December 13, 2007

Bird-brained system killing wildlife
The Daily Telegraph -
14 Dec 2007
Area: Sydney Australia

A Botched State Transit pest control plan has killed dozens of native birds - and is now threatening a rare owl.

The government-owned agency employed a poison expert to kill pest Indian mynah birds at their bus depot in Ryde but local residents watched in horror as kookaburras, galahs, magpies and rosellas started falling out of the sky. Already struggling to keep buses on Sydney roads after a massive recall to fix a steering fault, State Transit is now at the centre of a bird death investigation. Dead native birds, including kookaburras and lorikeets, litter the gutters near the bus depot. Experts from the Department of Environment and Climate Change are investigating the deaths and an autopsy has been performed on a lorikeet.

Scientists at a Lidcombe laboratory are carrying out further tests to determine if seed it had eaten contained a pesticide. And there are growing fears a rare owl that frequents the area may be the next poisoning victim. The bus depot in Buffalo Rd is about 50m from a wildlife refuge in the Field of Mars reserve, which houses the vulnerable powerful owl. Only a handful of the birds live in the area. Local wildlife experts fear the owl will feast on the dead or sick birds, as the kookaburras appear to have done, and fall victim to the poison.

Researcher Doubts U.S. Program to Track Avian Flu in Wild Birds
University of Kansas (Posted by
12 Dec 2007
Area: Kansas United States

A University of Kansas investigator closely following the spread of the avian influenza known as H5N1 said that U.S. government monitoring efforts easily could miss the entry of the virus into North America. A. Townsend Peterson, University Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and senior curator in the Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, directs teams of scientists who travel from Kansas to far-flung corners of the globe to map the spread of avian flu and other pathogens. Peterson said the governmental scheme to detect the arrival of H5N1 in North America — the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Early Detection System — overemphasizes testing of wild water birds in Alaska while neglecting other possible “entry pathways” from Eurasia.

“If you take a careful look at bird migration in North America, you probably wouldn’t want to, excuse the pun, ‘put all your eggs in one basket’,” said Peterson. The KU researcher said that the Alaskan focus of the program is sensible for monitoring a set of wild Asian birds that spend winter in Asia and sometimes summer in Alaska. But other birds possibly carrying the avian influenza could be overlooked. “There’s another component of birds which spend the winter in America,” Peterson said. “They migrate north in the summer and basically consider western Siberia to be eastern Alaska. That component of birds migrates deep into the Americas, doesn’t really stop in Alaska at all, and would be missed by the current monitoring plan.”

Corals Weakened By Warming, Disease
13 Dec 2007
M Llanos

John Bruno isn't attending the U.N. climate talks being held in Bali, Indonesia, but he does have some advice for any delegates looking to take in the resort's famed reefs: enjoy it now, because if sea temperatures continue to rise, expect to see more - and more severe - disease outbreaks that wipe out corals. Bruno has the credentials to back up his advice. A marine biologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he co-authored two 2007 studies on rapid coral decline and on a link between coral disease and global warming. One study found that coral coverage in the Indo-Pacific - an area stretching from Indonesia's Sumatra island to French Polynesia - dropped 20 percent in the past two decades.

That rate is much higher than Bruno's team had expected. Moreover, 600 square miles of reefs disappeared since the 1960s, the study found, and the losses were just as bad in Australia's well-protected Great Barrier Reef as they were in marine reserves in the Philippines, where funding protection is problematic. Bruno suspected warming ocean temperatures were playing a big role and the second study - which focused on the Great Barrier Reef - provided a strong connection. That study compared new sea temperature data to six years of reef health surveys. The team found a strong correlation between white syndrome, a potentially fatal disease, and warmer waters.

Chronic Wasting Disease measures noticeable with hunting
Journal-Pilot -
12 Dec 2007
B Hendricks
Area: Illinois United States

Firearms deer season in my northern Illinois Chronic Wasting Disease county was hardly a normal season. Deer were as scarce as hen's teeth. It has been the most disappointing season to date for this old hunter. In the CWD counties of northern Illinois there are liberal seasons as well as herd management by the DNR going in periodically during the winter and shooting deer to trim the herd in the hopes of stopping the spread of CWD. This has been a five-year program.

In defense of the DNR this program is an effort to keep CWD from reaching any further down state. While it is beneficial for those further downstate it has created a very hard atmosphere for deer hunting in the north. The golden years of ample deer opportunities, at least from where I hunt, are no more. I and a buddy hunted hard in all kinds of adverse weather. My buddy saw one deer and he killed that doe.

Photo courtesy of Dick Kettlewell/Rapid CityJournal

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