29 December 2002 - Snake Tales from Melbourne.
And the even bigger snakes in the Melbourne media…
Now please note, that all this follows on from some of the other snakey tales as documented on http://www.smuggled.com/arc2002.htm
in the spring and early summer of 2002.
The latest installment in all these snakey goings on is that after publishing a piece of pure fantasy about a snake in a city bookshop in last Sunday's Sunday Age (22 December), which was deliberately uncredited, the newspaper editor was contacted by Raymond Hoser and he agreed to print a letter correcting the paper's lies.
In summary a snake was removed from a bookshop by Hoser following a call by the shop manager, David Morgan.
So while the paper must be condemned for publishing lies in the first instance, one can and should at least give them credit for correcting them the following week. The letter in today's paper follows below, then followed by the original unedited letter as sent to them. The original piece in last week's Sunday Age is not shown here as we don't have it in "text" form, only a cut-out from the paper. We've been told that it was written as a "jibe" against myself by maverick reporter Lawrence Money, who sent Hoser some e-mails during the week preceding publication of the uncredited piece and whinging about the snake being found under the books "Victoria Police Corruption", which even at this late stage, he seemed intent on pretending don't exist (forcibly suppressed).
Below all this there is a media release about rogue snakes in Melbourne, followed by the (also inaccurate) and earlier Herald-Sun report on the snake in the city shop from 18 December 2002.
As to the reason why the Herald-Sun ran a story that used the D-noticed name "Raymond Hoser", the reason is simple.
They were effectively forced to.
You see, the shop owner called a snake catcher (Hoser), whose number was sourced literally at random among the potential Melbourne snake catchers. In the shop at the time the snake was first seen was a PR Man who called various media outlets, including AAP who in turn got a whole bunch of reporters there in wait for "the snakebuster".
The waiting media were unaware that the man about to arrive was the D-noticed Raymond Hoser and thus all got caught up in the feeding frenzy.
The story ran on the TV news programs the next day, with Channel Nine's report being neutral to Hoser and the snake, while Channel Seven gave a huge plug to Raymond Hoser and Snakebusters, ending with "Who you gonna call, snakebusters".
Snakebusters is a Hoser trademark and name used for the snake removals service.
Anyway below starts with the Age letter as published on 29 December 2002.
29 December 2002
About that snake
On December 17, as "snakebuster" licensed by government, I was called to remove a tiger snake from a bookshop in Bourke Street.
I was dismayed when The Sunday Age ran a small piece claiming the snake (now reduced from 70 centimetres to 40) had been found with "two volumes of The Shorter Oxford Dictionary secreted about its person" (PS, 22/12).
As accurately reported in rival papers and the TV news bulletins, the snake was hiding underneath a bookshelf and, therefore, could not have been coiled among any books.
Some also accurately reported that above the snake were copies of Victoria Police Corruption, written, coincidentally, by me. Contrary to the inferences of The Sunday Age piece, there was no police involvement.
Raymond Hoser, Park Orchards
Now here's the unedited version of the letter they were sent
On 17 December this year as a government licenced "Snakebuster" I got a
call to remove a Tiger Snake from the Hill of Content Bookshop in Bourke Street, Melbourne City.
A public relations consultant at the shop at the time called the media and as a result the incident was reported on most TV news bulletins that night and most newspapers the next day. The Age who sent a reporter and photographer to the shop, both of whom arrived some time after the snake had been caught, chose not to report the story in it's next day's paper.
I did however receive a number of e-mails from a Sunday Age scribe Lawrence Money, who questioned whether it was true that the snake had been removed from under a shelf containing the books Victoria Police Corruption (1 and 2), which by coincidence I am author of. Money stated he thought the story was impossible because he claimed they were banned. As it happened, Money was wrong, because the ban on selling those books was lifted late last year and both remain big sellers.
Thus I was dismayed when the Sunday Age (22 December 2002) ran a small uncredited piece claiming that the snake (now reduced from 70 cm to 40 cm) had been found coiled about a pair of "Oxford Dictionaries". Furthermore, contrary to the inferences of the Sunday Age piece, there was no police involvement in the matter, nor should there have been.
The written piece in your paper was an obvious collection of lies and I can only guess at who wrote this and or why it appeared in the paper as it did. Noting the written claims by your paper in terms of trying to be accurate and correcting errors when they appear and as notified of them, I think it is appropriate that your paper publish this letter so that your policy can be seen to be adhered to and that your readers are aware of the facts of the situation.
As accurately reported in your rival papers and the TV news bulletins, the snake was hiding underneath a bookshelf and therefore could not have been coiled among any books. Some also accurately reported that above the snake were copies of the Victoria Police Corruption books, which were co-incidentally by myself. It's a pity that your paper has chosen to pretend that both myself and those books and the issues dealt with in those books don't exist. I guess that this policy may in part be due to a desire to heighten the erroneous perception that the only investigations into corruption matters are by scribes at your paper.
Corruption Author and Snakebuster.
488 Park Road
Phone: 0412 777 211
Fixed Phone: 9812 3322
Here’s the media release dated 23 December in relation to a new theory on rogue snakes in the city of Melbourne.
23 December 2002
Last Tuesday a rogue and highly venomous Tiger Snake appeared in the middle of Melbourne's CBD in a city bookshop.
Nestling underneath some "Victoria Police Corruption" books the snake was caught and removed by snakebuster Raymond Hoser.
He told the waiting media that he thought the snake had probably made it's way into the city via the local stormwater drainage system or something to that effect. This was also reported in the media.
However today a credible new theory got a look in.
Perhaps the snake had hitched a ride into the city in a motor vehicle?
Today (23 December) Snakebusters received a call from a Mr and Mrs Gray of Flat 2/ 47 the Boulevard, Ivanhoe (Phone: 9497-1721) for a snake they had in their car!
The snake wasn't just sitting in the car however. This one had decided to make the car it's home.
Some days ago, Mrs Gray found the snake resting under the bonnet and on top of the engine.
The snake was poked and prodded, but refused to move.
Consequently, the car was driven to the nearby Yarra River and left for some hours so as to allow the snake a chance to escape. But put simply, the snake didn't want to leave. The car was the snake's new home.
A few days later the snake was still resting in the same spot, on top of the car's engine.
And so snakebusters got the call.
The snake was a snappy large female Tiger Snake, of just over a metre.
Even as she was caught, she didn't want to leave the car's engine behind.
The snake has been earmarked to be liberated in bushland near Doncaster as part of a Latrobe University Study into what happens to re-released snakes, where hopefully she won't get into the habit of hitching rides in cars.
It's definitely the silly season for Tiger Snakes. In the last week, two were found in an area near Mount Pleasant Road, Eltham, where locals said they hadn't seen any for some years (one of which was in the early stages of pregnancy … they have about 20 young at a time), while another female was caught sitting on top of a five foot high fence at 221 Liberty Parade, West Heidelberg.
That was the first Tiger Snake seen there since the residents moved in seven years ago. It'd bitten a dog next door the day before.
Because Tiger Snakes bite when harassed or caught, the best advice is to leave them alone and walk away. If you need the snake removed, because of risks to kids or pets in the area, it's probably best to call a licenced snake catcher.
They are usually most easily found in the white pages.
Further inquiries: Snakebusters on 0412 777 211
Photos, etc, are on the Snakebusters website at: http://www.snakebusters.net
Here's the story as reported by the Herald-Sun on 18 December 2002.
But just before it's run below, please note that there was no "showing off" with the snake at any stage (as the story alleged).
The snake was caught and placed in the boot of a car. It was removed briefly and held for the sole benefit of media photographers in a site away from the public and replaced in the box it was in and the car boot.
This all took a matter of seconds.
Snake tale ends well
By KELLY RYAN
A TIGER snake - the fourth deadliest snake on earth - was found in a Bourke St bookstore yesterday.
The reptile stunned staff and customers when it peered out - forked tongue flicking - from under a rack of the latest releases.
Hill of Content Bookshop manager David Morgan was alarmed when the snake was identified as a potentially lethal tiger.
"I ushered our customers towards the back of the shop, telling them we were having a bit of a wildlife incident," Mr Morgan said.
"They asked what sort of wildlife and when I told them, everyone was happy to move away."
Lunchtime diners at the Grossi Florentino restaurant next door watched amazed when snakecatcher Raymond Hoser showed off the snake on the busy footpath.
Mr Morgan said a woman phoned him on Monday claiming to have seen a snake slithering down Bourke Street the night before.
She said it crawled under the door of the Hill of Content Bookshop.
"She sounded quite serious, but, well, you know, this is Bourke St," Mr Morgan said.
"But then I was standing at the counter and I saw this head peering out from under the new releases and I thought, well, it's a snake."
The 40cm snake became aggressive when caught by Mr Hoser, himself an author.
"It was a feisty little thing once it felt someone grabbing its tail," Mr Morgan said. "There was quite a ferocious struggle to get it in a box. It was wriggling and snapping and very hard to catch."
Mr Hoser said snakes lived along the Yarra River and sometimes found their way into the city through the drains.