January 29, 2008

Sea lions massacred in Galapagos
BBC News - news.bbc.co.uk
29 Jan 2008
Area: Galapagos Islands Ecuador

Ecuadorean officials are investigating the slaughter of 53 sea lions from the Galapagos Islands nature reserve, which were found with their heads caved in. The dead animals included 13 pups, 25 youngsters, nine males and six females. Galapagos National Park official Victor Carrion told AFP news agency that each was killed by "a strong blow from someone", though the motive is unknown. They had not been injured in any other way, he said, discounting the notion they had been killed for their parts.

The animals were found in a state of decomposition on Pinta island, part of the archipelago which lies about 1,000km (600 miles) off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. The Galapagos sea lions have no natural predators on land and generally do not fear humans. Mr Carrion said no other dead animals had been discovered, but that patrols on the other islands would be increased. He added that the sea lions were a vital link in the island's food chain and therefore any threat to them is a threat to the whole eco-system.

Reported Wildlife Mortality Events to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center Updated
USGS National Wildlife Health Center
29 Jan 2008
Area: United States

USGS and a network of partners across the country work on documenting wildlife mortality events in order to provide timely and accurate information on locations, species and causes of death. This information was updated on Jan 28, 2008 on the USGS National Wildlife Health Center web page, New and Ongoing Wildlife Mortality Events Nationwide. Quarterly Mortality Reports are also available from this page. These reports go back to 1995.

Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching
Mother Earth News (Posted by en.epochtimes.com)
28 Jan 2008
M Greger

. . . Migrating birds have been easy scapegoats. Unfounded claims that wild birds were to blame for the spread of dangerous strains of bird flu were used as a smokescreen to take the focus off industry practices and government policies. But the blanket of protection is being pulled away. A 2006 international science conference, sponsored by the world's leading veterinary and agricultural authorities, came to the consensus that the main means by which this virus is spreading globally is not via migrating birds, but rather the multibillion dollar commercial trade in poultry products.

For example, Britain has more than 10 million free-ranging chickens, but when the deadly Asian strain of bird flu H5N1 first struck the poultry industry earlier this year, it didn't hit an outdoor flock - it hit an industrial facility owned by the largest turkey producer in Europe, leaving 160,000 turkeys dead. Likewise, the first outbreaks in Africa and continental Europe occurred in factory farms. Bird flu is traveling more along the railways and highways than the flyways. Not surprisingly then, when this disease lands, it's more likely to affect those vertically integrated, globalized and industrialized conglomerate poultry empires rather than small, independent producers serving local markets. During the British outbreak in January 2007, leaked memos showed that the government initially colluded with the industry to cover up that a corporation, Bernard Matthews, was trucking in more than 40 tons of meat from H5N1-stricken Hungary every week.

Related News

Bald eagle treated for gun shot wound in Wellington
South Florida Sun-Sentinel - www.sun-sentinel.com
29 Jan 2008
J Parsley
Area: Florida United States

A bald eagle with a gun shot wound was brought in to the Folke Peterson Wildlife Center, 10948 Acme Road, Sunday, Jan. 26. The eagle was found by a worker in a sugar cane field in the Belle Glade area and then transported to the center, said Ellen Horton, the center's development coordinator. She said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the incident. Veterinarian Dacia Oprisanu said besides the gun shot wound the bird was very thin, severely dehydrated, had a fractured wing and is suffering from extreme respiratory distress.

Ken Anderson: Deer baiting ban is wrong way to attack chronic wasting disease [opinion]
The Capital Times - www.madison.com
29 Jan 2008
K Anderson
Area: Wisconsin United States

Dear Editor: Tim Eisele's condemnation of the Department of Natural Resources stakeholders advisory group on chronic wasting disease, of which I was a member, needs a response. This is my personal view. He fails to tell his readers that baiting has been banned in the CWD zone for five years; has it stopped CWD from spreading? He fails to inform readers that research shows the prion involved with CWD binds tightly to soil and fails to inform us that healthy animals put in a pen 16 years after CWD-infected animals were removed caught the disease. This indicates an environmental reservoir (soil?) exists for years.

In areas of Wisconsin where CWD is not present, no amount of saliva exchange can transmit CWD. The advisory group got it right, i.e., they recognized the difference between baiting and feeding -- one used to kill deer, the other to protect deer -- something the DNR and some state organizations seem unable or unwilling to recognize. Eisele fails to tell readers that hunting over bait is the safest hunting method; no hunter has been wounded or killed by another hunter hunting over bait. The same can't be said about deer drives, which are the most dangerous hunting method. Yet we don't hear a safety-conscious DNR or any outdoor writer wanting to get rid of deer drives, just baiting.

Tasmanian Devils' Existence Threatened By Rapidly Spreading Cancer
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (Posted by sciencedaily.com)
29 Jan 2008

Researchers are working toward an understanding a unique transmissible and rapidly spreading cancer that threatens the very existence of Tasmanian devils. To combat this particularly aggressive disease, a Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory research team in collaboration with 454 Lifesciences is committing resources to sequence parts of the devil's genome in an effort to increase the odds of saving them from extinction. In 1996 scientists first discovered the facial tumors on Tasmanian devils. Subsequent research revealed that the cancer is transmitted from one devil to another when tumor cells are transplanted through fighting, biting, and other physical contact. Once afflicted with the cancer, aggressive tumors begin to appear on the face and neck of the devils, restricting their ability to eat.

Within approximately three months, the devils succumb to the disease and often die of starvation. The disease has decimated the devil population by nearly 90 percent in certain geographical areas of Tasmania, and officials project that within twenty years the entire species could become extinct. The process by which the disease spreads among the devils has only been seen once before and represents a new field in cancer biology. Inbreeding in wild populations may prevent the devils' immune system from recognizing the cancer as foreign, allowing the cancer to be transmitted. To provide an alternate fate for the devils, the Tasmanian government will have an insurance population of more than two hundred devils in quarantined facilities before the end of 2008.



Fate of translocated wild-caught and captive-reared stone martens (Martes foina ) [online abstract only]
European Journal of Wildlife Research. 2008. Ahead of print

Disease Ecology Blog
UC Santa Barbara Disease Ecology Class
Interesting postings about disease ecology made by the instructors and honors students in the class. Also includes links to past lectures and term glossaries.

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