French village on alert after crocodile sightings

PARIS Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:52pm IST

A crocodile rests in a stream at a zoo named Animal City near Beirut September 16, 2005. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

A crocodile rests in a stream at a zoo named Animal City near Beirut September 16, 2005.

Credit: Reuters/Jamal Saidi

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PARIS (Reuters) - A French village is on the alert after several sightings of a crocodile were reported in a local pond and police and local anglers have joined the hunt for the elusive creature dubbed the "Loch Ness monster of the Vosges."

Xertigny, a village of some 3,000 inhabitants in the Vosges region in eastern France, has been transfixed by the unexplained sightings and sightseers have regularly gathered by the water's edge to follow the hunt.

A chicken has been left by the waterside to attract the animal but so far, it has escaped capture and local authorities are considering draining the pool.

"We have been around the pond several times and you can't really say if anything is there," said Bruno Aime, vice president of a local anglers' association, told France Info radio after using a special sonar device to investigate.

"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," he told France Info radio.

Crocodiles are found only in zoos and parks in France.

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.

(Writing by James Mackenzie; editing by Myra MacDonald)

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