Monday, April 28, 2014

Dangerous Duck

Educating people about which animals they should be afraid of is one of the responsibilities of this blog. In that spirit, this story out of Oregon is an important one:

Domestic duck with 'dangerous propensities' leads to $275K lawsuit

It claims the plaintiff, Cynthia Ruddell, stepped out of her motor home on property owned by her mother in Estacada on May 7, 2012 when a "domestic duck" attacked her.
The woman fell on her outstretched hand, breaking her wrist and spraining her elbow and shoulder.
"I can tell you that when she first contacted me, we both shared a laugh at the circumstances around the accident," said Ruddell's attorney, Gregory Price. "But, unfortunately, the injury was pretty serious."
Ruddell had to get a plate and nine screws in her wrist. Further problems required a second surgery.
Sure, a duck attack sounds funny... which is no doubt why this problem was allowed to escalate, because it turns out this wasn't this duck's first offense:
 Price said the owner has acknowledged that the duck "had issues" before this incident, including prior attacks. The lawsuit states the duck had "abnormally dangerous propensities in attacking people in an aggressive manner similar to how it attacked and injured Mrs. Ruddell."
Of course, if you read this blog you know what ducks are like,  but perhaps you didn't fear for your own personal safety, and maybe thought you were OK with anything smaller than a goose. Now we know better.

Duck WAY too close for comfort by Jim Moran.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cat sends three to hospital

I present this important story in its entirety. I'm assuming if you're a cat owner you'll tell yourself your cat would never do this, and that you're safe as long as you don't try to make it wear clothes like in the photo. But you won't be able to say you weren't warned.
Three Roseville residents and were taken to the hospital Tuesday night after they were attacked by a pet cat.

The three were treated for superficial wounds. The year-and-a-half-old cat - named Khat - clawed the face of its owner's sister, as well as the arms and legs of its owner's mother. It caused deep gashes on the legs of its owner's 10-year-old brother. Khat was taken to the SPCA.

"The cat ran and jumped on his leg and was like, attached to him," the owner said. She and her family asked not to be identified.
"He's never been an aggressive cat, he's never been mean, he just flipped," she said.

The family called Roseville police, which typically directs calls about animals to the city's animal control department. Animal control was closed, however, so the call was directed to the Roseville Fire Department.

It was "absolutely a first for us," Fire Captain Derek Carey said. "We tried to push it into a cage, and it grabbed on to my engineer's boot and turnout bottom and was hissing and going off."

Firefighters threw a fire blanket on the feline and used a metal pole to lure him into a cage, finally trapping the temperamental tomcat.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

New frontier in bad bird behavior

From England comes something that's new even to me: A racist bird.

At Warwick University they've had to erect a fence to protect people from an attacking swan - something that's not particularly unusual. But there's a novel wrinkle: this swan is said to only attack foreign students.
The animal – which is currently nesting – has been launching at people as they cross a footbridge over a pond at the university’s Gibbet Hill campus in Coventry, West Mids.
The footbridge is used by hundreds of students everyday wishing to get from their accommodation to their lessons at the university buildings.
But yesterday undergraduates revealed that the angry bird only seemed to be targeting students from ethnic minorities.
One 24-year-old student from India said: “These swans are very annoying, and the students feel as though they’re being bullied. I’m from India, and they attack me especially, they focus straight on me.
“We’ve been warned that the swans will be a bit feisty at this time of year, but they go for me all year round. I think they don’t like too many Indians in England – maybe the swans here are a little bit racist.”
Italian student Albertina Crocetti, 24, who is studying Physics with Business Studies, said: “It’s bizarre, she doesn’t seem to like foreigners and attacks them to defend her nest. She’s a true right winger that’s for sure – they certainly seem to be racially motivated incidents."

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mainstream media finally tells the truth about otters

There's nothing I could write today that would be more important than sending you off to read this article about the sex lives of otters in the Vancouver Sun. The first photo caption lets you know what you're in for:
Male sea otters are known to rape and drown young seals, returning to the carcass for sex days later, other animals such as a large dog and bird have also become victim of such attacks.
I've written about this behavior, of course, in what is the most highly-trafficked post on this blog.  But with how cute people think these animals are, it's a tale that can't be told too often. My compliments to the author.

(PS: I did not watch the video, which would not load for me, which I decided to consider a blessing. So you're on your own there.)

Important warning photographed by Flickr user vandy meares.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The battle against bad birds 'round the world

In San Francisco, there's a problem with plans to demolish the old Bay Bridge: unappreciative birds.

About 800 cormorants have been using the bridge as a nesting site since 1984. $709,000 was spent to build brand-new bird condos on the new bridge, but the state-protected birds have refused to move in:
Caltrans' inability to lure the cormorants over to the new span isn't for lack of trying. Biologists have been experimenting with bird decoys and cormorant recordings to get them to move to their new, rent-free pads.
They even furnished the condos with nesting material. The birds reacted by simply hauling the bedding back to their old digs.
The timing of plans to install some kind of bird-exclusion equipment before nesting season apparently fell apart, and now it's going to take an extra 12.8 million dollars to get the demolition back on track in time to try it again next year.

Bad bird behavior was also costly to government on a smaller scale in France, where a court battle was won by a couple driven to psychotherapy by a peacock:
A French couple won a €4,000 settlement from city authorities in Marseille after they were left depressed insomniacs who were forced into psychotherapy due to an extremely noisy Town Hall-owned peacock.
In January 2012 they won their suit against the city, but were awarded a mere €100 in damages. Outraged by the meager payout, the couple took their case to an appeals court, which recently ordered the city to pay €4,000.
Maybe these places should find a role model in Japan, where there's an effort in Ibaraki Prefecture to promote the eating of crows. These intelligent birds are notoriously troublesome in that country, as we've reported before, but hunters have found their weakness: they're easily attracted by piles of steamed sweet potato, another thing (aside from crows) that Ibaraki produces a lot of. They're said to taste good, and experts are thinking deeply about the possibilities of crow cuisine:
“It’s also a benefit to people to reduce the numbers of pests,” says Junichi Nakagawa, principal of the Nakagawa Cooking Art College in Mito City. The principal is apparently also studying new ways of preparing crow, possibly so that it might be sold as a specialty dish of the region to visitors.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spiders Embarrass Major Car Company and News Organizations

If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you may recall that in 2011, Mazda had to recall  65,000 cars when it was discovered that spiders had taken a fancy to nesting in the fuel system of their Mazda6 sedan. 

You wouldn't think it would be that hard to outwit spiders, but apparently that wasn't the end of it, as this was announced a few days ago:
DETROIT (AP) — Mazda is recalling 42,000 Mazda6 cars in the U.S. because spiders can weave a web in a vent hose and cause the fuel tank to crack.

The yellow sac spider, which is attracted to hydrocarbons, builds webs that cause pressure to build in the fuel tank. That increases the risk of fuel leaks and fire.

Mazda recalled cars in 2011 for the same problem. It put covers on the vent line, but has found spiders can get past them.
 At the same time, spiders have been successful at confusing writers at many news outlets who headlined this story "Mazda Recalling Cars Due to Danger From Insect."

 Score: arachnids 2, major human corporations 0.

Photo of a much safer spider attack on a car, thoughtfully chosen so as not to freak the spiderphobic among you, by Flickr user Amanda.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Two bad birds

In England, even experts are forced to admit a bird is out of hand, although in a rather low-key way:
A "terrorist" pheasant has been attacking vehicles and chasing cats and dogs at a Cambridgeshire farm.

Anne-Marie Hamilton said the male bird, which she described as "a complete lunatic", arrived at Wood Farm in Hail Weston three weeks ago.

A delivery driver was trapped for 20 minutes after the bird blocked his way, flew at the bonnet then chased his van.

When it is not busy seeing off her dogs, cats and visitors' vehicles, the pheasant has taken up residence outside her patio doors.

"We keep a big stick there so we can get in and out," she said.

The British Trust for Ornithology said the pheasant was protecting his territory but was "a little extreme".
But in America, one officer showed how it's done, even for a minor infraction:
Corpus Christi Police apprehended a chicken after it crossed the road Sunday afternoon at the 1600 block of Agnes Street. Corpus Christi Police Officer David Saldana, known among his peers as the “Chicken Hawk,” saw a chicken cross the road at about 2pm Sunday. Officer Saldana attempted to detain the chicken for crossing outside of a cross walk, but the chicken fled on foot from Officer Saldana. The chicken jumped through the open window to an unoccupied vehicle in an attempt to escape, but there were no keys in the ignition of the vehicle. Officer Saldana successfully captured the chicken and placed the chicken in his patrol car. Officer Saldana then transported the chicken to Animal Care Services. The chicken was identified as a Black Australorp. Case closed.