October 1, 2007

Something Is Out of Whack in North America's Raccoon Capital
The Globe and Mail - theglobeandmail.com
29 Sep 2007
T Shufelt
Photo courtesy of torontoist.com
Area: Ontario Canada

Nicole Herbert recently noticed a seemingly uninjured raccoon lying in the middle of the sidewalk near her house in Leslieville. Turns out it was one of at least two raccoons felled by distemper in her neighbourhood in the past month. "I had wondered if someone had taken it upon themselves to start working on culling," she says, noting her neighbourhood has been overrun with raccoons in the past couple of years. On more than one occasion Ms. Herbert has discovered masked marauders raiding her kitchen.

"It's not just the nuisance of having them turn over your garbage and compost bins," she says. "They're coming into people's houses. "Now, we're seeing ones with distemper. Great, now I have ill critters in my house." An aggressive strain of distemper, a viral disease that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems in carnivorous animals, is ravaging the city's raccoon population, the Toronto Wildlife Centre says. The city's only wildlife hospital says it has received hundreds of calls in each of the past two years reporting either raccoons behaving abnormally or dead animals with no obvious signs of trauma.

Chemicals Threaten Wildlife in San Francisco Bay, Scientists Say
San Francisco Chronicle - sfgate.com
01 Oct 2007
J Kay
Area: California United States

Scientists are closely monitoring flame retardants and commonly used pesticides in San Francisco Bay, as rising levels of toxic chemicals threaten birds, fish and marine mammals, according to an annual regional monitoring report set for release today. Mercury, PCBs, dioxin and invasive species remain at the top of the most-wanted list of nasty threats to the bay, says the "Pulse of the Estuary 2007" report prepared by the San Francisco Estuary Institute, a nonprofit science group in Oakland. Scientists have long recognized that these problems in the bay impair the quality of its fish and wildlife and affect the working of the food chain. Yet, over the last several years, the concentrations of bromine-containing chemical flame retardants known as PBDEs have risen in both water and soil on the bay bottom, the report said.

The state Legislature banned two forms of flame retardants, "octa" and "penta," effective in 2008. A third form, "deca," which is widely used in electronic products, hasn't been banned. State health officials have found the chemicals in the bodies of marine mammals and in bird eggs and dead embryos and are concerned that the chemicals will interfere with reproduction, a danger observed in laboratory animals. The synthetic insecticides, pyrethroids, are used in lawn products, outdoor sprays and on crops, including one called bifenthrin, which has been shown to kill the small crustaceans eaten by fish and amphibians. The state Department of Pesticide Regulation is reviewing documents on hundreds of pyrethrin products to assess their safety.

Import of Deer, Elk Parts Still Limited
The Times and Democrat - thetandd.com
30 Sep 2007
Area: South Carolina United States

With big game seasons opening in many Western states, hunters traveling abroad are reminded not to import into South Carolina certain carcass parts from deer and elk harvested in states with chronic wasting disease. To protect the state's extremely valuable white-tailed deer resource, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has maintained a regulation restricting the importation of certain carcass parts from deer and elk harvested in states with diagnosed cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD), according to Charles Ruth, DNR Deer/Turkey Project supervisor in Columbia. "Currently, deer hunting generates more than $200 million annually for South Carolina's economy," he said. "And deer are the most-sought game species in the state, in addition to being the official state game animal."

This measure was taken so resident hunters who travel to other states to hunt will not bring potentially diseased carcass parts to South Carolina. "The regulation will not keep hunters from importing harvested game since most game taken outside of South Carolina is processed in the state where it was harvested," Ruth said. Chronic wasting disease is one of the family of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and is similar to mad cow disease that has been so devastating to Great Britain's livestock industry, according to Ruth. The disease attacks the central nervous system of the deer or elk and presents symptoms including extreme weight loss, excessive salivation, odd behavior and poor coordination.

Department of Health Confirms Fifth Human Plague Case in N.M.
KOAT 7 - koat.com
28 Sep 2007
Area: New Mexico United States

The New Mexico Department of Health has confirmed a case of bubonic plague in a 58-year-old woman from the East Mountain area of Bernalillo County. The patient is hospitalized and recovering. This is the fifth case of plague confirmed in New Mexico this year. The Department of Health confirmed the case Thursday night. The Department is working with the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department to conduct an environmental investigation to determine where the woman may have been exposed to plague.

. . . Plague, a bacterial disease of rodents, is generally transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas, but can also be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, wildlife and pets. There were eight human cases of plague in 2006 in New Mexico with two fatalities. Five cases were from Bernalillo County and one each from Santa Fe, San Miguel, and Torrance counties. Four human plague cases occurred in New Mexico in 2005. There were no human plague cases in New Mexico in 2004.



The Potential Impact of Environmental Variation on the Concentrations and Ecological Effects of Pollutants in a Marine Avian Top Predator [free full-text available]
Environ Int. 2007 Sep 18; [Epub ahead of print]
JO Bustnes et al.

Relationships between Intertidal Clam Population and Health Status of the Soft-shell Clam Mya arenaria in the St. Lawrence Estuary and Saguenay Fjord (Québec, Canada) [free full-text available]
Environ Int. 2007 Sep 18; [Epub ahead of print]
F Gagné et al.

A Global Gap Analysis of Infectious Agents in Wild Primates [online abstract only]
Diversity and Distributions. 2007 Sep; 13 (5): 561–572
ME Hopkins and CL Nunn

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