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Making Dallas Even Better

Q&A With an Entomologist: Attack of the Mosquito Hawks!

They are everywhere in North Texas. Are they here to suck your blood? Do they mean us harm? What’s the deal with mosquito hawks? I called an entomologist to find out. Mike Merchant is a professor and extension urban entomologist with Texas A&M. He lives here. He knows a thing or two about bugs, and he runs a bug blog that you might enjoy. Here’s the deal:

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Leading Off (3/11/16)

Elephants Arrive in Dallas. Just 17 pachyderms will be coming to America from Swaziland. Dallas Zoo officials revealed that one of the original 18 died in December of an acute gastrointestinal condition. The death means that only five of the animals, which got to North Texas a little after midnight this morning, will stay in Dallas while the others are headed to Omaha, Nebraska, or Wichita, Kansas.

Trinity East Dispute in Court Today. Lawyers for Dallas will argue that the lawsuit filed by the energy company should be tossed because the city has immunity from the suit. For its part, Trinity East charges the city with breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud in denying the company access to land near the Elm Fork Golf Course for which it had hoped to obtain gas leases.

Captain America Robs Beauty Store. Plano Police say a man in a superhero sweatshirt — and his partner in an unimaginative black hoodie — may be connected to the burglaries of several ULTA cosmetics stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Dallas Police to Investigate Racist Facebook Post. Lt. Thomas Glover said the Black Police Association asked the DPD  to investigate after at least two officers made comments indicating their support of the posting of a picture reportedly snapped at an office party in Russia.

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Leading Off (2/19/16)

CITY OF DALLAS TO DISMANTLE ‘TENT CITY.’ Days after a homeless man was stabbed to death, city officials have made plans to break up the homeless encampment near Interstate 45 near Downtown Dallas. The makeshift area will come down in early May. Initially, the community was a temporary measure to house around 70 people but has swelled to more than 350 people.

RECYCLABLES DUMPED IN LANDFILL. Nearly one-fifth of recycling from 13 area cities ended up in landfills throughout a 21-month period, according to an audit by Waste Management. Flower Mound was the first city to come forward as an affected area. The company declined to release a list of the remaining cities, as representatives are still personally notifying officials with each city. Five Waste Management managers were fired in connection with the mishap.

JUDGE TO DECIDE PLACEMENT OF ETHAN COUCH’S CASE. A judge will decide today whether or not to transfer the “affluenza” teen’s case from juvenile to adult court after Couch turns 19 on April 11.

MEDICAL RECORDS OBTAINED IN JOHNNY MANZIEL CASE. Dallas police have retrieved medical records for the Cleveland Browns quarterback’s ex-girlfriend, who accused Manziel of hitting her after an argument at Hotel Zaza earlier this month. The records could verify the woman’s injury. Additionally, they could affect any future charges.

LEWISVILLE DOG FOUND 1,000 MILES AWAY FROM HOME. Snow White, a miniature Schnauzer, will be reunited with her family this week after she was found wandering the streets of Bristol, Tennessee. A microchip scan at the vet determined the distance between Snow White and her Lewisville home. The dog’s family has been searching for her since December.

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All Clichés Are Bigger in Texas Award Nominee: Cattle Rustling Edition

Modern Farmer on the case of a man convicted of stealing livestock:

A cattle rustler by the name of Clinton James Easter recently found out that everything is, in fact, bigger in Texas, including prison sentences. Easter, 47, of Eastland County, Texas, was sentenced earlier this month to 30 years for stealing 15 head of cattle, which is two years per animal.

Eastland County is about 100 miles southwest of Fort Worth. Texas, the piece goes on to explain, has some of most severe cattle-rustling punishments in the country:

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Fort Worth Zoo Bear Predicts Carolina Panthers Will Win Super Bowl 50

Boudreaux the bear at the Fort Worth Zoo agrees with Vegas: the Panthers are slight favorites to win Super Bowl 50 on Sunday.

Today the zoo suspended two papier mâché footballs stuffed with fruit, nuts, popcorn, and cheerios in his enclosure. After nosing around them for a bit, as you can see in the video, Boudreaux settled on Carolina. He was too busy going to town on his favorite treats to comment on whether he expects quarterback Cam Newton to walk away with the MVP award.

Meanwhile, over at the Dallas Zoo, two tortoises raced for cakes decorated in the colors of the NFC and AFC champs. The outcome of that contest suggests the Broncos will emerge victorious. But whoever heard of a tortoise who knew anything about football?

My money’s with Boudreaux.

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Podcast: The Triumphant Return of EarBurner

Previously on EarBurner: The D Magazine Podcast, our first season ended on a cliffhanger. Tim had been assimilated by the Borg Collective after he shot J.R. for saying Rachel’s name at his wedding. Zac was left alone at Table No. 1 of the Old Monk, realizing as he read from Leaves of Grass that his trusted compatriot has been the mysterious Heisenberg all along and yelling plaintively, “We have to go back, Kate. We have to go back.”

Of course, we can’t go back. So onwards and upwards we head to Season 2 with the return Harrison Edell, senior director of living collections at the Dallas Zoo. He stopped by to talk about — among other topics, including dolphin rape — the recent controversy surrounding the zoo’s plans to relocate six African elephants from the drought-stricken country of Swaziland to southern Dallas.

If you already subscribe to EarBurner via iTunes or Stitcher, or via RSS through your favorite podcatcher, the new episode is likely already sitting in your queue. If not, you can listen using the player below.

But first, a few notable notes:

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Dead Dogs Left Outside Dallas Animal Services

Yesterday, after her 311 report about a dead dog near Interstate 20 and St. Augustine Drive was closed within 20 minutes without the animal having been picked up, Marina Tarashevska decided to vent her frustration by dropping two dead animals right outside the entrance to Dallas Animal Services.

While not a move that we should necessarily encourage our fellow citizens to emulate, it garnered a new round of media attention about the city’s stray dog problem, which has become as pernicious an ongoing issue as potholes.

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Leading Off (9/24/15)

Ahmed’s family hires attorneys to investigate police treatment of the teen. The Irving story continues, with lawyers—Thomas Bowers and Reggie London—representing Ahmed. Says Bowers: “He may be smiling on the outside, but he’s having some issues.” Bowers’ previous clients include a former stripper who sued Jerry Jones. “I take the cases no one else will take,” Bowers says. Irving city officials did not comment on whether they would also be talking to attorneys.

McKinney police officer shoots and kills man who opened fire on officers. Last night at the Cliffs of Eldorado Apartment Homes, a McKinney police officer fatally shot a man who shot at officers. The man had apparently been holding a woman and child against their will. No officers were injured.

Rangers win, have largest division lead in two years. With a 10-3 win over Oakland last night, the Rangers now have a three-game lead over Houston, in second place in the American League West. This marks the Rangers biggest lead in the West since 2013. But unlike the 2013 season, which did not end well, this season will be different, the team vows. Don’t let us down, Andrus.

Dallas zoo surpasses 1 million visitors this year. Yesterday, the Dallas Zoo hit a major milestone: 1 million visitors in a fiscal year. This is the first time in the zoo’s 127 years that this has happened. What about the family who pushed the zoo past this marker? They got to feed the elephants, of course.

Radiolab Will Change Your Mind About the Dallas Safari Club Rhino Hunter

Or maybe not. But still.

Listened to this via my podcatcher last weekend but forgot to mention it until now. If you’re not already a regular Radiolab listener, you really should be. But even if you don’t care about fantastically produced storytelling that entertains as it educates about the mysterious ways in which our minds, our bodies, and our surrounding world work, maybe you’ll care that earlier this month the show followed Corey Knowlton, the fellow who bid $350,000 in a Dallas Safari Club auction to shoot a black rhino in Namibia.

I’m not saying I’m now a fan of hunting endangered animals, but hearing from Namibian government officials about how selling permits like these (which are apparently issued only for aged animals that have been killing other rhinos) fund conservation efforts in their country — well, the story is more complicated than the headline.

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Leading Off (8/27/15)

The Susan Hawk Saga Continues. You know by now that Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk is taking a four-week leave of absence to battle an episode of depression. And now we know that she will be staying at an in-state treatment facility, somewhere that is not in Dallas. It’s not certain when Hawk will be back in Dallas, but she will supposedly return to work late next month. Hawk’s neighbor, lawyer Bob Hinton, said he had observed stints of paranoia since Hawk became DA at the beginning of the year and that he is glad she’s finally seeking help.

SPCA Retrieves More Than 150 Mistreated Animals From Home. Yesterday, the SPCA of Texas removed quite a few neglected and dead animals from a home in Balch Springs. There had been multiple complaints of suspected animal cruelty. After animal control picked up several dead animals, the SPCA obtained a search warrant and, along with the police department’s animal services, “retrieved 107 cats, five of which were dead, 40 dogs, three doves, two chickens, one finch, one dead parakeet and one guinea pig.” As you can probably imagine, the conditions of the home and these animals were…not good. Thoroughly sickening. Let’s hope these furry friends find new loving homes soon.

No More Stop Signs For Now. The Dallas City Council voted yesterday to not make it easier for dense neighborhoods in Dallas to put up extra stop signs. Who cares about driving safety, anyway?

Ask John Neely Bryan: Nutria, the Furry Menace in Our Dallas Waterways

Question: The other night, we were standing on the Continental Bridge, taking in the glorious river, when we saw something swimming upstream. We were at first concerned it was a dog, but it was moving with such ease, and going underwater and coming back out, that we decided it must be something else. Our final guess is a nutria. What the hell is a nutria? Are there many in Dallas? Will we have more now, and if we were to jump in to try to rescue it, would it kill us? (Sure, all these questions could be answered on Google, but I’d prefer to hear Mr. Bryan’s take.) — David H.

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Dallas Big-Game Hunter Is Next Target of Outrage

There’s an op-ed in today’s paper about Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the the lion and hasn’t had a real fun time since because the internet. Next target of animal lovers’ outrage? Dallas oilman Kerry Krottinger. Have a look at this picture of his trophy room, which appeared in a National Geographic story about taxidermy. Krottinger has a lot of it in his house. So he must be evil!

Me personally, I don’t like to kill big animals. Too messy. But I think I understand the allure for big-game hunters. Even hunting quail is thrilling. And I know an argument can be made, strangely enough, that hunting animals responsibly can be an effective tool in conservation. Read this sad, fascinating GQ story about an elephant hunt, if you don’t believe me.

All of which is to say: hunting, it’s a complicated topic. There isn’t much middle ground. That’s why I can’t understand why Kerry Krottinger let National Geographic into his house. Krottinger might be the most ethical hunter ever to pull a trigger. He might donate large sums every year to animal conservation. It won’t matter. Because when you surround yourself with your trophies and pose proudly in front of them for National Geographic, you know you are going to get hassled. You are asking to get hassled.

Good luck with that, Mr. Krottinger.

Leading Off (7/31/15)

AG’s Ties to McKinney Tech Company Probed. Ken Paxton’s relationship with Severgy, a self-proclaimed “innovation engine,” appears to be under investigation as part of the Collin County grand jury’s look at whether the Texas attorney general should be indicted on felony charges over his admitted securities violations. Severgy has been involved in its own legal troubles in the past, accused of fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Paxton owns at least 10,000 shares of the company.

Fort Worth Bike Cop Kills Man. In the early morning hours of Friday, the policeman shot a guy who was brandishing a handgun during an altercation between two large groups outside the Ojos Locos Sports Cantina in the city’s downtown. The man later died at a nearby hospital, and the officer has been placed on routine administrative leave while the incident is investigated.

Parkland Sues Four Builders. A lawsuit filed earlier this week claims that contractors delivered faulty work in the construction of its new central utility plant. The project is intended to provide water and emergency power for the new $1.3 billion county hospital that opens in August. Reps for the builders say that Parkland’s legal team is just providing cover for the leadership failures of Parkland officials.

Dog Missing in Ellis County. Yes, this story got actual airtime on a local newscast in the country’s fourth-largest television market last night.