At Latitude News, we’re constantly trolling the Internet in search of international stories with an American angle. In our hunts, we find oddball stories that don’t necessarily fit easily into our regular fare. Here, we share those stories.
Today, for no good reason, we’re focusing on animals. Perhaps it’s the advent of summer in the northern hemisphere that’s bringing out hungry vultures, errant dogs and messy moose. Perhaps it’s just coincidence. Either way, here are three tales of human and nature.
Pit stops for vultures
Vultures circling overhead in the middle of the wilderness usually constitutes a bad sign. They’re either eyeing you for dinner or eyeing the carcass of some other hapless animal that a big predator recently ate for dinner, meaning the big predator is probably nearby.
In Gadchiroli in central India, they want more vultures. The ugly birds are now endangered in South Asia because they eat the flesh of livestock dosed with a drug that’s toxic to the birds. Without the vultures, the wilds essentially lose their garbage men, giving rats and other pests far more food.
Writing in India’s The Hindu, forester G. Mallikarjuna explains the problem:
These birds play an important ecological role through the rapid consumption of animal carcasses. The loss of a major scavenger from the ecosystem has already started affecting the balance between populations of other scavenging species and/or result in increase in putrefying carcasses. This has resulted in associated disease risks for wildlife, livestock and humans.
So how do the Indian forest rangers intend to increase the vulture population? Vulture restaurants. And what’s on the menu? Roadkill.
Under the vulture restaurant program, which is also practiced in Nepal, locals are encouraged to notify officials of dead animals in their communities. The rangers scoop up the carcasses, test them to make sure they aren’t diseased and pay whoever tipped them off. Then they put the dead animal on machans — raised platforms originally used for hunting tigers that keep dogs and other beasts from eating the vultures’ meal.
The restaurants are working, Mallikarjuna writes. A new band of nesting vultures has been found in Gadchiroli.
Next thing you know, the birds will expect a movie theater.
Going to the dogs
If dogs could file civil rights lawsuits, the pooches of Ireland would be considering one.
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association has called on Dublin to enact a new law requiring that all dogs in the country have a microchip implanted on their bodies, reports Ireland’s RTE News:
The chairman of the ICSA sheep committee, Paul Brady, said the threat from dogs is deeper than just sheep worrying.
He said microchipping helps local councils and wardens to deal with dangerous, out of control and possibly diseased dogs which pose a danger to everyone.
It might sound out of line to Americans, though what American community doesn’t have leash laws these days? More than half of U.S. states have some sort of leash law. Some are calling for widespread chipping of dogs here. Chips are already required in Northern Ireland, where vets implant a microchip between the shoulder blades of every canine. The BBC reports that Northern Ireland has the highest rate of stray dogs in the United Kingdom, and the microchips have helped identify the owners of dogs stuck in costly pounds.
In the RTE piece, Brady said dogs have bitten kids recently in Limerick, Clare and Donegal. He thinks microchips might have deterred those attacks by promoting more responsible dog ownership. The question is, would the same owners who let their dogs run around without a leash also go through the trouble of getting their dogs chipped?
Tastes absolutely nothing like chicken
When I was a child, my father often told me of the dangers of hitting a moose on the highway. He’d explain how the moose, upon collision, would roll over the hood of the car, crushing the driver. Often, he said, when the crash was over, the moose was in better shape than the vehicle.
But Dad never warned me about moose poop.
He probably didn’t know it could be an issue for a kid. But in an event that has to ran high in the annals of hazing, a parent chaperone and even school staff in Manitoba thought it would be a good idea to tell kids that some moose pellets were in fact chocolate-covered almonds, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports.
Two of the kids fell for it and popped the pellets in their mouths. Eeww!
The you-know-what hit the fan when the parents found out what happened. Karen Eyolfson has even taken her 13-year-old son out of the school because, the CBC writes, “the trust between staff and students has been broken.”
“He dug into a bag and popped one in his mouth. As soon as it hit his mouth somebody tells him, ‘You just ate moose shit’ and the whole group of people started laughing at him,” said Eyolfson.
You know what would really be funny? Making those bullying parents and staff eat moose shit. On a machan.