The Odd Side – November 15, 2016

Aussie Police Search Yields a Baby Koala

SYDNEY (AP) – Australian police have made an unusual find while searching the bag of a woman who was being arrested: a baby koala.

Police in Brisbane said that when they asked the 50-year-old woman if she had anything to declare Sunday night, she handed over a zipped canvas bag that she said contained a baby koala.

The woman, who was arrested on “outstanding matters,” said she found the male koala on Saturday night and had been caring for it since.

The woman was taken to a police station, while the koala — believed to be about 6 months old — was taken to a wildlife hospital in good health, though slightly dehydrated.

The baby koala weighs about 3 pounds and has been named Alfred.

“He’s been on fluids but is doing well and will shortly be going out to a carer,” RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said.

All in the Family? 13 Grizzly Bears Gather in Foothills

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) – Maybe it was a grizzly bear family reunion.

Montana wildlife officials spotted 13 grizzly bears together on a private ranch in the foothills of the Rocky Mountain Front southwest of Dupuyer.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks grizzly bear management specialist Mike Madel tells the Great Falls Tribune that it seemed like a gathering of females and young who were related or familiar with each other.

Madel was tracking radio-collared grizzly bears along the front during the third week of October when he spotted and photographed the group.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services grizzly bear biologist Wayne Kasworm says he’s never seen that many bears in one location in Montana. He echoed Madel’s theory that the bears could have some relationship, possibly mothers and daughters and even grandmothers.

There was no indication that any food in the area had drawn the crowd as the bears prepare to hibernate.

Switzerland Tells Slightly Tipsy Volunteer Firefighters: Cheers!

(Reuters) – Switzerland is easing an alcohol ban for volunteer firefighters and other emergency workers using heavy vehicles, saying it had led to staffing shortages when crises demanded quick action, especially in smaller towns lacking professional personnel.

Starting on Jan. 1, slightly tipsy volunteer firefighters and off-duty members of so-called professional “blue light” organizations responding to urgent situations will be no longer face punishment — provided their blood-alcohol level does not exceed 0.50 percent, the limit governing other drivers.

“This change is necessary as rescue and disaster relief organizations today are increasingly dependent on people who are not on duty or on call,” the Swiss Federal Roads Office said in a statement on Wednesday. “The government is addressing the need for the best-possible recruitment of personnel in the event they are needed for unexpected rescue operations.”

The current ban on alcohol caps volunteer emergency service workers’ blood-alcohol level at 0.10 percent.

Peter Wullschleger, a Zurich emergency services commander, said the drinking ban remains in force for all firefighters who are on duty or on call and can reckon with being dispatched to an emergency.

Easing the restriction for those who are not is primarily aimed at small communities with no professional firefighters that must rely on volunteers to be ready at a moment’s notice.

“With the ban, theoretically it would have been impossible for somebody enjoying even a nice glass of red wine … to fulfill their duty in the event of an emergency,” Wullschleger said.

The announcement represents the latest Swiss tinkering with laws on alcohol and occupational safety.