The Odd Side – May 23, 2017

New Zealand’s Ambitious Plan To Save Birds: Kill Every Rat

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – New Zealand has set itself an ambitious environmental goal: to rid the entire nation of every last rat, opossum and stoat.

The idea is to give a second chance to the distinctive birds that once ruled this South Pacific nation until rats stowed away on ships and made their way to this island. Settlers introduced opossums for the fur trade and weasel-like stoats to control rabbits. The pests destroyed forest habitats and feasted on the birds and their eggs. More than 40 species of birds died out and many others remain threatened, including the iconic kiwi.

Momentum for the project began growing five years ago when the nation’s leading scientist, Sir Paul Callaghan, delivered an impassioned speech. What makes New Zealand unique, he asked? Its birds.

The number of pests in New Zealand is many times larger than the human population of nearly 5 million. So far, the government has committed only a few tens of millions of dollars toward the project, which is estimated to cost billions.

Talking Turkey: N.C. Firefighters Rescue Baby Birds From Drain

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – For once, there’s a turkey giving thanks.

WLOS in Asheville reports the Asheville Fire Department was called after some people walking a dog noticed a frantic hen turkey. An investigation found eight baby turkeys, or poults, stuck in a storm drain and calling for their mama.

As they attempted their rescue Tuesday, firefighters discovered the storm drain cover was welded in place. They had to call for backup to get equipment to cut the cover off. Once firefighters got into the drain, they found the poults in the middle of the pipe that runs under a road.

The firefighters rounded up the babies and reunited them with their mother.

‘Costume Jewelry’ Really Worth Hundreds of Thousands

LONDON (AP) – Some people have all the luck.

Consider the person who dropped about 10 pounds (about $15) around 30 years ago on what was thought to be a piece of costume jewelry — it turned out to be a 26.27 carat white diamond.

The gem bought at a flea market is expected to fetch about 350,000 pounds ($454,000) when it is auctioned by Sotheby’s next month.

The buyer had no idea of the ring’s value because 19th-century diamonds were not cut to show off their brilliance and clarity.

The auction house’s jewelry department chief, Jessica Wyndham, said Monday the owner wore it on a daily basis, unaware that it was a real diamond.

Irish Beach Reappears 33 Years After Vanishing into Atlantic

Ireland (Reuters) – A beach that was swept away more than 30 years ago from a remote island off the west coast of Ireland has reappeared after thousands of tons of sand were deposited on top of the rocky coastline.

The 300-meter beach near the tiny village of Dooagh on Achill Island vanished in 1984 when storms stripped it of its sand, leaving nothing more than a series of rock pools.

But after high spring tides last month, locals found that the Atlantic Ocean had returned the sand.

“It’s enormously significant,” Sean Molloy of Achill’s tourism office told the Irish Times newspaper, recalling how the popular beach once sustained four hotels and a number of guesthouses on the west coast of the island of 2,600 people.

“Achill already has five blue-flag beaches, so we are hoping that in time it will be awarded a sixth.”

The island, the largest off the coast of Ireland, forms part of the Wild Atlantic Way, a tourist trail stretching from the south of the country to the north-west that has benefited from a tourist boom in the European Union’s fastest-growing economy.