October 26, 2007

Massive Bird Die-off Tied to Invasive Snail
Winona Daily News - www.winonadailynews.com
26 Oct 2007
A Dulek
Area: Minnesota and Iowa, USA

Circling high over Lake Onalaska, two eagles fought over an American coot in one of the eagles’ talons. The eagle lost its grip, and the coot plunged into the water near Broken Gun Island. It bobbed to the surface but made little effort to escape as the eagles swooped overhead.

“He’s probably sick and they know it. It’s easy pickings around here,” said Calvin Gehri, a biological technician with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s La Crosse District. The dying coot would soon join the thousands of dead waterfowl Gehri and other refuge staff have collected along the shores of the Mississippi between Dresbach, Minn., and northern Iowa.

More than 25,000 birds — mostly coots and scaup — have died on the upper Mississippi River since 2002 as a result of eating faucet snails that carry an intestinal parasite, according to federal wildlife officials. From 2005 to 2006, there was a 16-fold increase in bird deaths in pools 8 and 9. Last fall, there were an estimated 5,000 bird deaths in the area between La Crescent, Minn., and MacGregor, Iowa.

Mystery Bee-killing Disease Returns to Florida
Cox News Service (Posted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - www.ajc.com)
25 Oct 2007
J Nesmith
Area: Florida, USA
Photo courtesy of PBS Nature

Unexplained honeybee deaths have recently started showing up in Florida, the same state where the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder was first discovered a year ago, the Agriculture Department's top bee scientist said Thursday. Jeffrey Pettis, research leader of the department's Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., said it is too early to say if another round of bee die-offs has started.

The insect plague devastated thousands of commercial bee hives in several states last year, posing a threat to crops that depend on bees for pollination. When it occurs, worker bees fail to return to hives, leaving juvenile bees and some adults to die. "We have heard recently from Florida beekeepers who have colonies in declining health," said Pettis. Speaking at a conference on problems that confront honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, birds and other important pollinators, Pettis said specimens have been brought to his lab for analysis.

Colony Collapse Disorder, known as CCD, was first reported by a Florida beekeeper in November of last year. It quickly started showing up in other states.

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How Canine Distemper Virus Jumps Across Species
ScienceDaily - www.sciencedaily.com
26 Oct 2007

Researchers at the University of Leeds have made a breakthrough in understanding a virus which poses one of the greatest global disease threats to wild carnivores including lions, African wild dogs and several types of seal. The discovery of how canine distemper Virus (CDV) jumps across and infects different species of carnivores could lead to a more effective monitoring and control of the virus.

Whilst these ‘pathogen jumps’ across species are quite common, very little is known about the process of how viruses takes hold and become established in new host species. CDV is passed through close contact from domestic and feral dogs causing epidemics that often result in mass mortalities – and is pushing some species to the brink of extinction.

Badgers Cull Call is Rapped
Belfast Telegraph-www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk
26 Oct 2007
L McKee
Area: United Kingdom
Photo courtesy of Guardian Unlimited; Photographer- Pal Hermansen/Getty Images

A report which recommends targeted culling of badgers in the battle to curb the spread of bovine tuberculosis has been slammed by wildlife experts in Northern Ireland. The Ulster Wildlife Trust said the report by the UK Government's chief scientific officer Sir David King flies in the face of science, public opinion and economics, and sweeps away 10 years of scientific research by the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) into the issue of badgers and bovine TB.

The ISG had recently reported that badger culling provides no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain and some policies being considered may make matters worse. However, the Ulster Farmers Union called on the Government to consider targeted culling, claiming the reservoir of TB in wildlife is not being addressed.

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New Rule to Help Prevent Spread of Fish Disease [News Release]
Vermont. Agency of Natural Resources- www.vermont.gov
25 Oct 2007
Area: Vermont USA

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board has enacted a new Emergency Rule in response to a deadly new fish disease known as Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) that is rapidly spreading through the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes. The new rule affects baitfish use in Vermont and is designed to proactively head off the spread of VHS and other fish diseases to the state’s waters.

VHS is a serious fish disease recently discovered in the Great Lakes. The disease causes the hemorrhaging of fish tissues and internal organs and can kill tens of thousands of fish in a single event. The disease is currently known to affect 37 species of fish. Since there is no vaccination or cure, the disease cannot be controlled, only contained.

“We’ve been closely monitoring the situation in the Great Lakes since late 2005,” said Fish & Wildlife Department fisheries biologist Shawn Good. “In two years, the disease has spread through four of the five Great Lakes and it has jumped overland to a number of inland waters in Wisconsin, Michigan, and New York, killing tens of thousands of fish. This summer, VHS was confirmed in three of New York’s Finger Lakes, and that’s too close for comfort.”



Anthrax outbreak among Grevy's zebra (Equus grevyi) in Samburu, Kenya [online abstract only]
African Journal of Ecology. 2007 Dec; 45(4): 483-489(7)
PK Muoria et al.

Spiroplasma spp. from Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy Brains or Ticks Induce Spongiform Encephalopathy in Ruminants [online abstract only]
Journal of Medical Microbiology. 2007 Sep;56(Pt 9):1235-42. 6 (9): 1235-1242
FO Bastian et al.

Mute swan (Cygnus olor) Winter Distribution and Numerical Trends over a 16-year Period (1987/1988-2002/2003) in France [online abstract only]
Journal of Ornithology. 2007 Oct; 148 (4): 477-487
C Fouque et al.

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