18 mushroom hunters dead — don’t jump to conclusions


What would kill 18 mushroom hunters in Europe?

Reuters gives the scary headline:

Mushroom hunter “massacre” claims 18 lives in Italy

MILAN | Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:52pm EDT

MILAN (Reuters) – At least 18 mushroom-lovers have been killed in accidents while hunting for their favorite fungi in the mountains and forests of northern Italy.

Mountain rescuers say eager mushroom seekers are abandoning safety procedures as they don camouflage and hunt in darkness to protect coveted troves, la Repubblica newspaper reported on Sunday.

“There is too much carelessness. Too many people don’t give a darn about the right rules and unfortunately this is the result,” Gino Comelli, head of the Alpine rescue service in northwest Italy’s Valle di Fassa, told the newspaper.

You may be a fan of the fungus yourself, or mycologically or botanically or culinarily inclined, and right now you’re thinking, “If these guys don’t know what the safe mushrooms look like, they shouldn’t be out in the woods.”  You’ve heard the stories of the mushroom experts who ate something they swore was safe, and of the lovely eulogies delivered a few days later.

But you’re leaping to conclusions.  Not so fast, Bunky.  Pay attention.

Yes, the death toll is astounding.  But it’s not mycological poisoning.

Seventeen people have died in nine days — six in 48 hours alone — mostly from sliding off steep, damp slopes in the northern mountains, la Repubblica said in a story headlined “the massacre of the mushroom hunters.”

Another person has been missing for more than a week, it said.

Ansa news agency said a man who had been hunting mushrooms was found dead on Sunday in the Alpine region of Valtellina.

A combination of August thunderstorms and hot weather has led to a bumper mushroom crop that has drawn the first hunters of what is expected to be a boom season.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

An Oklahoma or Pennsylvania deer hunt would be more analogous — it ain’t mushrooms that killed the mushroom hunters.  It’s just plain old being-careless-in-the-woods.

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