Sunday, May 16, 2004
Sweden Probes Lake Monster Being on List
Yahoo! News STOCKHOLM, Sweden - A government watchdog has asked a regional council why it placed a mythical monster on Sweden's endangered species list.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman's office in Stockholm also asked the environment court in the Jaemtland province of central Sweden to explain why a businessman, who said he wanted to raise monster babies, was denied permission to search for its purported eggs.

"During a routine inspection of the environment court in Jaemtland recently, we came across a decision that attracted our interest," Parliamentary Ombudsman Nils-Olof Berggren told the AP on Monday. "It was the local environment court, as a superior instance to the regional council, that had turned down an application from a man who wanted to search for and hatch the monster's eggs, probably believing it was just a joke."

However, Berggren also found that there was an actual decision from 1986, placing the monster under protection.

"So far we decided to have a closer look at how the listing came about, and how it is applied. If a court decided that it cannot be applied, we want to find out if the monster really needs to be protected or if the decision can be scrapped," Berggren said.

He added that it may take between one and three months before he will decide on his next move. The regional council and court had not yet responded by Monday.

Legend has it that the giant serpent, similar to the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland, has lived for centuries in Jaemtland's lake Storsjoen, Sweden's fifth largest lake.

Although about 500 people claim to have seen the monster, described by one purported witness as a snakelike animal with a dog's head and fins on its neck, it hasn't been captured on camera. With such vague evidence of its existence, the ombudsman last week asked the Jaemtland county administrative board to send documents that led to its 1986 decision. The issue came to the ombudsman's attention by a man who was denied permission to search for the monster's eggs.

Magnus Cedergren said he wanted to hatch the eggs to raise monster babies and turn them into a tourist attraction.

"It is my idea to hopefully contribute to the business development in the Jaemtland county, by creating new possibilities for adventure tourism," Cedergren said in the complaint.

The environment court turned down his application, saying local nature preservation rules stated that "it is prohibited to kill, hurt or catch animals of the Storsjoe monster species," or "take away or hurt the monster's eggs, roe or den."

The Storsjoe monster was first mentioned in print in 1635, when Mogens Pedersen took down a legend about two trolls who were boiling a mixture in a large kettle on the shore of the lake. Having boiled the mixture for many years, the contents of the kettle began to wail and groan and then there was a loud bang.

"A strange animal with a black serpentlike body and a catlike head jumped out of the kettle and disappeared into the lake. The monster enjoyed living in the lake, it grew incredibly big and terrorized the people living on the shores. After some time it extended all the way around the island in the middle of the lake, and could bite its own tail," Pedersen's chronicle said.

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