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The Odd Truth, Feb. 25, 2003

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The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by CBSNews.com's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Don't Pooh-Pooh The Potty Art

SANTA FE, N.M. -- Some may pooh-pooh it, and it's art that
may be best appreciated sitting down.

A Santa Fe civic group is sponsoring "The Trail of the Painted
Potties" in an effort to encourage water conservation, raise money
and lift spirits as the city faces another year of drought.

Artists will create their masterpieces from discarded commodes.
The toilets will come from homes and businesses that have been
retrofitted with water-saving low-flow models.

The colored commodes will be judged in a Potty Pageant this
summer. The winning artist will receive a water-conserving washing
machine.

Pro-Bono Beard Growing

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. -- Things are getting a little hairy for some Nebraska officers.
The North Platte police force is sporting facial stubble in a friendly competition to raise money for a "No Limits" youth program. The program uses martial arts to teach at-risk children discipline and life skills.

Any officer taking part in the beard-growing contest donates $5, Police Chief Martin Gutschenritter said. So far, 14 are in.

Police have started an interagency competition and officers will accept competition from anyone who wants to donate to the cause, Capt. Jim Agler said.

Officers have three months to grow the facial hair, with judging to be held in two categories, goatee and full beard.

Professional Pooper Scooper

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Adam Komoroski doesn't mind picking up what dogs leave behind - in fact, he's turned it into a profession. Komoroski recently opened Dirty Deeds Pooper Scooper Service to clean up after canines, for a price.
"I've had some customers, but I haven't been really marketing until this year," he said. "Some people think it's funny or laugh. I like doing it. It doesn't bother me."

Some customers can't pick up pet waste because of a disability or lack of time, he said, and others "just don't want to." He said he picked up information by attending a program held in St. Louis last month by the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists, or aPaws.

Komoroski said the event had time set aside for fun, like the "turd-herding" contest. The fastest to clean up a yard was the winner. Komoroski won his early round, where cut-up potatoes were used, but lost in the finals, where the real thing was the target.

Electronic Moose Tracking

STOCKHOLM -- They won't be ordering out for pizza, but scientists hope to track the eating habits of 25 moose that are being tagged with cell phones.

Seven times a day, the specially built phones will send automatic SMS updates to researchers at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, 34 miles north of the capital, Stockholm.

SMS, or short message service, are quick-text messages sent by wireless phones.

The moose, who live in northern Sweden, will be tagged Monday with the cell phones, each of which contains a built-in global positioning system. Scientists hope to track their movement across the northern part of the country.

Gator In The Back Seat

TAMPA, Fla. -- Leslie Strickland, 49, hit a six-foot alligator with her car Friday night and went back to rescue it Saturday, but wound up spending a night in jail, charged with possession of an alligator, a felony in Florida.

Police also charged her with driving with a suspended license and walking away from the scene of an accident, leaving the injured alligator in the back seat.

"I knew I was in trouble, and I panicked and I left," Strickland said by phone Monday. "I had a felony in the back seat, and I just didn't know what to do."

On Saturday, Strickland said she drove the gator home, wetted it down with hose and then tried unsuccessfully to reach somebody with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

After neighbors told her it was illegal to have the animal, she loaded it in the car again and drove off in search of a pond to release it.

But the alligator started to thrash its tail, she said. Distracted, she veered off the road and hit a mailbox. Witnesses told police she tried to drive off, but her car got stuck in the ditch. So she got out and walked away.

The game commission finally removed the alligator from the car; it died later.