Thursday, September 26, 2013

Score one - or two? - for the humans

It's a recurring theme of this blog: it's not just that animals are bad, it's that people keep letting them get away with it.  But this week we saw one human demonstrate how to stand up to bad animals when a bear walked into a bar in Alaska:
Around 9:15 p.m., C. Scott Fry, the hotel and bar manager, watched the black bear walk down the sidewalk past the hotel  lobby.

“And as soon as he got to the bar door, it made a left and walked in like he wanted to have a beer,” Fry said.

Ariel Svetlik-McCarthy was tending bar last night. She says it had been quiet up to that point. She realized the bear was inside and freaked out.

She yelled, “No bear! Get out! No! You can’t be in here!’”

Within seconds, the black bear obliged.
And in Connecticut, there was a case where the law took the human's side - but now the decision is hanging in the balance:
After a horse named Scuppy bit a boy in the face, a Connecticut court came to a conclusion that threw animal lovers: Horses are a naturally vicious species.

In February 2012, the mid-level Appellate Court overturned a lower court ruling and said that testimony by Timothy Astriab, whose family owns the farm, demonstrated that Scuppy belongs to ‘‘a species naturally inclined to do mischief or be vicious.’’
If you read this blog, you know that that description is true of every species. But horse lovers are appealing this decision, and we'll be keeping an eye out for the result.

Horse teeth coming at you by Flickr user jafro77

Monday, September 23, 2013

Livestock Overhead

'Bored' horse climbs on top of New Brunswick family's roof
A New Brunswick couple was baffled after a family member sent them a photo of their horse perched on the roof of a garage.
Stephen Downey and his wife Pat raise racing horses in Hampton N.B. But despite their experience with the four-legged beasts, they say they were baffled after seeing a photo, taken by Stephen's brother Archie, of a young colt on the garage roof.
"It looked like Archie had done a joke on Stephen and Photoshopped the horse on the roof because that just doesn't happen" Pat Downey told CTV Atlantic. "You would never get a horse to do something like that."
There was a hole in the roof where were the colt had put a hoof through. Pat Downey says it would have been a drop of more than 3.5 metres if the colt had plunged through.
"I think he was just bored," Downey said. "He's like a two or three-year-old kid and he was just looking for some excitement and he got into trouble like a regular kid would do."
This blog is very slowly amassing a collection of large farm animals on the roofs of buildings. In 2009 we had a cow on a roof, in 2011 a sheep, and now, it's a horse. I'm looking forward to pigs on a roof in 2015.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New frontiers in bad animal behavior

-Snake pickled in wine for three months wakes up and bites woman

In China, alcohol with a viper in it is used as a medicinal drink. But if you're not careful, it can end you up in the hospital instead of keeping you out of it:
When the bottle ran dry the woman opened the top to pour in more alcohol. As she did so the snake suddenly started breathing and wriggling, and sprung out of the bottle. The viper bit the woman on her finger as she tried to swat it away.
-Elk family trashes Norway school
Our janitor he came to school and he saw a broken door," Solveig Eid, the headmistress of Risil School, told The Local."He thought that some children or teenagers had been having a party or whatever and had broken the glass."

It was only when he went to check the school's security video that he identified the true culprits.
-Police called when ferret goes on hour-long rampage
"I tried to shoo it away but it just kept going for me and going for me. This went on for about an hour or so. It just kept trying to bite me. It was horrible and my ankle is painful to walk on."
The ferret was finally lured into a box with a piece of ham, but also bit the officer who came to take it into custody. It's now at an animal shelter, where they say:
"Owing to his temperament, we'll probably be looking for someone experienced in ferret care."

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pigs running amuck

It's been too long since we caught up on the wild pig problem. Recent stories have people throwing up their hands and saying there's nothing that can be done - but one fellow is setting an example, and we'll be keeping a hopeful eye on his progress.

-Campers told to lock up food and drink after feral pig goes on bender in Western Australia and ends up in altercation with cow
The animal was seen stealing three six-packs of beer from campers before ransacking rubbish bags for food.

One camper reported seeing the pig guzzling the beer before getting involved in an altercation with a cow.

"In the middle of the night these people camping opposite us heard a noise, so they got their torch out and shone it on the pig and there he was, scrunching away at their cans," said the visitor, who estimated that the pig had consumed 18 beers.
"Then he went and raided all the rubbish bags. There were some other people camped right on the river and they saw him being chased around their vehicle by a cow."
The pig was reportedly last seen resting under a tree, possibly nursing a hangover.
-Horde of Pigs Goes Hog Wild in San Ramon
"It looks like a tornado has hopped from yard to yard," Carrie Spurlock said. "We've tried to deter them, but they keep coming back."
A visit to the neighborhood by NBC Bay Area on Wednesday revealed a dozen or so front lawns looking like they had been professionally rototilled by the porcine critters destroying property in a neighborhood where home prices start at more than half-a-million dollars.
Neighbors have been frustrated with trying to get rid of the pigs. They've used pesticides to kill insects, which the pigs like to dine on. They've installed motion-sensor lights hoping that would keep the animals away. They said they've called the Department of Fish and Game but have got the runaround. And they've called a trapper, who set up 10 traps around the neighborhood. All to no avail.
-Kingwood residents might be stuck with wild hogs eating everything
"If you put a sprinkler system in your front yard and run it regularly, you are creating a hog habitat," Crenshaw said. "They want to eat grubs and bugs and all the stuff right below the soil surface.
Hogs on the hunt know what's there because they can smell it, he said.
"They will root it up and eat everything," he said. "They have now demolished what a lot of people spend good money on to have a nice-looking yard."
There's no easy way to get rid of feral hogs in an urban area, since residential hunting is illegal.
The wildlife official in that story says that trapping is the only possibility, but says residents will have to arrange it on their own, and goes on to whine about all the problems it causes once you've got the hog in a trap:
It can't simply be released on someone else's land or public land because it could have a disease that can be transmitted to domestic pigs, he said.
The only meat packer in the area that's certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to process feral hogs is in Porter.
"You have to take it to them live and they have to run tests to make sure it doesn't have wildlife diseases," he said. "If they take it, they're agreeing to have an animal on site for a month."
But elsewhere in Texas that's not stopping them:

-Hired Hog Trapper Has Three Years To Clean Out Dallas 

Trapper Osvaldo Rojas isn't a whiner, and he isn't deterred by what these animals can do to him personally:
"I've had quite a bit of injuries: stitches, a couple of broken bones," he says. "About eight pairs of boots, you name it, jeans. I just stopped buying jeans. I just wear them ripped now. There's no reason to keep buying them if they're gonna continue to get ripped, so might as well keep wearing 'em."
And he says he's got what it takes to do the job:
His plan involves placing large traps with video cameras all around the city, luring the hogs with feeding stations. Once the entire pack is in the trap, he closes the gates from his smartphone. Constant video surveillance allows him to study their behavior for days.
Rojas estimates it will take about two years to trap most of the hogs, and then the last year to capture the stragglers. He says has a strategy that sets him apart.
"It doesn't take much, but it has to do with patience," he explains. "I can sit out there for eight hours and not see anything, and I'm totally fine. It takes somebody to have patience. And a little bit of know-how."

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bad animals old and new

-Another squirrel in toilet. In this case the victim called 911:
Woman: "I have some kind of animal in the toilet in my bathroom."
Dispatcher: "Like, what's it look like?"
Woman: "Well, it's gray. That's all I can tell you. I didn't look real good because it scared me to death. I'm sorry."
Dispatcher: "But it's not like one of your animals, like a cat or something?"
Woman: "No. My cat is in my office behaving herself."
-Drunken elk threatens homeowner:
Get ready for the season of drunken elks. As ripe fruit falls from the trees and ferments on the ground, it is time for some of Sweden’s most majestic wild animals to act in a most un-regal manner.
One home owner east of the capital has already been confronted by a mob of boozed-up elks. The five animals, feasting on rotten windfalls, “were threatening” and refused to let him into his garden.
“Sensibly enough the elks left the scene when police arrived,” writes Albin Näverberg on Stockholm police’s website.
To prevent further elk booze-binges the home owner, who lives in Värmdö, east of Stockholm, was advised to remove the apples from his yard. “The elks will have to get drunk somewhere else,” writes Näverberg.
-Those are classics, but here's a new one by me: Millipede probe after train crash
An investigation is underway to see if a Portuguese millipede infestation contributed to a train crash on the Joondalup line this morning.
Public Transport Authority spokesman David Hynes said millipedes had created similar problems at Wellard railway station in the past and could be seen on the tracks at Clarkson this morning.
“When the train squashes them they tend to make the tracks slimy,” he said. “That’s a phenomenon we’re aware of and we will investigate whether it was a factor at Clarkson.”

Photo of Swedish elk from Radio Sweden, who helpfully remind that Americans call it a moose.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Animals where they shouldn't be

-There are some things I post on this blog that you probably think, "that's one in a million. I don't have to worry about that." You probably thought that, for example, about the woman who woke up to find a fox in her bed with her. But you'd be wrong:
Man discovers a FOX in his bed after rolling over to give his girlfriend a cuddle 
Leon Smith was dozing in bed when he thought his girlfriend Sophie Merrell had lovingly nuzzled the back of his neck.

But she had already gone to work, and when Leon reached out for a cuddle he felt fur - and found himself in bed with a fox who had sneaked in through the cat flap.

Leon, 30, from Hampton Hill in London, told The Sun : "I just couldn't believe it. It was so calm, just staring at me."

The IT worker grabbed his phone and took a quick snap of the cheeky fox before it turned tail and went back through the bedroom door.
 -But don't think animals are running out of ideas for getting into places they shouldn't be. Here's one we haven't seen before:
Beaver breaks into Oregon Zoo's otter exhibit
PORTLAND, Ore., Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Officials at the Oregon Zoo said a mountain beaver was returned to the woods after trespassing in the facility's otter exhibit.
Zoo officials said the rodent, also known as a boomer, was discovered swimming Tuesday in the moat for the river otter exhibit at the Portland facility, KGW-TV, Portland, reported Thursday
The zoo's Twitter page said the animal was returned to the wild.
As someone who's provided daily room service to zoo animals, I don't blame this beaver for being jealous.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Animals vs Technology Roundup

Bird poop disables 25,000 traffic signals in Nagano
According to the Nagano branch of the Chubu Electric Power Company, a large number of birds had been defecating on an insulator in the Idegawa Substation in Matsumoto. The pile of crap got so huge that it dripped down a meter length of the insulator and caused a short triggering an automatic shutdown. 
Snakes Blamed for Power Outages
Snakes are not the only suspects in this case; their accomplices appear to be birds.
“We believe the snakes are being brought in by owls or by feeding hawks, searching for relatively open spaces to consume their prey,” said Austin Partida, the co-op’s member relations/public relations manager. “The snakes are making contact with the ground wire and the oil circuit reclosers. That causes arcing, and the flashing apparently scares the hungry birds away.”
How One Nuclear Missile Base Is Battling Ground Squirrels
The squirrels, each about a foot long and 1-2 pounds, dig extensive underground tunnel networks (they’ve been known to excavate tunnel systems more than 30 feet in length). At Malmstrom, they’ve developed an annoying habit of tunneling underneath the fences that protect each nuclear missile’s silo.

For an underground barrier, they initially tested steel fabric (similar to steel wool) and a metal chain-link mesh, but they were no match for the squirrels. “They just tore through steel fabric, with their claws and ever-growing incisors, and squeezed right through the chain-link mesh,” Witmer says.
Kittens Shut Down Subway in Brooklyn
Two kittens ran onto subway tracks in Brooklyn Thursday, and the MTA halted trains on two lines for about an hour as workers in reflective vests tried to corral the felines, witnesses and officials said. 
But as it turns out, NBC 4 New York can confirm that herding cats is a difficult feat.
 The MTA shut off power to the area so workers could go down and try to coax the kittens into carrying cases. The frisky kitties were later rescued and were in the custody of Animal Care & Control.