Proposed project would trap, move, track lamb-hunting eagles

Angus M. Thuermer Jr.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is backing a plan to trap 16 sheep-hunting golden eagles and move them up to 400 miles away, including out of Wyoming.

The plan is both a research project and a way to “alleviate conflicts” with domestic livestock, according to a memo to Game and Fish commissioners from the chief of the agency’s wildlife division. The matter is scheduled for consideration and potential approval by the commission Thursday at its Jackson meeting.

The goal of the research is to identify best practices for relocating depredating golden eagles and reduce conflicts, said Nate Bickford, a Colorado State University professor in Pueblo, Colorado, who proposed the project. With today’s tracking technology enabling researchers to fit devices on birds, the project could benefit both eagles and stock growers, he said.

“We can move these eagles and, with telemetry, actually track their movements after they are released,” Bickford said. Bickford and associates may identify the environments where relocated eagles stay and possibly figure out why. At the same time, the project could determine what factors influence eagles to take wing and return to lambing areas after being relocated, he said.

Something as simple as an abundance or scarcity of natural prey, such as rabbits, in any given year could be a factor in relocation success, research has suggested.

A dozen eagles could be relocated this year, and four more in 2022, Bickford said. Neither he nor the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could say by deadline how many eagles, if any, were moved last year.

Ranchers and their certified eagle trappers “would be doing some of that work regardless of our project,” Bickford said. The proposal appears to contemplate giving some birds to raptor handlers — falconers and austringers — with the result of those birds being removed from the wild population.

Researchers would move eagles up to 400 miles, Wildlife Division Chief Rick King’s memo to the Game and Fish Commission states. “Careful consideration is given to the release sites and researchers are evaluating several locations outside of Wyoming.”

Game and Fish will collaborate with the Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board, U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, Wyoming Wool Growers Association, International Eagle Austringers Association, North American Falconers Association and Colorado State University, according to agency documents. The Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board funded the project, according to Bickford’s research application.

Tracking a key element

Bickford must share tracking information and possibly blood samples with the Game and Fish, according to a Wyoming research permit dated April 6 and signed by Scott Edberg, deputy chief of the agency’s wildlife division. Where the eagles will be trapped will depend on what ranches secure depredation permits from the federal government, Bickford’s application states.

Most likely the project will center on three ranches in the Green River region, three in the Powder River Basin and one in the Shirley Basin, the application states. A golden eagle rescued from apparent lead poisoning in the Dubois area takes off during a training flight at the Teton Raptor Center. (Provided/Teton Raptor Center)

Research would take place for three years, according to a separate application for funding to the Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board. The undertaking would cost some $60,920 a year and employ non-lethal management methods, that application states.

Bickford will receive $45,000 a year from the ADM board, according to the organization’s website. The application in 2020 shows he was seeking, $2,500 a year each from Wyoming Wool Growers Association and North American Falconers Association and $5,000 from the International Eagle Austringer Association.

CSU would make $5,920 a year in in-kind contributions, according to Bickford’s ADM grant application that was copied to Game and Fish. There is no indication of any funding from Game and Fish.

Golden eagles are adept at killing lambs and can inflict significant losses. Since lawmakers in 1962 amended the 1940 Bald Eagle Act to protect golden eagles, researchers and ranchers have tried various methods for protecting sheep without harming the raptors.

A 1988 paper by federal researchers Robert Phillips and F. Sheridan Blom of the U.S. Department of Agriculture said eagles can have “substantial economic impact on individual producers.” They cited a 1975 case documented by B.W. O’Gara at the University of Montana in which two neighboring Montana ranches lost $48,000 worth of lambs that year.

More recently, a Johnson County rancher in 2019 complained that eagles took all but 25 of his 200 lambs, killing some of them “just for the fun of it,” according to reporting by the Buffalo Bulletin.

Investigations in the 1970s by O’Gara suggested ranchers would take matters into their own hands and kill eagles, despite federal laws, if predation by eagles could not be prevented by other means.

In 2020 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service along with Wyoming Game and Fish investigated the poisoning deaths of a golden eagle and ravens near Wamsutter. Investigators found poison-laced baits along with the dead birds.

Historic research 

By 1987, O’Gara and W. Rightmore determined scarecrows and harassment of eagles offered “the most feasible means of protecting lambs under range lambing conditions,” in Montana. Range lambing occurs when sheep give birth in open pastures instead of in sheds.

Bickford discounted that technique, saying golden eagles become habituated to scarecrows and hazing.

Live trapping and moving golden eagles became the most common method to alleviate ranchers’ problems, USDA researchers Phillips and Blom wrote in 1988. On one Montana ranch, trappers moved 430 eagles during the period 1975 to 1983.

“Most field investigators who have dealt with eagle depredation problems feel that where eagles are preying on lambs in large open range pastures, scare tactics and the general live-trapping and relocation of eagles have been ineffective,” they wrote.

Other research had different results. Starting in 1999, a group of California researchers trapped and relocated golden eagles from the Channel Islands off the state’s southern coast to stop a “catastrophic decline” in three subspecies of island fox.

Live-trapping and moving the eagles was an “effective non-lethal method of reducing the island golden eagle population,” they wrote.

But by 1991, Phillips had found the method somewhat ineffective when dealing with breeding golden eagles near Sheridan. “Our observations of 14 relocated resident golden eagles showed a well-developed homing instinct for this species, with 12 of 14 individuals returning to their former territories,” he wrote.

Some were back within 11 days. Two came back after being moved twice, each time in different directions.

“Because most relocated birds reestablished their territories, it appears that relocation of breeding adult eagles offers, at best, only a short-term solution to the problem of eagle predation on livestock,” Phillips wrote.

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Petition: We demand EU immediately suspend importation of kangaroo body parts and flesh

We call upon  the European Commissioners Stella Kyriakides (DG SANTE) and Valdis Dombrovskis (DG Trade) to immediately suspend the importation of Kangaroo body parts and flesh. Statistics have disclosed more than 70% of Kangaroo flesh derived from the Australian “harvests” is exported to Europe.

The slaughter of Kangaroos for export of body parts and flesh for human consumption, under an Australian Commonwealth Government approved “wildlife trade management plan”, does not comply with the Legislation of the European Union namely Regulation 1099/200910,  Killing of animals.  Under the regulation, stunning animals before killing, ( to ensure the killing is humane and not cruel)  is compulsory. This regulation applies to animals “culled” for “depopulation, disease control” or “other purposes” “and farmed animals”.  This is not happening. Further, the regulation requires products imported into the EU, to be accompanied with an attestation, certifying that requirements at least equivalent to those of the EU have been met. Investigations have revealed this cannot be certified.

Due to the remote locations where commercial kangaroo shooting takes place, there is no control or policing. Nobody is present to ensure animal welfare practices are complied including whether Kangaroos are stunned.  No statistics are available for the animals who are wounded and escape. 

Kangaroos have been found,  with blown-apart jaws from mis-shooting, but  survived to endure a long and painful death from starvation.  ‘In pouch’ joeys of shot mothers are either decapitated (if very small) or killed with a blow to the head. Quite often dependent ‘at foot’ joeys escape, and suddenly face a life alone, often falling victim to predators, exposure or starvation. Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroos are not weaned until they are nearly 18 months old. “A Shot in the Dark’ — a report on kangaroo harvesting, a 2009 report commissioned by Animal Liberation (NSW) estimates some ‘440,000 dependent young kangaroos are either clubbed to death or left to starve after their mothers are killed’. (Source:Animals Australia)

Not only is the EU Legislation not complied with, the Australian Kangaroo industry Code of Practice requires that animals be killed by a single shot to the head, but even conservative estimates suggest that more than tens of thousands of the adult Kangaroos for commercial processing each year, are not killed in this manner. (Source Animals Australia). 

Commercial Trade in an Australian Emblamatic and Iconic Native Kangaroos must stop.  

The Australian Governments’  support for a Commercial Trade in Kangaroo Body Parts and Flesh for human consumption is being challenged,  and there are calls for it to be banned. It has been asserted State and Commonwealth Legislations designed to conserve and Protect Native Wildlife and habitat, does not support a commercial slaughter,  particularly a demand for trade in flesh for human consumption on a commercial scale.

State Governments rely on claims of “overabundance” and alledged consequential damage to farming land,  to justify “culling” or “harvesting” Kangaroos, in order to satisfy local Wildlife Legislation and the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth). This is to obtain a permit to remove or cull protected Native Wildlife for a commercial industry.

There are allegations that the population numbers of Kangaroos have been grossly exaggerated to justify a claim of “overabundance” and that in fact in some States, Kangaroos may face extinction as a consequence of “harvesting”, or the push to supply demand for the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos. 

The intention of Legislations  is not  to support the commercialisation and trade in commerce of Australian Native Wildlife for human consumption, but rather the preservation and conservation of Australian native wildlife and habitat.

Ministerial approval is under the microscope.

There is a Call for a Ban on Killing Kangaroos and an immediate ban on the commercial “harvesting” of Kangaroos, and  to ban any further killing of Kangaroos; to revoke all current Permits and Plans for trade in Kangaroos for local and export markets.

Kangaroos are not and have never been “farmed animals” in Australia, nor were Kangaroos “farmed” by Australia’s First Nations’ peoples. To some indigenous Australians, Kangaroos are totemic. Kangaroos are  protected Native Wildlife.

We call upon the European Commissioners Stella Kyriakides (DG SANTE) and Valdis Dombrovskis (DG Trade) to immediately suspend the importation of Kangaroo body parts and flesh for human consumption as the EU Regulations are not being complied with.

Photo Credit: Red Box Wildlife Sanctuary Elphinstone, Victoria Australia

https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-vile-trade-in-our-native-wildlife?recruiter=128148655&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_initial&utm_term=psf_combo_share_initial&recruited_by_id=89e6fa79-aea5-4a65-8280-725b1db2bc0d&pt=AVBldGl0aW9uADo7pgEAAAAAYHRkuptYZI05ZTk2MWViNg==

Petition: Get Botswana To Reinstate The Band On Elephant Hunting!

www.change.org

I am demanding that Botswana reinstates their ban on elephant hunting. Botswana is a conservation hub and has been a beautiful success story. The elephant population in Botswana ranges form 130,000 to 160,00, the most in Africa. Botswana is home to 1/3 of the decreasing elephant population. Mokgweetsi Masisi, the president, has just lifted the ban on elephant hunting today on May 23rd 2019. This will result in large elephant culls and decrease the population quickly and quietly. We need to call for action, and be the voice elephants don’t have. Elephants are animals capable of grief and love and they mourn like humans. We cannot be the generation that lets these magnificent, prehistoric creatures, go extinct in front of our eyes. PLEASE SIGN! Every voice counts. 

Today: katia is counting on you

katia goldberg needs your help with “Mokgweetsi Masisi: GET BOTSWANA TO REINSTATE THE BAN ON ELEPHANT HUNTING!”. Join katia and 17,164 supporters today.

https://www.change.org/p/mokgweetsi-masisi-get-botswana-to-reinstate-the-ban-on-elephant-hunting

A Life Without Water

Published on the 24th of October, 2014NewsWilderness Journal A Life Without Water

What’s the longest you have ever gone without water?

This unique-looking antelope, called a gerenuk can survive its entire life without ever taking a drink of water.

Instead, the gerenuk derives water from the foliage that it eats. To better reach this foliage it has evolved a long, slender neck upon which is perched a disproportionately small head. Its eyes and ears, however, are proportional to the rest of its body giving it a comical, somewhat alien appearance.

The gerenuk’s large eyelashes and sensory hairs on its muzzle and ears allow it to carefully navigate through thorny bushes without getting scratched. In addition to having an extra long neck it is also able to stand on two legs and reach even further to the tops of shrubs and bushes. This is facilitated by stronger-than-normal lumbar vertebrae and powerful hind legs. This way they can reach tender shoots up to six and a half feet off the ground. The name Gerenuk is of Somali origin, meaning giraffe-necked. They are found in Somalia, but also in southern Djibouti and much of Kenya’s arid North as well as throughout Tsavo in the East. Aerial surveys have shown that their densities are higher in drier areas and especially in areas further from permanent water sources. This way they reduce competition with other browsers that are more water-dependant.

Gerenuks conserve water with uniquely adapted nasal passages, which prevent evaporative loss. They also have very highly concentrated urine, and aside from short, quick bursts to escape predators they are very sedentary animals, preferring to stand in place or browse.

They are somewhat social, but prefer to stay in small groups. In Tsavo, they are commonly seen alone, but will often form groups of up to five individuals. The largest herd of gerenuks reported in Tsavo is twelve, but it is very rare to see more than five together. In more arid areas and in Somalia, however, larger groups are more common, with 2-8 being frequently reported and as many as 25-30 individuals aggregating when foliage is flush.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust rescued an orphaned gerenuk named Nuk last year who has since rejoined the wild. He still comes to visit from time to time and in the mornings and evenings he is often sighted on the airstrip with a herd of impalas that he has taken a liking to. The Trust is holding on to hope that he will one day catch the scent of a wild female nearby and start a family of his own. There are indeed wild gerenuk nearby and it should be a matter of time before he finds a mate.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, known as Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, is a charity in Kenya, a registered charity in England

and Wales number 1103836, and is supported by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust USA, Inc. a 501(c)3 in the United States (EIN 30-0224549)

Copyright © 2020, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. All Rights Reserved.

https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/news/wilderness/giraffe-necked-antelope

How Long Do Birds Live?

Bird Calls Black-and-White Warbler, Dennis W. Donohue/Shutterstock

BirdCalls

News and Perspectives on Bird Conservation

John C. Mittermeier January 29, 2021

How long do birds live? Whether you want to ace this question at your next bird-themed trivia challenge or just impress someone spontaneously, here’s the answer: Birds can live between four and 100 years, depending on the species.

While it may win you trivia points, this answer may raise more questions than it resolves: Why is there such a range of lifespans? Which birds live the longest? Can some birds really live to be 100?

Answering these questions proves to be surprisingly hard. In many cases, the seemingly simple question of how old is that bird can be impossible to answer.

By learning a few basic facts about how birds age, however, we can gain some interesting insights into bird lifespans and even begin to understand which of the familiar species around us are likely to be living longer (and shorter) lives.

Wisdom, a 69-year-old female Laysan Albatross, currently holds the record as the oldest-known wild bird. Photo by USFWS

Birds don’t age like we do

As humans, we’re accustomed to using visual hints to guess the age of someone or something. The neighbor’s dog with flecks of gray fur and a stiff walk is obviously getting up in years. That huge gnarled tree in the park must have been there for decades.

Birds are different. They don’t get gray; they don’t become arthritic; they don’t get bigger with each passing year; they don’t leave growth rings for us to count.

In fact, once most birds develop their adult plumage, they essentially become impossible to age.

How birds are able to accomplish this remarkable feat is not yet fully understood, but it probably has to do with how their bodies process oxygen and the proteins associated with metabolism.

The reality that birds don’t show physical signs of aging creates a challenge for understanding how long they live: If we can’t age adult birds, how can we study their lifespans?

Cookie, a Pink Cockatoo, lived to the age of 83, making her the world’s longest-living bird. Photo by Brookfield Zoo/Flickr

What we know (and don’t know) about the oldest birds in the world

If you Google “longest-lived bird,” you will find multiple claims of birds that lived for over 100 years. Some birds may have even lived to be 120!

Take these claims with a grain of salt.

These records depend on knowing when a bird hatched, a fact we usually do not have if the bird was born in the wild. Also, as with fishing stories, bird fanciers sometimes exaggerate how long their birds live.

According to Guinness World Records, the oldest confirmed bird is “Cookie,” a Pink, or Major Mitchell’s, Cockatoo that lived to the age of 83 at the Brookfield Zoo near Chicago.

Some birds have almost certainly lived to be older than 83 (hence the upper range of the trivia answer), but for now, we do not yet have definitive confirmation of an avian centenarian.

It is usually difficult to age wild birds

As the claims for the title of “world’s oldest bird” demonstrate, accurately aging birds, even in captivity, is challenging. For wild birds, it is even harder. There’s the obvious problem that wild birds are difficult to keep track of. In almost all cases, it is impossible to know when exactly an individual bird began or ended its life. Furthermore, animals in the wild lead very different lives from those in captivity and the insights gained from captive individuals may not always be relevant to those in the wild. 

Our knowledge of birds’ lifespans in the wild comes almost entirely from bird banding. The theory behind this technique is simple: If you catch a bird that has already been banded, you can confirm its age — or at least the time elapsed since it was originally caught.

In practice, though, aging birds from banding is more complicated than it seems. Only a small percentage of banded birds are ever observed again, and if they were adults when they were first banded, their starting age is unknown.

How long do birds live for? The answer is: It depends. Red-tailed Hawks can live up to 30 years.

Red-tailed Hawks have been recorded living up to 30 years. Photo by Stanislav Duben/Shutterstock

Relatively speaking, birds live a long time

While there is still a lot to learn about how long birds live in the wild, one thing is clear: Many birds live much longer than we might expect.

Life expectancy in the animal world generally correlates with metabolic rate. In mammals, this is often linked to body size: Big mammals with slower metabolisms generally live longer lives; small ones with faster metabolisms live shorter lives. Humans, for example, live longer than dogs and cats, which live longer than mice and hamsters. (As is often the case with these generalized patterns, there are exceptions.)

Many birds are small and have extremely high metabolic rates. So, we would expect birds to be relatively short-lived. But they aren’t.

On the contrary, many birds live an extraordinarily long time, particularly when compared to similar-sized mammals. For example, under ideal conditions in captivity, a House Mouse can live four years. Meanwhile, a Broad-billed Hummingbird (a quarter the size of the mouse) can live up to 14 years in the wild.

There is no single answer to the question 'How long do birds live for?' Different owl species live for varying lengths of time.

Barn Swallows have been recorded living 16 years, enough time for these prodigious travelers to have traveled roughly half the distance to the moon during their annual migrations. European Goldfinches can live up to 27 years. Common Ravens are known to have lived 69 years, more than twice as long as the oldest-known dog.

As with their lack of physical aging, we are also still learning how birds are able to live so long with their super-fast metabolisms. The answers may offer clues to understanding aging in our own species.

One important point to keep in mind: Just because birds can live a long time doesn’t necessarily mean that all individuals of the species do live that long. Similar to us humans (who have been recorded living to 122), most individuals will have shorter lives than those at the extreme.

The question of how long do birds live is complicated. Wild Turkeys can live up to 15 years.

The oldest recorded Wild Turkey lived for 15 years. Photo by Paul Tessier/Shutterstock

Clues for identifying the longer (and shorter) lived birds around you

For those of us watching birds at our feeders or birding in the field, it will almost always be impossible to accurately age individual wild birds once they are adults. But we can begin to understand which of the bird species around us are likely to be longer (and shorter) lived.

Longer lifespan is often associated with features of a bird’s biology and natural history. Here are five characteristics that can help us make an educated guess about which species are likely to be longer-lived:

  1. Body size. On average, larger species tend to live longer than smaller species.
  • Number of chicks. Birds with longer lifespans often have fewer young, while those with shorter lifespans tend to have more.
  • Years to reach adulthood. Shorter-lived species tend to reach adulthood more quickly than longer-lived species.
  • Life on the ground. Birds that live and nest on the ground have often adapted for shorter lifespans than those that live higher up, such as in the shelter of the tree canopy.
  • Island life. Birds that live and nest on islands are often longer-lived than their mainland counterparts.

Keeping these insights in mind, which do you think lives longer: A Wild Turkey or a Red-tailed Hawk?

To get started, here are a few basic facts: Turkeys are larger than Red-tails (up to 24 lbs. versus vs. 2.8 lbs.), have substantially more chicks (up to 17 eggs versus up to five eggs), reach adulthood more quickly (one year versus three years), and live on the ground.

If you chose the Red-tailed Hawk, you’re right. Red-tails have been recorded living up to 30 years, while the oldest recorded Wild Turkey was 15 years old.

In addition to these biological and ecological features, there is another factor that often predicts how long a bird species is known to live: How much people have studied it. In general, birds that have been better studied are more likely to have records of long-lived individuals. Given how difficult it is to age birds, this makes sense. It also shows how much there still is to learn about how long many bird species can live.

Longevity records for some familiar North American birds in the wild (based on banding data from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Bird Banding Laboratory). To see more records, take a look at our expanded wild bird longevity graph.SpeciesAgeMallard27 yearsElf Owl5 yearsAmerican Flamingo49 yearsLaysan Albatross68 yearsGreat Blue Heron24 yearsBald Eagle38 yearsSandhill Crane37 yearsAtlantic Puffin33 yearsGreat Horned Owl28 years

See if you can use what you know about the size and natural history of some of these familiar birds to notice patterns in their lifespans. Remember, not all of these characteristics are hard-and-fast rules, and sometimes patterns are influenced by how much we have studied a species. For more, check out the avian longevity records by species from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Bird Banding Laboratory.

Smaller owls like the Elf Owl can live up to five years; larger species, like the Great Horned Owl, can live to be nearly 30. Photos (left to right) by Terry Sohl and Brent Barnes/Shutterstock

Longevity and Conservation

Longer-lived birds often have fewer young each breeding season and take longer to reach adulthood. This means that their ability to successfully produce young can be dependent on each individual being able to live a long time. Wisdom, a 69-year-old female Laysan Albatross that currently holds the record as the oldest-known wild bird, may have produced as many as 36 chicks over the course of her life. If this seems like a lot, consider that a very productive female turkey might produce nearly that many chicks over the course of one or two years!

The slow-paced lifestyle of long-lived birds such as albatrosses can have important consequences for conservation. On islands, for example, where birds have long lifespans, the introduction of new threats such as invasive predators can have disastrous results.

ABC’s work to protect long-lived island-nesting birds such as the Hawaiian Petrel is one way we’re helping long-lived bird species continue to make the most of their slow and steady lifestyles.

ABC works to improve prospects for birds throughout the Americas and beyond. This means taking on human-caused challenges to birds including habitat loss, building collisions, pesticides, and climate change. Your support helps us achieve conservation for birds and their habitats.

Dr. Steve Austad generously offered advice for this blog. His book Methuselah’s Zoo, which focuses on aging in the animal world, comes out in 2021. John C. Mittermeier is the Director of Threatened Species Outreach at ABC. He works with ABC’s partners in Bolivia and helps to lead ABC’s lost birds and bird trade initiatives.

Copyright 2021 © American Bird Conservancy. All Rights Reserved. American Bird Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) organization. EIN: 52-1501259

https://c.sharethis.mgr.consensu.org/portal-v2.html

https://abcbirds.org/blog21/bird-longevity/

More Than 3,500 Turtles Are Rescued From Texas Cold

www.ecowatch.com

In particular, the freezing temperatures are cold stunning endangered sea turtles — making them so cold that they lose the ability to swim or feed.

“You could put a cold-stunned turtle in a half an inch of water and they’d drown,” Wendy Knight, executive director of conservation nonprofit Sea Turtle Inc., told The New York Times.

Turtles can become cold stunned when temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, according to The Washington Post. But that is unusual for South Padre Island, a beach town at the southern tip of Texas where Sea Turtle Inc. is located. Usually, volunteers might rescue dozens to hundreds of cold-stunned turtles. But by Tuesday, the group wrote on Facebook that they were caring for more than 2,500 turtles. By late Tuesday, more than 3,500 turtles had been rescued and brought to the town’s convention center, where they were being warmed in kiddie pools and tarps, The Washington Post reported.

The rescue involved a collective effort. Social media posts showed a retiree hauling turtles in the back of her car and Texas Game Wardens lining the deck of their ship with turtles.

Texas Game Wardens assigned to Cameron county rescued 141 sea turtles from the frigid waters of the Brownsville Shi… https://t.co/I9IFZwTqnl — Texas Game Warden (@Texas Game Warden)1613523864.0

“It is a huge, huge community effort,” Gina McLellan, a 71-year-old retired professor and volunteer, told The Washington Post. “We very often don’t even think about the [cold’s] impact on animals, because we’re so worried about our own electricity and water. With this kind of event, it’s a classic display of humanity toward animals.”

However, the turtles currently face the same problem as people: a lack of power. Knight said that Sea Turtle Inc. is still in the dark. The convention center they are using as an overflow space has generators, but sick or injured animals need the heated tanks only their fully powered hospital can provide.

“All of these efforts will be in vain if we do not soon get power restored,” Knight said in a Facebook video, reported HuffPost. “We need our power back on.”

It is also unclear how many of the rescued turtles will ultimately recover, volunteers told The Washington Post. Knight told The New York Times that the cold-stunning event could impact the turtles’ overall population. Five Texas sea turtle species are listed as threatened or endangered, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The turtles aren’t the only ones harmed by the cold spell. At least 23 people have died in the winter storm that froze the south and central U.S., The New York Times reported. More than a dozen dogs were rescued from the cold near Houston, while one was found dead, according to The Washington Post. A chimpanzee, several lemurs and monkeys and many tropical birds died at an animal sanctuary near San Antonio after the facility lost power Monday morning, The San Antonio Express-News reported.

The sanctuary, Primarily Primates, evacuated some of the animals Monday night, but could not save them all.

“I’ve never faced a decision like this,” Executive Director Brooke Chavez told The San Antonio Express-News. “Having to decide who we can save, depending on the predictability of which animals we can catch.”

https://www.ecowatch.com/turtle-rescue-texas-2650597417.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1

Why Do Elephants Rarely Get Cancer?

FIREPAW, Inc.

The Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare [FIREPAW] is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit research and education foundation

The rules of nature tell us that large, long-lived animals should have the highest risk of cancer. The calculation is simple: Tumors grow when genetic mutations cause individual cells to reproduce too quickly. A long life creates more opportunities for those cancerous mutations to arise. So, too, does a massive body: Big creatures — which have many more cells — should develop tumors more frequently. Why, then, does cancer rarely afflict elephants, with their long lifespans and gargantuan bodies? Scientists went looking for the answer…

The first discovery was that elephants possess extra copies of a wide variety of genes associated with tumor suppression.  But this phenomenon is not unique to elephants, so they pressed on for more information…

“One of the expectations is that as you get a really big body, your burden of cancer should increase because things with big bodies have more cells.  The fact that this isn’t true across species — a long-standing paradox in evolutionary medicine and cancer biology — indicates that evolution found a way to reduce cancer risk.”

-Vincent Lynch, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences

The research concluded that duplication of tumor suppressor genes is quite common among elephants’ living and extinct relatives, including in small ones like Cape golden moles (a burrowing animal) and elephant shrews (a long-nosed insectivore). The data suggest that tumor suppression capabilities preceded or coincided with the evolution of exceptionally big bodies, facilitating this development.

“We found that: Elephants have lots and lots and lots of extra copies of tumor suppressor genes, and they all contribute probably a little bit to cancer resistance.”

-Vincent Lynch, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences

The final analysis:  Elephants do have enhanced cancer protections, compared with relatives.  Though many elephant relatives harbor extra copies of tumor suppressor genes, the scientists found that elephant genomes possess some unique duplications that may contribute to tumor suppression through genes involved in DNA repair; resistance to oxidative stress; and cellular growth, aging and death.


Journal Reference:  Juan M Vazquez, Vincent J Lynch. Pervasive duplication of tumor suppressors in Afrotherians during the evolution of large bodies and reduced cancer risk. eLife, 2021; 10 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.65041


Elephants evolved to have enhanced protections against cancer

https://firepaw.org/2021/02/05/why-do-elephants-rarely-get-cancer-study/

No traps on public lands

The Golden Eagle

National Eagles Day

Petition: Outlaw Cruel Dog Hunting Where Foxes Are Torn to Shreds

ladyfreethinker.org

Representative Image via Wikimedia Commons/David John Crawford

PETITION TARGET: South Antrim MLA, Chair of the Assembly’s All-Party Group on Animal Welfare John Blair  

In Northern Ireland, foxes continue to be lawfully torn to shreds by dogs for sport — enduring prolonged suffering from multiple bites, tears, and wounds on the way to their slow, bloody and painful deaths. 

But a new bill could end the uncivilized, cruel blood sport and bring Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the United Kingdom, which banned hunting animals with dogs more than a decade ago.

John Blair – the South Antrim Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), Chair of the Assembly’s All–Party Group on Animal Welfare told the Belfast Telegraph that “animals ripped to shreds by dogs is nothing but cruelty.”  

Blair said he supports and plans to soon introduce the new bill, which would prohibit people from using dogs to hunt foxes, hare, and stag and also would prevent people setting terriers on wildlife in Northern Ireland.

 A poll, commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports and conducted by the market-research firm Ipos Mori, showed that more than 80% of respondents – including those in rural communities – support the ban

Sign this petition encouraging Northern Ireland’s lawmakers to reform the country’s outdated hunting laws and join the rest of the United Kingdom in banning the brutally cruel dog hunts for good.

https://ladyfreethinker.org/sign-outlaw-cruel-dog-hunting-where-foxes-are-torn-to-shreds-2/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email

Bird of the week

The Snow Owl

Bird of the Week

Cattlemen Tell EnviroNews Ranchers Want Mexican Wolves Killed, Despite Being Paid for Livestock Losses

www.environews.tv

Cattlemen Tell EnviroNews Ranchers Want Mexican Wolves Killed, Despite Being Paid for Livestock Losses

14 – 17 minutes


(EnviroNews Arizona) — Parts of eastern Arizona are a conflict zone, as a 100-year war between ranchers, conservation groups, government agencies, and the endangered Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) rages on. The rarest subspecies of gray wolf, also known as “el lobo,” is doing what wolves have always done in their native territories: they hunt and eat animals weakened by misfortune, time and nature itself. But ranchers who sell their cows, sometimes for $1200-$1500 per animal, aren’t happy when someone’s future hamburger becomes a wolf’s dinner.

Even though the government will compensate ranchers for cows killed by wolves, a new survey reveals most cattle farmers feel el lobo’s reintroduction into the area is a threat to ranching – and their livelihoods.

“[Ranchers] realize that [wolves are] there and they’re there to stay now,” Jerome Rosa, Executive Director of the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association, which funded the survey, told EnviroNews in a phone interview. “They just have to do the best they can to try and manage the situation and try to do what they can to be able to live, you know, cohesively. But if they had a preference, [absolutely they] would like to not have that apex predator out there.”

Back From the Brink of Extinction

When Rosa said, “out there,” he is referring to the southwestern United States – part of the Mexican wolf’s indigenous turf. Early in the 1900s when the livestock industry began booming, the federal government hired trappers to eradicate all wolves – and they were nearly successful in that task with el lobo.

“This genetically [and] morphologically unique animal came about as close to extinction as any creature can get without actually going over the brink,” Michael Robinson, a senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, told EnviroNews.

And how close is “close?” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) official Stephen Guertin told a congressional subcommittee “the Mexican wolf was all but eliminated from the wild by the 1970s due to extensive predator control initiatives.” According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s (AGFD) website, Mexican wolves had once disappeared completely from Arizona and New Mexico.

But when the Endangered Species Act (ESA/the Act) passed in 1973, these critters finally received some appreciation. USFWS hired trappers again — this time to capture live wolves that could still be found in Mexico, in an effort to save the species from total annihilation. The agency was only able to find and capture five wild wolves; four males and one female. With time running out, USFWS took those specimens and launched a captive breeding program.

In 1998 el lobo caught a break and received an invitation to return home to the Southwest and 11 were released into the Blue Range Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Area in Arizona.

“They’re part of the natural ecosystem,” Robinson said. “They’re a beautiful, intelligent social animal that helps maintain balance, and they deserve to be there.”

Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)

The USFWS’ website hails the breeding program as a victory: “Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the Mexican wolf can once again be heard in the mountains of the southwestern United States.” Despite the agency’s victory dance, ranchers certainly were not out holding “welcome home” signs. The conflict zone reemerged — as did the wolf killings.

Money Can’t Buy Wolves Love

To help ease concerns, ranchers have been compensated for depredations since the wolves were first reintroduced in 1998 and in 2015 the State of Arizona Livestock Loss Board was formed. Ranchers can submit claims to the board for depredations when they can prove Mexican wolves most likely killed their animals. According to the agency’s most recent annual report ranchers have been paid more than $143,000 over the last few years.

But Rosa told EnviroNews these reimbursements still can’t buy the wolves love. He said the number of cattle they kill exceeds what ranchers claim as a loss:

Some [ranchers] just don’t want to deal with the red tape. They don’t want to deal with the paperwork. Or, when they find these carcasses, they’re too far gone. And remember: these cattle are out there in these vast, vast landscapes in really, really rugged terrain, and so often, when they do find a depredation, there’s nothing there to investigate. You know, there’s not enough to be able to prove it was a depredation. So, [ranchers] just don’t say anything. It’s like, “Well, you know, we took a hit on that.”

Rosa added that there’s no way for cattlemen to calculate losses for livestock that die from exhaustion and dehydration after being chased by wolves, or cows that get stressed out, thin, and don’t reproduce.

David Parsons, the wildlife biologist who led USFWS’ effort to reintroduce the Mexican wolf into the Southwest, told EnviroNews he’s heard those claims, but not the veracity of them. “Open range cattle die for many reasons other than predation or harassment by predators, such as weather extremes, disease, toxic plants, and even lightning strikes,” he refuted.

Hawk’s Nest Pack Released into Pre-Release Pen in 1998 — Photo: Dave Parsons

Parsons is now a science advisor for the conservation group Project Coyote. He said figuring out an exact cause of a cow’s death is arduous. “It would be very difficult to tease out the significance of mortality caused by predator harassment compared to all other causes of mortality.”

Natural Born Killers?

No one disputes that wolves are natural born killers. But Rosa claimed there are far more wolves out there than official counts reflect. “As the wolf populations increase, the cattle populations will decrease. I think that’s tragic,” he said.

Rosa added the more the packs grow, the more food they will need. “And unfortunately, the realism of wolves is they don’t just kill when they’re hungry. They kill for sport,” he said. “That’s what they do. You know, they are… that’s what they do. I mean, they’re killers.” But many experts dispute that and say wolves do not kill for the fun of it.

Greta Anderson — Deputy Director, Western Watersheds Project

“They kill to eat,” Greta Anderson, Deputy Director of the Western Watersheds Project told EnviroNews. “When humans find animals that have been killed by wolves but are uneaten, they should assume the carcasses haven’t been consumed yet, as animals will routinely return to kill sites and continue to feed off a carcass as long as they can.”

Regarding the numbers of wolves, federal and state officials have boots on the ground, the AGFD even pays five full-time biologists to help manage and tabulate the numbers. Currently, there’s a minimum of 76 Mexican gray wolves in the state and about 163 total in the Southwest. So, even after over two decades of “recovery” in the wild, the current number of lobos is far from the estimated 3000-4000 that roamed the U.S. in the early 1900s.

Currently, wolf tracking is done in many ways: about half the estimated population wears radio collars, others are counted on the ground, in the air, and even by conducting howl surveys where biologists listen for wolves return howls.

“I don’t think the cattle growers have a basis for contending that the numbers are substantially higher than announced,” Robinson said. “If there were significantly more wolves on the landscape than the interagency field team now contends, wouldn’t those wolves be breeding with each other, and wouldn’t their numbers grow to the point that their presences couldn’t be denied by anyone?”

Wolf Depredation Prevention

What about just deploying measures to keep wolves away from cows, so fewer end up getting eaten? According to the cattle association’s survey, some feel “spending on preventative practices can be large relative to returns.” And ranchers’ willingness to pay to avoid depredations may be an area they’ll study in the future.

Jerome Rosa — Executive Director, Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association

Rosa said prevention can be challenging, expensive and more assistance is welcome, adding, “I think the ranchers would like to have all the available tools in their toolbox to be able to manage the situation.”

But in addition to reimbursements for depredations, there’s also money out there to help ranchers pay for prevention. One example: the State of Arizona Livestock Loss Board slated $110,000 to develop effective methods of preventing wolf and cattle interactions.

At present, preventative tools like tracking collars, that help to alert ranchers when wolves are in the area, are being used along with blinking lights, electric fences, and range riders. The downside, Rosa said, is that batteries burn out, and some prevention is burdensome.

All of these non-lethal measures just work for a short period of time,” he contended. “These wolves are extremely, extremely intelligent, and they get immune to those systems, and so then you constantly have to be changing.”

Mexican Wolf With Radio Collar — Photo: Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team

One solution Rosa offered is to limit the wolf population to a “manageable number” and kill problem wolves. “In areas where we’re having problems, then we need to go to lethal take on those packs,” Rosa told EnviroNews.

“You mean kill the wolves?” EnviroNews reiterated for clarity. “Yes. Yes,” Rosa asserted. And sometimes ranchers ask for just that and the federal government obliges.

Mexican Gray Wolf — Photo: KTAR Pheonix

Experts tallied reports for EnviroNews and found that since Mexican wolves were reintroduced to the Southwest the feds have killed about 21 lobos. The most common reason was for livestock depredations.

Dave Parsons Conducts Health Check on Captive-Born Mexican Wolf Pup

Conservationists insist killing this already beleaguered species is not the answer. Instead, they say regulators should require ranchers to use more preventative measures and remove the remains of dead cattle immediately, so the scent doesn’t attract predators. Furthermore, they insist there’s plenty of money out there to help ranchers outsmart even the craftiest of wolves.

“The government has asked nothing of the ranchers — at least required nothing,” Robinson continued. “They have asked nicely at times, you know, ‘Would you mind doing this?’ And sometimes the answer is ‘yes’ and sometimes the answer is ‘no.’”

Parsons claimed some wolves are being killed in “cryptic poaching” — meaning poaching that goes undetected. “Uncollared wolves killed in remote areas are rarely discovered by agency biologists, and the same is true for collared wolves when the poacher immediately disables the collar,” he added.

What’s at Stake?

Rosa told EnviroNews that if something isn’t done to curb Mexican wolf numbers, more ranchers will hang up their hats. Fewer cattle, he said, means less meat at the grocery store and more wildfires because ungrazed pastures provide fuel for flames to spread. “Killing wolves will allow [for] cattle, [and for] more people to be able to continue having cattle, out there to graze these spots,” he asserted.

Mexican Wolf — Photo: Columbus Zoo

But in addition to the many tangible issues, palpable on the ground between ranchers and conservationists, the more esoteric factor of global warming looms. Scientists say the rising trend of massive wildfires in the West is fueled in part by methane emissions from livestock and the agricultural sector at large.

Robinson told EnviroNews responsible, proactive ranchers should tap into the resources available to help keep afloat, but pulled no punches when emphasizing the free marketplace should determine the better mousetrap:

As for whether ranchers will go out of business due to depredations in the absence of wolf killing, that very much depends. Not all business ventures in the United States are destined to succeed, even when subsidized. The fact that some ranchers refuse to take measures to protect their stock would seem to make them less likely to stay in business.

Parsons agreed. “If a heavily subsidized livestock production business cannot afford to protect its primary asset (cows) by methods such as confining cows to pens for calving and hiring range riders to monitor and control their whereabouts on the landscape, then perhaps it is not a viable or appropriate business enterprise,” he said.

This Land is Not Your Land

Finally, EnviroNews asked Rosa, “Do you see the Mexican wolf as a vital part of the ecosystem? Should the species be there [at all]?” His answer: Nope. He concluded:

I don’t see it as a vital part. It wasn’t here for many, many years after they had been hunted down in the past. Now, some will say, “OK, they take care of, you know, sick animals, they’ll put them down.” They’re non-discriminatory. So, they’re not just taking [out] the weakness of a species. They take these animals down just for sport. I mean, it’s just what they do. And so, I understand, you know, the wolf advocates reasoning that they use — that they try to use. But, [it’s] not logical, and it’s not realistic. But, you know, I understand that that’s their position.

That’s something that enrages conservationists who say the wolves aren’t into sport killing and were there first. “The livestock industry has sought to transform the entire ecosystem of the Southwest… they see the wolves as the worst part of the ecosystem that they want to eliminate,” Robinson said.

Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)

So, the 100-year war between ranchers, cattle, wolves, conservationists and government agencies continues. Many battles ensue, no side declares any winners, but all have the instinct to keep fighting.

OTHER GREAT REPORTS ABOUT MEXICAN WOLVES FROM ENVIRONEWS

RECENT AND RELATED

OTHER ENVIRONEWS REPORTS ON WOLVES

https://www.environews.tv/092520-cattle-assoc-tells-environews-ranchers-want-mexican-wolves-killed-despite-being-paid-for-livestock-losses/

Mink, New Hampshire’s Famous Rogue Black Bear, Has Died

nhpr.org

Daniela Allee

Mink, the infamous black bear sow that made the Hanover area its home for several years – and made an impression in New Hampshire and across the country- has died.

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Mink was found on Tuesday near the Mascoma River in Lebanon. Andrew Timmins, New Hampshire’s bear biologist, says he had noticed there wasn’t much movement on her tracking collar for several days.

Early on, he wasn’t too concerned. But when he checked back on Monday and there was still no movement from Mink, he called a colleague in Hanover to check on her.

“Something was going on. That collar was not moving,” he said. “That usually means one of two things: that means the animal has slipped [off] its collar, or it can mean the animal’s not moving because it’s dead.”

Timmins says based on her injuries and location he suspects Mink was hit by a car.

This year, Mink had a litter of three cubs. Timmins says this summer Mink and the cubs were spending a lot of time eating berries along a powerline corridor, and mostly staying away from residential areas.

Related: Fate of Hanover’s Rogue Mama Bear Up In The Air

“She was a really amazing animal that was highly resourceful and overcame all odds,” he said. “She knew how to move around that landscape very successfully and did it for a long time.”

In 2017, Fish and Game had planned on euthanizing Mink and her cubs, after they had roamed Hanover’s neighborhoods for food. That year, two of the bears got inside a home.

But after public outcry, Gov. Sununu intervened. Mink’s cubs were relocated, and she stayed in the area until 2018.

That year, she was training her cubs to search for food from homes. She was then relocated to northern Coos County, and then made national headlines in 2019 as she walked thousands of miles back to the Upper Valley.

“The vast majority of people out there were pretty fond of Mink,” Timmins said.

For the bear biologist, Mink left another lasting impact in the community.

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“Because of her, Hanover is a lot more bear savvy now than they were five-years ago. She taught people that you can’t have your bird feeders out, you can’t have your garbage unsecured,” he said.  

Timmins says even though Mink is gone, it doesn’t mean other bears in the area are gone and that residents still need to be vigilant about securing garbage and keeping bird feeders down.

Timmins also recommends residents in the area call Fish and Game if they see the cubs, so they can be taken to a bear preserve in nearby Lyme.  The number to call is 603-271- 2461.

https://www.nhpr.org/post/mink-new-hampshires-famous-rogue-black-bear-has-died#stream/0#stream/0

Orangutan found on palm oil plantation returned to the wild

thejakartapost.com

An orangutan named Boncel is pictured after being translocated to the main forest from a palm oil plantation, in Ketapang, West Kalimantan province, Indonesia, on August 18, 2020. (Courtesy of /International Animal Rescue (IAR) Indonesia/Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry (KLHK)/Rudiansyah/Handout via REUTERS)

A Bornean orangutan found on an Indonesian palm plantation has been rescued and returned to the forest, a conservation group said on Wednesday, the latest example of how habitat loss is piling pressure on the critically endangered animal in the wild.

The male orangutan, named “Boncel” and estimated to be 30- to 40-years-old, was found in a plantation in the Indonesian portion of Borneo island with four other orangutans in early August, International Animal Rescue (IAR) said in a statement.

“We found five orangutans (in the area) and we managed to relocate four of them back into the wild, except this male orangutan that still remained in the plantation,” said Andiri Nurillah, a veterinarian working for the Indonesian arm of IAR.

The great ape was darted with a tranquilizer at the plantation in Ketapang, West Kalimantan province, before being put in a cage and taken by motor boat on a river to a safer area in the forest.

Read also: Leonardo DiCaprio shows support for Sumatran orangutan conservation program

Boncel was in good condition when found, apart from a fractured finger and other minor injuries, said Nurillah, adding that his move had gone smoothly.

The release came soon after two other Bornean orangutans were rescued from captivity on Java island and sent to a rehabilitation center on Borneo to assess whether they can be released back into the wild.

Only around 100,000 Bornean orangutans are estimated to be left in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund, with the population crashing by more than 50 percent over the past 60 years.

The animals have suffered from illegal poaching, as well as destruction of habitat due to large-scale logging and replacement of forests with cash crops such as palm oil. 

https://www.thejakartapost.com/amp/life/2020/08/20/orangutan-found-on-palm-oil-plantation-returned-to-the-wild.html?__twitter_impression=true

‘Easygoing’ Black Bear Tranquilized, Killed After Locals Admitted to Luring Animal for Photos

people.com

Benjamin VanHoose

“You were willing to coexist, but people were not,” wrote the North Shore Black Bear Society about the bear

A wild black bear was killed after becoming accustomed to humans in Canada.

Last Wednesday, the North Shore Black Bear Society reported on Facebook that a bear they’ve encountered on several occasions this summer — whom they affectionately named Huckleberry — was tranquilized and put down by local conservation officers for being too comfortable around humans.

The North Vancouver, British Columbia-based organization wrote that the bear had been lured and allowed to eat food left out by local residents, who wanted to capture the animal on camera.

“On July 31st you were eating berries at the edge of the forest. We headed out to make sure you were not being crowded or chased by dogs. By the time we reached you, you were being followed by residents who wanted a video of you eating organics from an unlocked cart,” read the post. “Due to the crowd of people, it wasn’t safe for us to move you on. When you finished eating, you calmly walked by and left our gaze. That was the last time we saw you.”

“Later that day you were tranquilized by the Conservation Officers and taken away to be killed,” they continued. “You were willing to coexist, but people were not.”

NSBBS added that Huckleberry “showed us every time we met that you were a good-natured bear, we are deeply sorry that we couldn’t save you.” The team added, “We’ll always have a place in our hearts for you, sweet boy.”

RELATED: Colorado Officials Looking to Euthanize Bear After It Entered a Home and Attacked Owner

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NSBBS representatives recalled on Facebook that they first encountered Huckleberry on July 2. During this initial meeting, Huckleberry was quick to get out of the way of humans. Their next interaction would lead to the story behind the bear’s name.

“The next time we met, you were at the roadside eating berries. As we walked you back to the forest, you stood and sniffed a garbage can,” NSBBS shared. “We used a firm tone and told you to leave — you listened. As you walked away, you left a bright pink scat full of huckleberries! We were so proud of you for eating natural foods, despite all the tempting treats residents had left available to you. From that moment, we named you Huckleberry!”

NSBBS remembered that Huckleberry would “roll” his tongue out at them to “smell the air as we walked together back to the forest” — a behavior NSBBS said showed that the bear recognized them.

RELATED VIDEO: Jeff Corwin Warns Sad Moments Are ‘Part of the Story Arc’ on Alaska Animal Rescue

RELATED: Two Bears Brawl in the Middle of a Highway as a Wolf Watches Quietly from a Distance

NSBBS said nearby residents admitted to allowing the “easy-going, calm bear” to pick through their garbage so they could photograph him.

“Reports started coming in of you finding easy rewards from garbage and organics carts. People admitted they allowed you to do that for a video and they neglected to move you on … a death sentence,” they wrote. “If only people had used a firm voice with you, you would have listened. Or respected you enough to not have any garbage or food scraps accessible in the first place. We did you a disservice, Huckleberry.”

  •  

https://people.com/pets/black-bear-killed-after-locals-admit-to-leaving-food-out-to-get-photos/?amp=true&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=social-share-article&__twitter_impression=true

Sign Petition: Baby Kangaroos Are Beaten And Skinned to Make These Shoes!

thepetitionsite.com

Boasting some of the richest biodiversity in the world, Australia is estimated to be home to as many as 300,000 different species of animals. In such company, it takes a truly iconic animal to fill the role of Australia’s national animal — and the kangaroo certainly lives up to the task. Immediately recognizable are their long, powerful legs, allowing them to travel over six feet per leap, and the pouch they sport on their belly for carrying their young. But even their emblem status does not keep them safe from the whims of humans. Kangaroo skin, strong but light, has long been sought after for things like football (or soccer in the U.S.) cleats, baseball mitts, and many types of gloves. California, a U.S. state known for leading the way in animal welfare policy, was ahead of its time when it banned the sale of products made from kangaroo skin all the way back in 1971. But in 2020, an investigation discovered that some huge brands thought they were above the law. Nike and Puma have both been selling kangaroo leather products in California despite the ban!

Sign the petition today if you want Nike and Puma to do the right thing and abide by California law! Tell them to stop selling kangaroo leather products in the state, and commit to phasing out the use of kangaroo leather company-wide!

These kangaroos are ripped from the wild, stolen from their families and lush homes. The Australian government dictates that kangaroo hunting must be done with a firearm, which is cruel enough — but when it comes to the most vulnerable, like babies or adult kangaroos that are already wounded, the cruelty is amplified. These poor animals have their heads severed from their bodies, or they are painfully bludgeoned to death. The officially stated reason for this heinous method is to “destroy the brain,” and apparently any semblance of humanity. California’s law is an indirect attempt to curb this brutality. Companies like Nike and Puma disregarding said law puts pain and profit above compassion and animal welfare.

Ideally, kangaroo leather would be totally banned worldwide. With advanced technology and a wide variety of synthetic materials at our disposal, using the skin from innocent animals for our luxury sport equipment is simply outdated and cruel. But passing laws that keep these products off the shelves is the right step towards making them obsolete, and Californai did that! But statewide laws can be difficult to enforce when these companies sell to states and nations all over the world. That means that it is Nike and Puma’s responsibility to do the right thing and abide by the law! They have the time, money, and resources to do so — any noncompliance is a result of negligence, apathy, and a gross misuse of power.

If we speak out enough, we can really get Nike and Puma where it matters most — in their profits. Let’s make sure that they know we are watching, and until they decide to put animal welfare first, we won’t rest! Sign the petition and demand that Nike and Puma comply with California law, halting the sale of products made with kangaroo skin in the state, and then take it one step further by phasing out all kangaroo leather products!

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/359/582/784/baby-kangaroos-are-beaten-and-skinned-to-make-these-shoes/?TAP=1732

Snow White

End the Taxpayer Funded War on Wildlife Petition

secure.wildearthguardians.org

For far too long the federal government has used our hard-earned tax dollars to slaughter native wildlife on public lands. Tell your representative and senators this all-out war on wildlife and public safety must stop today. Download our advocacy kit to learn more ways you can join us to end the war on wildlife.

Please note: In order to send this form to your senators and representative, all fields must be completed, including title and phone number. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your support on this issue.

Photo Credit: USFWS

Recipients

  • Your Senators
  • Your Representative

https://secure.wildearthguardians.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1095

The Giant African Millipede (Archispirostreptus gigas)

These sparrows are singing a new song, in a rapid, unprecedented shift

api.nationalgeographic.com

By Corryn Wetzel

A white-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) singing in Manitoba, Canada, where a new distinctive call has replaced an old one.Photograph by Glenn Bartley, Minden Pictures

Most birds have distinct calls that tend to stay the same. It’s how birders can recognize a species without seeing it. But new research shows these tunes can change.

Over the course of two decades, white-throated sparrows across western and central Canada have changed one of their songs, replacing a three-note call with a two-note one. The new tune started in British Columbia and spread east—now, most of Canada’s birds are singing it. And it’s still spreading in Quebec, more than 2,000 miles from where it originated.

Although some bird calls undergo slow evolutions, this rapid shift in a bird’s song has never been observed before, says Ken Otter, lead author of the study, published July 2 in the journal Current Biology.

“There is nothing that we know of that’s spread like this,” Otter says.

As the song sweeps west to east, ornithologists wonder what makes the song so catchy—and if the trend will continue. The finding was made possible by crowd-sourced birdsong recordings, which are uncovering patterns that may have previously gone unnoticed.

A song is born

Birdsongs are not just pleasant to listen to, they’re also rich with information, such as the health and fitness of the speaker. Like other birds, male sparrows sing to establish territory and to entice females. It’s only the males that sing certain tunes, and they learn them during a critical window early in their development.

Otter, who studies bird behavior and communication at the University of Northern British Columbia, first noticed that something was up with sparrow calls in the late 1990s. He was doing fieldwork in British Columbia, just west of the Rocky Mountains, with a colleague who usually studies eastern populations of the species.

“We were walking around… and he suddenly said, ‘Your sparrows sound weird.’” Otter hadn’t noticed it before but agreed—they did sound different.

“White-throated sparrows have this classic song that’s supposed to sound like it goes, ‘Oh, my sweet Canada, Canada, Canada,’” he explains. “And our birds sound like they’re going, ‘Oh, my sweet Cana– Cana– Cana– Canada.’”

The new song trend emerged by the 1990s in northern British Columbia, where Otter and his colleague first heard the “weird” call. From there, it crept east, moving across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

In 2004, about half the sparrows in Alberta were singing the new doublet ending, but by 2014, every sparrow in the area had made the shift. By 2015, every sparrow west of central Ontario was singing the doublet ending. It didn’t stop there. In western Quebec, nearly 2,000 miles from where the song began, it’s still spreading.

Knowing that bird songs must be learned from others, Otter and his colleges suspected that eastern and western sparrows may be crossing paths.

In 2013 and 2016, they strapped geolocators to 50 male sparrows breeding in Prince George, British Columbia, to track their seasonal migration path and areas where they winter.

Otter says he expected the western sparrow populations to travel directly south to their overwintering areas in California. Instead, the birds crossed the Rocky Mountains, meeting up with eastern populations in the southern Great Plains of the United States, in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas. This convergence of western and eastern sparrows may act as a tutoring ground for young males, which could learn the new song before returning to their respective breeding ranges.

Using two decades of citizen-recorded data, including more than 1,785 recordings, Otter and his team were able to map the song’s spread. Charting the new song in blue and the old song in red, Otter’s maps show a cascade of blue dots crashing east from 2000 to 2019. Only a thin ribbon of red dots—birds singing the old song—still clings to the eastern edge of the country.

“It’s cool to realize that this sort of happenstance pattern of migration allowed [some sparrows] to then hear birds singing the other form of song”—and then spread—“like a viral contagion,” says Jeffrey Podos, who studies birdsong at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was not involved in the study.

Podos isn’t surprised the birds are learning from each other, but he admits that the pace at which the new song spread is “somewhat surprising.”

“It’s like a blue wave,” he says.

Trendy tweet

New variations of songs crop up constantly, but the vast majority of these aren’t picked up by other birds.

“For some reason, some birds just went deviant,” says Podos, describing the advent of the new doublet-ending song. “You figure it would have just died on the vine, but somehow other birds must have found it interesting.”

Otter and his team didn’t find that birds singing new doublet-ending songs were better at wooing mates or defending territories, so it doesn’t appear to be advantageous or deleterious. This just adds to the mystery of the song’s virality.

“The only thing that we can think of is that the females might have a preference for something that’s slightly novel,” Otter says.

It’s possible that sweeping evolutions in songs like this have happened before but went undetected. Otter’s work relied on recordings from eBird and Xeno-Canto, databases which contain birdsongs recorded and uploaded by people around the world.

Bob Planqué, a cofounder of Xeno-Canto and mathematics professor at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, says this crowd-sourced information is “a tremendous boon to academia.” One reason this model lends itself so well to studying birds, says Planqué, is that recording songs is easy and accessible. Planqué says hundreds of papers a year rely on Xeno-Canto data, which includes over half a million recordings.

Crowd-sourced science is “like having thousands of research assistants spread out across the continent,” Otter says. “It’s allowing researchers to tap into a totally different avenue of research [and] to look at this on a very big scale that was never there before.”

https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/animals/2020/07/new-sparrow-birdsong-replaces-old-tune?__twitter_impression=true

Democrats push environmental policies in $259.5B budget package

thehill.com

By Rebecca Beitsch

The House added a number of environmental measures to the budget Friday, voting to block the Trump administration from drilling in the arctic or rejecting grants for projects and studies tied to climate change. 

The measures were included in a $259.5 billion spending package that passed with a 224-189 vote.

Lawmakers voted on a series of amendments to the budgets for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Interior on Thursday and Friday, seeking to block funding from being used to implement a number of Trump administration rollbacks.

The language includes measures to block a new policy allowing hunting tactics that make it easier to kill bear cubs and wolf pups in Alaska.

Another measure would block the administration from implementing its changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, a bedrock environmental law that green groups have said President Trump is gutting. Trump rolled back the law last week, calling the act, which requires a thorough environmental review of major projects, the “single biggest obstacle” to construction.

The legislation passed by Democrats also blocks drilling in both the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA).

The Trump administration has sought to open more than 80 percent of the NPRA to drilling, while the wildlife refuge was opened for drilling through the 2017 tax cut legislation.

House Democrats have repeatedly worked to block drilling in the ANWR, passing legislation in September that was never taken up by the Senate. 

The legislation includes other measures with a more bipartisan agenda, including an increase in funding to replace lead pipes and language to ensure the EPA will continue with its plans to regulate cancer-linked PFAS chemicals in drinking water.

Lawmakers also voted down a Republican effort to allow importation of elephant or lion hunting trophies taken in Tanzania, Zimbabwe or Zambia. 

https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/508915-dems-push-environmental-policies-in-2595b-budget-package?amp&__twitter_impression=true

The BIG LIE about lion trophy hunting – Africa Geographic

africageographic.com

About Simon Espley

lion skin, trophy hunting

So often we hear from the pro-hunting lobby that by killing free roaming lions, trophy hunters are actually saving lions.

Well, if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle.

That term “sustainable offtake” often creeps into the justification. The trophy hunting of free roaming lions is about as sustainable as putting ice cubes in a mug of steaming coffee. Let’s dig deeper into this issue of sustainable, shall we? A lion skin as a trophy from a hunt in Namibia ©Ton Koene/Alamy

Consider the following six examples of why the trophy hunting of free-roaming lions is NOT sustainable – from the very countries held high by the trophy hunting industry itself as being paragons of sustainable hunting practices:

1. The Namibian government does not know how many breeding-age desert-adapted lions are left, how many territory/pride males there are, or even how many of each sex are killed during human-lion conflict. They told me so – see this article written by me. And yet each year they set trophy hunting quotas for large male desert-adapted lions. The awarding of trophy hunting quotas off the back of no relevant statistics is NOT sustainable.

2. Namibian laws permit rural livestock owners to request for the lethal removal of predators targeting their livestock – so-called ‘problem animals’. Fair enough. BUT trophy hunters are often used to perform the execution, and we know that trophy hunters want to shoot big male lions. And communities benefit financially when ‘problem animals’ are identified and taken down by hunters. Is it coincidence then that there is a large bias towards male lions amongst those lions reported as being ‘problem animals’, and consequently executed by trophy hunters?

In the last scientific research report on Namibia’s desert-adapted lions, published in 2010, the author states, when referring to six collared male lions killed by trophy hunters as ‘problem animals’: “In all six cases, however, it is arguable whether the adult males that were shot, were in fact the lions responsible for the killing of livestock.”

This gap in legislation – empowering the two beneficiaries of ‘problem animal’ execution to act as witness, jury, judge and executioner – is NOT sustainable.

3. The above report concluded: “The long-term viability of the desert lion population has been compromised by the excessive killing of adult and sub-adult males. There is an urgent need to adapt the management and utilisation strategies relating to lions, if the long-term conservation of the species in the Kunene were to be secured.”

Since then the situation has worsened as regards male lion offtake, with some areas now almost devoid of male lions. Even the last known adult male lion in the Sesfontein Conservancy was earmarked to be shot – again conveniently classified as a ‘problem animal’ – until international pressure forced the Minister to change his mind. A rapidly reducing male/female lion ratio is NOT sustainable.

4. Craig Packer, director of the Lion Research Center at the University of Minnesota, has led a series of studies identifying over-hunting as the major reason for the steep decline in lion populations in Tanzania, the lion hunting mecca. Packer was banned from entering Tanzania for exposing corruption with regard to lion trophy hunting.

Being tagged as the cause of crashing lion populations makes trophy hunting of lions in Tanzania NOT sustainable, and the widespread use of fraud and corruption as a business tool suggests a morally bankrupt industry.

5. When 13-year-old Cecil the lion was shot in Zimbabwe, the over-riding justification was that he was ‘too old’ to breed or to successfully hold a territory (as if those are the only uses of a mature lion). Then, Cecil’s son, Xanda, was also shot by a hunter, at the age of six – and the professional hunter Richard Cooke knew that Xanda was a pride male with cubs, and lied about the situation. In fact, Cooke also led the hunt that killed Xanda’s other son – at the age of four.

So, lions of all ages are being shot, and the trophy hunting industry lies and re-invents the justifications each time to suit their need to keep the business model rolling. That is NOT sustainable.

6. Rural communities living amongst wild lions have to see meaningful and sustainable benefit from having lions in the area. Lions are often a threat to lives and livelihoods and these people have the right to expect to be compensated to behave differently. After all, the rest of the world has mostly sanitised itself of large predators.

Surely for trophy hunting to be truly sustainable, these communities must receive a significant portion of the trophy fee? A 2013 study by Economists at Large, an Australian organisation of conservation-minded economists, found that on average only 3% of money generated by trophy hunting winds up in the hands of local people.

During research for my article referred to in point one above, Namibian government officials told me that the relevant community only receives about 12.5% of the trophy hunting fee for a quota lion (US$10,000 of the ± US$80,000 fee) – and only about 1% in the case of a ‘problem animal’ hunt. The rest goes to the professional hunting operator. This is NOT fair or sustainable.

This is what we do know about lions: Populations have crashed from about 450,000 in the 1940’s to about 20,000 today – mostly due to human-wildlife conflict, habitat loss, prey base loss and trophy hunting (US Fish and Wildlife Services).

The remaining pockets of lions are increasingly isolated from other populations, and no longer able to disperse and so maintain population genetic diversity and stability. When young males flee from dominant pride males, and seek out other lions, they leave protected areas and are picked off by hunters and livestock farmers – thus preventing the vital dispersal of young lions to other areas.

The surgical removal of big male lions by trophy hunters within the context of the above is NOT sustainable in any way, shape or form – regardless of what the other causes of lion population reductions are. The trophy hunting industry claim of sustainable practises is nothing but a lie. It’s a fiercely protected justification to continue the senseless and outdated fetish for killing off Africa’s big male lions for fun and ego. The fantasies of a few rich people are taking precedence over the survival of an African icon, over the proper functioning of Africa’s wild places and over the tourism industry which brings in many times more revenue, jobs, skills enhancement and societal benefits.

The trophy hunting of Africa’s wild, free roaming lions is NOT sustainable and has to stop.

https://africageographic.com/stories/trophy-hunting-wild-lions-big-lie-sustainability/

Two Norwegian Forest Cats

 

Norwegian Forest cat is a breed of domestic cat originating in northern Europe. This natural breed is adapted to a very cold climate, with a top coat of glossy, long, water shedding hair and a wooly undercoat for insulation.

Assam floods: 96 animals die at Kaziranga National Park


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1 of 20 One-Horned Rhinos take shelter at the higher places at the flood-hit Kaziranga National Park in Nagaonon. A total of 96 animals have died in the Kaziranga National Park in Golaghat district of Assam due to floods, the state government informed. Image Credit: ANI

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2 of 20 A a wild elephant and a calf cross a National Highway at the flood affected Kaziranga National Park. “So far, 96 animals have died in the park including eight rhinos, seven wild boars, two swamp deers, 74 hog deer and two porcupines,” park officials said. Image Credit: AFP

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3 of 20 A Rhino sits along the roadside as he strayed out of the Kaziranga National Park. A report from the government of Assam stated that a total of 132 animals had been rescued from the Kaziranga National Park. The park is currently 85 per cent submerged under floodwaters. Image Credit: ANI

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4 of 20 “Water level at Pasighar and Dibrugarh are below the prescribed danger level. The floodwater in Numaligarh, Dhansirimukh and Tezpur are still above danger level,” the report stated. Above: A forest guard on a boat takes away the carcass of a wild buffalo calf through flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora. Image Credit: AP

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5 of 20 A herd of wild elephants takes shelter on highland inside the flooded Burapahar range of Kaziranga National Park. At least 79 people have died and nearly 3.6 million people have been affected in 30 districts of Assam due to floods caused by the monsoon rains and the rise in water levels of the Brahmaputra river, informed the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA). Image Credit: PTI

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6 of 20 Water buffaloes stand in flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora, Morigaon district. Image Credit: AP

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7 of 20 Tiger in search of safer place at the flood-affected area at Bagmari village near Kaziranga in Nagaon district. Image Credit: ANI

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8 of 20 Deers wade through floodwaters in a submerged area of the Kaziranga National Park, in Kanchanjuri. Image Credit: ANI

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9 of 20 A one-horned rhinoceros along with her baby stands in floodwater inside Kaziranga National Park, in Golaghat district. Image Credit: PTI

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10 of 20 A female rhino calf about 1-year-old, who got separated from mother was rescued from Difaloo pathar, Sukani village by the Staffs of Eastern Range, Agoratoli, Kaziranga National Park. Image Credit: ANI

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11 of 20 A wild water buffalo eats tree branches standing in flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora, Morigaon district. Image Credit: AP

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12 of 20 A wild elephant moves towards the higher ground after the flood hits Kaziranga National Park, in Nagaon. Image Credit: ANI

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13 of 20 Wild deer cross the National Highway-37 in search for safer places at the flood-affected area of Kaziranga National Park, in Nagaon District. Image Credit: ANI

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14 of 20 A group of wild elephants cross the road to move towards the higher land, following the flooding in the low-lying areas of Kaziranga National Park, in Nagaon. Image Credit: ANI

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15 of 20 A forest employee cuts branches of a tree for rhinoceros as a forest guard keeps vigil near one horned rhinoceros taking shelter from floods on a highland at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora. Image Credit: AP

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16 of 20 A forest guard on a boat takes away the carcass of a wild buffalo calf through flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora, Morigaon district. Image Credit: AP

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17 of 20 A one horned rhinoceros and a calf wades through flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora. Image Credit: AP

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18 of 20 A herd of wild elephants takes shelter on a higher place at flooded Kaziranga National Park, in Nagaon. Image Credit: ANI

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19 of 20 Forest guards patrol as one horned rhinoceros take shelter on a highland as flood water rises at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora. Image Credit: AP

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20 of 20 WTI official tries to feed a rhino who is taking shelter near NH 37 in the flood-affected area of Kaziranga National park at Kanchanjuri in Nagaon. Image Credit: ANI Remaining Time -50:21

https://gulfnews.com/photos/news/assam-floods-96-animals-die-at-kaziranga-national-park-1.1595135583306?slide=1

Image

Today is World Snake Day

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The Extraordinary Sea Wolves – PANTHALASSA

panthalassa.org

The coastal wolves have an extraordinary ability to swim across miles between islands.

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Sea wolves are a unique breed of wolf found in the Great Bear Rainforest along the Pacific Coast of Canada. Swimming between islands like fish, they are genetically distinct from their inland cousins, or from wolves in any other part of the world. 

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British Columbia has a relatively low human population where sea wolves enjoy an isolated wilderness – an area of 21-million acres, often described as a “bastion of biodiversity”. There are 25 native species of conifers and grizzly bears, black bears and spirit bears living together.

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In the water, whales, sea lions, seals, seabirds and salmon make the sea extraordinarily richer than anywhere else along the coast.

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For thousands of years, wolves have lived in peace. They had a unique relationship with the coastal First Nations peoples, for whom the wolf was considered as a revered animal treated with admiration and respect.

However, they’re being threatened on all sides by hunting, trapping and industry. Road building and clear cut logging have appeared to be harmful to wolves, not only destroying the forests they live in but making it easier for hunters to gain access to coast wolves.

The Northern Gateway Pipelines project is a new threat. Huge oil tankers will transport oil in this pristine region with the potential for devastating consequences. If an oil tanker ran aground, spilling its content or sinking, it will have long-term harmful impacts on the environment similar as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska. 

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Chris Darimont from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, developed the Rainforest Wolf Project in order to show these wolves as fragile symbols and gain scientific understanding about coastal wolves called “Canada’s newest marine mammal”. 

In the early 2000s, devoted nature photographer and conservationist Ian McAllister, and Canadian wolf biologist Paul Paquet started to conduct research about these coast mainland wolves eating salmon from the wild grey Pacific Ocean. They discovered a remarkable fact that locals already knew: 25 percent of the wolves’ diet was made of fish. Most extraordinary is the coastal wolves’ swimming ability, often swimming across miles between islands.

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These photos are part of a magnificent series from a book entitled “The Sea Wolves, Living Wild in the Great Bear Rainforest”, created by authors Ian Mc Allister and Nicholas Read. The book reveals the importance of preserving the Great Bear Rainforest for every unique creature that lives on the British Columbia’s remote coast.

All photos ©Ian Mc Allister / Pacific Wild

http://www.panthalassa.org/the-sea-wolves/

This frog’s babies erupt out of its back—and other surprising ways animals give birth

api.nationalgeographic.com

By Jake Buehler 9-12 minutes

PUBLISHED June 8, 2020

A Suriname toad, Pipa pipa, at the Saint Louis Zoo. Females of this species birth their young from holes in their backs.Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark

Of the many ways to be born, live birth may be the most familiar to humans. We mammals deliver live, squirming babies, and we think of many other animals as laying eggs—but in reality, animals have found a variety of ways to bring their young into the world.

Live birth, also known as viviparity, is common throughout the animal world, and not just among mammals. It has emerged in fish, amphibians, insects, and arachnids, to name a few.

In fact, viviparity has evolved independently about 150 times in various animal species, including at least 115 times in living reptiles, a number three times higher than in all other vertebrates combined, says Henrique Braz, a herpetologist at the Butantan Institute in São Paulo, Brazil.

There are benefits—and drawbacks—to laying eggs and live-bearing, but these modes of reproduction aren’t an either/or proposition. Egg-laying and live-bearing are two points on a continuum, with many species straddling the middle. (Read about a lizard evolving from egg-laying to live birth.)

Halfway there

All mothers need to do one thing for their offspring: provide nourishment. That’s either as yolk in an egg or, for live-bearing animals, often directly from the mother’s body. (In the unique case of seahorses, it’s the father’s body that feeds the young.)

This frog’s babies erupt out of its back

Some species manage to give birth to live young, yet the mother contributes little to no food in utero. They do this by retaining the babies in eggs inside the mothers’ bodies, letting the young grow and develop using the yolk as a food source. Then, when the young are fully formed and ready to get out into the world, they hatch inside their mother as they’re being born.

This kind of reproduction, called ovoviviparity, is common among venomous snakescalled vipers, though not in most other snakes which lay clutches of eggs. There are also a number of fish—such as mollies and guppies—that reproduce this way. (Read more about how various animal groups give birth.)

One of the more surreal examples is the Suriname toad (Pipa pipa), an exceptionally flat, leaf-like amphibian from South American rainforests. During mating, the male deposits dozens of fertilized eggs onto the female’s back, and then her skin grows around the eggs, creating a surface like inverted bubble wrap. The offspring develop in these small wombs for months. Eventually they erupt from mom’s backand head into the water as little froglets, skipping the tadpole stage entirely.

Why such a strange system? Like other ovoviviparous species, the Suriname toad can give her eggs some protection by carrying them around—useful in a world full of hungry egg predators.

Dining in

Most live-bearing animals provide their babies with some form of sustenance directly.

In mammals, this is common. But West Africa’s critically endangered Nimba toad (Nimbaphrynoides occidentalis) is the only frog fed entirely from its mother’s resources in utero. Female Nimba toads have a nine-month pregnancy, feeding fetal toadlets with a nutritious “uterine milk.”

There are even some viviparous moms that get creative with feeding their young during pregnancy. African tsetse flies (Glossina morsitans) carry a single larva around in their uterus, and it’s fed with a kind of “milk” secreted from a special gland. The Pacific beetle cockroach (Diploptera punctata) gives birth to fully formed, miniaturized young, after fueling them with a similar uterine elixir.

The phenomenon of fetuses dining within the womb can get even stranger. Some live-bearing caecilians—worm-like amphibians that live almost entirely underground or in stream bottoms—actually feed on their mother from the inside. There, they scrape and eat the thickened lining of her oviduct, the passageway that carries eggs from her ovary.

And it can get even more gruesome. A number of shark species host an embryonic battle in the womb, with the babies killing and consuming their siblings for sustenance.

A deeper bond

Some animals take live-bearing even further, interlacing their own circulatory system with that of their developing young, nourishing them and eliminating waste through this linkage. This can take the form of a specialized, temporary organ, like a placenta. Though placentas are typically associated with “placental” mammals such as humans, cats, dogs, and whales, these groups don’t have a monopoly on the organ.

“The organ is not actually just composed of mom’s tissues or baby’s tissues,” says Camilla Whittington, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Sydney. Technically, any organ comprised of both maternal and fetal tissues which exchanges nutrients counts as a placenta. Even marsupials, mammals that carry their young in pouches, have rudimentary placentas. And placentas also have evolved in some unexpected groups.

For example, that sharpnose sharks (Rhizoprionodon) nourish fetuses with an organ that looks precisely like a scaled-down version of a human placenta, Whittington says. There are also some lizard species that develop a placental link with their young, though the African skink Trachylepis ivensi is the only reptile species whose embryos can actually burrow into the wall of the oviduct, approaching the degree of implantation seen in mammal pregnancy.

Worth the effort

Viviparity is clearly not all-or-nothing, but a condition in which there’s flexibility. For example some lizards and snakes are egg-laying in one part of their geographic range, but live-bearers in another. Scientists even observed one lizard lay eggs and give birth to live young in the same clutch.

But why evolve live birth in the first place? There are definitely some drawbacks.

“If you ask any pregnant woman when she’s about two weeks away from giving birth, it’s pretty hard to locomote,” says Whittington. “And you can imagine if you’re a pregnant lizard and you’re very large, it might be hard to escape predators.” (These animals spawn the most offspring in one go.)

Carrying developing young internally also raises the stakes if a mother does get eaten. At least if you’ve deposited your eggs elsewhere, there’s a chance your genetic line may survive even if you perish.

Keeping young inside longer can help protect them, though, and it allows more direct control over their developmental conditions such as temperature. That may be why cold regions host a higher proportion of viviparous species than warmer locations.

“If you live in a cold or variable climate and you just leave your eggs in the nest and walk away, there might be a risk that it’s too cold,” says Whittington.

Whatever advantages viviparous mothers gain from going through pregnancy and live birth, the ability has evolved scores of times throughout the animal kingdom—and that suggests that it must be worth the extra effort.

https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/animals/2020/06/surprising-ways-animals-give-birth-live-young?__twitter_impression=true