Goats Removed from Washington Park After Developing Insatiable Thirst for Human Urine

U.S. Forest Service, Flickr // Public Domain
U.S. Forest Service, Flickr // Public Domain

In Washington’s Olympic National Park, mountain goats have become quite the nuisance, so much so that park authorities have begun airlifting them out of the area with the help of the National Park Service and the USDA Forest Services, according to Popular Mechanics. Their crime? They’ve developed an obsessive taste for human pee.

Mountain goats aren’t native to the national park, but they’ve lived there for almost a century. Just 12 goats were brought to the park by a hunting group from Alaska and British Columbia in the 1920s, as The Seattle Times reported, but those few goats multiplied rapidly, and by the 1980s, there were thousands of them. The park service has been trying to reduce the population for decades, but the goats are on the rebound. There were more than 600 goats counted in the park in 2016, and those numbers have been rising. There are estimated to be about 700 now.

Park officials argue that all those nonnative goats are chomping down on native plants, harming the park’s unique ecosystem. They’re also a significant menace to park visitors. They’re known to get too close to visitors on trails, and some are aggressive and hard to chase away. In 2010, a hiker died after being gored by one.

Their attraction to humans in the park has a gross logic behind it: Unlike in their native habitats, Olympic doesn’t offer any of the natural salt resources the goats need to survive. Instead, they’re forced to hunt around for alternative sources of salt—like human pee and sweat. “Many hikers know too well about mountain goats’ lust for salty excretions,” The Seattle Times explained in 2017. “In some areas, goats seem to magically appear when hikers separate from their parties to pee.”

As part of the effort to remove the problematic goats from Olympic National Park, officials are moving as many goats as they can to North Cascades National Park, where they’ll supplement declining native goat populations. More than 600 goats will be captured, sedated, and airlifted out of the park. They’ll be examined by veterinarians, fitted with GPS collars and transported to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest as part of the initiative. There, they will hopefully find more palatable sources of salt than hikers’ pee.

[h/t Popular Mechanics]

No Venom, No Problem: This Spider Uses a Slingshot to Catch Prey

Courtesy of Sarah Han
Courtesy of Sarah Han

There are thousands of ways nature can kill, and spider species often come up with the most creative methods of execution. Hyptiotes cavatus, otherwise known as the triangle weaver spider, is one such example. Lacking venom, the spider manages to weaponize its silk, using it to hurl itself forward like a terrifying slingshot to trap its prey.

This unusual method was studied up close for a recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers at the University of Akron in Ohio. They say it's the only known instance of an animal using an external device—its web—for power amplification.

Hyptiotes cavatus's technique is simple. After constructing a web, the spider takes one of the main strands and breaks it in half, pulling it taut by moving backwards. Then, it anchors itself to a spot with more webbing in the rear. When the spider releases that webbing, it surges forward, propelled by the sudden release of stored energy. In the slingshot analogy, the webbing is the strap and the spider is the projectile.

This jerking motion causes the web to oscillate, tangling the spider's prey further in silk. The spider can repeat this until the web has completely immobilized its prey, a low-risk entrapment that doesn’t require the spider to get too close and risk injury from larger victims.

The triangle weaver spider doesn’t have venom, and it needs to be proactive in attacking and stifling prey. Once a potential meal lands in its web, it’s able to clear distances much more quickly using this slingshot technique than if it crawled over. In the lab, scientists clocked the spider’s acceleration at 2535 feet per second squared.

Spiders are notoriously nimble and devious. Cebrennus rechenbergi, or the flic-flac spider, can do cartwheels to spin out of danger; Myrmarachne resemble ants and even wiggle their front legs like ant antennae. It helps them avoid predators, but if they see a meal, they’ll drop the act and pounce. With H. cavatus, it now appears they’re learning to use tools, too.

[h/t Live Science]

Plano, Texas Is Home to a Dog-Friendly Movie Theater That Serves Bottomless Wine or Whiskey

K9 Cinemas
K9 Cinemas

For dog owners in Plano, Texas, movie night with Fido no longer just means cuddling on the couch and browsing Netflix. The recently opened K9 Cinemas invites moviegoers—both human and canine—to watch classic films on the big screen. And the best part for the human members of this couple? Your $15 ticket includes bottomless wine or whiskey (or soft drinks if you're under 21).

The theater operates as a pop-up (or perhaps pup-up?) in a private event space near Custer Road and 15th Street in Plano. Snacks—both the pet and people kind—are available for $2 apiece. Dogs are limited to two per person, and just 25 human seats are sold per showing to leave room for the furry guests.

Pet owners are asked follow a few rules in order to take advantage of what the theater has to offer. Dogs must be up-to-date on all their shots, and owners can submit veterinary records online or bring a hard copy to the theater to verify their pooch's health status. Once inside, owners are responsible for taking their dog out for potty breaks and cleaning up after any accidents that happen (thankfully the floors are concrete and easy to wipe down).

While many of the movies shown are canine-themed—a recent screening of A Dog's Journey included branded bandanas with every ticket purchase—they also hold special events, like a Game of Thrones finale watch party (no word on how the puppers in attendance responded to Jon Snow finally acknowledging what a good boy Ghost is).

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