November 30, 2007

Hunters on Killing Spree of Small Migratory Birds
Khaleej Times Online -
H Shaikh
30 Nov 2007
Area: Saudi Arabia

The Saudi National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development (NCWCD) says that a large number of small migratory birds, especially pigeons, are being killed illegally by amateur hunters. Hundreds of hunters penetrate deep into the desert searching for migratory birds that stop over the Arabian Peninsula on their way back from Asia to Africa.

Green farms and vast valleys in the central and northeastern parts of the Kingdom are full of campsites with hunters staying out in the open for days on end. According to the Commission hunting these birds and pigeons is totally banned. “Even during the hunting season, the ban remains in place. Hunting these birds is banned throughout the year,” a source at NCWCD stressed. He warned that the hunters might catch bird flu by eating migratory birds. “Bird flu viruses can pose dangerous health problems to people,” he said.

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Red Tide Blamed for Calif. Bird Death [includes video]
Associated Press (posted by Yahoo News –
T Chea
30 Nov 2007
Area: California, USA

Hundreds of dead or injured seabirds have washed up on the shores of Monterey Bay in recent weeks, and scientists believe a red tide of marine algae is to blame. About 600 birds have been found stranded on beaches in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties since a large rust-colored algal bloom began circulating in the bay about three weeks ago, scientists say.

About 70 of the birds have died, while 530 have been taken to wildlife rescue centers, said Michael Ziccardi, director of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. The affected birds include loons, pelicans, western grebes, northern fulmars and surf scoters, said Dave Jessup, a veterinarian with the state Department of Fish and Game. Fish and marine mammals do not appear to be affected.

Officials initially believed the birds were victims of the San Francisco Bay oil spill that has killed or injured at least 2,800 birds. But tests found that the sticky, yellow substance found on the Monterey Bay birds was not petroleum or vegetable oil.

Report Touts Wildlife Refuges
Jackson Hole Star-Tribune -
28 Nov 2007
B Farquhar
Area: Wyoming, USA
Photo courtesy of Star-Tribune

National wildlife refuges more than make up for their cost to taxpayers by returning about $4 in economic activity for every $1 the government spends, according to a federal study released Tuesday.

In the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Mountain-Prairie Region, which includes Wyoming, recreational uses of national wildlife refuges generated more than $82.4 million in economic return and created 1,387 private sector jobs during fiscal year 2006, according to the report released by the agency. . . .

Asked if he’d considered the consequences to the local economy if wildlife diseases such as chronic wasting disease hit the National Elk Refuge, Hall acknowledged concern about that prospect, but endorsed the current plan, which calls for a phased reduction of the elk herd to 5,000 and the bison to 500.

O’Donoghue said the Jackson business community is very much aware of what could happen if chronic wasting ever hit the refuge -- a massive die-off of animals -- and debates “ad nauseam” the merits of continuing versus stopping the artificial feeding of elk at the refuge. Research has shown that feeding concentrates the animals and makes disease transmission more likely.

BioMed Central Launches Biology Image Library

BioMed Central today announced the launch of Biology Image Library, an online resource that provides access to over 11,000 carefully selected biology-related images. This is the latest service from BioMed Central, part of the Science Navigation Group of companies which was also responsible for the creation of images.MD, a popular medical image resource.

The Library is a new subscription-based service offering access to an annotated selection of high-quality biological images, movies, illustrations and animations. Subscribers may make royalty-free use of images in the collection for research and educational purposes, while commercial usage rights will be available for an additional fee.

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University of Pennsylvania Study Reveals Inconspicuous Hosts in the Lyme Disease Epidemic [Press Release]
University of Pennsylvania, Office of University Communications -
29 Nov 2007

A study led by a University of Pennsylvania biologist in the tick-infested woods of the Hudson Valley is challenging the widely held belief that mice are the main animal reservoir for Lyme disease in the U.S. The paper, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, demonstrates that chipmunks and two shrew species, not just mice, are the four species that account for major outbreaks.

According to the study, white-footed mice account for about a quarter of infected ticks. Short-tailed shrews and masked shrews were responsible for a quarter each and chipmunks for as much as 13 percent. According to the team, vaccination strategies aimed solely at mice are unlikely to bring the disease under control. Efforts to control Lyme disease and prevent its spread, the team said, must include strategies that account for multi-species carriers.

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Tuberculosis: Research on Tuberculosis Described by Scientists at Michigan State University
29 Nov 2007

According to recent research from the United States, "Wildlife disease management strategies traditionally focus on lowering aggregate host density below a host-density threshold, reducing infectious contacts (when transmission is density-dependent) to reduce prevalence. The focus on aggregate host density is because controls such as harvests are typically nonselective with respect to disease status."

"Such nontargeted strategies increase control costs and may not optimally lead to eradication. We consider targeting an observable trait correlated with infection-gender. Two endogenous host-density thresholds emerge, in contrast to the exogenous thresholds arising in the ecological literature on multiple-host-pathogen problems," wrote E.P. Fenichel and colleagues, Michigan State University.

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Foundation

Comparative Toxicogenomic Examination of the Hepatic Effects of PCB126 and TCDD in Immature, Ovariectomized C57BL/6 Mice [online abstract only]
Toxicological Sciences. 2007 Nov 27 [Epub ahead of print]
AK Kopec et al.

Failure to detect Salmonella species in a population of wild tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus)
[online abstract only]
New Zealand Veterinary Journal. 2007 Jun;55(3):134-6.
BD Gartrell al.

Molecular Characterization of the Rocky Mountain Elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) PRNP Putative Promoter[online abstract only]
Journal of Heredity. 2007 Nov 21 [Epub ahead of print]
CM Seabury et al.

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