Friday, January 31, 2014

A century ago: Bears, lions, rattlers regularly killed in haste

                              "Old Eph's grave, south of Logan Canyon, Cache County.

By Lynn Arave

IT was wildlife beware, about 100 years ago, as even women were usually well armed in the outdoors and there seemed to be a shoot first and ponder actual dangers later attitude among the public.
Of course it was a different time then, not long after the pioneer era.
“Four women had a long tramp. Became bewildered in the mountains east of Ogden. Wore the soles off their shoes …” was a headline in the June 29, 1909 Standard-Examiner.
Four married women made a long, 16-mile hike up Waterfall Canyon to Malan Heights (Basin) and then returned through Taylor Canyon.
“An early start was made and the trip was a decided and glorious success until the invading army was assailed by a battalion of rattlesnakes,” The newspaper reported. “The ladies held a council of war and then attacked the enemy with hatchets and guns scoring a victory and slaughtering the reptiles.”
Later, spotting the tracks of an enormous bear spooked the women, who then vowed never to do such a hike again without their husbands.
“Grizzly bear in Ogden Canyon” was a Nov. 13, 1911 headline in the Standard. A group on a pleasure trip up Ogden Canyon came face-to-face with the grizzly, who frightened their horses, near Coldwater Canyon.  J.T. Hughes had a target rifle and shot and wounded the bear, who limped away.
Earlier, on Sept. 19, 1904, the Standard reported that two miners had their cabin in the same Coldwater Canyon raided by a black bear. They tracked and found the animal with their bread still in its mouth and shot and wounded it, before it got away.

                                          A water snake along the South Fork of the Ogden River.                        

“Young girls killed a big rattlesnake” was an Aug. 8, 1908 headline. Myrtle Stone and Blanch Leavitt were fishing with Stone’s father. He left them alone temporarily and soon a large snake approached the girls. Stone reached for her father’s shotgun, but it was empty. So, she hit the rattler with a rock and then the gun handle, killing it.
“Mountain Climbers meet a grizzly” was an Aug. 3, 1914 story in the Standard-Examiner. William Critchlow, heading back down into Ogden Canyon after a hike to Mount Ogden, had temporarily left his group. He reported seeing a bear “as big as a bull” and fired three shots at the beast.

                          The bear at Ogden's Prairie Schooner Restaurant.

“Bear killed in Ogden Valley” was an Oct. 19, 1908 headline in the Standard, while “Bear weighing 900 pounds killed by herder” on the South Fork of the Ogden River was a Sept. 14, 1918 headline.
A few years later, a man driving his truck up Ogden Canyon saw a black bear by the river. He stopped, shot it and hauled it back to town.
In those days, a bounty for killing a bear was from $10-$25 and bear meat was also very popular. The increasing use of forest land for sheep grazing was also escalating human-animal conflicts.

Indeed, it was August of 1923 when Old Ephraim, a legendary marauding, gigantic grizzly in the Cache National Forest, was killed by a sheepherder near Logan Canyon.
“Bearing disappearing from this state” was a Nov. 20, 1914 headline in the Standard. Two bears were killed in Weber County during 1913 and 49 state-wide.
“Lion killed in Ogden Valley” was a July 3, 1911 Standard headline. Known as “The Terror of the Mountains” for many years, the mountain lion was said to measure 10 feet from nose to tail and killed many livestock.
A “monster mountain lion” had been killed in 1904 in Magpie Canyon, near South Fork.
However, according to “Remembering My Valley: A History of Ogden Canyon, Eden, Liberty and Huntsville,” by LaVerna Burnett Newey,  the last bear living in Ogden Valley itself was not killed until 1968. This was an old, almost blind bear, who was found four miles south of Huntsville.
”Throw away your hunting outfit” was a March 21, 1914 headline in the Standard. In that era, the Chief Game Warden of the United States said increasing numbers of reckless Americans had no idea how to handle firearms. He promised prosecution for the needless slaughter of wildlife, especially game birds – no matter what state hunting laws allowed.

(-Originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner by Lynn Arave on Jan. 31, 2014.)
NOTE: There is a modern group, the Wild Aware Utah program (WAU), a non-advocacy conservation program working through collaborative effort to provide proactive education to minimize conflict between people and wildlife. Its Web site,,  seeks to prevent human-wildlife problems today in Utah, similar to those talked about above.

-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at:  

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