Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 25th, 2009
The “crazy croc” mania appears to have spread to Europe this year. News reports out of France tell of the villagers of Xertigny having frequently sighted a “crocodile,” now being dubbed the “Loch Ness Monster of Vosges.”
Xertigny is a village of some 3,000 inhabitants in the Vosges region in eastern France.
The hunt for the creature has turned into a media circus.
The little village has been transfixed by the unexplained sightings and more and more sightseers have regularly gathered by the water’s edge to follow the hunt. The moniker of the pond is “Monnin.” (For more on the meaning of the pond’s name, see here.)
Several witnesses including the fire brigade, and the owner of the two-hectare Monnin pond, claim to have seen the reptile – reported to be between 1.5m [4.5 ft] and 2m [6 ft] long – however it has not yet been determined whether it is a crocodile, alligator or a caiman.
Two firefighters and a policeman found themselves face to face with the animal of a meter long, which quickly disappeared in the waters.
“We believe today that this would be a caiman,” says the mayor of the city Véronique Marcot.
“We have been around the pond several times and you can’t really say if anything is there. I think it’s carp but it could also be a caiman of about 1.50 meters. The equipment doesn’t let you see the difference between a pike of a meter long and a caiman of 1.50 meters,” said Bruno Aime, vice president of a local anglers’ association, who told France Info radio after using a special
sonar device to investigate.
Large wire cages were placed at several locations to capture him. Pieces of chicken have been left by the waterside as bait to attract the animal but so far. One French newspaper even said: “But the animal is evil: for the time, he thwarted all the traps.”
The croc has escaped capture and local authorities are considering draining the pool. Shooting it is not being considered because the Amnéville zoo has expressed interest in hosting the animal.
The local authorities have ordered the capture of the creature following advice from hunting authority the Office national de la chasse et de la faune sauvage. The hunt was officially opened June 17, 2009, but no one has caught the creature yet.
The police established a security perimeter around the pond to prohibit the fifty or so onlookers and dozen journalist present from approaching the water. The local authorities are still waiting for the crocodile to go into one of three traps.
By the 19th of June, the police had decided to monitor the site 24 hours a day. Nets are also set to assist in the capture.
The drama has filled French newspapers and television news broadcasts with much to talk about during the last week.
The local Est Republicain newspaper has covered the chase in a special blog that includes hour-by-hour updates (in French) and footage of the search but the only animal it has caught on film so far is a small mammal resembling a water vole.
Needless to say, crocodiles are found only in zoos and parks in France. It is as not yet known from where the creature has come.
“Every year, in various freshwater rivers and lakes around the globe, people report seeing alligators and crocodiles that are probably out-of-place, discarded pets. When these reports involve escaped animals, capture is routine. When it doesn’t, something else seems to be involved.” ~ The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep (NY: Tarcher/Penguin, 2003, page 163.)
For other interesting footnotes about this location, a Xertigny village legend of the discovery of the treasure of the Knights Templar, and the living fossil nature/mystical orientation of the trees nearby, go to an expanded, more Fortean posting here.