State biologists are asking residents of the San Bernardino Mountains to help track Western gray squirrels that have been hit hard by a deadly skin disease. Reports on current and past sightings of the iconic mountain animal will help researchers with the California Department of Fish and Game gauge how the animals are coping with mange caused by a specific species of mites.
A pet monkey that endured years of heartbreaking cruelty has finally found a loving home at a primate sanctuary in Dilley, Texas. Officials at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary said the long-tailed macaque was never let out of his small cage to exercise in the 10 years he lived with his former owner in Michigan. The former owners even allegedly got JR high on marijuana and drunk off booze.
West Virginia preacher Mark Randall "Mack" Wolford, who believed Christians should handle snakes to test their faith, died after a rattlesnake bit him over the weekend. Wolford was bitten on the thigh about 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon, but he didn't come to the hospital until 10:30 p.m., a nursing supervisor at Bluefield Regional Medical Center told the Charleston Daily Mail. The incident occurred during an outdoor service at Panther State Forest, about 80 miles west of Bluefield in southern West Virginia, the paper said. Wolford had turned 44 on Saturday. He had seen his father die of a snakebite when he was teenager, the Daily Mail reported.
A disease that has killed millions of hibernating bats in the United States has been detected for the first time in endangered gray bats in Tennessee, a finding that government scientists on Tuesday described as "devastating."
Link: Yahoo! News
The world's "most dangerous game" is on. A state in western India has given its forest rangers permission to shoot poachers on sight in an effort to curb poaching of tigers and other endangered wildlife.
Link: Yahoo! News
The survival of elephants and rhinoceroses in Africa is being threatened by poaching — a multi-billion dollar illegal industry that helps bankroll militias in conflict zones and places local civilian populations at great risk. That was the message experts delivered to U.S. lawmakers, along with a plea for urgent action.
Link: Voice of America News
With hopes of rebuilding a deer herd that has shrunk sharply in parts of Maine, Gov. Paul LePage has signed legislation to implement strategies that include restoring habitats that shelter the animals in the winter and thinning out the population of their main predator, the coyote. One concern that has prompted the new laws signed May 21 is that areas known as "deer yards" have been lost due to logging and to spruce budworms, pests that have killed large tracts of forest.
Link: Huffington Post
Have you ever wanted to turn down the volume at a deafening concert or noisy bar? Envy the whale: A new study finds that toothed whales can reduce their own auditory sensitivity when they expect a loud sound. The work is presented at this week’s Acoustics 2012 meeting.
Link: Yahoo! News
Carole Baskin spends much of her life with big felines — tigers, lions, leopards and such. As founder of Big Cat Rescue, a nonprofit educational sanctuary in Citrus Park, she takes pride in the way the sanctuary is operated — with attention to the animals' well-being and the public's safety. Not everyone is so scrupulous. Baskin said she wasn't shocked in October when a man in Zanesville, Ohio, intentionally released 56 big cats from a private piece of property. Of the 56 animals turned loose in the southwestern Ohio community, 49 were killed to protect the public — including 18 Bengal tigers and 17 lions.
Link: Tampa Bay Online
Two giraffes at a zoo in central Poland's Lodz died of stress after unidentified vandals went on a night-time rampage, the zoo's management said Monday, May 14. The vandals broke in overnight Saturday to Sunday, destroying benches, signs and sculptures and hurling pieces of the debris at the animals.
Link: Yahoo! News
Brown tree snakes in Guam have wildlife officials there seeing red. That's why the officials are air-dropping poisoned mice as a lethal treat for the mildly venomous serpents, an invasive species that has devastated native animal populations on the Pacific island, the BBC reported.
Link: Huffington Post
The Wildlife News has finally obtained all of the records of documented mortality for wolves from April 1, 2011 up to April 1, 2012. This information tells a grim story about what the toll of handing over management to the State of Idaho has been on the Idaho wolf population. All told, based on some estimates made using the data, under state management, 721 wolves, or 59% of the wolves, were killed in the year running from April, 2011 – April, 2012. Even if you use only documented mortality, without estimating additional, unreported illegal take or other causes of mortality, then 492 wolves, or 48% of the wolves, in Idaho were killed.
Link: Wildlife News
Eight rare Mexican wolf pups have been born at a preserve in the New York City suburbs, a development that could aid the federal program that has reintroduced the endangered species to the wild. The Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem announced Monday that five males and three females were born Sunday to the Mexican wolves known as F749 and M740.
Link: AP/Yahoo News!
After years in captivity, two bottlenose dolphins — none other than the Born Free Foundation's rescues, Tom and Misha, off the coast of Turkey — are about to get their freedom. CNN's Ivan Watson has the details.
(First of a three-part series)
The day began with a drive across the desert, checking the snares he had placed in the sagebrush to catch coyotes. Gary Strader, an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, stepped out of his truck near a ravine in Nevada and found something he hadn't intended to kill. There, strangled in a neck snare, was one of the most majestic birds in America, a federally protected golden eagle.
Link: Sacramento Bee
The Toronto City Council agreed to send three aged elephants from zoo to the highly regarded sanctuary, Performing Animals Welfare Society in San Andreas, CA. In response, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums considered the decision a violation of its standards and penalized the Canadian facility by nullifying its standing of accreditation, held since 1977. From the perspective of elephant welfare, this retaliatory response is startling. Sanctuary is clearly in the best interest of the three African elephants.
Link: Psychology Today
In 2010, the District of Columbia Council passed the Wildlife Protection Act, which requires that pest control companies operating in the city use non-lethal and humane methods to capture vermin. The law has been controversial—remember Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's claim that it would force D.C. rats to be relocated to the Old Dominion (even though mice and rats are exempted from the law)?—but it hasn't yet been tested. Until now.
Until recently, the state of New York state has been a leading destination for those who wanted to poach bears and sell their parts, but thanks to a new law this year, which NPR explored on Tuesday morning, that's now illegal. Still, there's money to be made on bears.
Ethiopia will embark on a plan for conservation of three of the country's large carnivores, the cheetah, the wild dog and the lion, conservationists say. The plans were announced April 19 at the Wildlife Rescue, Conservation and Education Center in Addis Ababa.
It’s been a terrible week for King Juan Carlos of Spain and, more importantly, for elephants. The 74-year-old potentate broke his hip trying to slaughter elephants on a hunt in Botswana. News of his accident didn’t play well back home, where high unemployment and bad loans darken Spain’s economic future.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said last week she is asking federal officials not to allow a southeastern New Mexico company to open the nation's first slaughterhouse for horses since 2007. Martinez plans to send a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture asking it deny a Roswell meat company's request for inspections that would allow it to operate.
Link: Huffington Post
Josh Bransford, Idaho’s best-known wolf trapper, has violated no state laws, according to the Department of Fish and Game. But if that’s all Fish and Game will say for the record, it’s time someone filled in the blanks. Bransford is the kind of trapper who gives his activity — and his state — a black eye.
Link: Idaho Statesman
With sick and dead dolphins turning up along Louisiana's coast, federal regulators are curbing an oil and natural gas exploration company from using seismic equipment that sends out underwater pulses known to disturb marine mammals. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has told Global Geophysical Services Inc. to not conduct deep-penetration seismic surveys until May, when the bottlenose dolphin calving season ends. The agency says the surveys are done with air-guns that the emit sounds that could disrupt mother and calf bonding and mask "important acoustic cues."
Link: Yahoo! News
Charla Nash has two glass eyes. They replaced her real eyes, which were ripped out by a chimpanzee named Travis in a brutal attack Feb. 16, 2009, in Stamford, Conn. Why does this matter to Missourians? Travis was born in Festus, on a chimp sanctuary that still exists. He was purchased for $50,000 by a Stamford couple, Sandra and Jerome Herold, when he was three days old. He had worked in commercials for Coca-Cola and Old Navy before he attacked Ms. Nash, a friend of the Herolds, tearing off most of her face and hands. Missouri didn't require his owners to obtain a permit. Missouri still has no laws against owning chimps or other dangerous primates.
Link: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A Northern California hiker says he is lucky to be alive after he was attacked by a mountain lion — and saved by a bear, the Paradise Post reports. Robert Biggs, 69, of Paradise, tells his hometown paper that he had stumbled upon a mother bear, a yearling and a newborn cub while hiking Monday above Whiskey Flats.
Link: USA Today
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials are battling an invasive species in the Keys they thought they got rid of years ago: Gambian rats — giant rodents the size of cats. The outbreak started around 2000, when a Keys resident who breed the 9-pound rats released 6 or 7, according to FWC. Ten years ago, they were often imported from their native Africa as pets until they were banned after a Monkey Pox outbreak in 2003.
Link: Huffington Post
Corvallis parks officials have decided that solving flooding caused by beavers at a local park will take a little engineering of their own. The Gazette-Times reports that for years beavers have caused flooding at the softball fields at Sunset Park from damming the Dunawi Creek. But now parks officials are planning to install pipes to keep the water in ponds at a manageable level.
The dinosaurs needed to go extinct for the mammals, and humans, to arise. At least that's what researchers have been thinking for decades. But a new study indicates that at least one group of ancient mammals was already expanding 20 million years before the dinosaurs were wiped from the Earth. Analysis of ancient mammal teeth indicates they were able to take off not because dinosaur die-off made way for them, but because they discovered a new food source that others weren't consuming.
Scientists have gotten their hands dirty in the name of closer study of snow leopards, one of the planet's most endangered big cats. Because it's notoriously difficult to get their hands on the elusive cats to learn about their movements and habits, the researchers had to settle for the next best thing: their poop. Studying their feces not only allows for DNA analysis, but also offers a glimpse of what the animals like to eat.
State Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington, is supporting a bill that would increase restrictions on the use of leghold hunting traps. Connecticut House Bill 5324, drafted in part by Born Free USA, a California-based animal welfare group, would ban placement of the traps within 1,500 feet of areas likely to be visited by children including schools, playgrounds, and public boat launches. The legislation would also require trappers to report non-targeted catches to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection within 24 hours.
Link: Norwich (CT) Bulletin
The reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves to a mountain range just south of the U.S.-Mexico border as part of an effort to re-establish the endangered species is off to a rocky start. Correspondence between Mexican wildlife officials and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed Tuesday that four out of the five wolves released by Mexico's Environment Department last October are dead from poisoning.
Link: Huffington Post
Wildlife activists say poachers have slaughtered at least 200 elephants in four weeks in an ongoing killing spree in a Cameroonian national park. The International Fund for Animal Welfare said Thursday that many orphaned elephant calves have been spotted in the Bouba Ndjida National Park and it is feared they may soon die of hunger and thirst.
Link: Huffington Post
Officials at the Calgary Zoo may be anxiously awaiting the 2018 arrival of a pair of giant pandas on loan from China, but some animal advocate groups are sounding a cautionary note. Julie Woodyer, campaign director for the national animal protection charity Zoocheck Canada, said her organization has reservations about the $1-million per year lending fee that both the Calgary and Toronto zoos will have to cough up as a result of the Chinese deal.
Link: Calgary Herald
For centuries the tribal Nyishi people in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh have worn the magnificent beaks of hornbill birds as a part of their traditional headgear, called pudum, which are considered a sign of manhood and tribal identity. Hornbills are the state birds of Arunachal Pradesh, but overhunting for pudum threatened all five resident species with regional extinction at the end of the 20th century. According to a recent article from Firstpost, forestry officials had almost given up hope on saving the birds, which were growing increasingly rare in the state.
Link: Huffington Post Green
Quiet oceans make for calmer right whales, new research suggests. When fewer ships sail the Bay of Fundy, the big baleen whales are less stressed — as evidenced by hormone levels in their poop. This stress could be one reason the North Atlantic population of right whales, which spend part of their lives in the Bay of Fundy off the East Coast, is having such a hard time reproducing. If the sounds chronically stress them, they could be more prone to disease and it could possibly interfere with their ability to reproduce, the researchers say.
Link: Yahoo! News
The Sumatran elephant could be extinct in the wild within three decades unless immediate steps are taken to slow the breakneck pace of deforestation, environmentalists warned Jan. 24. The International Union for Conservation of Nature recently listed the animals as "critically endangered" after their numbers dropped to between 2,400 and 2,800 from an estimated 5,000 in 1985.
Link: Huffington Post
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced in early January that it will propose a new wolf-hunting season for as early as this fall. Management of the population is expected to fall back into state hands after the gray wolf in the western Great Lakes region is officially removed from federal endangered species protection later this month.
Link: Minnesota Public Radio
Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary
(photograph by Mike Di Paola)
The approach to the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Dilley, Texas, has an ominous look — lonely dirt road, padlocked gate, a sign warning “Not Open to the Public.” Inside the fence, however, the place is full of life, with dozens of macaque monkeys roaming the grounds.
“There’s something inherently wrong with these animals living their lives in little cages,” says the sanctuary director, Tim Ajax. Most of the more than 500 nonhuman primates here have the run of a 56-acre area, while the rest stay in fairly spacious enclosures. “We’re at capacity right now,” Ajax says, but he’s
preparing for more newcomers.
Thai customs officials said they had seized four boxes of smuggled tiger skins and bones worth tens of thousands of dollars, believed to be destined for interior decoration. The tigers, whose parts were found earlier this week, were thought to have come from Indonesia and eventually be destined for China, according to Somchai Poolsawasdi, director general of Royal Thai Customs.
Retired fisherman Sada Fall is upbeat. His two sons are returning from sea with a boatload of "gold", as he calls shark fins, whose value has near-obliterated the ocean's top predator in these seas. Fall, 62, walks along the beach in this fishing village in the north of Senegal, his blue-grey boubou flapping in the dry, dusty wind, a bright red flowered umbrella shielding him from the scorching sun.
Link: Agence France-Presse
MONTERREY, Mexico — An escaped pet tiger named Deborah spurred a massive deployment of police, firefighters and other first responders in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, authorities said. Apolonio Armenta, the Coahuila delegate of Mexico’s environmental protection agency, Profepa, told Efe that alarmed residents began calling police late Dec. 28 with reports about a tiger roaming the streets of Saltillo, the state capital.
From the comforts of a 100-year-old Georgian Colonial he shares here with former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, his partner, Mark O'Donnell has become the unlikely champion of legislation that could give New Jersey some of the nation's toughest anti-tiger trafficking laws.
Link: Wall Street Journal
A final autopsy report reveals that Terry W. Thompson, the Muskingum County man who released 50 wild animals he kept as pets before killing himself in October, was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of his death. The autopsy, released Dec. 21 by Muskingum County Coroner Perry M. Kalis, provides additional — and in some cases gruesome — details about the death of Thompson on Oct. 18.
Link: Columbus Dispatch
A naturalized U.S. citizen from Vietnam whose primary means of employment is as a nail technician allegedly was supplementing his income by trafficking in black bear paws and gall bladders in Hamblen County, Tennessee, authorities say. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has evidence of three bear-parts transactions conducted by 49-year-old Kheim Tung "Michael" Quach, according to Nathan Ripley, a Hamblen County TWRA agent.
A transfer of 113 primates from the defunct Wild Animal Orphanage to the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Dilley was approved Monday by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas. In August 2010, the Northwest Side animal orphanage announced on its website that it was being dissolved because of overpopulation, underfunding and inadequate housing. More than 190 animals were at two locations, a 7-acre site at 9626 Leslie Road and 102 acres on Talley Road, at the time of the announcement.
Thousands of migratory birds were killed or injured after apparently mistaking a Walmart in Cedar City, football fields and other snow-covered areas of southern Utah for bodies of water and plummeting to the ground in what one state wildlife expert called the worst mass bird crash she'd ever seen. Crews went to work cleaning up the dead birds and rescuing the injured survivors after the creatures crash-landed in the St. George area on Dec. 12.
The Obama administration has issued a new interpretation of the Endangered Species Act aimed at streamlining the classification of threatened plants or animals. The Bush-era policy was withdrawn last spring after two federal courts rejected it. The new policy would clarify that a species could be listed as threatened or endangered if threats occur in a “significant portion of its range,” even if the threat does not apply in the entire range.
Link: Washington Post
(WARNING: The video this story links to contains graphic images.)
PHOENIX — A tiger cub named Orion born at the Wildlife World Zoo in the west valley was eventually given to a small roadside zoo back east — a zoo that had a history of problems. Now Orion is coming back to Arizona, but it got us wondering — what else can happen to tigers in captivity? It turns out Orion is one very lucky cat.
A Senate panel has approved a measure intended to serve as an international model to prevent trafficking in tigers and their body parts. The bill (S3061) would establish strict reporting and registration requirements for captive tigers in New Jersey to prevent their illegal trade. It cleared the Senate Economic Growth Committee unanimously. “This bill will send a message throughout the country and indeed the world that this illegal trade in tiger parts is horrible,” said its sponsor, state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union).
Horses could soon be butchered in the United States for human consumption after Congress quietly lifted a 5-year-old ban on funding horse meat inspections, and activists say slaughterhouses could be up and running in as little as a month.
Link: AP/Huffington Post