LONDON (AP) — British customs agents made a creepy discovery when an airline passenger was found with 94 kilograms (207 pounds) of caterpillars in his luggage.
The man claimed they were intended as food for personal consumption.
The U.K. Border Force said Friday that inspectors at London’s Gatwick Airport found the dried caterpillars shrink-wrapped in cellophane and packed into hessian bags carried by a passenger travelling from Burkina Faso via Istanbul.
The caterpillars were seized by authorities after the Feb. 23 find because they breached restrictions on importing animal products. The 22-year-old passenger was let off with a warning.
Border Force spokeswoman Ingrid Smith said “the vigilance of our officers has stopped these dried insects from entering the U.K., and possibly posing a risk to our food chain.”
* * *
INDUSTRY, Pa. (AP) — Two western Pennsylvania motorists say the long arm of the law turned out to be the wrong arm of the law.
The motorists tell KDKA they’ve recently received tickets from the Philadelphia Parking Authority, even though neither has ever been to the city.
Ida Weekley, of Industry, called the station after seeing a report about a Munhall woman who also wrongly received a Philadelphia parking ticket.
The tickets were apparently issued mistakenly by someone who got the wrong license plate number off an illegally parked car. When the station called the parking authority, officials there determined that Doreen Simeone of Munhall got a ticket because someone mistook the “X’’ on her license plate for a “Y.”
Simeone’s ticket was for $106. Weekley says her husband has received 14 tickets totaling $1,309.
* * *
MIDLAND, Texas (AP) — A brutal storm system that brought 19 inches of snow to some areas of West Texas has delivered something entirely different to one homeowner.
Winds in excess of 60 mph that accompanied that Monday’s blizzard pushed hundreds of tumbleweeds against a Midland home.
KWES of Odessa and Midland reports one side of Josh Pitman’s home is obscured by tumbleweeds stacked one atop the other, blocking some of the doorways.
Pitman says he recently tore down a fence that would have protected his home from the rambling weeds.
He says it’s the “most ridiculous thing” he’s ever seen.
He spent the rest of the week clearing away the tumbleweeds.
* * *
PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — A radio transmitter and then a feast of quail and mouse led to the capture of a California zoo’s bald eagle after three days on the lam.
The Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo’s tame 24-year-old bald eagle Sequoia was enjoying her daily exercise Saturday at a park when strong winds spooked her.
Instead of returning to handlers, she flew north and roosted in Menlo Park.
The San Jose Mercury News reports Sequoia was tracked Monday to a Redwood City tree.
The famished bird finally dropped from her perch to the arm of trainer John Flynn, who rewarded her with a quail and mouse feast.
Sequoia ventured out on her own eight times while at the San Francisco Zoo. She joined the Palo Alto zoo last year.
* * *
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A man charged with disorderly conduct for his loud whistling in downtown Portland has reached a deal with the city — he can whistle, but he can’t linger in one spot.
Robert Smith, of Westbrook, has been cited by police twice in the past year after businesses complained. He pleaded guilty last summer and reached a deal with the city in which he can keep whistling as long as he’s moving.
Smith maintains that his whistling — audible a block away — is protected free speech and usually brings smiles.
But downtown businesses have complained about the 32-year-old Smith’s never-ending noise-making.
Janis Beitzer, of the Portland Downtown District, understands why some business owners are upset.
“Just like if somebody plays an instrument in front of your business or has the radio on constantly, it’s irritating,” Beitzer said.
Smith said he works a construction job during the summer, but when he’s not working he usually takes a bus into Portland and walks downtown streets from about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., wearing a baseball cap, wrap-around sunglasses and a backpack while listening to music through his headphones.
In a plea agreement last summer, Smith pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and agreed to no longer whistle while standing in one place.
The prosecutor, Trish McAllister, disagreed that Smith’s whistling is protected by the First Amendment. A Portland city ordinance says whistling, hooting and other unnecessary noises that “annoy, disturb or injure the health, peace or safety of others” are forms of disorderly conduct.
“The judge and I viewed this as a behavioral issue,” she said. “[Smith] was aggressive. He would follow people who gave him a wrong look.”
* * *
SEATTLE (AP) — The same gelatinous sea creatures that clogged the intake at California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant last spring have shown up this winter on the Washington coast, marine life experts say.
The harmless jellyfish-like animals are called salps. They’ve been found by clam diggers and turned up in the pots of crab fishermen who have been asking what they are, said state Fish and Wildlife Department biologist Dan Ayres at Montesano.
He hasn’t seen them in more than 30 years and says their appearance now is unusual, but not alarming. “I suspect these guys came from the deep ocean,” Ayres said Wednesday. “Why they’ve been washed up is a question I can’t answer.”
Salps are common in the blue water off Oregon and Washington, said Rick Brodeur, an oceanographer known as the “jellyfish person” at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Science Center in Newport, Ore.
Salps turn up in survey nets, and their numbers vary from year to year. Their appearance on the Washington coast could mean their numbers are increasing for some reason or a current has brought them onshore.
“Sometimes fishermen bring us stuff and say, ‘This is really weird,’ but they just don’t see them” often, Brodeur said Thursday. “It doesn’t mean it’s a long-term change.”