Support builds for free-range chickens
Getting into the European Union isn't only about debt restructuring and minority tolerance. Its also about chickens.
At least that's what one Slovak animal rights group says. The Bratislava-based Freedom of Animals (SZ) says that an EU regulation which bans stacking chicken cages on top of one another in the EU farming sector by 2009 should also start to be implemented here. The stacking method is considered cruel to the animals, SZ chairman Ladislav Ďurkovič said.
Currently, Slovakia bases 100 percent of its egg production on the cage-stacking method while in other EU countries it is 80 percent. The group plans to initiate a campaign to encourage the breeding of healthier, free-range chicken, Ďurkovič said.
The co-ordinator of the SZ is the British Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), a group which promotes the protection of farm animals and installation of natural forms of farming. The ECFA declared farming animals as creatures with feelings in 1997.
Bears awaken from hibernation
The footprints of two bears were spotted under Majer's Rock in Zamrlovo on March 11 by animal expert Miroslav Saniga of the Slovak Academy of Sciences Forest Ecology Institute. Saniga said the footprints were an indication that bears in the mountainous forest regions of the Veľká Fatra have emerged from their winter hibernation.
The forests of the region are still covered by a compact layer of snow, Saniga explained, meaning that the hungry bears are as of yet unable to eat the local vegetation. Therefore, they have opted to rummage the forest floor in search of carcasses of animals that did not survive the winter.
The brown bear (Ursus arctos) is Slovakia's largest bear and the animals, Saniga warned, are unpredictable and possibly dangerous in their current hungry state. However, he added that they may be in better moods this year than they were last year when insufficient snow-levels created poor hibernation conditions.
"Bears sleeping in better lairs, such as caves and semi-caves, may wake up as late as the end of March," Saniga said. "By April, the hairy community will begin copulating."
Two boys fall into 15-metre-deep well
On March 14, a 12-year-old boy fell headlong into a 15-metre-deep well and died from the resulting skull injuries, local rescue service officers said. The boy had been playing with friends in the vicinity of the well in Huncovce.
Two days before the tragic accident, another child had also fallen into the well but was caught and left hanging on protruding pipes, the rescue service officers explained. The child was later rescued by nearby relatives.
Elementary school student caught growing marijuana
Police have begun the criminal investigation of Branislav R., a 13-year-old elementary school student in Partizánske, for the illegal growing of marijuana plants on the banks of the Nitra River. The regional police said that the boy is suspected of planting the seeds with the intention of "growing, drying and using" the illegal narcotic.
Body of December drowning victim found
The body of 12-year-old Jaroslav Ilkovic, who disappeared under the ice of the frozen Poprad River on December 19, 1998, was found on March 14 near the Polish border in Mníšek nad Popradom by two local 12-year-old boys.
The regional police speculated that the body had drifted the over 40 kilometres from Stará Lubovňa, where the boy had fallen in. When the ice started to melt, they explained, the body was thrown onto the shore and trapped by branches. The cause of death will be determined by autopsy.
Drowning murder attempt by drunk foiled
A unemployed man with five previous criminal convictions from Rimavske Janovice was apprehended by Banska Bystrica police on March 12 after he attempted to kill a 10-year-old boy by throwing him into the flood-swollen Rimava River. The man has been charged with attempted murder, said Banská Bystrica regional police force spokesperson Marta Mandákova.
The man had been "highly intoxicated" when he threatened to kill the 10-year-old victim, also from Rimavské Janovice. According to Mandákova, "The drunk man threatened to kill the boy who became concerned for his life. He attempted to flee but he tripped, stumbled and fell over a stone. The would-be-killer caught him by the arms and, although the victim defended himself by kicking out, he was thrown into the flood-swollen river."
The victim, who is unable to swim, cried for help and was rescued by a nearby man. The boy did not suffer any serious physical injury, although he did suffer a case of shock. Experts from the Institute of Forensic Medicine confirmed that the boy would have drowned had he not been rescued from the flooded river.
Compiled by Chris Togneri