The Abaguchie Files

Weird wildlife, a fool's errand, and Heavey on parenting.

Field & Stream Online Editors

When I got to "On the Prowl" (Field Notes, April) and read that the horrible abaguchie had been sighted in West Virginia, I was devastated to say the least. Please tell me how I can help. One request, though: Before you inform everyone about April fool, can we find a really hungry one and send my ex-wife down to catch it?
Austin Bradley, via e-mail

I was on the train when I read about the abaguchie problem. Fortunately, I was sitting next to a Bigfoot (they don't like to fly) and asked his/her (it's hard to tell) opinion. I was assured that abaguchies are mostly misunderstood and harder to find than WMDs.
Bill Tavani, Hockessin, Del.

Oh sure, poke fun at West Virginia. We don't have coyotes, and we nurture our rattlesnakes. They only come out of their dens to bite damnyankee journalists.
Barbara Norris, Martinsburg, W.Va.

Abaguchies, smabaguchies! Don't you people know anything about basic wildlife biology? Everyone knows that cavecats eat abaguchies and the Mothman keeps the cavecats in check. A few people missing is a small price to pay for a balanced ecosystem.
O. Bob McGee, Overthetop, W.Va.

Field & Stream was made aware of the abaguchie menace at a hunting camp near Scherr, West Virginia, and considered it nothing less than our sacred duty to warn the world. Laugh if you want to, but as you roam the hills and hollers of West (by God) Virginia, you'd better keep looking over your shoulder. -THE EDITORS

DON'T FEED THE BEARS

Unfortunately, Timothy Treadwell did not adhere to common sense and paid for it with his life ("Reality Bites" by Thomas McIntyre). I understand that the gruesome attack was recorded on tape. Perhaps anyone that believes they can venture into grizzly territory should get a copy of that tape from the Park Service and listen to it before they "end up in bear scat."
Samuel W. Meek, via e-mail

Treadwell's lack of respect for his environment led to his predictable, and some would say deserved, demise. It's unfortunate that certain aspects of society will embrace him and his death, instead of seeing him for what he really was-a fool on a sure course to self-destruction.
Bernard Pressman, Akron, Ohio

I was disappointed by McIntyre's article. Although Treadwell wasn't the most intelligent man, his heart was in the right place and his intentions were good. The article was demeaning. This man is dead and deserves respect.
Matt Fry, via e-mail

_**Thomas McIntyre replies: **Whatever Treadwell's intentions, the consequences of his actions-not only for himself but for his girlfriend and ironically the very brown bears he meant to "save"-were catastrophic. Dying foolishly may be tragic, but that does not mean you must be honored for it, especially when you sweep others up in your folly with you. _

MORE ON MERCURY
In reference to Hal Herring's "Don't Eat That Fish," the Environmental Protection Agency would like to point out that it recently proposed a rule that will, for the first time, require power companies to cut their mercury emissions and meet specific reduction requirements within specific deadlines. Your article echoed many of the inaccuracies that have been used to criticize this proposal. We need a regulation that sets aggressive emission reduction requirements, but that is grounded in what we can reasonably expect from emerging mercury control technologies. The EPA is charged with writing a regulation that works for an entire industry. Technology is not currently capable of getting a 90 percent reduction of mercury for every type of boiler burning every type of coal.
Mike Leavitt, U.S. EPA Administrator

Hal Herring replies: First, it should be noted that Mr. Leavitt declined my request to add his comments to the story. Second, he neglects to point out supposed "iinaccuracies." Third, the technology exists, right now, to achieve tremendous reductions in mercury from power plants. The fact that every single power plant can't reduce its mercury pollution now is not a valid reason to wait until 2018-the EPA's estimated date-for reductions. The EPA already issued its consumption advisory this year. So, what are we waiting for?

I cannot say enough about Hal Herring's article. It really hits home for me. I've fished local reservoirs all my life, but I've never been able to eat the fish due to high mercury levels, or just fear of what chemicals the water might hold. I hope that your article opens the eyes of many anglers and that we call for more regulation to this growing problem. I don't want to lose any more vital waters.
Marc-Thomas Frias, San Jose, Calif.

THANK HEAVEN FOR LITTLE HUNTERS
Just wanted to say that Bill Heavey's "Stalking Walt Disney" was right on the mark with myself and my 3-year-old niece. It all started with hunting shows, and now every time she sees F&S; magazine, she asks, "Where are the deer?" This summer will mark our second annual look-for-deer day. Keep up the good work.
Stephen Malia, via e-mail

LAW-ABIDING IN LABRADOR
I'm interested in "Quest for the Mother Lode" by T. Edward Nickens. I've wanted to do an unguided trip there for years but was deterred by the provincial laws regarding guides. Have these changed? I'm sure that if the type of unguided trip in your article was illegal, F&S; would never have published it. But before I get my heart set on planning such a trip, I figured I'd ask.
Mike Kirby, via e-mail

According to Labrador regulations, one way for a nonresident to fish Labrador's remote waters is to "engage the services of an outfitting company"-which T. Edward Nickens did. Still, Labrador conservation officials point out that nonresident anglers under these circumstances should be accompanied by a guide, and it is the outfitter's responsibility to supply one. -The Editors

GO FOR THE GATORS
Factually, "Adventures in Gator Country" (Where to Go, March) is correct, but it's misleading. Because of elevated acidity levels, bass fishing in the Okefenokee swamp has been on the decline. There are mature bass out there, but they're not spawning. Come to Okefenokee to paddle with gators, catch bream and bowfin, and enjoy the unique scenery. But don't come to catch a lot of bass.
Jim Burkhart, Refuge Ranger
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge