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15 Surprising Animal Laws That Are Still on the Books

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Things can get wild when humans interact with animals, which could explain why some places around the country still have wacky, animal-related laws on the books. Here are a few animal interactions you'll be surprised to hear are allowed—and a few you probably won't be shocked to learn are off-limits.

1. NO BEAR-WRESTLING (OKLAHOMA)

It should go unsaid that things won’t end well when one wrestles a bear—but the state of Oklahoma decided otherwise. Effective May 1996, anyone promoting, engaging in or employed at a bear-wrestling event can spend up to year in jail.

2. NO PIGS ALLOWED (MIAMI BEACH)

Leave the pig pals at home if you're headed to the beach. The city of Miami Beach, where the infamous South Beach is located, prohibits the possession, control, management or custody of swine.

3. NO ANIMAL GIVEAWAYS (ATHENS-CLARKE COUNTY, GEORGIA)

Don’t expect to win a goldfish, cute puppy, or cuddly cat at Thursday night’s Bingo tournament. An ordinance in one Georgia county forbids citizens to “give away any live animal, fish, reptile or bird as a prize for, or as an inducement to enter, any contest, game, or other competition …”

4. NO CATCHING FISH WITH YOUR BARE HANDS (INDIANA)

Gear up if you're heading out on a fishing trip in Indiana. In addition to prohibiting the capture of fish by electric current, dynamite, or a firearm, the state's fishing regulations forbid catching fish by "hands alone." But if it's noodling or nothing for you, head to one of at least a dozen states where it is legal, including Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

5. DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE ... YOUR HORSE (COLORADO)

In Colorado, horses are considered vehicles, meaning, “Every person riding or leading an animal or driving any animal-drawn conveyance upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this article," according to the state's regulations. Those duties include not riding under the influence. While the penalty isn't as severe as a DUI conviction (there's no jail time involved), it is still considered a traffic infraction with fines up to $100.

6. NO TATTOOING PETS (NEW YORK)

You may feel like your pet is an extension of you, but that doesn't mean they can share your body art. At least not in New York, where the governor signed a law banning pet tattoos and piercings in 2014. Support grew for this law after a Brooklyn artist tatted a dog who was still under anesthesia from surgery. Penalties include up to 15 days in jail and up to $250 in fines.

7. DON'T GIVE MOOSE A SANDWICH (ALASKA)

They take moose very seriously in the frosty state and there are plenty of existing laws to prove it. Some of the more famous laws like the ones stating that citizens aren't allowed to push moose out of planes, view them from planes, or give them a brew, are either myths or have been repealed. Still, plenty are still on the books, including that is illegal to feed moose anything. 

8. YOU CAN PUT ON A FROG-JUMPING CONTEST, BUT IF THE FROGS DIE, YOU CAN'T EAT THEM (CALIFORNIA)

If you're in the Golden State, go ahead and put on the frog-jumping contest of your dreams, but if things go south and one of your amphibious contestants dies in the process, don't add them to the dinner menu. California Fish and Game code states that "Any person may possess any number of live frogs to use in frog-jumping contests, but if such a frog dies or is killed, it must be destroyed as soon as possible, and may not be eaten or otherwise used for any purpose."

9. COLLECTING CERTAIN ROADKILL IS OK (MONTANA)

If you’re looking to round up some roadkill for dinner or your prized collection, it’s OK to do so in Montana. The 2013 Legislature passed the bill, but requires salvage permits for anyone scooping up any deer, elk, moose, or antelope killed by cars. Just make sure you take the whole thing. The permits require that you collect all of the animal remains, leaving nothing behind. And if you hit another animal like a sheep or a bear, you'll have to walk away. The permits only apply to some animals.

10. DON'T BRING YOUR SKUNKS INTO THE STATE (TENNESSEE)

These smelly animals cannot cross state lines into the great state of Tennessee, according to lawmakers. “It is unlawful for any person to import, possess, or cause to be imported into this state any type of live skunk, or to sell, barter, exchange or otherwise transfer any live skunk…”

11. DON'T SCARE THE HORSES (SOUTH CAROLINA)

Railroad companies can get in big trouble in South Carolina for scaring horses while removing hand or lever cars from the tracks: “Any railroad company shall be liable for damages for any horse frightened as a result of the violation…”

12. NO DOGS IN THE BACK OF A PICKUP (ANCHORAGE, ALASKA)

It can get awfully cold on the back of a pickup in Alaska. That’s why in Anchorage, officials prohibit the “transport [of] any animal in the back of a vehicle in a space intended for any load on the vehicle on a street unless the space is enclosed or has side and tail walls…”

13. NO DYEING CHICKENS (AKRON, OHIO)

They only like natural chickens in Akron. The city banned the dyeing of any rabbit or baby poultry, such as chicks and ducklings. Also, no person should sell or give away any dyed rabbits or baby poultry. Dyed moose, on the other hand, seem to be legal.

14. IT'S OKAY TO SCARE BIRDS AWAY FROM YOUR SUNFLOWERS WITH FIREWORKS (SOUTH DAKOTA)

Consumer fireworks are banned in three states and heavily regulated in a dozen others, but it's okay to light them up in South Dakota, as long as you're protecting your sunflowers. According to a South Dakota codified law, "Any agricultural producer may purchase and use explosives, pyrotechnics, or fireworks for the protection of sunflower crops from depredating birds in accordance with rules promulgated pursuant to § 34-36-8."

15. NO HUNTING RACCOONS AT 2:01 A.M. ON A SUNDAY (VIRGINIA)

In Virginia, it is illegal to hunt on a Sunday, except for raccoons, which can be hunted until 2 AM. The current law is actually an improvement for raccoons—the old wording said “Sunday [is] hereby declared a rest day for all species of wild bird and wild animal life, except raccoons.”

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NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero
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Researchers in Singapore Deploy Robot Swans to Test Water Quality
NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero
NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero

There's something peculiar about the new swans floating around reservoirs in Singapore. They drift across the water like normal birds, but upon closer inspection, onlookers will find they're not birds at all: They're cleverly disguised robots designed to test the quality of the city's water.

As Dezeen reports, the high-tech waterfowl, dubbed NUSwan (New Smart Water Assessment Network), are the work of researchers at the National University of Singapore [PDF]. The team invented the devices as a way to tackle the challenges of maintaining an urban water source. "Water bodies are exposed to varying sources of pollutants from urban run-offs and industries," they write in a statement. "Several methods and protocols in monitoring pollutants are already in place. However, the boundaries of extensive assessment for the water bodies are limited by labor intensive and resource exhaustive methods."

By building water assessment technology into a plastic swan, they're able to analyze the quality of the reservoirs cheaply and discreetly. Sensors on the robots' undersides measure factors like dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll levels. The swans wirelessly transmit whatever data they collect to the command center on land, and based on what they send, human pilots can remotely tweak the robots' performance in real time. The hope is that the simple, adaptable technology will allow researchers to take smarter samples and better understand the impact of the reservoir's micro-ecosystem on water quality.

Man placing robotic swan in water.
NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero

This isn't the first time humans have used robots disguised as animals as tools for studying nature. Check out this clip from the BBC series Spy in the Wild for an idea of just how realistic these robots can get.

[h/t Dezeen]

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There May Be an Ancient Reason Why Your Dog Eats Poop
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Dogs aren't known for their picky taste in food, but some pups go beyond the normal trash hunting and start rooting around in poop, whether it be their own or a friend's. Just why dogs exhibit this behavior is a scientific mystery. Only some dogs do it, and researchers aren't quite sure where the impulse comes from. But if your dog is a poop eater, it's nearly impossible to steer them away from their favorite feces.

A new study in the journal Veterinary Medicine and Science, spotted by The Washington Post, presents a new theory for what scientists call "canine conspecific coprophagy," or dogs eating dog poop.

In online surveys about domestic dogs' poop-eating habits completed by thousands of pet owners, the researchers found no link between eating poop and a dog's sex, house training, compulsive behavior, or the style of mothering they received as puppies. However, they did find one common link between the poop eaters. Most tended to eat only poop that was less than two days old. According to their data, 85 percent of poop-eaters only go for the fresh stuff.

That timeline is important because it tracks with the lifespan of parasites. And this led the researchers to the following hypothesis: that eating poop is a holdover behavior from domestic dogs' ancestors, who may have had a decent reason to tuck into their friends' poop.

Since their poop has a high chance of containing intestinal parasites, wolves poop far from their dens. But if a sick wolf doesn't quite make it out of the den in time, they might do their business too close to home. A healthier wolf might eat this poop, but the parasite eggs wouldn't have hatched within the first day or two of the feces being dropped. Thus, the healthy wolf would carry the risk of infection away from the den, depositing the eggs they had consumed away in their own, subsequent bowel movements at an appropriate distance before the eggs had the chance to hatch into larvae and transmit the parasite to the pack.

Domestic dogs may just be enacting this behavior instinctively—only for them, there isn't as much danger of them picking up a parasite at home. However, the theory isn't foolproof. The surveys also found that so-called "greedy eaters" were more likely to eat feces than dogs who aren't quite so intense about food. So yes, it could still be about a poop-loving palate.

But really, it's much more pleasant to think about the behavior as a parasite-protection measure than our best pals foraging for a delicious fecal snack. 

[h/t The Washington Post]

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