Archive for the ‘conservation’ category

Feline Terminators…

January 31, 2013

blofeld-cat– – It’s been said that were videos about cats and pornography eliminated from the internet, there would be little left!  While appealing and loved by many, cats can at times also show a darker side.  Here we see the lap cat of Bond arch-villain Blofeld.  Cats have demonstrated abilities to be efficient predators, as has been recently noted by research conducted by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.  

The study found that previous wildlife mortality estimates owing to feline predation were way too low.  Cats, primarily un-owned, feral ones, are felt to be responsible for the deaths of 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds, and 6.9 to 20.7 billion mammals annually.  If 2.3 billion birds are killed by cats, this would mean that 1 in 10 birds are taken by cats every year. 

In New Zealand, cats are considered an invasive species, and have prompted environmentalist/economist Gareth Morgan to push for much tighter controls on the island nation’s cat population expressed through a “Cats to Go” campaign.  Rather than declaring open season on cats, however, the program advocates neutering cats, keeping them indoors, and not getting any new ones. 

The American study does not recommend any drastic schemes to cut down on U.S. wildlife deaths, but rather calls for “conservation and policy intervention” in order to reduce environmental impact.  It should be pointed out that humans are responsible for most modern animal extinctions, whether through hunting, habitat destruction, introduction of invasive species, or other environmental disruptions…

 

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Mowing Turtles Down…

December 29, 2012

box turtle– – While engaged in a conservation project to determine how to help turtles cross the road safely, a Clemson University student inadvertently discovered a disturbing fact:  some drivers deliberately swerve on the road, not to miss turtles, but to intentionally hit them. 

The student put a realistic rubber turtle in the middle of a lane on a busy road near his campus, and then watched over the next hour as seven drivers swerved and deliberately ran over the rubber animal; several other drivers apparently tried to hit it, but missed.  When the student sought to replicate his study using a different location road in a more residential area, the second of 50 cars to pass by that day swerved over the center line to intentionally hit the plastic reptile.

The number of box turtles is in slow decline, and a major reason is that many wind up as roadkill while attempting to cross the road for food or breeding purposes.  Turtle underpasses are seen as one possible solution to the problem… 

 

 

Sad-Looking, Cute, and Threatened…

December 17, 2012

cute slow loris– – Have you ever seen anything look this sad and cute at the same time?–Don’t you just want to take it home with you?–Well, you may not want to, because it’s a venomous primate, a type of slow loris species called Nycticebus kayan newly discovered in Borneo.

Now the slow loris (which sounds like a Dr. Sseus character) is a nocturnal primate found across Southeast Asia that is closely related to a lemur and is characterized by unique fur coloration on its face and body.  The creatures are poorly understood due to their lifestyle of nighttime activity and slow movements.

To access its poison, a slow loris rubs its hands under glands near its armpits, then applies the poison to its teeth.  The resulting bite can put a person or predator into potentially fatal anaphylactic shock.  Despite its toxic defense, the species is threatened due to deforestation and poaching.  Sadly, the cuteness of the species may lead to its undoing, making it a prime candidate on the illegal pet-trade market in Asia.  Due to the toxicity of its bite, captive animals often have their canine and incisor teeth pulled out, which puts them at risk since they then can’t chew properly, ultimately resulting in death…

Disappearing Minnesota Moose!

December 15, 2012

Bullwinkle– – In Minnesota, a dwindling moose population has prompted the state’s Department of Natural Resources to recommend that the moose be labeled a “species of special concern” under the state’s endangered species protections.  This designation could clear the way for the Minnesota moose to eventually be listed as threatened or endangered should the population fall further.

We might expect this to be a cause of concern as well  to one Bullwinkle J. Moose, who resides in the fictional small town of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, a parody of the real-life American town of International Falls, Minnesota.  Bullwinkle has trouble enough, after all, being plagued by the nefarious schemes of spies Boris and Natasha Badenov.  I’m sure, however, that Bullwinkle and the “plucky squirrel” will prevail against any and all difficulties…

Giant Python Caught in Everglades

August 20, 2012

– -Burmese pythons are not native to the Florida Everglades but rather South East Asia; that fact, however, has not stopped them from becoming comfortable in South Florida, living long lives and growing to enormous size.  Such was recently demonstrated by the capture of a Burmese python measuring 17 feet, 7 inches and weighing in at 164 pounds.  The python was a female, who also is believed to have set a record by being pregnant with 87 eggs! 

What does a 17-foot long python eat?- –Anything it wants!  The snake in question had feathers in its stomach, and the species has been known to swallow animals as large as deer and even alligators.  With nothing stopping such a non-indigenous species, native wildlife are stressed and in trouble…

Owl Abandonment…

May 29, 2012

– – Too many people tend to adopt exotic animals as part of a spur-of-the-moment craze, only to abandon them when the realities of their ownership hits home.  Sadly owls are one of the latest examples of this trend, with their popularity spurred by the Harry Potter movies and Harry’s owl, Hedwig. 

Now owls can live for twenty years and take a lot of care, including ideally a 20 foot aviary.  They need to be able to flap their wings multiple times before landing on a perch, or they may get a chest infection.  In spite of this, some have tried to keep them in apartments, becoming additionally distressed at the amount of feathers and droppings generated by the birds.  The result has been that in England and elsewhere, hundreds of pet owls have been abandoned and released into the wild, where they either starve to death or at best take over territory inhabited by smaller wild owls.  Owls are also winding up at animal sanctuaries in significant numbers where normally they would be relatively rare.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has pleaded with fans not to keep an owl as a pet, urging them instead to sponsor an owl at a bird sanctuary where they may be secured a healthy and happy life…

 

Robodeer…

October 12, 2011

 – -For several decades now, state wildlife officials across the country have been rolling out roadside robotic decoys to nab unscrupulous hunters who seek to poach deer out of season or beyond established hunting hours. 

Often placed near a road where they can be seen by passing cars, the robotic deer can be outfitted with remote controls that make it possible to move the decoy’s head and tail to make it look as realistic as possible.  When a poacher takes the bait and pegs a shot at the mechanical deer, authorities are not far away and the would-be deerslayer gets nailed with something like a misdemeanor citation, punishable in Utah by up to six months in jail, up to a $1,000 fine, and seizure of the offender’s weapons.  Robot decoy programs are in place not only in Utah but also in Georgia, Florida, and elsewhere.

In some cases, offenders have repeatedly fired shots and even arrows at the mechanical deer, apparently amazed that they don’t go down!  A robotic deer decoy used in Georgia had to be replaced in 2006 after being shot more than 1,000 times.  Perhaps videos could be made of such occurrences and sold with proceeds going to add to state wildlife conservation funds…