A hiker who was widely censured for abandoning his dog on Mount Bierstadt in Colorado after storms blew in has agreed to relinquish custody to one of her rescuers as part of a plea deal. In August, Anthony Ortolani went hiking with a friend and his dog Missy, a German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix, and was forced to turn back after bad weather blew in. The dog's paws were bleeding and she was unable to continue hiking. Ortolani attempted to carry out the 112-pound dog, but eventually left her on a saddle as he made his own way down. While he called the local sheriff’s office to arrange a rescue, he was told any mission would be too dangerous. He decided to take no further action. After eight days on the mountain, two hikers found Missy and organized a rescue party. Until now, Ortolani had resisted giving up the dog, but has agreed to transfer custody as part of his plea deal involving charges of animal cruelty.
Bodies are turning up on suburban lawns, and no one has any explanation. As of about three weeks ago, the St. Louis neighborhood of Villanova, normally filled with rabbits, has seen a near-complete disappearance of the animals, according to a report by a local Fox affiliate. “I’ve lived here about 16 years,” said Joe Dobbs, a Villanova resident. “Never seen anything like this. Usually see rabbits all over the neighborhood and now, for some reason, they’re just showing up dead.” Residents have speculated that West Nile is to blame. Mike Arduser, a spokesperson from the Missouri Department of Conservation, said he can’t be sure of the problem without performing drug tests on some of the dead rabbits, but he believes that a human cause is most likely behind the mass fatalities.
Via Riverfront Times
The British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has announced his intention to become the first person to cross Antarctica on skis in winter. The 68-year-old veteran adventurer said he had once thought the expedition "impossible," but, upon hearing that a Norwegian team was contemplating it, decided that he'd have to have a crack at it. Describing the South Pole crossing as a last bastion of true adventure, Fiennes said, "It is the last really big expedition in these days where everybody's grandmother goes up Mount Everest at the weekend." Fiennes will set out with a colleague in March 2013, supported by two bulldozers carrying 140 tons of supplies for the four-month journey. The two men will ski for an average of eight hours each day in 24-hour darkness and temperatures bottoming out at -70 degrees Celcius.