Monday, September 19, 2011

Just the Facts? Giant House-Eating Snails, Rabid Halloween Bat and Cattle Mutilations

Southwest Miami invaded by giant house-eating snails

In southwest Miami, a small subdivision is being called "ground zero" of an invasion by a destructive, non-native species.

"It's us against the snails," Richard Gaskalla, head of plant industry for Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.

That's the Giant African Land Snail, to be precise. They can grow to be 10 inches long. They leave a slimy trail of excrement wherever they go. They harbor the microscopic rat-lung worm, which can transmit meningitis to humans. And they will literally eat your house.

"They'll attach to the side of the house and eat the stucco off the side of the house," Gaskalla says. The snails are also attracted to garbage and pet food that's been left out.

Giant African Land Snails are restricted in the US. Gaskalla says people often smuggle them into the country in their pockets, because they make popular novelty pets.

"Back in 1965 we had an introduction that was traced back to an elementary-aged child that had put two of them in his pocket in Hawaii and brought them back to Miami," Gaskalla says. "Seventeen-thousand snails, a million dollars, and ten years, we eradicated them."

A more recent introduction several years ago was traced to small religious sects in Miami, where the snails are believed to harbor healing properties.

"A young woman had come in with some stomach ailments, and her mother said she had been fed the juices of a live snail as a healing rite," Gaskalla says.

"That's not in my medicine chest," he adds.

Authorities are asking residents not to handle the creatures. Anyone who finds a suspicious snail is advised to call the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services help line at 888-397-1517. Workers or volunteers will ID and collect the snails before taking them to be killed in a freezer.

"That's sort of a kinder, gentler way to get rid of them," Gaskalla explains. - npr


Argentina: Cattle Mutilation in Misiones
By Andrea & Silvia Pérez Simondini

Scott Corrales of Inexplicata reports:

Cattle Mutilation: New mutilation event, this time in Misiones
Submitted by A. Simondini on 9/15/2011
Dr. Julio Frette, Vision Ovni’s consulting veterinarian, is currently researching this case.

Technical Information
Place: Paraje Solitario, Apóstoles, Misiones Province
Date of Discovery: N.A.
Number of Animals: N.A.
Missing Organs: Missing eye organ, incisions to the jaw, tongue completely excised, even hyoid bones, partial genital excision.

Apóstoles: The owner of a chacra (small farm) in Paraje Solitario, exactly on the border with the province of Corrientes, reported new attacks by “a large creature” of unknown origin which locals are already dubbing “The Chupacabras”, but which has been described in other accounts as “a large dog.”

The complainant, who lives on Lot 348, went out to do his farm chores and inspect the animals, as was his custom, as he owns livestock, and was faced with a terrifying tableau: several animals were dead, relieved of their eyes and tongues, and with their jaws and genitalia torn off, according to police sources.

The rise of the full moon, from Monday to Tuesday the 13th, added macabre and mystical overtones to the situation, when added to the discovery of the dead animals. Stories immediately circulated about what is taking place at Paraje Solitario. As local residents remarked to the authorities, events such as this had occurred before in adjacent farms, and even in the one at which the alleged “beast” caught its prey.

¿Legend or Reality?

First to emerge were remarks from those who in any way or at any time had a “sighting” of what they term “Chupacabras” or the “lobizón”. Either of the two possibilities fills local residents with fear. “One of the farmers claims seeing a dog – not a common breed, but a very large one – in the area where other animal slayings had occurred years ago,” an anonymous source related to Primera Edición (newspaper).

The manner in which these bovines were slain is incomprehensible to farmers. For that reason alone, they tremble when thinking back on the legends told to them by their forebears, in which a man, cursed by being the seventh son of a seventh son, changes shape from human to wolf along with his dietary habits, as he hunts animals for their meat. Doubts also arise about that part of the story, as the only thing missing in these animals is the interior of their jaws, their eyes and tongue, and genitalia. This leads them to suspect “a larger dog than usual” while not dismissing the possibility of the “Chupacabras”, as one of the latter’s traits is to extract all of an animal’s blood through a puncture, without destroying their flesh or leaving traces.

Residents are now on the lookout, as the material losses from their animals’ deaths, and the uncertain nature of the assailant, is keeping them on tenterhooks.

Police Report

As evidenced in the police reports, experts from the Criminalistics and Bromatology Services department of the municipality reached the site and noticed that the bovine was missing part of its jaw, its eyes and tongue. Experts were also astonished to find that the anus and vagina had also been removed, and by the fact that not the least trace of blood was evident after such a task.

The police report reads verbatim: “Yesterday morning (last Monday) a citizen living near Paraje “El Solitario” requested the presence of police after having found one of his animals lifeless and missing parts of its body. Immediately, personnel from Sectional 2 police station in the Lomas del Mirador district headed to the scene of the events. Upon arriving and interviewing the aggrieved party, citizen Bilinski told police that days ago he had already found another animal slain with similar characteristics to the one he had found on the date in question...”

From what farmer Bilinski told police, this isn’t the first time that his cows have been mutilated, with no trace whatsoever of the deed to be found.

“...upon observing the bovine, it is evident that the underside of its jaw is missing along with its eyes and tongue, along with the secretary organs (anus and vagina), with no traces of blood found on the soil,” explained the official document issued by the Apóstoles police station.

It was on account of this that the police decided to call in members of the Office of Bromatology of the Municipality of Apóstoles, who after examining the animal were unable to determine the cause of death, classifying it as “strange.”

According to citizen Bilinski, “such episodes with bovines took place approximately two years ago...”

The earliest stories collected in the area speak of the return of the “Chupacabras”, the cryptid name for an animal that eludes the scientific scrutiny) and the contemporary legend that describes “beings” that attack animals of various species in livestock farming or rural areas. With regard to the “Chupacabras”, according to the popular descriptions, it is said to be a small creature (1 meter tall or less) with greenish or scaly skin, large bulging eyes and an oval head. This vague description matches that of another being of contemporary mythology: the small alien creatures known as “Greys”.

It is also ascribed a canine face with large eyes and fangs, long ankles like those of a kangaroo and is believed to be pose a danger to the human race. Initial sighting reports emerged from the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, matching the initial descriptions (a biped resembling the “Greys”) It was subsequently seen in such places as Chile, Mexico and Texas, a state where it was described with the second description offered (a canid).

The slain animals, allegedly victims of Chupacabras attacks, had no blood in their bodies and a single puncture wound, unlike other predators, which largely shred the carcass.

Animals do not show any sign of alarm and offer no resistance; owners customarily report no strange noises, and not even guard dogs are heard to bark. What is more: during subsequent observations, dogs react very strangely after the event, and display acute fear in some cases. The absence of prints from the attacking animal is often mentioned, or when present, tend to be few. They resemble those of a large canid, some displaying an extension shaped like a talon.

Source: Misiones Cuatro. Com and Daniel Orloff


Rabid bat found in store's Halloween section

A dead bat found inside a store on Olympia’s west side has tested positive for rabies, according to the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services department.

According to a news release:

Two customers found the bat Sept. 9 in the Halloween section of the Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Store. The health department was notified Monday and sent the bat to the Washington State Public Health Laboratories for testing. Wednesday, the lab notified Public Health and Social Services that the bat had rabies.

The pair who found the bat received rabies vaccinations as a precaution.

County health officials are asking the store’s customers to call if they may have touched the bat at the store between Sept. 2 and Sept. 9. The health department can be reached at 360-867-2500 and will answer calls until 9 p.m. today and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

“People who walked, shopped, or worked at Jo-Ann’s are not at risk unless they came in contact with the bat,” Dr. Diana Yu, Thurston County Health Officer, said in the news release.

A dozen to as many as 23 bats a year test positive for rabies statewide, said Tim Church, communications director for the state Department of Health. In 2010, out of 200 bats tested, 14 were positive, he said. Nine have tested positive this year, Church said.

“This is the time of year we get a lot of bats,” he said.

If a person has been exposed to a rabid bat, he or she receives five injections in the arm over a two-week period to boost the immune system and vaccinate against rabies, Church said.

Rabies is spread through an infected animal’s saliva. Rabies can be transmitted if an infected animal bites someone, or if the animal’s saliva comes in contact with a person’s eyes, nose, mouth or open wound. People who see a bat, dead or alive, are advised not to touch it. - theolympian


Robbers say they encountered lion during heist in Philadelphia suburban house

A pair of lesbian lovers have admitted to burglarizing 29 homes but passed up one house where they encountered a lion, police said.

Harley Rose Gifford and Britney Singleton, both 19 and from the 7100 block of Marshall Road, in Upper Darby have been arrested, according to police who expect to charge them with the crimes when their initial investigation is completed.

They are currently being held on unrelated charges, according to court documents.

Police were continuing to check the home that reportedly held the lion.

"If we find a lion it will be a bigger story than this," said Michael J. Chitwood, superintendent of police.

The majority of thefts happened during daylight hours. The pair entered the homes through unlocked first floor windows. After they looted the houses, they either walked or took public transportation home, said Chitwood.

All of the homes were ransacked. In one burglary the pair left with a 55-inch flat screen television and lugged it back to their apartment.

Chitwood dubbed them the "Thelma and Louise bandits" and said they were lovers.

"They just enjoyed stealing," said Chitwood. "They used people's homes as their own private shopping center."

The burglaries occurred in the Cardington, Stonehurst and Bywood sections of the township and Lansdowne Borough. A burglary also occurred in Prospect Park Borough.

The women allegedly stole iPods, jewelry, toys, electronics, sneakers, makeup, purses, toiletries, household items, and about $23,000 in cash - not including Euros, Pesos, Lire and other foreign currency.

Police also recovered a hookah pipe and marijuana but, do not expect the original owners to claim those items. - philly


More human magnets in the Balkens

Two small boys from a central Serbian town are able to attract metal objects, acting much like human magnets, according to their mother. It's a claim that is raising doubts among some experts.

Sanja Petrovic, the mother of 4-year-old David, said it first came to her attention "about a month ago."

"I asked him to fetch me a spoon so I cold feed his little brother, and he yelled back: 'Mom, it sticks!'" Petrovic recalled. "I found him with several spoons and forks hanging from his body."

Terrified, the 26-year-old woman — who lives in the town of Gornji Milanovac — phoned her sister, who discovered that her son, Luka, 6, has the same attraction. "Other kids in the family can't do this, just the two of them," Petrovic said.

The phenomenon is rare and so far medically unexplained. Several similar cases, however, have recently been reported in the media in Serbia, and also in Croatia and Bosnia.

"As far as I know, there is no medical or scientific explanation," radiologist Mihajlo Dodic, who runs a practice in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, said.

Other experts questioned whether the boys actually have any special abilities.

"I doubt very much that someone is magnetic," said Patrick Regan, a physics professor at the University of Surrey in Britain. "Humans are made of the wrong material to be magnetic. Humans are mostly water and water does not have any magnetic properties."

"It would be pretty unsafe to have metal objects sticking to you against the force of gravity," he added. "You couldn't switch something like that off — unless it's fake."

Luka's father, Slavisa Lukic, said doctors have examined the boys, and announced them to be perfectly healthy, adding that they should be monitored as they grow up. "Nobody can tell us why this is happening," he said.

David's mother said her son loses his magnetic powers when he is asleep, but regains them when he wakes up and starts moving.

When he plays with his friends "anything will stick to him," she said. Afterward, he will feel a little chilly and tired, she said.

Both David and Luka are happy to put on a show for visitors. On cue, the boys proudly smile and raise their hands in the air to show that cutlery and plates stick to their bodies without assistance.

The rest of the family also seem to have grown accustomed to the peculiarity and the attention.

"It was in shock at first, but now we just try to keep the knives away from them," Petrovic says.


A pumpkin in a pear tree....

An Iowa couple have discovered an eerie presence in their pear tree, just in time for the approaching Halloween season.

Des Moines television station KCCI reports that Phil and JaNelle Lovely recently discovered a pumpkin that appears to be growing in the tree at their Greenfield home, 50 miles southwest of Des Moines.

They say they have no idea how the pumpkin ended up in their tree, but it appears to be the work of Mother Nature. A nearby garden vine climbed the tree, giving the now-green pumpkin the appearance of having sprouted from one the tree's branches.

JaNelle Lovely says people have been stopping by to see the suspended pumpkin since it was discovered on Labor Day. She's hoping it remains in the tree until it turns orange.