Almanack: Burden of beasts

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The Independent Online
LILLEHAMMER'S persistent moose problems, touched on previously by Almanack, have been worsened by record snowfalls. The normally shy beasts have been forced out of their forest homes by the snowdrifts and are now grazing close to vital railway lines, causing delays. Some sections of the Norwegian media have speculated that the animals may run amok on Olympic tracks and pistes if suddenly faced with large crowds of people on race days.

'All the delays do not look very promising, but we assume NSB (the national railway company) will take care of the problem,' the Games Organising Committee President, Gerhard Heiberg, says. Having failed to lure the moose back into the forests with strategically placed food dumps, the railroad has called in air strikes, renting a helicopter to buzz the tracks in hopes of scaring off the unfortunate animals.

One Norwegian, however, looks kindly on the animals, because without them he would be out of business. Tore J Haugen, from the town of Skjak, near Lillehammer, plans to sell Olympic souvenir earrings made of moose droppings. 'Each one is unique,' he says. Haugen reveals that he mainly has German tourists in mind 'since they are wild about anything to do with moose'. Almanack readers who wish for an unusual souvenir of the Games but who will not actually be visiting Lillehammer may contact Tore on 010 47 61213161 - he is happy to supply by post. Oh yes: 100 kroner a pair, postage not included.