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What not to do with Hell’s Angels, and Glacier’s mushroom wars

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Who knows what forces of nature are bringing them here, but the fact is, they are coming down in droves to forage for food, slake their thirst, and maybe do a little frolicking on our front lawns. We’re speaking, of course, about the Hell’s Angels. As they hold their national rally in Missoula through next Tuesday, members of America’s most infamous motorcycle club have already begun leaving their imprint on our town. Which raises the issue of what you should do if you encounter an Original Biker from Hell in the wild. We’ve heard a lot of different theories on the matter recently, so we thought we’d take this chance to dispel some of the more common misconceptions about handling yourself here in Hell’s playground.

For example, if you see a Hell’s Angel, you should not stop, drop & roll (You’re thinking of being trapped in a burning house). Nor will it help to play dead (That doesn’t even work on bears). And it won’t do any good to hold your backpack above your head to make yourself appear larger (You’re still thinking of bears).

Moreover, Hell’s Angels are not more afraid of you than you are of them (that only applies to yellowjackets, wolves and schoolyard bullies). They will, however, strike when cornered (as anyone in their right mind would). And mating pairs should never, ever be broken up (for bikers, every season is rutting season).

So, seriously, authorities have said that the safest thing to do with the Hell’s Angels is just to leave them the hell alone. That’s the only sure way to keep you from getting, um, touched by an Angel.

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In the 1980s, it was gun battles erupting between competing crack dealers. In the 1990s, it was booby-trapped meth labs exploding in the faces of drug enforcement agents. Today, the latest turf wars to spill innocent blood are being waged over a blossoming underground trade in … mushrooms. No, not the recreational, Alice-in-Wonderland variety but morels, those tasty fungal morsels coveted by chefs and gourmands the world over.

Earlier this month, rangers in Glacier National Park apprehended two people in possession of more than 150 pounds of morels, who later pleaded guilty to harvesting for commercial sale, which is illegal in all national parks. Although this is the first morel-related incident of its kind reported in Glacier, a statement issued by the National Park Service notes that on other public lands throughout the Northwest, the demand for wild edibles and the easy money “has caused numerous altercations between competing groups and innocent bystanders, which have resulted in property damage, assaults and fatalities.” According to Glacier Park’s David Eaker, the more common ruckus raised in Glacier occurs between rival huckleberry pickers, who “stake out an area, and if people get onto their turf, duke it out.” Thankfully, no drive-by huckleberry homicides have occurred yet, though park rangers have stepped up surveillance in some areas. Eaker notes that while it’s legal to pick up to a quart of huckleberries per person per day for personal consumption, one should remain vigilant for bears—and other territorial fauna—when harvesting in the wild.

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