Wake-Up Call: When animals attack

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When we learned that Joe Rogan, former host of Fear Factor, had moved to metro Denver, we offered up our top ten list of very scary things for newcomers to Colorado. Number 4? Animal Encounters:

"As houses sprawl across formerly uninhabited areas, the animals that used to live where your patio is now are fighting back. Keep your eyes open and your pepper spray at hand to fend off everything from bear attacks and elk migrations across the freeway to coyotes in your doggie dish."

The day that list (repeated below) appeared, an elk attacked a woman in her Evergreen driveway. On Monday, a mule deer gored a 63-year-old woman in Florissant. And even Rogan's home outside of Boulder has come under attack: Something -- likely a mountain lion -- made off with one of the family's dogs, the comedian tells us.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

1. Rocky Mountain oysters. The second test on Fear Factor typically involves the eating of something really disgusting. It's hard to imagine finding anything more disgusting on your dinner plate than testicles, whether they're fried, sautéed or breaded. Some consider them a delicacy; we say "Bull!"

2. The Denver Boot. It's yellow, but it ain't mellow. Run up too many parking tickets, and you might return from a day of extreme sports to find that your vehicle's tire has been locked in an intimidating, nearly indestructible boot. Pay up or you're taking the bus.

3. I-70 eastbound from the mountains on Sunday afternoon. Whether you're sandwiched between two semis on Floyd Hill, being tailgated by a Hummer on Vail Pass or stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic near Idaho Springs, the drive back to Denver after a day in the mountains may be the most physically and mentally exacting challenge you've faced yet.

4. Animal encounters. As houses sprawl across formerly uninhabited areas, the animals that used to live where your patio is now are fighting back. Keep your eyes open and your pepper spray at hand to fend off everything from bear attacks and elk migrations across the freeway to coyotes in your doggie dish.

5. The security line at DIA. Take your tired, traveling self, add in a thousand crying babies and a handful of ornery airline employees. Now tack on a baggage fee, a terror alert and the guy who forgot he was carrying a loaded .45, and you've got fun times at DIA. Want to up the challenge level? Fly during a Christmas snowstorm.

6. Parking during a Broncos game. Don't ever take your spouse to a Broncos game. Why? Because you'll be divorced before the first quarter starts. Untangling the maze of blocked roads, two-way streets that become one-way nightmares, closed highway exits and flag-waving parking entrepreneurs makes even the toughest hombres cry.

7. A walk through Civic Center Park. Hash dealers, homeless guys, human excrement, pigeon poop. And hash again. If you can handle that, don't cut across swampy grass or you may never see your shoes again. The toughest civics lesson you'll ever have to pass.

8. Let-out in LoDo. If the projectile vomiting doesn't bother you, the gunfire might. Two in the morning is the witching hour in LoDo; it's when drunks, bouncers, gangsters, off-duty cops and more drunks fill the streets and parking lots after the bars close. Give it a shot if you must, but it's helpful if you already have several shots on board.

9. Highland Mommies. They seem like normal parents, but don't be fooled: This powerful group of stroller-pushers is organized. They're watching, talking and patrolling all corners of northwest Denver. Cross them at your own peril.

10. Buying Rockies playoff tickets. The team made the World Series for the first time in 2007, and while the Red Sox proved tough, even tougher was the system that the Rockies office introduced for buying playoff tickets. This year, fans can pre-register for "the opportunity" to buy tix -- but it doesn't look like a winner, either.

Editor's note: Scratch number 10.

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