Odd Side – April 9, 2019

Squirrels Are Damaging Some Maple Syrup Operations

DANVILLE, Vt. (AP) – Maple syrup producers have more than the weather to worry about. Frenetic squirrels are chomping on equipment, crimping the flow of sap at some operations.

Damage from wildlife: deer, bear woodpeckers and squirrels, is not unusual for maple producers, but this year an abundant population of squirrels is disrupting plastic sap tubing and spouts at some sugaring operations in New England.

That means producers must go out into sometimes deep snow to find and replace the damaged lines that transport the sap from the maple trees or other chewed or missing equipment, which producers say can be time-consuming and expensive.

“Occasionally they declare war. And it seems like they have this year,” said Ruth Goodrich of Goodrich’s Maple Farm in Danville, Vermont, the largest maple producing state.

But Lyle Merrifield of Gorham, Maine, said he’s had to fix about 60 spots in his operation damaged by the chomping critters.

The trouble is the squirrels could take one bite of tubing and move another 100 feet (30.5 meters) where they could take another bite, making the damage difficult to find, said Merrifield, who is president of the Maine Maple Producers Association.

A Rare Albino Penguin Makes Its Debut at Zoo in Poland

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – An extremely rare penguin, an albino, has made its debut at Gdansk Zoo in northern Poland.

The albino penguin hatched in mid-December and has been under veterinary care. In the wild, such an unusual-looking penguin would be rejected by other penguins and would have little chance of survival.

But in Gdansk, it has its parents and two other friendly penguins.

The bird’s gender has not yet been determined. It weighs over half a kilogram (1.1 pounds) and stands 28 centimeters (11 inches) tall.

Zoo director Michal Targowski said Friday the albino penguin “would have become the very first to be attacked by predators.”

He said it requires special care, being prone to diseases since it lacks a protective black pigment. He said his team was astonished but are “incredibly happy” to have a baby albino penguin.

Police Arrest 3 Suspected of Crashing 1,800-Can Food Display

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Police have arrested three juveniles suspected of crashing a display of 1,800-food cans collected for an Alaska food bank.

The chest-high structure built by 17 engineering students at Anchorage’s Dimond High School was displayed at the Dimond Center mall.

The display was the only student structure in an annual “Canstructure” competition, which raises food donations for the Food Bank of Alaska. Architecture and engineering firms entered a dozen other entries.

Anchorage police say the suspects slammed their bodies into the display Sunday night and fled.

Two suspects are from Dimond High. The third is a home-school student. Police forwarded vandalism charges on all three to juvenile authorities.

The food was valued at $2,300. Many of the cans were damaged. The food bank is evaluating whether damaged cans can be accepted.