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where there's smoke: A building under construction next to the Logan Police Station caught fire from a welder's spark. Damage was estimated at $50,000. / Photo by Gideon Oakes

Today's word on journalism

August 27, 2008

On protests at political conventions:

"The citizens of Denver and St. Paul, and Americans everywhere, should hope officials in those cities already have considered both the constitutional and monetary costs of silencing voices that have a right to be heard. . . . Well-expressed or wacky. Irritating or illuminating. Respectful or raucous. There's nothing in the 45 words of the First Amendment that sets out any such qualifications or limits on protests. Time and again in our history, from women's suffrage to civil rights to tax protests, to name just some, voices first raised in the streets -- to the disgust or disappointment of some -- have led to significant, positive changes in law and American life."

--Gene Policinski, executive director, First Amendment Center, 2008

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Millville's 'elk lady' vows to keep feeding them until she dies

By Leah Lopshire

May 7, 2008 | MILLVILLE -- Walking into 77-year-old Jacky Hancey's home you see the vast memories of her family in the pictures lined up along the floor and hanging up on the walls. The tan, wrinkled face shows a lifetime of hard work and service. This is a woman who since childhood has grown up on a farm and been a lover and respecter of animals, and savior to some, in particular the elk of Cache Valley. She gives them the bread of life during the long hard winter months in northern Utah.

Jacky started feeding the elk as a child, when her father was a game warden in Cache County in 1948. After school Jacky said she and her brother "would harness up the horses to feed the elk." They did this for a couple years growing up, but then stopped until 1983 when the herd of elk came down the mountain very sick and dying.

Veterinarians wanting to find the cause petitioned Jacky and her husband to bring some of what was to become 295 dead elk to their home so they could perform tests. Already dead, the elk didn't provide any answers, so they took some of the elk that were so weak they weren't able to move to their home, and the tests came back showing a disease "same as shipping fever in cattle."

The problem was that by the time the elk slugged through the snow they are as Jacky puts it, "plum tired," so when they get to the valley their bodies give out. That's when Jacky decided to start feeding them again.

With the help of her husband they gathered people they knew who would help with money and labor, and started the Cache Valley Wildlife Federation. The first year they had 400 members. Now the federation has stopped and been shut down after member numbers dropped to a handful of people.

Every year since 1983 Jacky has fed the elk during the winter season. Feeding the elk takes roughly one ton of hay a day. On top of the price of hay the cost of hauling the hay gets very expensive. When Jacky started feeding the elk in 1983, Utah's Division of Wildlife helped out with providing the hay. That has since stopped, and the Division of Wildlife now is "not in favor of us feeding them," Jacky said.

Jacky's response to that is, "tough I'm gonna feed them anyway. They sit in their offices, they don't see them come behind that fence and starve to death."

The elk feeding season starts on New Year's Day, after the hunt is over, and without the aid of the Wildlife Division she has had to rely on help from her children, grand children, and volunteers for labor, and donations for the funding of food. As soon as New Year Day hits Jacky is out to feed every day during her season, which ends when the elk decide to leave in the spring, along with the two volunteers she needs for the day to unload the ton of hay for her, since she is no longer able to do it now. Since 1983 Jacky said, "I've only missed a dozen times in 25 years."

Technically, feeding the elk on government land is illegal. Jacky said, "they can make you stop, but they won't because there would be so much public outcry," along with Jacky charging after them.

In response to why the Wildlife Division has discontinued their aid in helping with these animals Jacky said, "Bunch of idiots. They don't believe in it, and don't think it necessary." She compares the Wildlife Division not feeding the elk, with any local person starving their pets. "People pay for animal abuse for starving pets, why don't the government have to feed their animals? Where does all the money go from people paying for hunting licenses go? "

When Jacky decided in 1983 that she wanted to start feeding the elk, her now deceased husband of four years was not as willing to help as Jacky. Jacky would like to tell the government what she told her husband: "We should leave here better than when we came, so shut up and get on board.

"What's disgusting to me is that these people sit in a office, they don't see them starve."

With this winter being so long and harsh, Jacky's barn of hay is completely empty, and she is not sure where the hay will come from for this coming winter. She is hoping that with all the publicity she has gotten this past winter from her unusual amount of 71 6-point bulls, that she will receive more donations.

"The old man upstairs has a lot to do with this because things have always fallen into place so that we can do this," she said. "I've always felt helping them is something my dad would expect of me, and I love it, I always have. If it weren't for my family these elk (in Cache Valley) wouldn't exist anymore, and I'm going to keep helping them until I'm dead."

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