November 8, 2007

Squirrel Deaths Probed at Wallington
Morpeth Herald -
07 Nov 2007
H Beales
Area: England United Kingdom

Fears are growing over the future of Castle Morpeth's red squirrels after seven of the creatures at Wallington Hall are thought to have fallen victim to a deadly virus. If the presence of squirrel pox is confirmed, the news could spell disaster for the area's population of reds. Wallington's Assistant Warden, John Jamieson, said that the animals had been discovered suffering symptoms of the disease and had since died. Now experts are awaiting the results of tests to show whether they were infected with the virus, which is passed on by greys.

"It's virulent and spreads quite easily so we could be looking at a bit of a disaster," he said. "We've culled four greys in the past three months, but unfortunately we think they've had something on them and now we've lost seven reds in one area of woods." And he added that reports of greys had significantly increased. "We had four turn up in one week last month. "We're monitoring the situation and taking measures to control greys if they are found in the area."

Ship's Collision with Bridge Leaves 58,000 gallons of Oil in San Francisco Bay
The Mercury News -
07 Nov 2007
P Rogers and S Gonzales
Area: California United States

After the largest oil spill in San Francisco Bay in more than a decade Wednesday, agencies today plan to continue the clean-up of 58,000 gallons of oil leaked inside the Bay as they assess damage to wildlife and beaches. The spill occurred on a foggy morning when a cargo ship collided with the Bay Bridge. Throughout the day, U.S. Coast Guard crews worked to surround the spill with floating boom, removing at least 8,000 gallons with skimmer ships and absorbent pads, said spokesman U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Anderson. "The Coast Guard is committed to protecting the environment. We are deploying all available resources to clean it up," he said.

The effect on wildlife was unknown by late Wednesday night. At first, Coast Guard officials said the spill had only resulted in 140 gallons of bunker fuel entering the water. But by 10 p.m., the agency upgraded the amount to 58,000 gallons. The spill occurred when a container ship, the Cosco Busan, bound from Oakland to South Korea, hit a barrier on a tower of the bridge. As the oil spread, it began hitting major landmarks in the water around San Francisco.

Hippos and Algae Implicated in Multiple Animal Deaths
Kruger Park News -
08 Nov 2007
M Wray and L Strauss
Area: South Africa

Three years ago, we reported on the how a spot of forensic detective work by Kruger National Park (KNP) and state veterinarians revealed the cause of a number of animal deaths that occurred in the early winter of 2005 in the Crocodile Bridge section of the park. Over about six months, at least 52 animals, including two lions, two cheetah and seven white rhino, died mysteriously. Anthrax and botulism were considered to be possible causes of the deaths, but the first real lead came in May, the following year when a fresh zebra carcass was post mortemed. Severe liver damage was spotted, and organs were sent to Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute in Pretoria for analysis.

The locations of all the dead animals discovered were plotted on a map, revealing two clusters. The Onderstepoort results showed possible poisoning by algae, and the map pointed the finger at two specific dams in the Crocodile Bridge area – Mpanamana and Nhlanganzwane. Inspection of the dams revealed green scum on the surface of the water, and further tests confirmed that the blue-green algae known as Microcystis was the main reason for the discoloured water. One of the oldest known organisms on earth, blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, were the first green ‘plants’ on earth and are found in most water bodies in low numbers.

USA. Ocean Conservancy comments on Marine Debris Monitoring Program [Press Release]
BYM Marine Environment News -
05 Nov 2007
Area: United States

Never before in the United States have conservationists, scientists and policy-makers had a comprehensive and accurate assessment of the types and sources of debris that are impacting our coastal areas. Today, Ocean Conservancy released key findings from the National Marine Debris Monitoring Program, a five-year national study of trash in the ocean, also known as "marine debris". Ocean Conservancy's research was conducted under the direction of marine debris expert Seba Sheavly from 2001 to 2006 with the goal of setting a nationwide scientific baseline of the marine debris problem in the U.S. The study, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was conducted by 600 volunteers who monitored debris in 21 coastal states, islands and territories.

Today, in conjunction with the release of the report, First Lady Laura Bush is holding an event on marine debris and Ocean Conservancy President Vikki Spruill will be participating with her to discuss solutions to this growing problem. This study is the first significant evaluation of the marine debris problem faced in the U.S. and will help federal and state agencies, as well as local communities better understand where trash in the ocean is coming from and it will assist in developing solutions for preventing this serious problem. Marine debris not only kills turtles, fish, birds and other wildlife through ingestion and entanglement, but it also costs coastal communities through removal, lost revenue from tourism and reductions in property values.

Beware of Deer Ticks, Warns Biologist
The Elsworth American -
08 Nov 2007
R Bard
Area: Maine United States

A few days ago, when I took off my uniform at the end of the workday, I found two ticks crawling around on my undershirt. One tick was about two-thirds the size of the other. The smaller was almost all black and the larger was reddish with a black disk on its back. I pulled out the handy “Tick ID Wallet Card” that I got from the Lyme Disease Foundation ( The card has life-size pictures of deer ticks (the ticks that may carry Lyme disease) and enlarged, full color pictures of other ticks that you may find.

The card is part of a tick removal kit that you can order from the Web site. It includes the tick ID card, a magnifying glass, tweezers, alcohol swabs and other information. As I suspected, both of the insects crawling around on my shirt were deer ticks. The larger, more colorful tick was a female and the smaller was a male. I have no idea how these ticks got inside my shirt, which was tucked into my pants since early in the morning. I guess I’ll never know where they came from and that’s part of the point of the story. These days, we have to be vigilant about ticks or run the risk of contracting Lyme disease or other tick-borne ailments.

Defra to Ban Some Invasive Species
The Telegraph -
08 Nov 2007
P Eccleston
Photo courtesy of Drew Gardner
Area: United Kingdom

A new attempt is to be made to protect native British wildlife from predatory foreign invaders. Invasive exotic plants and animals pose the second greatest threat to wildlife worldwide after habitat destruction. They can spread disease, out compete and even eat native flora and fauna. Now the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says it is ready to ban the sale of some of the worst culprits who pose the biggest threat to native species if they escape into the wild.

These include the American Bullfrog, a number of Crayfish species, Floating Pennywort and the Water Hyacinth. Invasive species can cause massive problems for our native plants and animals and costs the British economy an estimated £2bn per year. And once established the invaders can cost millions of pounds to put right. A staggering £1.56bn has been spent trying to get rid of the Japanese Knotweed, a plant species that can cause serious damage to property if it becomes established.



Detection of Avian Influenza Virus Using an Interferometric Biosensor [online abstract only]
Anal Bioanal Chem. 2007 Oct; 389(4): 1193-9. Epub 2007 Aug 21.
J Xu et al.

Use of ELISA to Monitor Bacterial Kidney Disease in Naturally Spawning
Chinook Salmon
Dis Aquat Organ. 2007 Sep 14; 77(2): 137-42
G O'Connor G and TL Hoffnagle

An Outbreak of Lawsonia intracellularis Infection in a Standardbred Herd in Ontario [online abstract only]
Can Vet J. 2007 Sep; 48(9): 927-30
JS Weese and SL
MK McGurrin et al.

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