Bavarian village's summer idyll disturbed

2013-08-16 21:39

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Irsee - A small Bavarian village's summer idyll has been disturbed by the threat posed by a large turtle that attacked an 8-year-old swimmer in the local pond.

Volunteers and members of the fire brigade are scouring tiny Irsee, located in the picturesque countryside at the foothills of the German Alps, for the alligator snapping turtle locals have named Lotti.

Since the boy was bitten on the ankle while swimming last week, the water has been drained and its fish population temporarily moved to a nearby pond.

People wade through the mud in hopes of capturing the reptile before it strikes again.

"We are lying in wait," said Irsee's Deputy Mayor Bertram Sellner.

Adding to the intrigue, German authorities are unsure how Lotti ended up in the pond, as alligator snapping turtles are native to North America.

Photos posted around the pond show a rather ferocious, almost pre-historic looking turtle that the authorities say was responsible for the attack, which severed the boy's Achilles tendon.

"So far there have only been sightings of the Loch Ness monster," said Mayor Andreas Lieb. "But unfortunately we have a severely injured victim [from our monster]."

Special infrared cameras have been installed and a reward of €1 000 has been offered in hopes of gleaning any information that might lead to Lotti's capture.

The village has also called in experts from the Munich Institute for Zoology to help with the search for the turtle, which is estimated to be 40cm long and weigh a minimum of 14kg. The turtle's sex is not known.

The hunt for Lottie has turned into a local tourist event, with crowds joining media groups to gather each day in the village in case the turtle is finally caught.

Although doctors have identified the injury to the boy as being caused by an animal, Markus Baur from the Munich Reptile Sanctuary said it still had not been definitively determined whether a turtle had been responsible for the attack.

"No one in this world can say with any certainty that it was a turtle," Baur said.

This is not the first time a wild creature has haunted the Bavarian landscape.

Seven years ago, a bear nicknamed Bruno rampaging across the area managed to evade capture for several weeks before eventually being shot.

If caught, Lotti is likely to face a less dramatic end. The turtle is expected to be shipped off to the reptile sanctuary in Munich.

Read more on:    germany  |  animals

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