remains a key suspect, however she was not available for comment.
Thompson is one of the few eyewitnesses of the Sudden Animal Disaster (SAD) theory, a controversial hypothesis proposed by British biologist and self-proclaimed pickleball fanatic Dr. Simon Loveland at a Facebook Live video conference hosted in the scientist’s “man cave,” as he called it, from his Bozeman home last week.
Dr. Loveland greeted guests before the conference began, and noted he was hawking red pins reading, “I am a SAD supporter,” for $19.99 through PayPal.
Following a brief welcome, Dr. Loveland began the virtual conference with PowerPoint slides offering glimpses of Mother Nature showing her worst: goats tripping themselves, branches snapping under the weight of mountain lions; a grizzly getting his tongue stuck in a downed log.
“No, I’ve never seen her,” Loveland said, responding to the first question of the day about whether he’s actually laid eyes on the great Mother of the Earth. “However, these slides offer a conglomeration of descriptions, videos and photography from a number of different sightings.
“This one’s my favorite,” the acclaimed Liverpool biologist mused, a short video of a bighorn sheep slipping then “ice skating” across a frozen pond shown on the screen behind him.
Reporters from National Geographic Magazine and Biology Monthly, a Boston-based journal, viewed the conference and are set to have articles prepared as early as next month.
“This is the hottest theory to hit the biological scene since that frog-licking thing back in ’73,” said Biology Monthly correspondent Jack Larson, referencing a since-debunked fad that licking the back of a frog or toad would cure gout and other forms of arthritis. It did not.
While many professors and biologists viewing the online presentation praised Dr. Loveland’s theory, there remained skeptics.
“Yeah, I saw the statistics,” said Dr. James McMullen, a retired wildlife biologist from Naples, Florida. “But they did not offer conclusive evidence that SAD is a legitimate natural epidemic. [Loveland] is a quack,” McMullen added. “There are just more people around for animals to come in contact with.”
Dr. Loveland quickly silenced the Florida scientist and other intimidated disbelievers during the conference when Loveland found the audible whispers distracting. “Shut up, McMullen,” he hissed, and began showing footage from other animal accidents, including a seagull lodged in a beluga whale’s blowhole.
“Mother Nature will not, cannot win,” Dr. Loveland concluded, thrusting a triumphant finger toward the sky. “We need to be vigilant and stay on our toes. Sudden Animal Disasters are everywhere. We could be next.”
Happy April Fools’ Day! – Love, The Editors
Joseph T. O’Connor wrote this piece in the fashion of The Onion as a joke for a journalism class in college in 2003. His professor was not pleased, but O’Connor is trilled to have finally published his “article” 17 years later in the hopes of giving readers something to smile about at a difficult time.