Bitch-slapping bears, Bigfoot, and mystery moss

Mossback update: Critters big and bigger, some of which can be seen and some of which can't, and none of which you'd want to.
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Mossback update: Critters big and bigger, some of which can be seen and some of which can't, and none of which you'd want to.
Bears: Be berry afraid

Things have quieted down on the local bear-attack front, which Mossback has covered on a regular basis. The Boeing software developer who was attacked on his bike in a Kitsap County park by a bear on Labor Day weekend finally described his painful ordeal to the press. The bear, however, was never caught, and officials now seem to be rather laid back about bear sightings, saying that other than that this one near-fatal encounter, they are at normal levels. Nevertheless, the Kitsap Sun warned readers in a headline: "Garbage cans, bird feeders a buffet for bears." So homeowners in Poulsbo, be on watch for smorgasbears.

Things may be quiet here, but human/bear mayhem continues unabated this fall elsewhere:

  • In Snowmass, Colorado, a man fought a "a mature male, weighing approximately 350 pounds" in his garage (sounds like it could be one of his couch potato buddies).
  • In Hickory Run State Park, Pa., a Boy Scout fought off a furry attacker (and no, it wasn't his scoutmaster).
  • At Yellowstone National Park, a wide receiver for Montana's Carroll College Fighting Saints football team was chomped on by a devilish grizzly who seemed to know exactly where the player's hamstring was. The rumor is he's on the training staff of the archrival Montana Tech Orediggers.
  • In Aspen, Colo., a woman was bitch-slapped by a bruin in her own condo kitchen. Apparently the leftovers were cold.
  • And in peace-loving Sweden, where attacks of any kind are rare, no one is safe these days. Apparently, local bears have found that hunters go well with lingonberries, just like meatballs.
More news of Northwest monsters

You may have read about my expedition to find the Great White Worm of the Palouse, but the mysterious spitting giant wasn't the only animal enigma to make news lately.

Even though I was in the neighborhood, I missed the biggest story about a real "Blue" whale. This month, scientists determined that a giant fungus in Eastern Oregon's Blue Mountains is the largest living organism on earth. It is 2,200 acres in size, more than 2,400 years old, and produces honey mushrooms. Now if you could only combine its DNA with Bill Gates', you'd have the world's biggest, oldest, and richest living organism.

Of special interest to Mossback, scientists have also been poking around on the bottom of Oregon's Crater Lake examining an ancient, oozing, smelly "mystery moss" that's growing there and might hold secrets about the lake's pristine waters. Maybe they'd be more pristine without ancient clots of rotting moss, is my first thought, but nature works in mysterious ways.

In Willow Creek, Calif., Bigfoot failed to show up for Bigfoot Day in the "Bigfoot Capital of the World." But that doesn't mean the big fella wasn't there. A native guide in British Columbia told a writer for the Toronto Star that the creatures are real, but: "Sasquatch is a slalocum. These supernatural beings can shapeshift into anything. Sasquatch has the ability to walk the two realms, both the physical and spiritual. ... I've seen their footprints but I've never seen a Sasquatch. Because they can transform themselves into anything they want, they can never be caught." So, at Bigfoot Day, the guy in the giant Winnebago could have been ...

Finally, we can be thankful that bears, Bigfeet and giant fungi are all we have to worry about in the Great Nearby. At least we don't have – and folks, this is not science fiction – vampire dogs like they do in Texas, or amoebas who feed on human brains like they do in Arizona, or deputy mayor-killing monkey gangs like they do in Delhi. I mean, we don't, right?


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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.