African Elephant Kills Woman

Thomas Breuer/Creative Commons

From Botswana:


"The deceased tried to run but the animal gave chase. When it caught up with her, it lifted her up and threw her some distance away leading to her instant death.

Regional Wildlife Officer Bolt Othomile said that they are still looking for the elephant which killed the deceased. “An animal changes behaviour after killing a person and our officers will manage to locate it even if it’s amongst others,” said Othomile."

That's an . . . interesting. . . claim about the behavior of killer elephants. 

Cougar Attacks Woman in Her Living Room

The woman escaped with mere scratches when  her border collie intervened:

Dog saves woman from cougar attack in living room | British Columbia

"Angie Prime, 35, was on her living room couch with her 14-week-old puppies Iver and Otto Sunday night when she saw an emaciated cougar enter the room.

“I happened to catch something in the corner of my eye,” Prime told CTV News. “I’ll always remember that face.”

The cat pounced on Prime, but before she was seriously hurt her 11-year-old collie, Vicious, ran to the rescue."


The dog is fine, but authorities killed the cougar. I suspect the puppies were the real target of the attack. Cougars prey on small dogs much more frequently than they do on people. 

Prime Minister and His Cronies Eat Man

Hans Hillewaert/Creative Commons

Crocodiles, led by a large specimen named Prime Minister, killed and ate their 70-year-old keeper during a show for tourists. 

The Nation - Crocodiles devour zookeeper in Cote d'Ivoire

"Toke regularly entertained guests, both local and international, by moving around the crocodiles and lifting their tails for memorial photos. 

According to the newspaper, Toke had gone into the lake to feed the crocodiles and alligators at 5pm on Monday, when one of the crocodiles held his long shirt.

``The old man, according to the eyewitnesses, waved the crocodile aside, but the biggest and oldest among the crocodiles, known as ``Prime Minister’’,  opened its mouth and seized him.

``The animal threw him into the water and started tearing him into shreds to the consternation of the many guests by the lake, who were enjoying the end of Ramadan.''"

Thanks to Croconut for the news tip. 

Man Bites Cobra to Death

H. Krisp/Creative Commons

The cobra bit him first. The BBC reported his motive this way:

BBC News - Farmer bites cobra to death in Nepal

"A Nepali farmer who was bitten by a cobra in his rice paddy field has killed the snake by repeatedly biting it in return.

"A snake charmer told me that if a snake bites you, bite it until it is dead and nothing will happen to you," Mohammed Salmodin told the BBC."

But a report in Reuters mentions a different motive:

"I could have killed it with a stick but bit it with my teeth instead because I was angry."

Mohammed Salmodin then went back to work until his family pressured him to get help. Remind me not to make this guy angry.  

Incidentally, I knew a family who had eaten cobra. They said it was good in soup. 

(Thanks to Croconut for the news tip)

Rhino Rolls Woman

Black Rhinoceros (Mistvan/Creative Commons)

In South Africa, a woman helping with conservation efforts ran afoul of a rhinoceros. 

Woman recovering from rhino attack - Times LIVE

"She was standing in a holding pen with her daughter, 21, watching farm employees dart the rhino cow and her calf, when another rhino charged at her, and repeatedly "rolled her around," Beeld reported.

The rhino cow stopped when her daughter screamed.

"I was able to actually pull myself upright, holding onto the rhino's horn," Van Heerden said."

There are two species of rhino in South Africa: the white, which is usually grayish, and the black, which is also usually grayish. The misleading names are the result of a bad translation that has stuck. The article doesn't say which species this is, though it includes a photo of a black one. In Asia there are three more species. All five face dwindling numbers. 

Grizzly Bear Kills Photographer

Jean-Pierre Lavoie/Creative Commons

Grizzly bear kills hiker in Denali National Park -

"Photos recovered from the victim’s camera show that he stopped to take pictures of the animal for at least eight minutes before he was attacked. Park Superintendent Paul Anderson said he believes the victim came within 50 yards of the grizzly before it went on the attack. He said the photos show the bear grazing in the willows and not acting aggressively.

Park service workers were alerted to the attack Friday by three day hikers who saw an abandoned backpack, torn clothing and blood along the river. Rangers found the body late Friday but could not recover it because the sun was fading and they believed multiple bears were nearby. When they returned in a helicopter Saturday afternoon, a grizzly bear was near the body. It was shot and killed by rangers from above."

Other reports are saying the bear had partially eaten the body. The hiker's photos don't show the bear behaving aggressively. 

Monkey Shot in Domestic Dispute (And More)

A couple of monkey attacks. The first involves a macaque. It's the usual story: a couple raises a primate as their own child, and it comes back to bite them in the end. 

JayJay the pet monkey shot dead after vicious attack on his owner in Florida | Mail Online

"JayJay the Macaque monkey unleashed his attack after escaping his home in Okeechobee, Florida and evading capture by his owner, Jimmy Schwall, who tried to catch him in a net.

The monkey wriggled free and clamped down on Schwall's buttocks and thigh and tore apart his right hand. A friend grabbed a gun and Schwall told him to shoot, killing the monkey."

The other report involves a wild monkey, but he's clearly familiar enough with humans to guess what's in a backpack. 

Stray monkey attacks four-year-old in Kovai - South India - Tamil Nadu - ibnlive

"Four-year-old Arul Raj, along with his grandmother Thangamani, was on his way to meet his father, a life-term convict in the Central Prison, when the monkey pounced on him.

The boy was carrying a snack box and the monkey was trying to snatch it, recalled witnesses.

A visibly shaken Thangamani said, “The monkey was huge and I had to struggle to make it let go off the boy.”"

The report doesn't say what kind of monkey it was. 

Shark Feeding Frenzy Video

This video shows sharks, probably blacktip reef or spinner sharks, attacking a school of menhaden en masse. These species don't eat people, but this is the sort of situation that occasionally gets a person hurt. In water churned by the struggles of predator and prey, visibility is bad. When that happens near the shore, people who are swimming or wading can get bitten. That's what happened to Debbie Salamone, whose story I told in Shark Attacks.

Thanks to Croconut for the tip. 

West Nile Virus in the US

Photo by Thomas Kent

Crop-dusting planes are spraying the city of Dallas with insecticide in an effort to kill mosquitoes. It's been a bumper year for mosquitoes, there and elsewhere in the US, and reports of West Nile virus have risen accordingly. 

West Nile aerial attack creates controversy in virus-stricken Dallas | The Lookout - Yahoo! News
"43 states have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds or mosquitoes this year. Twenty-six people have died and nearly 700 have gotten sick.

"The 693 cases reported thus far in 2012 is the highest number of West Nile virus disease cases reported to CDC through the second week in August since West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999," the CDC said in a statement."

The virus produces two illnesses. The first is a mild form with flu-like symptoms called West Nile fever. The second, West Nile encephalitis, occurs when the virus invades the central nervous system. Encephalitis means inflammation of the brain. It can cause such symptoms as headache, fever, stiff neck, tremors, stupor, disorientation, and paralysis. It is sometimes fatal. 

In the terror-obsessed US of the 21st century, the virus has become notorious out of all proportion to its actual danger. The fever afflicts only about 20 percent of those who contract the virus; of that 20 percent, two-thirds of one percent develop encephalitis. Most of those recover. Deaths occur mostly in the elderly. The reservoir for the virus is birds. In the US, robins and crows are among the most commonly infected birds. The virus is transmitted to people by mosquitoes of the genus Culex, especially Culex pipiens.

Photo: A member of the genus Culex, probably C. pipiens. Note that the mosquito is itself infested with parasites. Virtually any animal can host its own brand of mites, maggots, or wasp larvae. Photographer Thomas Kent's Flickr page features many startling and beautiful macro-discoveries. 

Leopard Mauls Fourth Victim

Leopard attacks woman on outskirts of Chandrapur - The Times of India:

""The woman was sleeping on a cot covered with a mosquito net inside the math. The beast pounced on the cot and clawed her on the face and chest. As others sleeping in the vicinity woke up on hearing her cries, the beast fled from the spot," said an eyewitness. Tarabai was rushed to civil hospital and admitted there for emergency treatment.

In January, a leopardess had attacked Nanebai Virutkar while she was travelling pillion with her husband on a motorcycle. In March, the same leopardess clawed four-year-old Hasari Dhope, while she was travelling with her mother and father on a bike. In April, the leopardess mauled WCL worker Sanjay Upre while he was on his way back home from duty at around midnight. Apart from these attacks, the beast has killed over a dozen cattle in villages Mana, Charwat, Nandgaon and WCL settlement Samruddhi nagar."

Sentimental Journey: An Abandoned House

Chuck Evans/Creative Commons

The house had been bulldozed. Elms, dead of drought, ringed the dusty flat where it should have stood. Boughs had been piled into a wild desiccated pyre. My father stood tracing the floor plan of the farm by the few unburied signs: A round slab of cement lay where the granary had stood. The front walk remained, in rubble. The cattle pens and corral were mostly gone, but the chute remained, as if to convey a steer from the ground into airy nothing. (Or a child, for my sister and I had run up that chute many times.) I wandered the place, amazed. It was a mere toy to the landscape in my memory. That road from farmhouse to granary, the one where I’d seen my first rattlesnake flattened and grinning its crooked dead grin, the one where my grandfather had decapitated a much greater rattlesnake and it had with the weeks dried to rib and spine and become tangled in the grasses of the ditch and somehow become nothing at all—that epic road was now only a few paces.

I wandered. Those peculiar weeds with the yellow berries jutted from the soil; I broke off a berry and punctured its eggshell rind. There was no moisture inside, only a bitter smell. And then I saw the hole, just big enough for a man. In my childhood dreams the prairie had held, just beyond my wanderings, exactly such apertures into subterranean depths—the hiding places of ghouls and glistening snakes, the homes of women who shone like angels in white gowns. But those were only dreams and the games I elaborated from them. This one was real. I lay on my belly and looked down six or seven feet. Down there clods of mud had dried into monstrous shapes. A pipe protruded like a fractured leg bone. A tunnel stretched away to the west, further than I could see.

“I think I found the cellar,” I said. Memories of it crowded in—my parents’ wedding album floating in a flood; a nest of mice blind in one corner; a bull snake, woken from winter sleep, clunking up the stairs, using the frozen loop of himself as a sort of foot.

“No,” my father said, for he had already deduced that the house itself now occupied the cellar. He pointed out the clues he’d noted on the terrain. The cellar had been over there. Nor was this hole and its tunnel part of the septic tank, which had lain on the far side of the house. I wanted it to be the cellar, that humid haven of memory, but I knew he was right. “It must be an older septic tank,” he said. One used and then capped before we’d ever known the place, more ancient even than the memories that had been writhing within me, trying to fit themselves into these tiny marks on the landscape. Only the bulldozing of the house had finally revealed this older tank. I drew back at the thought of this tunnel contaminated with sewage, but that was absurd; the earth had had decades to digest it.

Something an arm’s length down caught my eye. It was a web. The pattern was more familiar to me than the floor plan of this little farm. I reached cautiously; in Oklahoma, the black widows may still be alive in November, depending on the weather’s whims. My finger plucked a strand, broke it. The sound I wanted to hear didn’t come. It would have been a confirmation of the spider’s identity, though I should hardly need that. It would have been more than information, however; it would have given me some comfort, for I spent my childhood in pursuit of widows. The child within me would have taken the tearing sound with joy, and the man, long removed from his natural habitat, felt the same.

The absence of the characteristic sound might mean the widow’s web was old, had lost its elasticity. Or it might mean this was not the work of a widow, but of some similar species, like the American house spider. The answer mattered to me more than I can perhaps make clear. I was an absurd middle-aged man crawling on his belly, poking into an old septic tank. But I was also looking into memories, into childhood dreams, into the very earth I’d come from. I don’t believe in signs, but I wanted to see one. I writhed forward, pushing my shoulders into the hole. Under the thick lip of earth, the web hung in ragged elegance like dirty lace. The strands were too old and loose; I would not hear them tear like paper; this was the work of an earlier year, and the spider was gone, probably dead. But I knew she was a widow. She had left the blunt husk of a scarab hanging there, a beetle too big for any other spider’s web.

Sentimental Journey: Mantis

Photo by Lori McLaughlin

My parents drove me to our old farmhouse. We lived there only a year and half or so; it was a small episode in long lives. Somehow, though, it holds all the best of my childhood memories. It holds a disproportionate number of the stories I tell in my books, too. This is the place where I learned to listen with love to the songs of coyotes, where the neighbor’s dog slaughtered our chickens, the place where a cougar climbed an elm in our front yard. Little incidents of rural life, but they have held onto me. 

My parents had been here not long before to photograph it for me. Their photos showed little, or at least too little to make sense of. Mostly they showed the flat face of the earth beneath the immense sky. But it had been greener then. Now we arrived at a stand of dead elms. That was all that distinguished this stretch of barbed wire from the contiguous miles of it. 

At a glance, nothing was left but some remnants of the corral. (I remembered the splinters I’d got from it; the meteor that had fractured on the ground next to it; the salt lick set out for the cattle, which we were told was not for kids to lick. The warning itself was invitation enough, and I found it bitter and not salty enough.)

I studied the barbed wire for a place to enter. My father suggested the thick post, like a sawn-off telephone pole, that held a gate. I could use the gate itself for support. But no. The gate sagged beneath my weight, and the wire seemed no more eager to support me. I lamented wearing my new carpenter pants. 

Photo by Parker Grice

Then, as if to tell me I was on the right track, I noticed the oothecum—the egg case of a mantis. I wrote of these in The Red Hourglass—of the mother mantid’s way of pressing out eggs in a foam that solidifies into something harder than brick. It had to be an old one, for the November landscape was brown beyond the reach of the eye, inhospitable to the predator and its insect prey. I pried it off the post with my thumb—it snapped audibly and left a good bit of itself attached. Close up, I could see the pinpoint holes through which the mantid nymphs had escaped from their hatching cells. 

“Huh,” my dad said. “It’s not locked.” Sure enough, the chain that held the gate was easily unlatched. More discoveries waited within. 

Photo by Parker Grice

Blue Butterfly

Eastern tailed-blue, photographed by Dee Puett. (When it comes to butterflies, blue is a noun.)

Cougar Mauls Boy in British Columbia

A seven-year-old on a camping trip has been badly hurt by a cougar. 

Alberni Valley News - Cougar shot after mauling Alberni boy

""His father heard him scream and he ran and fought the cat off," Doyle said.

The boy suffered significant injuries to his head and neck and was transported by BC Ambulance to West Coast General Hospital where he remains. According to Vancouver Island Health Authority spokesperson Anya Nimmon the boy is is stable condition. "

More from CBC:

Asian Black Bear Injures Girl

The Asian black bear is generally regarded as more dangerous than its similar-sized North American cousin. Occasionally it attacks people in the wild. This, however, is the familiar story of a zoo visitor with poor judgment. 

Bear Attacks Girl in Private Zoo | Russia | RIA Novosti

"An Asian black bear at a private zoo in Blagoveshchensk attacked the girl when the she tried to give the animal a drink from a bottle.

“The operation, to treat a deep wound in the back of her head, lasted several hours," her doctor said. "The girl is now in the intensive care ward where she is in critical condition.” "

Beaver Battles Boy Scout Leader

Oscar Wilde in a Beaver Coat

Another beaver attack--the second one I've heard about in recent weeks. 

Rabid beaver attacks NY Scout leader swimming in Pa. river; Scouts use rocks to kill animal - The Washington Post

"Fifty-one-year-old Normand Brousseau, of Pine Plains, was swimming in eastern Pennsylvania on Aug. 2 when a beaver swam through his legs and bit him in the chest. The animal then bit him in the leg, buttocks, arm, hand and torso before he managed to grab it and hold its jaw closed.

One Boy Scout pulled Brousseau to shore, where he tossed the beaver away from him. The Scouts then used rocks to kill the animal.

A doctor confirmed the beaver had rabies."

No word on whether the beaver was gay. 

Thanks to Bob Z. for the news tip.

Hand-Wringing from Florida: Record Burmese Python

Eggs removed from a Burmese python at autopsy

A big snake with lots of eggs.

Holy Herpetology! Burmese Python Found With Record 87 Eggs - Yahoo! News

"At 17 feet, 7 inches (5.3 meters) in length, it is the largest snake of its kind found in the state and it was carrying a record 87 eggs. Scientists say the finding highlights how dangerously comfortable the invasive species has become in its new home.

"This thing is monstrous, it's about a foot wide," said Kenneth Krysko, of the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. "It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild."

Related Post: Python Eats Alligator. . . And Other Possibilities

White-Tailed Deer Attacks Farmer

Photo by Dee Puett

Several hostile encounters in the yard, then finally outright violence. The man says the buck sounded unhealthy. 

Deer attacks farmer, who shoots it after tussle | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

"“I was going out to finish spraying the soybeans,” he said. “I stepped out a side door, and we saw each other, and he started coming closer.

“He was pummeling me, standing on his hind legs and hitting me with the front ones. He hammered me good, rapid fire, and I thought, ‘Well, this isn’t good.’"

Alligator Bites Trainer at County Fair

At a county fair in Ohio, a man successfully placed his hand in an alligator's mouth. . . once. 

A Young Heron

Photography by Dee Puett

The Spider Wars

Funny photo essay about sleeping with brown recluse spiders, featuring our old friend the harvestman in a guest-starring role. Thanks to Dan for the tip. 

The Spider Wars - Imgur

"I awaken to several of these fellows crawling across my blanket throughout the night. The house is in the heart of brown recluse country, and most bites occur from encounters in bed; I become worried. A closer examination reveals the telltale eye structure and color pattern that confirm my fears. This place crawls, I think as panic grips me."

Animal Attack Movies: Them!

Them! (Gordon Douglas, 1954)

We watch through binoculars as a giant ant drops a human rib cage. It tumbles down the anthill. For me, the horror of this moment is exceeded only by the joy of recognition, for I’ve spent many a slow morning squatting near the dens of harvester ants and watching them clear out their own dead. Giant bug movies proliferated like cockroaches in the 1950s. It’s a famously cheesy genre, but it did produce some gems, like Jack Arnold’s beautifully photographed Tarantula. Them! is the best of the buggy bunch.

No one who has ever studied ants has failed to imagine the premise of this movie—the sizes of our two social species somehow evened. We humans would win if we were allowed high-tech weapons—the people in the movie use flamethrowers. But the harvester ant has a mighty sting, among the most painful in North America—as I can personally attest. In a fair fight, we’d have no chance. Of course, harvester ants probably wouldn’t be interested in hurting us without provocation. They prefer seeds to meat. 

Tarzan vs. the Hyaenadons

A couple of scans from the Tarzan comic book I mentioned last week. Borrowing an idea from Arthur Conan Doyle, creator Russ Manning has his protagonists on a plateau that time forgot, populated by prehistoric mammals: giant warthogs, a saber-toothed cat, a megatherium. The hyaenadons, as conceived by Manning, look and behave a lot like modern spotted hyenas. Hyaenodons were real, though they are now classed as creodonts, primitive carnivores not closely related to hyenas.

Related Posts:

Two Kinds of Oven-Bird

Red Ovenbird
(Furnarius rufus)

William Henry Hudson

At frequent intervals during the day the male and female meet and express their joy in clear, resonant notes sung in concert—a habit common to species which pair for life. In a majority of species this vocal performance merely consists of a succession of confused notes or cries, uttered with great spirit and emphasis; in the Oven-bird it has developed into a kind of harmonious singing. Thus, the first bird, on the appearance of its mate flying to the place of meeting, emits loud, measured notes, sometimes a continuous trilling note with a somewhat hollow, metallic sound; but immediately on the other bird joining, this introductory passage is changed to rapid triplets, strongly accented on the first and last notes, while the second bird utters a series of loud measured notes perfectly according with the triplets of the first. While thus singing they stand facing each other, their necks outstretched, wings hanging, and tails spread, the first bird trembling with its rapid utterances, the second beating on the branch with its wings. The finale consists of three or four notes uttered by the second bird alone, and becoming successively louder and more piercing until the end. There is an infinite variety in the tone in which different couples sing, also in the order in which the different notes are uttered, and even the same couple do not repeat their duet in precisely the same way; but it is always a rhythmical and, to some extent, an harmonious performance, and as the voices have a ringing, joyous character, it produces a pleasing effect on the mind.

In favourable seasons the Oven-birds begin building in the autumn, and the work is resumed during the winter whenever there is a spell of mild, wet weather. Some of their structures are finished early in winter, others not until spring, everything depending on the weather and the condition of the birds. In cold, dry weather, and when food is scarce, they do not work at all. The site chosen is a stout horizontal branch, or the top of a post, and they also frequently build on the roof of a house ; and sometimes, but rarely, on the ground. The material used is mud, with the addition of horsehair or slender fibrous rootlets, which make the structure harder and prevent it from cracking. I have frequently seen a bird, engaged in building, first pick up a thread or hair, then repair to a puddle, where it was worked into a pellet of mud about the size of a filbert, then carried to the nest. When finished the structure is shaped outwardly like a baker's oven, only with a deeper and narrower entrance.

It is always placed very conspicuously, and with the entrance facing a building, if one be near, or if at a roadside it looks toward the road; the reason for this being, no doubt, that the bird keeps a cautious eye on the movements of people near it while building, and so leaves the nest opened and unfinished on that side until the last, and there the entrance is necessarily formed. When the structure has assumed the globular form with only a narrow opening, the wall on one side is curved inwards, reaching from the floor to the dome, and at the inner extremity an aperture is left to admit the bird to the interior or second chamber, in which the eggs are laid. A man's hand fits easily into the first or entrance chamber, but cannot be twisted about so as to reach the eggs in the interior cavity, the entrance being so small and high up. The interior is lined with dry, soft grass, and five white pear-shaped eggs are laid. The oven is a foot or more in diameter, and is sometimes very massive, weighing eight or nine pounds, and so strong that, unless loosened by the swaying of the branch, it often remains unharmed for two or three years. The birds incubate by turns, and when one returns from the feeding-ground it sings its loud notes, on which the sitting bird rushes forth to join in the joyous chorus, and then flies away, the other taking its place on the eggs. The young are exceedingly garrulous, and when only half-fledged may be heard practising trills and duets in their secure oven, in shrill tremulous voices, which change to the usual hunger-cry of young birds when the parent enters with food. After leaving the nest, the old and young birds live for two or three months together, only one brood being raised in each year. A new oven is built every year, and I have more than once seen a second oven built on the top of the first, when this has been placed very advantageously, as on a projection and against a wall.

A very curious thing occurred at the estancia house of a neighbour of mine in Buenos Ayres one spring. A pair of Oven-birds built their oven on a beam-end projecting from the wall of a rancho. One morning one of the birds was found caught in a steel trap placed the evening before for rats, and both of its legs were crushed above the knee. On being liberated it flew up to and entered the oven, where it bled to death, no doubt, for it did not come out again. Its mate remained two days, calling incessantly, but there were no other birds of its kind in the place, and it eventually disappeared. Three days later it returned with a new mate, and immediately the two birds began carrying pellets of mud to the oven, with which they plastered up the entrance. Afterwards they built a second oven, using the sepulchre of the dead bird for its foundation, and here they reared their young.

The Oven Bird
(Seiurus aurocapillus)

Robert Frost

There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says the highway dust is over all.
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.

Rat Snake on Tree Trunk

"The Rat Snake was a beauty, at least 6 feet (probably more along the lines of 7 or so if she had not been clinging to that tree for dear life) and freshly shed and so shiny I wanted to touch her. She was very observant of me, but she did not show any defensive posturing and I was able to get within 4 foot or so of her. As soon as I walked away, she turned and made her way back up to the top of the tree."
--Dee Puett, Photographer

Hand-Wringing from Utah: Rattlesnake Invasion

A story of a kid who got bitten by a snake and suffered mild symptoms:

After suffering attack, young boy's family warns of rattlesnake dangers |

"9-year-old Tyler Perry was looking on July 13 for a pheasant that had escaped its pen in his family's back yard in Grantsville, and he found a hole — the opening of an old irrigation pipe just beyond a fence.

"I bent down to look for the pheasant in the hole and I got bit by a rattlesnake," Perry told KSL."

All this talk of snakes invading "neighborhoods" strikes me as bizarre. In the video report, I'm seeing hills, brush country, horses in a corral. If your "neighborhood" is the country, can you really be surprised about finding wildlife in it? 

In another report, the same station mentions that rattlesnake sightings have been unusually frequent this year:

Rattlesnake sightings abound in Layton foothills |

"Animal Control officers say the number of complaints for the dangerous reptiles is way up this year. According to experts, a number of factors could be the cause, including the heat, wildfires, and even a very wet spring last year. Either way, 2012 is shaping up to be the biggest year for snake activity in northern Utah in a long time."

I really doubt these "reporters" have the records to prove that last claim. However, as mentioned in The Red Hourglass, animal populations do run in cycles influenced by the weather. 

A Bounty on Bull Sharks

Demonstrating a poor grasp of statistics, the French government has put a bounty on bull sharks. This follows the death last week of a surfer. The shark bit the surfer's leg off. I see news articles every year claiming shark attacks are on the rise, all false. "Three fatalities in two years" is hardly a trend. 

Deaths spur French gov't to pay for shark hunt - CBS News

"From 2000 to 2010, there were no shark attacks off Reunion and no calls for culling, but the last two years have seen several deadly attacks, the most recent coming last week when a 22-year-old surfer died after a shark bit off his leg. It was the seventh attack — and the third fatality — since the start of last year."

Hand-Wringing from Pennsylvania: Black Widow Invasion

abc27 WHTM

This clip shows why nobody respects TV news. As reader Steve V. pointed out in an email, this would hardly be considered an "infestation" elsewhere. I love how the news anchors say spiders are creepy, as if that were a newsworthy fact. 

Black widow spider populations come and go, so this is hardly an epic event. The important idea buried in all this, however, is that it's not as cold as it used to be. People will be seeing animals they aren't used to as the globe warms up. 

A more sensible reaction to seeing a black widow is, of course, to photograph it and send the images to some humble blogger who will appreciate them. That's the course of action recently chosen by Hodari Nundu: 

Photography by Hodari Nundu
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