Please Don’t Hurt Nessie, Either

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Concrete NessieSpeaking of cryptozoology, Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources would like whoever put a sculpture of the Loch Ness Monster in the Chippewa River to come get it out of there.

I guess this would be pseudocryptozoology.

According to the report, the sculpture appeared in the river near Eau Claire, Wisconsin, sometime during the last couple of weeks, placed there by an anonymous artist. It is made of cement with red bottle caps for eyes. A local art professor described it as an example of "guerilla installations" of art, sort of like solid graffiti. "Based on the monster's friendly look and a wood-carved giant rabbit head that appeared late last year in the same spot," the report continued, "[the professor] said the works are associated with kitsch and pop culture." "It's interesting," he said. "It's kinda cool."

It's kinda in the way of boats, a state official said, and so has to be removed. "Through some means," said Dan Baumann, "this obstruction will need to be removed to ensure the public's safety and to meet the standards of state law." State law requires approval for any structure that stands below the ordinary high-water mark on navigable streams, he said, and this one apparently does. To his credit, Baumann has been looking for other places to put the sculpture, rather than simply threatening to blow it up, as I admit I had kind of hoped he would do just because I find that image comical for some reason.

Based on a more recent report, someone claiming to be the sculptor ("The Phoenix") has emailed the local paper saying that Nessie would be removed voluntarily in the next few days, and a local business (Menard's Home Improvement) has expressed interest in helping to move it. So Nessie may be saved. "There will be more artwork to come," said The Phoenix, "but I will have to check into laws a bit more."

As for Nessie herself, to my knowledge nobody has yet tried to blow her up or otherwise seek to "obtain a specimen for scientific study," unlike the Texans who are apparently running around shooting at anything that looks like a bipedal hominid. Reportedly, in the 1980s British officials considered the question whether Nessie would be a protected species, and reached a conclusion similar to the one reached here about Bigfoot: protection would be available under the same laws that protect other species (in their case, the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act), so long as actual evidence turned up and was identified as a new species "by scientists whose reputation will carry weight with the British Museum." As with Bigfoot, though, this wouldn't be any help to the first specimen, but its relatives, if any, should be safe.

I would not recommend even trying to hunt Nessie, though, because legal protections aside I imagine the locals would go all Braveheart on your ass if they learned about that plan.

Why were the Brits looking into that legal issue? Apparently, the Swedes asked about it, because they were considering legislation to protect their own lake monster and wanted to know what if anything the British had done for Nessie. "What, they wonder, do we do?" said a letter from the British Embassy in Stockholm. "Is 'Nessie' protected in any way? The inquiry is a serious one and we should like to give them at least a half-serious reply." They did, saying that new species could be protected under the 1981 act and also inviting them to Scotland to come look for Nessie themselves. "I can assure them," the response said, "that there is ample accommodation in the Highlands and plentiful supplies of the national beverage [i.e., Scotch] which will help them to see her in the dark."