Quick Takes: Otter outlaw | WORLD
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Quick Takes: Otter outlaw

California otter eludes capture while harassing surfers and building a fan club

Illustration by Shaw Nielsen

Quick Takes: Otter outlaw
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A sea otter on the lam continued to evade state authorities last month after being deemed a risk to public safety for exhibiting aggressive behavior. Otter 841, a wily 5-year-old female, drew attention from authorities near Santa Cruz, Calif., in June after she reportedly bluffed surfers into surrendering their surfboards. By July, California Department of Fish and Wildlife dispatched a team to corral the surly marine mammal and move her out of the wild after she hijacked multiple surfboards and took joyrides on them. But after watching state officials fail to capture the otter, some beach regulars are now petitioning the state to end its pursuit: One surfer dressed up in an otter costume before hitting the beaches at Santa Cruz with “Keep 841 Free” written on his board.

The poo police

One of France’s oldest towns wants to fight a modern, high-tech battle against dog droppings. Officials in Beziers want all dog owners to submit DNA samples of their dogs to allow genetic testing of dog feces left on city streets. Under the two-year trial, dog owners would face a fine of up to about $135 if police can prove an owner didn’t pick up after a dog. The scheme will require authorities to scoop abandoned poo for testing in a lab. Earlier this year, Beziers’ mayor told local media the program is necessary because city workers must clean up more than 1,000 incidents each month.

Seeing doubles

On July 22, 68-year-old Gerrit Marshall finally achieved his longtime goal: being declared the person who most resembles Ernest Hemingway at the annual Key West, Fla., festival dedicated to the American writer. Marshall, a retired television broadcast engineer from Wisconsin, failed in 10 previous attempts at the Hemingway Days look-alike contest, held at the author’s favorite Sloppy Joe’s Bar. But this time, Marshall’s rugged attire and manicured white beard put him over the top. He bested a field of nearly 140.

Feed your local burglar

Marjorie Perkins made life miserable—then pleasant—for an intruder on July 26. The spunky 87-year-old told The Times Record a teen broke into her home in Brunswick, Maine, after midnight and threatened her with a knife: “I thought ... ‘If he’s going to cut, I’m going to kick.’” The pair tussled until the youth fled to the kitchen. There, Perkins offered him crackers, tangerines, and bottles of Ensure. While he ate, Perkins dialed police, who later arrested the suspect.

Robber on repeat

Police in Lakewood, N.J., say Ivan Sevastianow was determined to rob a bank June 30. The 67-year-old reportedly entered a Wells Fargo branch and handed the teller a note demanding cash. The miffed teller refused the robber’s request, leading him to walk out empty-handed. Police said Sevastianow immediately proceeded across the street to a TD Bank and tried the same trick. This time, police said, the teller complied and Sevastianow walked away with $1,500. Authorities caught up with him in early July after they said he pulled the same scheme at a bank in Old Bridge, N.J. He now faces multiple counts of robbery.

Amphibian invasion

While driving home on July 19, Utah resident Mary Hulet said she thought she saw the surface of the road...well, moving. “At first I thought, ‘I’m just tired, ...there’s no way,’” Hulet told KSL-TV. Then she realized she’d driven right up to what seemed to be a mini-plague. “As I looked and I kind of focused on it, I realized these were frogs or toads that were crossing the road.” A local wildlife expert said Hulet had likely witnessed a mass migration of juvenile Great Basin spadefoot toads. Unfortunately for the toads, most motorists weren’t as captivated as Hulet and drove through the migrating amphibians, leaving a mile-long swath of carnage.

Evading eviction

Government officials in Israel told Nissim Kahlon it’s time to find new digs. The 77-year-old began carving his home into a beachside sandstone cliff in 1973, but officials say he must move because the structure has become dangerous. Kahlon, who began carving the cave dwelling while living in a tent on a public beach, said he ignored a 1974 demolition order, and the government apparently forgot the matter. Since then, he’s created a multi-room dwelling using beach detritus and materials found in Tel Aviv dumpsters. Kahlon said local authorities even connected his home to the electric grid decades ago. He also says he isn’t going anywhere.


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