The Odd Truth, Oct. 17, 2002

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The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by'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.

Thousands Of Tadpoles Invade Animal Control

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. — Life imitated art when thousands of young amphibians invaded an animal control agency near where the horror movie "Frogs" was filmed 30 years ago.

Tiny frogs, some still with tadpole tails attached, swarmed over the parking lot Tuesday at the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society here, about 30 miles west of the film location.

PAWS Animal control Officer Andrea Warren said there were so many it was impossible to avoid driving over them.

Another animal control officer, David Aumick, diligently followed the creatures, coaxing one at a time into a dustpan and then nudging it into a basin already filled with hundreds of its cousins.

"I just don't want them to get hit," Aumick said, ignoring teasing from co-workers.

In the film, a mansion is swarmed by frogs seeking revenge on a crotchety millionaire who has poisoned any creature that dared invade his estate.

The frogs kept PAWS employees jumping as they hopped in from an adjacent wetland. "You watch the grass, it's moving," said PAWS executive director Dee Thompson, who said she noticed many hiding under her car.

"I'm not going to be able to leave," she said. "I couldn't back up. I wouldn't have the heart." (AP)

Budweiser Rescued From Septic Tank

PEARBLOSSOM, Calif. — Some guys would do anything for a Bud.

A 3,000-pound Clydesdale named Budweiser got stuck in an abandoned backyard septic tank Tuesday after a plywood covering and a layer of dirt gave way.

It took firefighters and animal control officers more than three hours to hoist the horse out of the muddy hole, unharmed.

During the ordeal, the horse waited calmly with his head and front legs sticking out of the hole, munching on carrots and getting cool sprays from a garden hose. Firefighters stroked his throat.

"He just decided he was going to lay down and sat down on the hole and his back end went in," horse owner Dorothy Velasco said. "He walks around here free, and he naps all the time, but he just decided to sit in the wrong place."

Los Angeles County Building and Safety Department officials were called in to check the septic tank, which officials said should have been slurry-sealed and covered with plywood. (AP)

Umbrella? Gun? What's The Difference?

WATERLOO, Iowa - It's raining trouble for a couple who allegedly tried to stick up a convenience store with an umbrella. Police in Waterloo, Iowa, say Robert and Yvonne Joshua were captured by employees and customers who fought back. Police say the couple wore masks and the man was carrying an umbrella under his coat, like he had a gun. The woman was carrying a box-cutter. They now face first-degree robbery charges. No word, though, if the umbrella was loaded. (AP)

Nevada Mulls Getting Loaded On Pot

LAS VEGAS - Legal pot would give Nevada an economic high, according to advocates of a state ballot initiative. A new study funded by backers of the measure estimates that Nevada could get nearly $29 million a year from pot taxes. Question Nine on the November fifth ballot would allow stores licensed by the state to sell marijuana, which would be taxed like tobacco products. The initiative would also permit adults to have up to three ounces of pot for private use. (AP)

Washington Town Plagued By Bird Droppings

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Rubber snakes, amplified bird distress calls, even a goop called Roost No-More, all failed to shoo a flock of starlings from their nests under a span between Washington and Oregon.

Now workers have brought in artillery — a $300 propane-powered cannon, which makes noise that spooks the birds away from crops and airports.

It seems the bird population is simultaneously rising and dropping — and dropping and dropping and dropping -- leaving not just unwanted adornments on cars but safety and maintenance hassles, says Tom Chambers, who has worked on the Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River for 14 years.

"It's eating at the paint. It covers the bearings, gears and cables," Chambers said. "They tried these wire spikes, but they get filled with so much crap that the birds would just stand on that."

When they rise en masse at dawn to find food, "it's something right out of Alfred Hitchcock — `The Birds,'" Chambers said. "I don't know why they all know how to turn at the same time."

Crews from the Oregon Department of Transportation began noise-impact tests for the cannon Tuesday. So far, so good.

But Terry Messmer, a Utah State University expert on starling control, holds little hope for the cannon, which does not fire projectiles.

"If there is no threat associated with that noise, then it becomes ineffective," Messmer said. "They will be back." (AP)