January 30, 2008

San Francisco Bay Oil Spill: How much for a bird? A day not surfing?
San Francisco Chronicle - sfgate.com
30 Jan 2008
P Fimrite
Photo courtesy of M Macor
Area: San Francisco Bay, California

A group of government agents is attempting to determine, among other things, the value of a bird's life and the cost in lost enjoyment to a surfer who missed out on a day at the beach. The men and women from six government agencies are trying to put a value on how the Cosco Busan oil spill affected people and wildlife, and they held a meeting in Mill Valley on Tuesday night to ask the public for ideas on what restorations might be needed in the wake of the disaster. "We can make a claim on behalf of wildlife and habitat and people's use of the resources," said Steve Hampton, a state Department of Fish and Game resource economist.

It was the second meeting in a whole series of studies, reports and hand-wringing sessions that will ultimately result in money being allocated for everything from the restoration of bird habitat to improved beach access. The goal is to compensate for the environmental havoc wrought by the Nov. 7 spill, which dumped more than 53,000 gallons of bunker fuel into the bay. The first hearing in Oakland last week drew 50 people and almost an equal number of television cameras. At least 75 citizens, and not one television personality, were at Tuesday's meeting.

Related News

Positive tests for bovine TB in deer dropping
Grand Rapids Press (posted by mlive.com)
25 Jan 2008
H Meyerson
Area: Michigan

Michigan hunters can relax knowing that the incidences of Chronic Wasting Disease in deer once again was zero for 2007. Deer were tested in every county of the state -- a couple thousand deer in all. But wildlife disease officials came up with zip. Likewise with Eastern Equine Encephalitis, which made headlines in 2005. It did not return to southwest Michigan where it had made one of its extremely rare national appearances in free-ranging deer.

But bovine TB in deer? Well, that's something else. "When all of the deer testing is finished, we will probably have numbers in the low 20s that test positive for bovine TB," said Dan O'Brien, a wildlife veterinarian with the DNR's infectious disease laboratory.

January Science Picks — Leads, Feeds and Story Seeds from the USGS Newsroom
United States Geological Survey - usgs.gov
29 Jan 2008
D Makle

Wildlife Related Highlights:
  • Wildfire Woes for Those That Hop, Crawl, Swim and Eat a Lot
  • Frog Tracks
  • New Wildlife Disease News Map Tool
  • The USGS Offers New Insights on Bald Eagles

California salmon population declines
Associated Press (posted by news.yahoo.com)
29 Jan 2008
T Chea
Area: California

The number of chinook salmon returning to California's Central Valley has reached a near-record low, pointing to an "unprecedented collapse" that could lead to severe restrictions on West Coast salmon fishing this year, according to federal fishery regulators. The sharp drop in chinook or "king" salmon returning from the Pacific Ocean to spawn in the Sacramento River and its tributaries this past fall is part of broader decline in wild salmon runs in rivers across the West. The population dropped more than 88 percent from its all-time high five years ago, according to an internal memo sent to members of the Pacific Fishery Management Council and obtained by The Associated Press.

Regulators are still trying to understand the reasons for the shrinking number of spawners; some scientists believe it could be related to changes in the ocean linked to global warming. Only about 90,000 returning adult salmon were counted in the Central Valley in 2007, the second lowest number on record, the memo said. The population was at 277,000 in 2006 and 804,000 five years ago.

Thousands of Miles From Home, and Possibly Carrying Avian Flu
New York Times - nytimes.com
DG McNeil Jr.
29 Jan 2008

Ornitholologists have long known that waterfowl migrate huge distances. But it is rarely possible to be sure where any flock’s route begins and ends — information useful to tracking the spread of avian flu. These pictures, from the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs New York City’s zoos, are the first proof that bar-headed geese — one suspect in moving the flu around the world — can travel 3,000 miles from their breeding grounds.

In the Darkhad Valley of northern Mongolia, a remote area with no poultry farms, there were outbreaks of H5N1 avian flu in 2005 and 2006. Last summer, the conservation society caught 50 wild geese there — not easy, but moulting birds cannot fly, so they can be blinded with spotlights and scooped from the water at night. Scientists wrapped them in brown canvas “swan jackets” to keep them still, in photograph at far left, then took blood samples, oral and cloacal swabs, and feather and toenail clippings (isotopes in the last two may reveal, though imprecisely, where they summered).

Hundreds of Scientists Call on Congress to Help Wildlife Survive Global Warming
National Wildlife Federation - posted by allamericanpatriots.com
29 Jan 2008

More than 600 prominent scientists from across the United States are calling on Congress to pass legislation that will curb America’s global warming pollution and help protect wildlife and other natural resources threatened by global warming. Spearheaded by some of America’s greatest scientific minds, including Harvard Professor E.O. Wilson, Thomas Lovejoy, Paul Ehrlich and Camille Parmesan, the scientists have sent a letter to Congress urging action.

“The science is irrefutable not only about the reality of climate change, but also that plant and animal species are already being harmed by it,” said Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, renowned conservation biologist and president of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment. “Alarming effects are already being observed in nature from mountaintops to the oceans, and from the equator to the polar regions. We have the choice to allow these effects to intensify or to move to avoid the more disastrous consequences for life on earth.”


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