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PHILADELPHIA (AP). A species of snail that is considered one of the worst agricultural pests in California has been discovered in Pennsylvania, posing a potentially expensive threat to the state's farms and nurseries. "The last thing Pennsylvania wants is this snail rampaging across the countryside, '' said David Robinson, a snail specialist for the U. S. Department of Agriculture. "It's a major pest. It's one of the worst snail problems there is. It feeds on practically anything green and growing. '' The brown garden snails were discovered last month in the garden of a Philadelphia schoolteacher, who told officials that they had been in her garden for 10 years. Before that, the snail has not been known to survive the winter in Pennsylvania, though state officials fear it may be adapting. California spends about $7 million a year to battle the snail, which was brought to that state in the 1850s from the Mediterranean, as a delicacy for restaurants. One threat to Pennsylvania agriculture is the direct damage to plants, but other states also might refuse to import Pennsylvania products because of a snail infestation in the state. State officials plan a survey of state parks and commercial greenhouse operations to determine whether the snails have spread beyond the Philadelphia neighborhood where they were discovered. State Department of Agriculture scientists said the snails probably arrived in Philadelphia on garden plants imported from California.


Friday, June 12, 1998 Divers from the Naval Service have coaxed seven common dolphins back to open water after they had swum up the River Lee to Cork city centre. The five adults and two calves brought city traffic to a stand still yesterday as hundreds of people stopped to watch them surface at Penrose Quay. Marine biologists from the Whale and Dolphin Group at the department of zoology in NUI Cork and four divers from the Naval base at Haulbowline ushered the school of dolphins into the Lower Harbour. The dolphins arrived in the harbour on Wednesday night and yesterday moved upriver. Dr Emer Rogan of UCC said common dolphins "rarely come into estuaries like bottle-nose dolphins such as Fungie and they're not used to narrow channels and freshwater." It did not appear any of them was injured so it was difficult to say why they had come so far upstream, but she said they may have come up in search of mackerel.


The following story was posted on the Internet by (I think) Loren Coleman who lifted it from an Arkansas Newspaper report:

"Treasure hunter Dane Chastain just might have located the biggest treasure of his life. The Oklahoma native says he has discovered andretrieved the decomposed body of an alien being in the woods around Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. In a story broken on Little Rock radio station KARN News Radio, the body is said to be small in stature,mostly bones at this point but still having skin "like a fish"covering it. The remains also have silver hair and a strange finprotruding from its back. Ft. Chaffee has been held underconsiderable suspicion by a number of UFO researchers for years andwas most recently in the news in the 80's when hundreds of Cuban refugees were sent there for detention and processing. Chastain is said to be enroute to the International UFO Museum In Roswell with the remains."

We obtained a copy of the picture by various nefarious means and we can confidently say that we believe that whatever it is, it ain`t a Chupacabra. (Pic to appear here soon...)


BOSTON (AP) - Boston Garden lore took on another odd chapter - even after the venerable arena's demolition - with the discovery of monkey bones amid the rubble. Said to house gremlins who plagued visiting basketball teams, the former home of the Boston Celtics built in 1928 was dreaded for problems real and imaginary, but there were never reports of a resident monkey. The mysterious remains found in the wreckage last week prompted demolition workers to pause for a moment of silence.

"The Celtics might have to change their mascot," former Garden director Larry Moulter said. "This obviously was a true fan." Visiting teams over the years complained about dead spots in the Garden's famed parquet floor and perceived slights like the occasional lack of hot water in the showers, but none ever mentioned a rogue monkey swinging off the backboard to swat away jumpshots. Officials have no idea where the monkey might have come from.

The remains didn't look old enough to be from the great monkey escape of 1936, when Frank Buck's "Bring 'Em Back Alive" animal show nearly lost a passel of monkeys during the show. And besides, all those feisty critters were supposedly rounded up. A check with Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey didn't turn up any leads either, despite the fact the circus performed at Boston Garden in 1994. And although monkeys were part of an old "Wizard of Oz" show at the Garden, none of the ones dressed up in wings were reported to have flown the coop. Boston Globe, Boston, MassachusettsAssociated Press, 23 May 1998 Saturday


25 May 1998 SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) _ There may be only about 500 New Guinea singing dogs in the world and one has spent the past month in the Spokane County Animal Shelter. The dog left the pound on Friday for Cat Tales, an exotic animal park north of Spokane. Scirocco had been languishing on death row while shelter workers tried to find him a home, said Nancy Sattin, the county's animal control director. "It would have been a shame to have to put him down,'" Sattin said. The 2 1/2-year-old dog might become a daddy, if a suitable female can be found, said Janice Koler-Matznick, a singing dog expert in Central Point, Oregon. "It's a big deal," she said. "They're definitely going extinct if we don't do something soon."

The breed was discovered in the early 1900s in the remote highlands of New Guinea, isolated from the rest of the world by the rugged terrain and fierce tribes of the area. The dogs, which can weigh about 25 pounds, got their name from their high-pitched, sing-song howl. Sattin believes Scirocco may have been born at an exotic animal farm in Western Washington and lived in Stevens County for a time. She would not identify the woman who gave the dog to the shelter."The woman who owned him just couldn't handle him," Sattin said. "She had trouble keeping him home." While singing dogs like people and are small animals, they generally don't make good pets. Their instinct to run and hunt small mammals and birds is overpowering. (Fortean List)


On 26th May The Associated Press reported that: "Maybe it escaped from captivity. Perhaps it got lost in ocean currents warped by El Nino. But however it got there, the North Pole seal found near Vietnam was a long way from home. A fisherman captured the 33-pound seal on Friday about 80 miles off Vietnam's central Quang Ngai province, the Labor newspaper reported Monday. The seal was sent to an oceanology institute the next day. The newspaper quoted an expert from the institute as saying that the seals sometimes get as far south as the Sea of Japan, more than 2,000 miles north of Quang Ngai, but never live in tropical areas. He said another North Pole seal was captured by fishermen in Nghe An province in 1989, but it died on the way to a port city." According to Ben Roesch it turned out to be a Larga seal (Phoca largha); which is found in the Yellow Sea and so it ain`t quite as unusual a story as we had at first supposed.


RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Penta the penguin came in from the cold to warm the hearts of Brazilian soccer fans. When the stray penguin turned up in the sea off Rio de Janeiro, surprised beachgoers took it as a sign of luck for the national team in the soccer World Cup and adopted it as a mascot for the team. They draped the bird in a green and yellow national flag after rescuing it and nicknamed it Penta, or Fifth, for the fifth World Cup soccer title the reigning champions are hoping to win in France. They had it pose for TV cameras during public parties after Brazil's 3-0 victory over Morocco before stowing the penguin in a beer cooler to await zoo officials. Penguins appear occasionally along the coast but are rare at this time of year.


TOKYO (AP). Police rescued a wallaby lost in a quiet residential area of Tokyo early today and returned it to its Australian owner. Kokichi Suzuki spotted the 3-foot wallaby, a miniature kangaroo native to Australia, in front of his house when he stepped outside to check on his barking dog, according to police spokesman Norimasa Sugitani. Police were summoned and caught the wallaby, which was still wearing its leash, Sugitani said. It was returned safely to its keeper, an Australian journalist living nearby.


Idaho, Lewiston - The Nez Perce Tribe has joined with other groups that are challenging a federal court order to remove Canadian wolves from Idaho. The wolves were returned to the wild in an attempt to make a viable population. The court said it was a violation of the Endangered Species Act. USA TODAY - FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 1998


HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) - What he wanted was a catfish. So Matthew Viars, 17, put his line into the Great Miami River on Tuesday evening with some friendsand relaxed under a canopy of stars. He didn't get catfish. What he got wasa 6-foot-long alligator. "We saw a big splash," Viars said. "Its head was up and its tail was moving back and forth in the water." The mysterious gator hasn't been seen since. It's the second time anunexpected reptile has popped up in the strong-moving river. In December, a 4-foot alligator was pulled from the Great Miami just north of the latestreported sighting. The Butler County sheriff has declared an alligator alert. "Don't make the gator a bad guy. He's an innocent victim here," said JohnnyArnett, a Cincinnati Zoo official advising police. "People are buying a lot of these animals and finding out that there's too much to handle and just turning them loose." The zoo doesn't have enough employees to spend days searching for the gator but would be willing - possibly along with a club of reptile enthusiasts -to help catch it. Boston Globe/Associated Press, 5 June 1998 Friday


BURLINGTON, N.C. (AP) - Authorities have been on the trail of a big bird that's been seen wandering around town during the past two weeks. Three emu sightings have been reported to the Alamance County Sheriff's Department in the past two weeks, but deputies haven't found any loose birds, said Sgt. Ann Park of the department's animal control unit. The large, flightless birds have razor-sharp claws and are very dangerous, she said. "It's still on the loose," said Burlington Police Capt. Steve Lynch, who saw the bird Saturday near a service station. Lynch said he thought the long-necked, long-legged, 4-foot tall bird was an ostrich, but a fellow officer told him it fit the description of an emu. The bird disappeared in a nearby field, he said. Later that day, a passerby tried to lasso a big bird seen near the former Shea's Restaurant building, Lynch said. The department received three calls about the creature Saturday, he said. Police haven't been able to determine who owns the bird or where it came from. No one has reported a missing emu, Lynch said.


MACY, Ind. -- Something killed Forrest Kercher's hogs, but what? Mountain lion? That's what a lot of people here think. To be sure, the five hogs were torn up handsomely; some wildlife experts investigated and saw a huge paw print; they lean toward the mountain lion theory. And Janet Kercher, the farmer's wife, heard a roar. On the first of two nights of carnage, May 11, she arrived home with herson, Jason, at about 10:30 p.m. "I couldn't believe what I heard," she says. "I said, 'Jason, let's get inside."' Two nights later there were more dead pigs. "There was bloodeverywhere," says Kercher. No one has seen any wild beast, however. An Indiana Department of Natural Resources official spent two nights perched in the Kerchers' silo with a shotgun. Nothing happened. And that was a full three weeks ago.

Miami County is full of livestock, yet no other farmers report mountain lion trouble or anything resembling it. The investigation continues, but the quiet is puzzling. Wouldn't the thing have grown hungry by now? Yes, people say, but perhaps it has developed a taste for deer; perhapsit's dead; perhaps its owner already corralled it (and is keeping quietto avoid having to pay for the Kerchers' hogs). Big cats -- lions, tigers, mountain lions -- are not indigenous toIndiana, but some do live here. People keep them as pets. Julius Von Uhl, for example, who is one of the Kerchers' neighbors, has a dozen African lions. Naturally, after seeing the paw print and the claw marks on the pigs'backs, investigators dropped by Von Uhl's place. But all of his catswere accounted for. "They come to my house, I laugh at them," says the Hungarian-born VonUhl, who has a circus act. He says the hog slaughter is some kind of hoax, that big cats had nothing to do with it.

But Keith Dinn, the DNR official who is investigating the matter (andwho sat atop the silo), saw the prints, saw the slashes on the pigs."The physical evidence," he says, "We don't see how someone could fabricate something like this." Von Uhl notes that the dead hogs were found with most of their meatstill on them and says: "No cat kills just for the fun of it; they kill and they eat on that." Yes, that's what wild animals do, says Bill Christie, an expert on bigcats who works at the Indianapolis Zoo. "But if you're talking about ancaptive animal that escapes, their instincts aren't honed as sharply as a cat in the wild." A domestic mountain lion, he says, could instinctively kill something and then have no idea what to do with the carcass. The people over in the Miami County sheriff's office are scratching their heads like everyone else, but they find the mountain lion theory a stretch. "To say exactly what it was would be speculation, but it doesn't appearto me to be the kind of damage a lion would do," says Capt. Tim Hunter

Hunter says that recently, one of his colleagues was driving throughnorthern Miami County when he looked into a field and saw "the biggest dog he ever saw, and that dog was on the move." But Bob Hewitt, a DNR biologist who checked out the carnage, earlier ruled out dogs. He ruled out coyotes and bobcats, too. Some hunters apparently are hoping it's a mountain lion. "I've got people beating down my door," says Dinn. "People from Michigan, Colorado. With dogs. They want to track this thing." The trouble is, they want their expenses paid -- transportation and lodging and so on -- and Dinn can't justify spending all that money on five dead pigs. Janet Kercher is watching her step. She used to like to walk in the woods out back, but no longer. "I love cats," she says, "but not in my back yard -- at least not that big." Indianapolis Star/News June 4, 1998

EDITOR`S NOTE: We at Crypto Mansions are irresistibly reminded of Mark Hall`s accounts of maned, roaring North American ABC`s which are somewhat reminiscent of the long extinct (supposedly) North American Lion Panthera leo atrox. See also Loren Coleman`s "Mysterious America" and Karl Shuker`s "Mystery Cats of the World". Pumas don`t roar by the way...


Harley Nygren was out trying to corral his little dog, Dillon, on his neighbor's property this week when he had a close encounter of the friendly kind with a 75-pound mountain lion. "A nice kitty," Nygren said yesterday, as he escorted a Fairfax County wildlife specialist through a blackberry thicket near his home on Carrington Lane to the secluded site where he spotted the khaki-colored cougar Thursday afternoon.

Nygren, 73, a retired federal worker, said he and the cat eyed one another from a distance of about 10 feet. "I wasn't frightened, and he wasn't either," he said. The animal then got up and trotted off through the thick underbrush to a nearby creek. For county wildlife biologist Earl Hodnett, Nygren's tale was the 10th "convincing account" he's received in the last 2 1/2 weeks that there's a cougar loose in the suburban wilds on the edge of Tysons Corner. Although the animal has thus far eluded attempts to photograph it, Hodnett has no doubt it exists, based on the eyewitness reports and a paw print he examined. Still, he said, there is no cause for public hysteria. Although cougars are prohibited as pets in Fairfax, Hodnett said the animal is probably an exotic escapee from someone's home or was set loose by a disenchanted owner.

"We have no reason to believe it would be a threat to anybody," he said yesterday while standing up to his ankles in murky water and searching for more prints along the muddy creek. Several people have reported coming within 30 feet of the animal, which Hodnett says would never happen if the cougar were wild, because it would run away. The Eastern cougar has been extinct in Virginia for a century.

"Any cat that's out in the wild now is presumed to be an escaped Western cat, one that somebody has raised and it got away," said Bob Ellis, a wildlife expert with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Cougar sightings are regularly reported in Shenandoah National Park, where efforts are underway to photograph the elusive nocturnal creatures. Last year, Prince William County officials searched the Westridge neighborhood after reports of a cougar there. They set a roadkill-baited trap but came up empty.

Hodnett said Fairfax's cougar is probably feasting on the county's plentiful deer population, a bane to gardeners and motorists alike in recent months. (One man arranging hostas at Meadowlark Gardens Regional Park yesterday said he would welcome a cougar in the county's midst.) "Given that it's fawning season, if this cat has his front claws, he could probably close his eyes and run through the woods and feed himself," Hodnett said. Still, Ed Clark, director of the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro, said, "I wouldn't want to be a poodle on the loose right now." The first reported cougar sighting came April 29 from a night security guard at the Tysons office of America Online, who told Hodnett he saw a large cat crouching in a picnic area near the woods out back. The excited guard screamed into his walkie-talkie to a colleague: "Get over here! Get over here! You won't believe this!"

The second guard arrived in time to see a tail disappearing into the bushes, Hodnett said. A week later, a janitor went to the trash bin behind the AOL building and saw the cat lounging next to a tree, Hodnett said. A second sighting! The hunt was afoot. Since then, reports have come in from a wide area -- some discounted as over-eager spotters confusing foxes with cougars -- at all times of the day. Hodnett said the cougar's biological clock is likely out of sync in his unnatural surroundings, which makes getting a good eight hours of daytime sleep impossible. In the most concrete evidence thus far of the cat's presence, Hodnett found a padded paw print behind the AOL building, but before he could take an imprint, rain washed it away. "I've kicked myself ever since that I didn't get a picture," he said. Determined not to make the same mistake twice, he then placed an infrared camera in a tree at the site. The camera had an unobstructed view of a stream bed with a long tree trunk down the center. Wildlife experts agreed the downed tree would prove irresistible to the cougar. When Hodnett got his photos back this week, he had several lovely shots of squirrels at play, two pictures of a black dog, a man sitting on the log, the same man standing near the log and a fuzzy close-up of a deer. But no cougar.

Now he's waiting for the next sighting, hoping that the caller will have had the foresight to take a video camera into the woods. Armed with such proof, he will order a humane trap for the animal. The National Zoo is standing by to assist him. While Hodnett is convinced this cougar means no harm, other wildlife specialists caution that people should be wary. Clark, of the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro, said anyone confronting a cougar should not make eye contact and should not try to outrun the animal. "Wave your arms and scream bloody murder," he advised. Told that some county residents have gotten within 10 feet of the cougar, Clark was horrified. "That animal can kill you just like one out of the Yukon. People have the attitude that these are little people in fur coats, and that they'll respond with human emotions," he said. "That's the kind of ignorance that gets you killed."

Cougar Spotted Prowling Near Tysons Corner.......... Witnesses have spotted what appears to be a roving cougar near Tysons Corner in Virginia. Wildlife officials suspect that the cougar is an escaped pet rather than wild. Washington Post. Saturday, May 16, 1998; Page B01

Ten people have reported seeing a cougar or similar cat prowling around a wooded creek near Tysons Corner in the past week, and a county wildlife biologist has found a paw print there that closely resembles a cougar's. The cat has been described as tawny in color and weighing 75 to 95 pounds, said Fairfax County Deputy Animal Warden Forrest Higginbotham. It has been seen just west of Tysons Corner around a creek in a partially developed area between Route 7 and Beulah Road. "There have been no reports of the animal exhibiting any threatening behavior," Higginbotham said. "We think it might be crossing the creek." Higginbotham has placed a small camera on a log in the creek in hopes of capturing the cat on film. Animal control officials said that if they confirm it is a cougar, they will set a trap. Recent rains have washed away paw prints, making it difficult to track the animal, authorities said. Some of those who reported encountering the cat said it didn't immediately bolt when they walked toward it. That's unnatural for a completely wild cougar, said Higginbotham, who believes it may be someone's illegal, exotic pet that escaped. "Usually, a cougar will not let anyone walk towards it, but will stay hidden all of the time," he said. Last May, several Prince William County residents reported seeing a cougar near Westridge. That led to a months-long search, but no such animal was found. Washington Post Friday, May 8, 1998; Page B03


GARNER, N. C. (AP) _ Urban legend became shocking reality when David Garrett opened his toilet lid: A 3-foot-long Brazilian rainbow snake was lounging peacefully in the bowl. Garrett was about to help his young daughter use the toilet when he made the startling discovery Friday night. ``I shut the lid immediately and moved my daughter back, '' Garrett said. He called the police, who sent an officer to try to coax the non-venomous reptile from the toilet. The rust-coloured, 3-inch-thick snake slithered out of reach, however, so police referred Garrettto Bob Wendell, whose Country Care Animal Rescue specialises in removing wild animals from homes and businesses. ``He said to duct-tape the toilet shut and call him if the snake come back, '' Garrett said. ``Sunday night, we decided to check it again, and we saw the snake in there. '' After a brief struggle, Wendell removed the snake, which he first believed to be a poisonous copperhead. The snake was treated for cuts it received during its capture by Kevin Pavlic, owner of Personal Pet in Garner. ``I doctored it up, but time will tell, '' Pavlic said. ``It'll live. Brazilian rainbows are exotic snakes. They're expensive, about $200 to $300. Whoever lost this thing is probably crying the blues. '' How the snake got into the Garrett`s' toilet is not known, and its owner hasn’t surfaced. The Garretts believe the snake crawled into its owner's toilet, then traveled through the sewer system and into their water line. ``The town of Garner contends that they're not sure that the snake came from the pipes, '' said Kristin Garrett, David's wife. Town officials could not be reached for comment.

Keith Glass, division manager of Roto Rooter, didn't discount the possibility of the snake crawling through the pipes. ``If you understand how the sewer system works, I guess a lot of things can come up through the toilet. A lot of things are possible, '' Glass said. Pavlic was more skeptic. ``Snakes have to come up for air and get sun, '' he said. ``I'm not a plumber, but I don't think it can travel through these toilets. For short periods of time, maybe it could, but it's rare. '' The experience has left the Garretts slightly uneasy. ``I'm sure we’ll check for awhile, flush it before we use it, '' Garrett said.


MANSFIELD, Conn. (AP) _ The animal control officer in this eastern Connecticut town is on a wild goat chase. During her 10 years on the job, Dianne Gaudreau has rounded up errant chickens, lambs and pigs. But now she has her toughest assignment yet: catching a goat that has been roaming the town and butting heads with a contractor. Last weekend, her efforts to find and capture the goat failed. The wild goat of Mansfield has ``definitely been the most frustrating’’ situation, Gaudreau said. About nine years ago, three goats were reported loose near the Mansfield-Willington border. The goats wandered into the towns but stayed out of harm's way. A year later, one of the goats made its home near a subdivision on the southwest edge of town. The second goat reportedly settled near Spring Manor Farm and the third goat disappeared. Animal control officers do not have jurisdiction over roaming livestock unless they threaten public health and safety, Gaudreau said. So the Mansfield goat has been feeling its oats. Its calm demeanour started changing a few years ago when a contractor decided to expand the nearby subdivision, Gaudreau said. The 150-pound goat was accused of butting in a newly installed atrium door and using the unoccupied dwelling as a bathroom. Gaudreau has also received reports of the goat chasing cars and children on bikes, pruning shrubbery and trespassing on people's decks. A farmer has offered to take in the goat, which at age 9 is considered quite old. But first, Gaudreau must capture it.


PEST control experts will begin attempts next week to eradicate a colony of more than a million house-eating termites on the north Devon coast (James Landale writes). The voracious bugs from southern Europe, believed to be the most destructive in the world, have eaten their way into two holiday homes. Nick Raynsford, the Construction Minister, said the Environment Department would spend £129,000 on a 12-year programme to wipe out the colony, using a toxin called hexaflumuron. Termites were first discovered at the two properties overlooking Barnstaple Bay at Saunton four years ago and were thought to have been destroyed by chemical pesticides. But an even greater infestation was discovered two months ago. The 4mm-long termites, Reticulitermesluci fungus, live up to seven metres underground. The Times June 3 1998


Washington Longview - A scrap of crab shell found in Willapa Bay belonged to a male green crab, which has biologists concerned for the state's shellfish industry. The crab, an aggressive crustacean that preys on other shellfish, wiped out the soft-shell clam industry in Maine in the '50s. The shell is the first proof the crab has reached Washington.. THURSDAY, JUNE 11, 1998 -USA TODAY


WOLFTRAP, BEULAH AND OLD COURTHOUSE ROADS: About May 1, several sightings of an animal, described as a coyote or a cougar, were reported. Animal Control's wildlife biologist interviewed witnesses and examined the area of the sightings and found a footprint resembling a cougar's. The biologist and a representative of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland fisheries unsuccessfully attempted to photograph the animal with a motion-activated camera installed in nearby woods. There were no reports of threatening behavior by the animal.

CREEKSIDE CT., 1400 block, May 6. An animal warden removed a 20-inch copperhead snake from a residential garage. Thursday, May 14, 1998; Page V08 Washington Post