January 4, 2008

Down to the last croak
The Australian - www.theaustralian.news.com.au
05 Jan 2008
G Roberts
Photo courtesy of The Australian

RHEOBATRACHUS silus was one of the world's truly remarkable animals. The so-called platypus frog was one of a kind. The only species of land vertebrate animal - amphibian, reptile, mammal or bird - to rear its young inside its stomach.

That makes the small black frogs as special as kangaroos or koalas. They were found nowhere but in the rainforests of two mountain ranges in southern Queensland.

Zoologist and environmental consultant Glen Ingram was studying them in 1977 in the Conondale Range, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. "There were plenty of frogs in the streams at that time," Ingram recalls now. A year later, he could find just two. In 1979, there were none, and none have been found since, anywhere, despite exhaustive searches. "Like the Tasmanian tiger, it is one of the great wildlife tragedies that this astonishing animal is extinct," Ingram says.

Disease felling fowl at lake: Outbreaks of avian cholera hit birds, but don't affect humans
The Salt Lake Tribune - www.sltrib.com
04 Jan 2008
P Henetz
Area: Great Salt Lake, Salt Lake, Utah, USA

Avian cholera is killing eared grebes, and likely ducks and gulls, on the Great Salt Lake in what is becoming a familiar event on the important migratory bird flyway. Prevailing northwesterly winds have blown about 1,500 bird carcasses into windrows along a half-mile stretch of the lake's southern shoreline near Saltair, Tom Aldrich, migratory game bird expert for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said Wednesday. . . .

Avian cholera has been confirmed in the eared grebes. Gull and duck carcasses have been sent to the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis., for analysis. "If I was a betting man, I would bet it was cholera," Aldrich said. Introduced from domestic fowl during the 1940s, avian cholera has become the most common infectious disease among wild North American waterfowl but didn't appear in Utah until the late 1990s. In 2004, avian cholera killed about 30,000 eared grebes on the Great Salt Lake.

How avian cholera came to Utah remains a mystery. "For a long time people thought it was snow geese that carried this around, sort of like Typhoid Mary," Aldrich said. "But we don't get snow geese here."

Death of more ducks worries officials
The Denver Post – www.denverpost.com
04 Jan 2008
K Human
Area: Front Range, Clear Creek, Colorado, USA
Photo courtesy of The Denver Post

Ducks are dying again in the warm ponds of Front Range wastewater treatment plants, frustrating wildlife officials who are still struggling to understand what killed 850 ducks in wastewater ponds last year.

"We have about 35 total at three sites — not nearly as many as last year," said Jennifer Churchill, spokeswoman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Last year, the ducks — mostly northern shovelers — died in wastewater ponds in Denver, Boulder, Northglenn and Englewood, and also in south Denver's Sunfish Lake.

The recent deaths have also been mostly shovelers, Churchill said. A few have turned up in Denver and Westminster, but most in the Littleton/Englewood wastewater treatment plant.

Chronic wasting found in Hall County deer
The Grand Island Independent – www.theindependent.com
04 Jan 2008
M Coddington
Area: Hall County, Nebraska, USA

A deer in Hall County tested positive for chronic wasting disease this fall, the first documented case in the county since 2004.

The deer was one of 18 in the state found with the disease this year, out of 3,310 tested, said Bruce Trindle, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's big game research leader. Just as in every year since the disease was first found in the state in 2000, most of the positive tests were in deer found in the Panhandle, Trindle said.

But this year's results included a few scattered occurrences outside that area, including one near Ogallala in Keith County, one south of McCook in Red Willow County and one south of Alda, almost 200 miles from the disease's "endemic" area.

Trindle said Game and Parks officials aren't sure how the diseased deer ended up in Hall County, but they'll be conducting more tests on the area's deer to see if more have the disease.

Related News

New York crow die-off linked to avian virus
newsday.com - www.newsday.com
04 Jan 2008
D Ricks
Area: New York, USA

A mysterious die-off of hundreds of crows throughout New York has been linked to the avian reovirus, a pathogen that has threatened the poultry industry in the past, relentlessly sweeping through flocks, state wildlife officials said Thursday.

The virus is a bird pathogen and is not likely to jump the species barrier to cause infections in humans. However, state health officials are taking no chances and scientists at Wadsworth Laboratory, a division of the State Health Department, are studying the virus.

State wildlife pathologist Ward Stone, who was instrumental nearly a decade ago in identifying the pathogen that turned out to be the West Nile virus, said the sudden sweep of death among crows has caught scientists by surprise.

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Drug-resistant E. coli found in Arctic birds
newsday.com - www.newsday.com
D Ricks
02 Jan 2008
Area: Siberia and Point Barrow, Alaska, USA and Greenland

Resistance to antibiotics is so pervasive that scientists now report having found evidence of drug-repelling E.coli in Arctic birds, the bacteria having been passed by migratory fowl that circumnavigate the globe along centuries-old flyways.

Reporting in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, scientists in Sweden traveled to vast regions of the frigid polar ice cap in search of species they hoped had been spared exposure to drug-resistant strains. They were surprised when they discovered widespread antibiotic-resistant E.coli in Arctic-dwelling birds never exposed to the drugs.

Maria Sjolund of Central Hospital in Vaxjo, Sweden, went on a series of Arctic expeditions, collecting mostly fecal samples from 97 birds in three geographic regions: northeastern Siberia; Point Barrow, Alaska; and northern Greenland. Although the locations are thousands of miles apart, they are intimately linked through looping migratory flyways.

Related Journal Article


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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