You would think the day would come when I’d go to look for some stupid news to make fun of and come up dry. You’d be wrong.
Using magnets to repel crocodiles
MIAMI (Reuters) – Florida wildlife managers have launched an experiment to see if they can keep crocodiles from returning to residential neighborhoods by temporarily taping magnets to their heads to disrupt their “homing” ability.
Researchers at Mexico’s Crocodile Museum in Chiapas reported in a biology newsletter they had some success with the method, using it to permanently relocate 20 of the reptiles since 2004.
“We said, ‘Hey, we might as well give this a try,” Lindsey Hord, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission‘s crocodile response coordinator, said on Tuesday.
Crocodiles are notoriously territorial and when biologists move them from urban areas to new homes in the wild, they often go right back to the place where they were captured, traveling up to 10 miles a week to get there.
Scientists believe they rely in part on the Earth’s magnetic fields to navigate, and that taping magnets to both sides of their heads disorients them.
“They’re just taped on temporarily,” Hord said. “We just put the magnets on when they’re captured and since they don’t know where we take them, they’re lost. The hope would be that they stay where we take them to.”
Hord and his co-workers have tried it on two crocodiles since launching the experiment in January, affixing “a common old laboratory magnet” to both sides of the animals’ heads. One got run over by a car and died, but the other has yet to return, Hord said.
Once an endangered species, American crocodiles’ numbers have rebounded to nearly 2,000 in coastal south Florida, their only habitat in the continental United States. That puts them in increasing contact with humans, especially in areas where backyards border on canals around Miami and the Florida Keys.
“This one is by no means a really well-developed scientific study with a control group. It’s just something we thought we would try,” Hord said.
Wait a minute. This sounds kind of familiar. Is part of the original cast of Jackass now working for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission???
And if THAT doesn’t work, they’re going to try taping empty cans of Bud Light to the crocodile’s heads. That, too, will by no means be a well-developed scientific study.
Meanwhile, I am considering getting in touch with Mr. Hord and offering my services. It so happens I have extensive experience in strapping a powerful magnet onto an animal and putting it out into the world. My pets have a special ‘raccoon proof’ pet door that only opens if they are wearing the special door opening tag, which turns out is just a crazy strong magnet.
How strong? Well, strong enough that metal objects lift off the ground and ricochet onto their collars. For a while there, Siddhartha (the cat) would prowl around construction sites, coming home with 3” long rusty roofing nails and industrial staples glued to his collar. I could only imagine him cruising along – cool in the way that only cats know how to be cool – when he hears the sound of a giant nail plastering itself to his neck.
“F-ck. Now I’ve gotta walk around like this all day”
On the upside, if I’m ever in need of a bobby pin or paper clip, I know where to go.
Considering how low to the ground they are, I can only imagine the surviving crocodile (the one that didn’t commit suicide by stepping in front of an oncoming car) has a wide variety of cans, nails, and other scrap metal stuck on either side of his head by now. It isn’t the lack of ‘homing’ device keeping him away.
It’s the shame.
In other news, I’m thinking I just might just have to get some business cards printed up with “Crocodile Response Coordinator” on them. It has a certain ring to it…