January 8, 2008

Lee again tops dubious manatee mortality list
The News-Press - www.news-press.com
08 Jan 2008
K Lollar
Area: Florida United States

Lee County easily won the 2007 manatee mortality race — if you can call it winning. Traditionally, Lee and Brevard counties finish first and second for the most manatee deaths — from 1997 through 2006, Brevard was No. 1 seven times, while Lee County was No. 2 three times. During that decade, 556 manatees died in Brevard County, compared to 549 in Lee County. Last year, however, Lee County blew everyone away with 91 manatee deaths; Brevard County was second with 57.

"It's always interesting to take note of certain spikes from year to year," said Justin McBride, a county senior environmental specialist. "But any time you're dealing with a population, you don't look at individual years. You look at trends. As far as I'm concerned, these numbers are not alarming." Last year's 91 deaths were Lee County's second-highest total on record; 145 manatees died in the county in 1996, many of them during a five-week period when 149 manatees died from red tide poisoning in Southwest Florida. In 2006, Lee had 82 manatee deaths.

City litterbugs take toll of wildlife
Edmonton Sun - www.edmontonsun.com
08 Jan 2008
Area: Alberta Canada

Litter kills wild animals. That's the city's message to deter litterbugs from tossing trash like cigarette butts, food packaging, gum and plastic bags out their car windows, all of which can poison and suffocate wildlife. Especially vulnerable are birds, like the great grey owl released at the Strathcona Wilderness Centre yesterday. Officials with Edmonton's Capital City Clean Up program say it's a particularly notable symbol of their program to clean up city streets, as the bird of prey was recently nursed back to health at the centre.

Experts probe death of monkeys
The New Vision - www.newvision.co.ug
07 Jan 2008
C Businge and J Omoding
Area: Bundibugyo Uganda

The Ministry of Health has dispatched a team of experts to investigate reports of dead monkeys in Rwenzori National Park, Bundibugyo district. The discovery of eight monkey remains has raised concern at a time when the recent outbreak of the deadly Ebola fever was receding in the area. The disease is said to have spread from residents who ate dead monkeys carrying the Ebola virus. The team is headed by Dr. Kaboyo, the ministry’s assistant commissioner for veterinary public health and zoonoses control.

Canyon bighorns lose most of their lambs
Jackson Hole Star Tribune - www.jacksonholestartrib.com
08 Jan 2008
Photo courtesy of the US Forest Service
Area: Oregon United States

Disease killed about 80 percent of the lambs born last spring to the bighorn sheep in Hells Canyon, and biologists call it the worst die-off since the breed was reintroduced there in the early 1970s. Researchers believe the deaths were triggered by one bacterium that inhibits the bighorns' ability to fight off another bacterium that leads to bronchopneumonia. Lambs appear to be most vulnerable because of undeveloped immune systems, said Vic Coggins, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist. "This was the worst year I've ever seen for lambs," said Neil Thagart, spokesman for the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep in Cody, Wyo.

The canyon of the Snake River is home to about 900 Rocky Mountain bighorns. Thagart has visited it after lambing season for about 10 years. The river separates Idaho from Oregon and Washington. The die-off appears to have spared a big share of the wild adult rams and ewes, Coggins said. In an average year, 35 percent to 40 percent of lambs survive and up to 60 percent occasionally make it through their first year, he said. But big die-offs are not uncommon. In Hells Canyon, 71 percent of bighorn lambs died in 2006, Coggins said. In 2004 and 2005, 74 percent died.

Pesticides killing frogs in Australia, scientists say
Earth News - www.earthportal.org
07 Jan 2008
Area: Australia

Pesticides are killing frogs in Australia and may be responsible for the collapse of eight Queensland frog species since the 1970s, Brisbane-based environmental consultant Glen Ingram said last week. Previously, scientists thought frog species extinctions in Australia were linked to a combination of climate change and a deadly fungus called the chytrid fungus, which infects the skin of amphibians, impairing their breathing and nervous systems. The fungus can be harmless to frogs, and some experts claim it has become deadly because increases in cloud cover linked to climate change are causing temperature or ultraviolet radiation to spread the fungus. But several recent studies in California — which has experienced collapses in frog populations that are similar to Australia’s — implicated chemicals in frog population declines.

Devil scientists using skin grafts to solve disease mystery
ABC News - www.abc.net.au
07 Jan 2008
Area: Australia

A team of scientists is hoping to use skin grafts to find tasmanian devils that are resistant to the deadly facial tumour disease. The team from the Menzies Research Institute last year found one devil that was resistant to the disease. They have now received public donations worth more than $23,000 from the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal to find how wide-spread the resistance is. Associate Professor Greg Woods says the money will be used for skin graft testing to find potentially disease-resistant animals.

Image courtesy of National Geographic


Climate Change Effects on Plague and Tularemia in the United States [online abstract only]
Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases Dec 2007, Vol. 7, No. 4: 529-540
Y Nakazawa

The impact of sarcoptic mange Sarcoptes scabiei on the British fox Vulpes vulpes population [online abstract only]
Mammal Review. 2007 Oct; 37 (4): 278-296
CD Soulsbury et al.

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