Publisher’s Ink: This wolverine stuff(ing) is hard to make up
Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) becomes uneasy when she enters the office parlor of the Bates Motel in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 suspense/horror film “Psycho.” The ominous scene of stuffed birds staring down from the walls gives us a glimpse of Norman Bates, the character Anthony Perkins portrays.
Stuffing things, especially birds, was Norman’s pastime. And his assortment of crows and ravens adorning the office walls was the result of what a little sawdust, thread and chemicals produced. Of course we would later discover Norman preserved his dead mother’s body using the same method.
The Bates Motel however may not measure up to the Georgetown Hotel when it comes to displaying stuffed wildlife. The historic Georgetown establishment offers more than stuffed birds. Until last week, patrons of the bar could enjoy seeing the stuffed wolverine — a fixture for more than 16 years under the current ownership. (Some say it’s been there more than 30 years.)
That was until the California Fish & Game Department paid a visit to the establishment to check on an anonymous tip they were harboring illegal stuffed wildlife there. People take notice when hearing private property is seized, confiscated and impounded. In this instance it might be easier to swallow if the object of concern was a stuffed bald eagle, endangered condor or the Fresno Kangaroo rat.
Not a stuffed wolverine.
When the news broke I envisioned the Georgetown Hotel had a stuffed University of Michigan football player on display behind the bar. The wolverine just happens to be the school’s mascot. To some college football fanatics this might have been a non-issue. Remember this is Georgetown we’re dealing with here.
So unbeknownst to everyone, a real life (dead) stuffed wolverine finds its way into the state and winds up on display at the hotel. No big deal right? Anywhere else but California would this be no big deal. In our state it’s easier for a government agency to enter your business and confiscate a stuffed rodent than it is to enter your business and apprehend an illegal alien.
In Hitchcock’s film, as Norman is preparing to change the motel linens, he tells the private investigator how the smell of musky sheets gives him a “creepy” feeling. Did anyone get that “creepy” feeling when hearing the news a state government agency entered a business establishment to confiscate a stuffed wolverine?
What would Fish & Game personnel do if a tipster informed them another one of those stuffed mammals was displayed on the shelf in your game room?
The last time I checked, wolverines are not on the endangered species list. Although some have been sighted in Colorado and northern California these mammals make their habitat farther north in Alaska and Canada. They’re ferocious, prey on dead animal carcasses and are known to be gluttons.
I had an opportunity to visit the home of a dentist friend of my brother earlier this year. He lives in Florida and enjoys hunting big game.
The stuffed bear in his den dwarfed his well-preserved mountain goats gazing down from rock ledges protruding from the walls. And the 6-foot stuffed alligator lying under his billiards table was a nice touch — although not to be outdone by the 8-foot one positioned by the family swimming pool. I’ll bet possessing a stuffed alligator in California is also illegal since alligators, like wolverines, are not indigenous to the state.
One can’t fault the Fish & Game folks for doing their job. But was it really necessary to dispatch two officers to the hotel when they previously agreed to a more convenient time with the business owner to perform their confiscation?
Law enforcement wasn’t there to confiscate illegal drugs, impound slot machines or some other nefarious contraband the business was identified as owning or hiding.
Be that as it may, my advice to all other owners of illegal stuffed wolverines would be not to confess under the bright lights and rubber hoses of Fish & Game officials. Hold off as long as you can and force them to beat the “stuffing” out of you.
Richard Esposito is publisher of village Life and the Mountain Democrat. Contact him at [email protected].