Week before last, I wrote that whereas last year when my dogs had located six copperheads on my property, I was pleased that not a single one had turned up this year. I was overly optimistic.

I own three dogs, and when I return home each afternoon, they are all awaiting my arrival and run to greet me. One day last week, only two were awaiting. Missing was Sally, my year-old mini pinscher-bulldog mix.

She was sitting on a couch in our sunroom, which has a dog door. She had a swelling on her face and neck the size of a baseball, an obvious indication that she had been bitten by a venomous snake – in all probability a copperhead.

Neither of my other, older dog – Molly, the Doberman, or Suzy, the mini pinscher – exhibited symptoms of having been bitten. Molly was bitten on three occasions last year, so maybe she’s learned a lesson.

Suzy is an excellent snake locater, but keeps a safe distance from a snake and avoids being bitten, instinctively perhaps.

Sally’s a bit rambunctious, but I hope she’s learned that failure to heed the billy goat-like warning smell an angry copperhead emits can result in a painful experience.

Several newsworthy items that have caught my attention are the following:

ω An article by Dr. Richard deShazo in the American Journal of Medicine states that in a sample of commercially available chicken nuggets only 50 percent of the contents consisted of chicken muscle. The remainder was composed mostly of fat, blood vessels, nerve and connective tissues, and ground bone.

ω NBC has cancelled a show sponsored by the National Rifle Association airing a video of the host shooting an African elephant in the face and celebrating the feat with a glass of champagne! When the episode of Under Wild Skies sparked protests, host Tony Makris said that elephants were no different than birds and likened his critics to Hitler. (from The Week, Oc. 11 ed.)

ω Venezuelans are complaining about several adversities affecting their quality of life: food shortages, power outages, and last but not least, the cost of toilet paper, averaging  between ten and thirty percent of their monthly wages.

ω Earth Justice has filed suit against EPA on behalf of several beekeepers for approving a new pesticide, sulfoxaflor, which is related to other chemicals known to be lethal to bees. The services bees provide as pollinators of food crops are worth billions annually.

ω The company Anglo American is abandoning its efforts to open the world’s largest open pit mine in state-owned land in Alaska to exploit deposits of gold, copper, and other minerals. The company had invested $541 million in the project.

Opponents, including Native Alaskans, contend that the mine would pollute Bristol Bay and harm the world’s best remaining run of wild salmon. The Pebble Partnership has one remaining partner, Northern Dynasty, whose spokesman says the project is undergoing reassessment.

ω President Obama is said to be in favor of constructing more facilities to export domestic supplies of natural gas, which would raise the costs to U.S. consumers. Dow Chemical Company and other industrial users of natural gas are strongly opposed to exporting domestic supplies of the product.

ω Heroin addicts have discovered a new way to get their fix. Originating in Russia ten years ago, the heroin-like drug Krokodil is being used in Chicago and Arizona. It costs ten percent less than heroin, and is made using lighter fluid, paint thinner, gasoline, and codeine tablets.

A side-effect is that it rots the user’s flesh.

ω Conspiracy theorists should Google “chemtrails.” Resembling persistent contrails, chemtrails are believed by some to be chemical or biological agents sprayed by the government at high altitudes, possibly for psychological manipulation, human population control, weather modification or some other undisclosed purpose.

Scientists and governmental officials insist that what observers are seeing are normal contrails.

Bob Mount is a Professor Emeritus with the Dept of Zoology and Entomology, Auburn Univ. He is also chairman of the Opelika Order of Geezers, well-known local think tank and political clearing house. He writes about birds, snakes, turtles, bugs and assorted conservation topics.