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News of the Weird

The Associated Press
Thursday May 30, 2002


Otter Nonsense 


WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The Manitoba Wildlife Rehabilitation Organization has gotten itself into some otter nonsense. 

Organization officials issued a public plea for someone to accompany what they believed to be an orphaned baby otter to a Toronto-area sanctuary. 

Only one problem — the wee beast turned out not to be an otter but a pine marten. 

Red-faced wildlife officials explained Tuesday that unlike otters, pine martens don’t need to be raised with their own kind to become successful predators, so relocating the animal has become unnecessary. 

Dozens of kindhearted Winnipeggers — including Mayor Glen Murray — had come forward offering to take the tiny animal on a plane as carry-on luggage. 

The three-week-old pine marten, found at Grindstone Provincial Park, was suffering from pneumonia. Several veterinarians and experienced animal rehabilitation workers had nursed it for about a week. Doubts about its otterness arose at a meeting of the wildlife organization on Monday night. 

A board member familiar with baby otters noted that pine martens come from the same family of animals, and their babies look very much like otters, except for the perkier ears, pointier face and a patch of rust-colored fur on their necks. 

“It’s been an eye-opening experience,” said organization spokesman Paul Clarke. 


Going estreme lengths to avoid a bad hair day 

NEW BLOOMFIELD, Pa. — Dave Gaskell is so finicky about how his hair is cut that he commutes 500 miles to his barber. 

About once a month since he started working for US Airways in September, Gaskell boards a plane in Cincinnati, rents a car and gets a haircut from Donald Stoops Jr. in New Bloomfield in central Pennsylvania. 

“Why not?” said Gaskell, 54. “He gives a great haircut. I’m kind of particular about haircuts.” 

Gaskell, who retired from a 30-year teaching career last year, left Cincinnati around 6 a.m. Tuesday. Four hours later, his gray locks were being snipped at Stoops Barber Shop. 

He’s been going to Stoops for decades. Stoops’ father, Donald Sr., cut Gaskell’s hair when Gaskell was a cadet at Carson Long Military Institute in New Bloomfield. 

“I have yet to find another place that cuts hair like I like it,” said Gaskell, who served 17 years in the military and likes his hair cropped just a certain way. 

As a US Airways ramp agent, Gaskell’s plane travel is cheap — he pays just $80 a year for unlimited flights. He said he’s flown to Orlando, Fla., and Seattle just for lunch. 

To Stoops, who has been cutting hair since 1955, Gaskell’s trips aren’t unusual. Customers return from South Carolina and California for haircuts and good conversation — all for $5, he said. 

“You’d be surprised where people come from,” Stoops said. 

Divine Retribution 

NORTHEAST HARBOR, Maine — Maybe it was divine retribution. 

Craig Golden’s pocket Bible was the clue that helped police tie him to the destruction of 80 beehives in a blueberry field. 

Golden, 17, of Ellsworth, was arrested Tuesday for driving his pickup truck through the beehives, causing damage estimated at $5,000. 

Thousands of bees died following the incident earlier this month, apparently from bad weather after the hives were damaged. 

Police found a pocket Bible amid the damaged hives with the name “Craig” written in it. Authorities interviewed Golden, and he admitted the Bible was his. 

The teen-ager apparently kept the Bible in the side door of his truck, state trooper Carlton Small said Tuesday. 

“During the course of driving into the beehives, the Bible evidently fell out of the truck,” Small said. 

Golden, who was on probation for a previous offense, will be charged with felony aggravated criminal mischief.