Tag Archives | wildlife

Lawmakers Debate The Mass Killing Of Sea Lions In The Pacific Northwest

Photo: Oregongirlmary (CC)

Photo: Oregongirlmary (CC)

Kill the sea lions to save the salmon? The Raw Story reports:

A House Natural Resources Committee panel is holding a hearing this morning about the Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act (HR 946), which, under its tame-sounding official name, would authorize tribal members in the Pacific Northwest to kill sea lions to allow the endangered wild salmon to replenish in the Columbia River.

“As Northwest residents spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year to protect salmon, California sea lions camp out at Bonneville Dam and other areas along the Columbia River and gorge themselves on endangered fish,” Natural Resources Committee chairman Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) explained in a statement last month.

The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration in May authorized “lethal” removal of sea lions on the 140-mile stretch of the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington below the dam.

“This is not an easy decision for our agency to make, but a thorough analysis shows that a small number of California sea lions preying on salmon and steelhead are having a significant effect on the ability of the fish stocks to recover,” William W.

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Eastern Mountain Lion Killed By SUV After Rumors Of Its Extinction

800px-Mountain-lion-01623The critically endangered Eastern mountain lion has been on and off the extinct list. In Connecticut, it was thought that any population of these large cats no longer existed. Until one was hit by an SUV. The Gothamist reports:

The Eastern mountain lion was declared extinct in March by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but it looks like one hardy cat may have been keeping his species alive in the wilds of Connecticut. Or maybe it was just a different subspecies of mountain lion that escaped or was released by some sick bastard illegally keeping him as a pet. Either way, the kitty was killed by an SUV Saturday morning. But are there more out there?

Residents of fancy Greenwich, Connecticut and other towns have been reporting sighting mountain lions for weeks, and despite the death of this one, Greenwich police continue to receive reports of the ferocious felines. But authorities are urging citizens to remain calm, and they’ve decided that this was the only mountain lion roaming around.

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Translation Machine To Make Human-Dolphin Conversations Possible

flipperWhat secrets of the sea have dolphins been waiting to tell us? We may soon find out (hopefully not just tuna jokes). New Scientist reports:

A diver carrying a computer that tries to recognize dolphin sounds and generate responses in real time will soon attempt to communicate with wild dolphins off the coast of Florida. If the bid is successful, it will be a big step towards two-way communication between humans and dolphins.

Since the 1960s, captive dolphins have been communicating via pictures and sounds. In the 1990s, Louis Herman of the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory in Honolulu, Hawaii, found that bottlenose dolphins can keep track of over 100 different words. They can also respond appropriately to commands in which the same words appear in a different order, understanding the difference between “bring the surfboard to the man” and “bring the man to the surfboard”, for example.

But communication in most of these early experiments was one-way, says Denise Herzing, founder of the Wild Dolphin Project in Jupiter, Florida.

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World’s Largest Cicada Brood Begins Hatching In U.S. South

cicadasIf the world is going to end this coming weekend, this seems about right. USA Today notes:

Here comes the Brood. An enormous brood of cicadas that covers parts of 16 states is beginning to wake from its 13-year slumber underground.

The inch-long insects have been reported hatching in South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Arkansas. They will appear farther north as soil temperatures reach 64 degrees.

“There are billions of them in the trees,” Greta Beekhuis says, speaking by phone from Pittsboro, N.C. The sound of the cicadas is clearly audible over the line. “When I drove from my house to the grocery store, I ran over thousands of them. They’re everywhere. The air is just thick with them.”

Scientists call these cicadas the Great Southern Brood or Brood XIX. It is the world’s largest “periodical” brood, one that surfaces after years.

Cicadas aren’t dangerous, and are non-toxic and even edible, says Kritsky, a biology professor at the College of Mount St.

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Why Are Penguins Losing Their Feathers?

Photo: Jeffrey Smith

Photo: Jeffrey Smith

Jennifer Viegas writes for Discovery News:

A new condition is causing many penguin chicks to lose their feathers, with some victims dying as a result of the mysterious problem, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The condition, called “feather-loss disorder,” appears to have emerged recently and is now affecting penguin colonies on both sides of the South Atlantic.

“Feather-loss disorders are uncommon in most bird species, and we need to conduct further study to determine the cause of the disorder and if this is in fact spreading to other penguin species,” Dee Boersma was quoted as saying in a WCS press release. Boersma has conducted studies on Magellanic penguins for more than three decades.

“We need to learn how to stop the spread of feather-loss disorder,” she added, “as penguins already have problems with oil pollution and climate variation. It’s important to keep disease from being added to the list of threats they face.”

So far, Boersma and her colleagues offer the following as possible causes for feather-loss disorder: pathogens, thyroid disorders, nutrient imbalances or genetics…

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