"Most of the bats, not fully recovered from hibernation, did not fly and died on impact."
Researchers continued to have problems with bats failing to show the "can-do" attitude you want in your night-flying combat mammal. Also there was an incident wherein "some bats escaped with live incendiaries aboard and set fire to a hangar and a general's car."
At this point the Army, possibly sensing that the project was a disaster, turned it over to the Navy. Really. "In October 1943, the Navy leased four caves in Texas and assigned Marines to guard them, " states the article. The last thing you want, in wartime, is for enemy agents to get hold of your bats.
The bat project was finally canceled in 1944, having cost around $2 million, which is a bargain when you consider what we pay for entertainment today.
But our point is, the government has a track record of dropping animals out of airplanes, and there is no reason to believe that this has stopped. Once the government gets hold of a truly bad idea, it tends to cling to it. For all we know, the Defense Department is testing bigger animals, capable of carrying heavier payloads. We could have a situation where, because of an unexpected wind shift, thousands of semi-frozen, parachute-wearing musk oxen come drifting down into a major population center and start lumbering confusedly around with high explosives on their backs. We definitely should have some kind of contingency plan for stopping them. Our best weapon is probably trout.
(c) Dave Barry
This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Electronic or print reproduction, adaptation, or distribution without permission is prohibited. Ordinary links to this column at http://www.miamiherald.com may be posted or distributed without written permission.