young bull elk great smoky moun

A young bull elk headbutts a wildlife photographer in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.     Photo: Vice Camiolo

This Week in Animals Vs. People

An aggravated elk, a runaway kangaroo, and Russian bear fight top this week's list


A YouTube video uploaded by photographer Vince Camiolo on Tuesday proves that some animals just don't like their pictures taken. In Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a young bull elk relentlessly headbutts another wildlife photographer for a good five minutes before park rangers come to the man's aid. Camiolo asked the battered photographer why he didn't run away in an email, and the man responded: "When he lowered his antlers to me, I wanted to keep my vitals protected and my head down. I felt that standing up would provoke him more and leave me more vulnerable to goring."  

UPDATE: On Friday, this elk was euthanized by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; officials say it had become too accustomed to receiving people food from visitors. "This was not a one-time incident," says Park spokeswoman Dana Soehn. "[The video] was a trigger; the physical contact escalated our decision." This is the first time the park has euthanized an elk, after the animal failed to respond to aversion tactics, which involved the sounds of bean bag guns and firecrackers to help the elk associate humans with danger.

To our chagrin, this case of "Animals Vs. People" has ended darkly. James York, the photographer in the video, says that he is "truly saddened" and was "really looking forward to watching [the elk] grow up." People: 0, Animals: 0

People: 0, Animals: 1

A runaway kangaroo evaded West Texas police officers for hours Thursday night when the pet escaped from its owners in Midland Country. The four-foot-tall runaway was eventually tracked down, and captured when its owners offered it a treat. Local Sheriff Gary Painter told Daily Journal that authorities are investigating whether the owners can legally keep such a pet.

People: 1, Animals: 1

People: ?, Animals: ?

Who do you think won? Nurmagomedov or Bear? People or Animals? Post your answers below.


Mary Cain (far left) competes in a 1500-meter heat at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow on August 11, 2013. The 17-year-old announced today that she's turning pro.     Photo: Anja Niedringhaus / Associated Press

Running Prodigy Mary Cain Goes Pro

17-year-old continues under Salazar

Mary Cain, the record-smashing runner from Bronxville High School, announced today that she plans to become a professional athlete under the continued coaching of legendary runner Alberto Salazar.

“For the past couple of months, my family and I have been debating whether I should compete at a collegiate or professional level going forward," Cain said in a statement. "I have decided, and am truly excited to announce, that I will be turning pro. I believe that, in the long run, this is the best way for me continue to develop as an athlete."

As we reported in August, the high-school senior has enjoyed an exceptional year. She set three American Junior Records in the 800 meter (1:59.51), 1500 meter (4:04.62) and indoor mile (4:28.25). Cain won the USATF Indoor mile title in March, and finished second in the 1500 meter in the USATF Championships in June to earn a place on the World Championships team for Moscow. There, she finished an impressive tenth in the 1500. 

Cain's parents emphasized that their daughter’s education is still important. “Mary is a straight-A student and will be pursuing a college education while competing,” her father, Charles, said in a statement. “This remains a priority, and we think this approach is the best way to balance her educational and athletic goals.”


News Outside Online

Indoor cultivated marijuana     Photo: NatanBolckmans/Thinkstock

Marijuana Odor Prompts New Detection Device

Enter the 'Nasal Ranger'

Although recreational marijuana is now legal in Colorado, the smell of pot is not as welcome. With an increase in marijuana use, the complaints and calls to enforce the odor ordinance have skyrocketed across the state. In comes The Nasal Ranger. This olfactometer, or smell-o-scope, is designed to determine the strength of the odor and whether or not it is breaking the local odor threshold, reports the Denver Post.

The Nasal Ranger looks like a bullhorn for your nose and is operated by specially trained investigators with the Denver Department of Environmental Health. For an odor to warrant a fine, it has to exceed a 7-1 ratio, where one volume of odor is detectable with seven volumes of nonodorous air, according to NPR.

While the nasal trombone may look intimidating, marijuana use and even harvesting will likely never break the 7-1 ratio and violate the odor ordinance. In fact, the odor law hasn't been broken since 1994, and most marijuana growing facilities understand the legal rules and have ventilation system to combat the smell, according to the Post.

Last month, the Denver City Council presented a new rulebook on marijuana use that would prohibit only the smell of pot coming from private properties. This new framework has since been scaled back and the council plans to meet again on Tuesday.


A wildfire in the Pacific Northwest     Photo: BLMOregon/Flickr

New Technology Enables Wildfire Forecasting

Firefighters better predict wildfire behavior

Firefighters are now better able to predict the behavior of wildfires in real time using a new higher-resolution satellite instrument. The device works in coordination with a weather gauge called the Couple Atmosphere-Wildland Fire Environment computer model.

The new satellite instrument, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, can cover the entire planet every 12 hours and capture images with pixels equivalent to 1,200 feet across—an improvement from the previous MODIS model, which provided a little over half a mile per pixel. The Couple-Atmosphere-Wildland Fire Environment computer model monitors how the fire interacts with weather.

"With this technique, we believe it's possible to continually issue good forecasts throughout a fire's lifetime, even if it burns for weeks or months," said Janice Coen, researcher for the National Center for Atmospheric Research, lead model developer, and lead author of a paper describing the new model in the latest issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

The new technology could prevent such disasters as the unpredictable Yarnell fire (video below) in Arizona that took the lives of 19 firefighters this summer.

"Many people have resigned themselves to believing that wildfires are unpredictable," said Coen. "We’re showing that’s not true.”