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Stockholm runners spark rat poison panic

Vivian Tse · 16 Dec 2010, 13:25

Published: 16 Dec 2010 13:25 GMT+01:00

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As it turned out, the powder thought to be rat poison were simply markers for a local running club's route.

"Someone had seen the marks and thought it was rat poison," Stockholm Hash House Harriers secretary Lars Wikström explained to The Local on Thursday.

"Central dispatch at the police know what we are about and there are police officers who are hashers in Stockholm and London. No one had called the police. It always helps," he added.

Wikström is a member of the local chapter of the Hash House Harriers, an international group of non-competitive running, social and drinking clubs.

He explained that the pink powder was apparently left over from the group's run on Saturday afternoon.

Warnings about the powder first surfaced on Monday along Hornsgatan around Zinkensdamm and Tantolunden, presumably from a concerned dog walker, Wikström said.

Newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) reported on Wednesday that the warnings had spread on Facebook and Twitter, describing the powder as "particularly well laid out around lampposts along house walls and fences."

The city of Stockholm first received a report about the pink powder on Tuesday, while Södermalm police announced that a private individual had submitted a sample to the police for analysis, the report said.

The local Stockholm Hash House Harrier chapter runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays for anywhere between one to one and a half hours, with the Wednesday Hash more focussed on drinking than running. Both runs attract between 20 to 25 participants.

The incident dominated the club's mailing list discussion until the identity of the mysterious matter was finally made public on Wednesday.

"It was nothing really. There is pinkish material there, there and there. No one puts rat poison out like that," said Wikström.

He explained that the group usually uses white powder to mark its routes, but switches to pink in the winter when it snows.

Although the pink powder mix-up is the first time the Stockholm chapter stumbled into such a public misunderstanding, other groups around the world have been less lucky.

Story continues below…

"A couple of years ago, there was a scare in Helsinki when someone reported 'white stuff' around the Norwegian embassy. Someone said, 'Oh, it's just Hash markers,' but they didn't believe it," Wikström recalled.

Further afield, an ophthalmologist and his sister were both charged with first-degree breach of peace, a felony, for sprinkling flour in an Ikea parking lot in New Haven, Connecticut to mark a trail for a local Hash in August 2007, prompting the evacuation of the store.

Separately, a US Marine lieutenant was dismissed from the Corps and sentenced to 30 days' confinement in January 2004 for participating in lewd conduct with enlisted Marines as a member of a local Hash club in Okinawa, Japan.

Other Hash groups in Sweden exist in Vimmerby, Blentarp, Ludvika, Mölndal and Kalmar.

Vivian Tse (vivian.tse@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:57 December 16, 2010 by stillwatersrd
"drinking club with a running problem" inadvertently caused panic among dog walkers ' - o_O
16:58 December 16, 2010 by Åskar
Thank you. It was a good write-up and I wasn't misquoted.
19:49 December 16, 2010 by Carol E. Olden
We don' t have clubs like that as usually drinking and running at the same time do not mix, and drinking was banned on the reservation I come from by the Tribal Council there in 1994,so just running and exercise is encouraged to fight diabetes and overweight problems. I would suggest they use plastic ribbon markers to tie to the lampposts and other areas that can be picked up after their races and reused so as not to create any problem with the environment. They have ribbons made out of Gortex in various shades that are used to mark construction work or to mark the end of long loads on trucks that could be adapted for this use and printed with the name of the club on them so that people would know it was a Wednesday Hash Club event and race course marker. The concept sounds like a good one for places where people still are allowed to drink to keep people physically fit and have events to compete in and as a way to socialize.
00:42 December 17, 2010 by Frippe_W
I´m one the concerned dogowners and the one that reported the pink powder to the Police and City department. I have to make some corrections to the article. I made a report to the lokal police department arround 11.30 on monday. The City of Stockholm, that is the head of the lokal park-department, was informed on telephone by me arround 14:00 the same day. I told him that I had made a policereport, that a lot of dogowners was concerned and we were wondering what it was. He had no idea. The following day he called me and said that this seemed to be a very serious thing. I agreed cause I had seen it on a lot of places, put out right at places where dogs usually pee and sniff, you know. He asked me if I could follow anticimex the next day. I had sent him pictures of the places where I had observed it. I did also take a sample to speed up the investigation for all the concerned dogowners (and parents. The powder had been sprinkled in playgrounds also). When I met Anticimex, the was as surpriced by the findings. They couldn´t say what it was but they where on the sam line as I - Bromadiolon or some other pinkcoloured rattpoison. They said it looked very suspicious. I told them about the sample I had and they asked if I had given it to the police. They thought I better give it to them, so I did. The police report had at that time been delayd for som reason I don´t no. But I female policeman I think was som kind of groupleader said it looked suspicous, and it probably was someone that was out to hurt the dogs. The point is. Not anyone, dogowners, other people, parents, policemen, the boss of the lokal parkdepartment, anticimex etc. had any idea about this Hash running thing. No one has ever seen pink powder around the streets in Stockholm. And the head of the parkdepartment was very upset and said, when he later phoned me to say that it was only part of a game, that he thought it was absolutely unresponsible to go around, spreading pink powder on public places and in streets without any information to the city or the public. So, I have to correct Lars when he says that no one had called the Police. Both the Police and the City was informed by lunch monday the 13th. They had my number. Our tree year old Flatcoated Retriever ate the pink snow in Tantolunden sunday by lunch, witch caused me and my girl friend to immediatly go and see a vet (as a dog owner, you don´t take the chance after googling rat poison pink on your iphone and found 1000 of matches and pictures of pink/red powder). With another round to the wet by tuesday for blodsamples, this cost us 3500 skr. If we was given any information about this pink powder or the event by monday, when we talked with the police and the city, a lot of worry for us and others would have been avoided money had been saved. And if only Hash House Harriers had informed the police and city about this event, the city had saved a lot more money that now was wasted on anticimex digging pink snow the whole day!!!
05:12 December 17, 2010 by Tennessee Thunder
Swedes are so stupid,,pink powder=rat poision,,LMAO
08:05 December 17, 2010 by leo68
Tennessee Thunder:

By posting such comment, you think you are proving any higher level of intellect compared to average Swedish dog owners? With that said, as English is not being my mother tounge, please spare me any comments on spelling/grammatical errors.

Swede, and proud of it.
08:16 December 17, 2010 by JulieLou40
Personally, I think this running cluv have been stupid and irresponsible. They should certainly reimburse the dog owner who spent a fortune, not knowing what it was. I totally agree that the club should have had the decency to let people know what they were doing. Selfish idiots.

And what's with the stupid "Hash" name?? Is this some silly running term that normal people know nothing about??
10:23 December 17, 2010 by Snöregn
If something looks scary or suspicious, obviously don't let your dog sniff it.

A universal reminder: Don't eat yellow snow.
12:01 December 17, 2010 by Frippe_W
Just for your information and aimed at Tennessee Thunder:

A lot of ratpoison, Warfarin and Superwarfarin comes in pink colour, powder, pelets and blocks. Read about it in this Wikipedia-article. Quote: Warfarin is both odorless and tasteless, and is effective when mixed with food bait, because the rodents will return to the bait and continue to feed over a period of days until a lethal dose is accumulated (considered to be 1 mg/kg/day over about six days). It may also be mixed with talc and used as a tracking powder, which accumulates on the animal's skin and fur, and is subsequently consumed during grooming.

and @Snöregn: Of course, no doqowner let their dogs sniff on something suspicous. What where you thinking when you wrote that?
14:47 December 17, 2010 by Strongbow
Welcome to the age of over reactions. Assume the worst, then act on it. Never question the evidence or your imagination. Don't ask an expert, ask an oblivious authority. Spread your fears online to create mass hysteria. Afterward blame other people for your stupidity. Because, acting stupidly is better than not acting at all?
14:53 December 17, 2010 by josh gura
seems like hash clubs are being smeared. never heard of them till now. seems like sweden has nothing better to do than smear people, or maybe its just the local doing this. no offense intended but the swedish sense of what is an emergency or not is actually the real disaster.
15:18 December 17, 2010 by Frippe_W
Ok! So who is the expert? You? I talked with the police and the health department. Anticimex came and worked all day, collecting a ton of pink snow. Mayby they are not experts. Anyway, they thought it was very suspicious an couldn´t deny that it was poison. a couple of weeks ago, someone spread ratpoison in dogparks in a suburb to Stockholm, mixed with dogcandy. 2007 someone did the sam thing in another dogpark in Stockholm City. Both times a couple of dogs died.

There are sick people and that´s why you always should inform the local authority and the police about your activity when it comes to spreading things that can be mixed up in the city. Don´t you think that is a good idea?

In the article it´s mentioned that the hashers have caused similar public misunderstanding - from Helsinki to Okinawa and Conneticut. How come you think that swedes are overreacting?

There were lots of people, both dogowners and parents, in Södermalm and other places. Even reports from Västerås - independet of each other - reacting to this in the same way.
15:42 December 17, 2010 by Åskar

The police know about us and have done so for many years. They should have been able to inform you.


Thank you.


"hash": to chop (as meat and potatoes) into small pieces

Think hash brownies (or pyttipanna if you're Swedish).

"hash house": Cheap restaurant

"harrier": cross country runner.

If you want to know what it's all about, check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hash_House_Harriers
16:11 December 17, 2010 by Frippe_W
Ok! I will leave this discussion because you don´t even try to see it from our point, all the people who got worried. I now know a lot about hash harriers and it sounds like a nice way to get together. I know you did not do this on purpose to cause any panic and that you are good and educated people who is just having fun in your club.

But something apparently went very wrong here. A lot of dogowners, in different places and independently of each other got panic over the pink powder. The police, parkförvaltningen was informed monday. Apparently, neither the police or the parkförvaltningen (City of Stockholm) had heard about this movement. The responsibility for going out with information and warnings to the public (from the department of environment - Miljöverket and Stockholm City) was taken wednesdayby lunch - 3 days later. No hysterical dogowner had the authority to do that. So - it is obvious that you failed somehow on the informationpart here. I just plea to you that you will discuss the situation and find a way to do your hashing without risking that this situation will occur again!

Is that to much to ask for?
12:55 December 18, 2010 by Ride The Pony
Perhaps yellow snow should be tested. It could be a lethal chemical poured in places where dogs are known to pee. Just saying that sounds wrong. Why does your dog have to pee on everything?

INFORM THE AUTHORITIES? Did you report to the local authorities of your intention of leaving yellow spots along your dog walk route today? Did you inform them of your route so they would know in case a paranoid person thinks, "That yellow snow just doesn't look right... I think it's a suspicious color. It's could be a lethal chemical colored to look like pee and precisely placed where my dog will pee. I'm calling the authorities!" Paranoid? What about getting all worked up over pink colored flour? Sure it's not something you see all the time, but really?... you just completely freaked out about it.

PLASTIC RIBBON: Yep, that's what we need... more plastic! Flour is biodegradable; plastic not so much. Do you think someone wouldn't freak out and call the authorities if they saw pink construction ribbons tied to lampposts, trees, and street signs. You call the authorities thinking they've tagged that tree for removal and you think it's perfectly healthy. OR you see the pink ribbons and they seem to be in a path so you freak out because you may have just entered a quarantined area that you didn't know about because you weren't personally informed! OH NO!

DOG URINE: Dogs pee. They pee on everything. It is acceptable behavior because it's a well known fact that dogs pee and in the winter they leave yellow spots in snow. Do you realize that you are potentially endangering the health of all dogs and children that come across your dog's pee and touch it or eat it; don't think that hasn't happened either. Did you have your dog tested before your last walk? How do you know you are not spreading a parasite around the park through your dogs urine? So you had him tested 5 months ago... is your dog still parasite free?

SMOKING: Do you smoke? You do realize that unless you smoke in a confined area by yourself that you are endangering others with every exhale of your nasty personal habit? You've heard of second hand smoke, right? Standing 6 feet from the door doesn't eliminate the potential. Think of it like pee in pool; would you get in if you knew there was even just a little bit in it?

MORE ON SMOKING: Do you throw your cigarettes on the ground? out the window? Do you snuff out a half smoked cigarette and leave it by outside by the work place door so you can finish it on your next smoke break? Yep, that is an open invitation to try it. Congratulations, you may have just given a teen his first smoke

Just because you don't understand something doesn't make it wrong or irresponsible. Quit being so freaking paranoid and start looking at your own habits before you blow the whistle on what you think is "not normal".

Ride The Pony is a proud US hasher.


Motown-Ann Arbor Hash House Harriers
13:47 December 18, 2010 by Frippe_W
Are you representing the Hasher-community with this attitude?

Considering that we in Stockholm a couple of weeks before this pink powder was discovered had 3 dogs killed because a sick doghater spread ratpoison on the pavements and in dogexercise-areas, mixed with dog-candy, do you really think that me and hundreds of dogowners in a lot of areas of Stockholm was stupid and paranoid when we discovered a coloured powder in the areas were a lot of people usually walk there dogs?

As part of this absurd situation, and beeing accused for being hysterical and overreakcting, I´ve googled to see if ther had been any other situations were people reacted as the public in Stockholm just did. I have to say that it´s not hard to find articles about hashing being mistaken for ratpoison and even Anthrax.

You stupid americans got so paranoid after 911 that you panic over some white flour that was a hash. Hilarious!!! Ok! So you then made a gag out of that and started The Great Chicago Anthrax Scare Hash!

That´s really RIDICULOUS.

There is lots of articles and reports from other places were your hashes have been mistaken for ratpoison.

What if it HAD been ratpoison, like in the case in Stockholm that killed 3 dogs? I have a feeling that you mayby would find that story hilarious too!

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