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« Reply #6210 on: Aug 14, 2019, 03:56 AM »

Country diary: swifts band together for 'screaming parties'

Otley, West Yorkshire: Tightly packed formations speed around rooftops and slalom within inches of chimney pots

Carey Davies
14 Aug 2019 05.30 BST

It is a glorious end to a glorious summer’s day; the air is soft-pawed and warm, and everything is bathed in saffron-coloured sunset light. I turn my eyes to the skies.

I used to live on this street, and last year I was often mesmerised by the frenzied evening rituals of the local swifts. I have returned to help a local voluntary project, Otley Swift Watch, construct a map of nest sites in the buildings of the town and work with residents to help preserve them. Happily, this involves watching the birds for hours at a time.

The show gets going shortly after I arrive. Having foraged disparately through the day, the birds band together in “screaming parties” – tightly packed formations of up to a dozen swifts that speed madly around trees and rooftops, slalom within inches of chimney pots, or snap suddenly around some invisible axle like a stunt kite, the finely sliced air whooshing behind them. It’s all done to the sound of those instantly recognisable calls – a scraped-marble screech, released in showers of noise as they tear around.

Just as the sun sets, I look up higher into the sky to see a 50-strong swarm seething high above the river. As the light fades, they disperse, some presumably ascending to 10,000 feet to sleep on the wing. Swift lives are relentlessly aerial, and they can stay airborne for 10 months or more, outpacing predators and pathogens.

Saving Britain's swifts - in pictures: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2018/jun/21/saving-britains-swifts-in-pictures

Others fly down to their young. I watch carefully and log the nest sites. The speeding birds leave deceleration to the last possible millisecond before vanishing under the eaves of the Victorian terrace.

Swifts breed among us, which makes them acutely vulnerable to our actions. Terrifyingly, we have lost more than half of our breeding swifts since 1995. But they are a paradox; despite their physical proximity, many aspects of their long-distance, high-altitude, high-speed lives still elude our understanding. They are the wild, mysterious, more-than-human world right in our midst, and we should treasure them.

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« Reply #6211 on: Aug 15, 2019, 04:14 AM »

Fossils in La Brea Tar Pits redraw picture of saber-toothed cats


Usually described as fierce predators, saber-toothed cats are imagined as stalking the open savannah in pursuit of bison, horses and other grassland-dwelling prey. But a new study paints a much less fierce image of the now long-extinct animals.

Illustration depicting the hunting behavior of La Brea carnivores, including saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, and coyotes. Credit: Mauricio Antón.

A team of researchers led by Vanderbilt University’s Larisa DeSantis recovered fossils from the La Brea Tar Pits in California, which suggested that the up to 600-pound cat actually preferred hunting in the forest, were easy targets, including tapirs and deer, congregated. The work was published in the journal Current Biology.

Based on an analysis of more than 700 fossil teeth belonging to multiple prehistoric species, the findings contradict the idea that competition among carnivores drove saber-toothed cats and other megafauna to extinction some 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.

    “The cats, including saber-toothed cats, American lions, and cougars, hunted prey that preferred forests, while it was the dire wolves that seemed to specialize on open-country feeders like bison and horses,” DeSantis explained. “While there may have been some overlap in what the dominant predators fed on, cats and dogs largely hunted differently from one another.

The scientists’ research pinpoints a different explanation for the giant cat’s demise, positing that factors, including climate change and an uptick in nearby human populations, which precipitated the species’ eventual extinction. Smaller predators such as coyotes, on the other hand, weathered harsh conditions.

DeSantis and her colleagues arrived at their conclusions by studying microscopic patterns of wear on fossil teeth, as well as the proportions of two carbon isotopes found within tooth enamel. These isotopes, passed along from plant-eating prey to carnivorous predators, identify victims’ preferred habitat as open versus forested environments.

The La Brea Tar Pits, bubbling pools of natural asphalt that attracted predators and prey alike, have yielded more than 3.5 million specimens representing some 600 species. Most of these unlucky animals were carnivores lured in by the carcasses of horses, bison, and camels already caught in the tar; rather than escaping with an easy meal, the predators soon found themselves similarly stuck.

Previous research had focused on carbon and nitrogen isotopes found within a bone protein called collagen. These analyses concluded that prehistoric predators from saber-toothed cats to dire wolves and American lions hunted in open environments, competing for the same limited pool of prey.

    “When we look at the enamel, we get a totally different picture,” DeSantis said. “We find that the saber-tooth cats, American lions, and cougars are actually doing what cats typically do, which is hunting within forested ecosystems and using cover to potentially ambush their prey.

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« Reply #6212 on: Aug 15, 2019, 04:16 AM »

Snapping worms make one of the loudest noises in the ocean


Researchers have recently described the puzzling behavior of sea-dwelling worms which can produce one of the loudest sounds ever measured in aquatic animals.
When two sea-worms engage in "mouth fighting", they produce powerful snapping sounds. Credit: Ryutaro Goto.

When two sea-worms engage in “mouth fighting”, they produce powerful snapping sounds. Credit: Ryutaro Goto.

Many aquatic animals, including mammals, fish, crustaceans and insects, produce loud sounds underwater. However, this is the first time that scientists have witnessed a soft-bodied marine invertebrate making noises.

    “When I first saw their video and audio recordings, my eyes just popped out of my head because it was so unexpected,” said Richard Palmer, Professor of biology at the University of Alberta.

Palmer received the footage from Ryutaro Goto, a Japanese researcher who was looking for some help in figuring out how the snapping sea-worms were producing their weird sounds.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CK905ivFQ_A

The animals were first discovered in 2017, during a dredging expedition off the coast of Japan. Goto and Isao Hirabayashi, a curator at the Kushimoto Marine Park, were among the first to record the sounds.

Tests found that the sounds are as loud as 157 dB, with frequencies in the 1–100 kHz range and a strong signal at ∼6.9 kHz — that’s comparable to those made by snapping shrimps, which are among the most intense biological sounds that have been measured in the sea

Writing in the journal Current Biology, the Japanese and Canadian researchers explain how and why the loud snapping sounds occur.

According to the researchers, when these worms come close to each other, they open their mouths and snap — something described as “mouth fighting”. This is essentially a territorial display of force which the worms employ to protect their dwellings.

    “The real challenge was figuring out how a soft-bodied animal like a worm—which is basically a hollow, muscular tube—could possibly make such loud sounds,” Palmer said.

Palmer says that the snapping sounds are produced by cavitation bubbles due to the extensive array of muscles in the worm’s pharynx.

    “It’s like trying to suck a smoothie through a paper straw,” Palmer explained. “When it gets a little bit soft at the end, the tip collapses. It doesn’t take much force to make it collapse, but if you try to suck harder and harder, you build up this immense negative pressure. When the worm finally pops the valve open, it happens so fast that the water can’t fill the space, and the sides of that space collapse together in a point, creating this explosive release of energy in the form of sound.”

This hypothesis has yet to be validated but the researchers hope to conduct an experiment soon.

    “It’s just an incredibly cool animal with quite the unexpected behaviour,” Palmer added. “I’ve shown the videos to biologists who study invertebrates and their reaction is always the same: they shake their heads in wonder.”

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« Reply #6213 on: Aug 15, 2019, 04:17 AM »

Animals can experience post-traumatic stress disorder from exposure to predators


New research at Western University shows that animals can suffer post-traumatic stress disorder-like symptoms following exposure to predators.

Fear, especially strong fear such as that generated by life-threatening events, can cause significant and long-lasting changes in the circuitry of our brains. These neural changes lead to a host of shifts in behavior that we collectively refer to as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Wild animals also experience these same changes in traumatic situations, new research shows. Fear of predators can lead to enduring neural changes that induce fearful behavior, comparable to effects seen in human PTSD patients.

Genetically-dictated fear

    “These results have important implications for biomedical researchers, mental health clinicians, and ecologists,” explains Liana Zanette, a biology professor in Western’s Faculty of Science and lead author of the paper.

    “Our findings support both the notion that PTSD is not unnatural, and that long-lasting effects of predator-induced fear with likely effects on fecundity and survival, are the norm in nature.”

The team worked with wild-caught black-capped chickadees at Western’s Advanced Facility for Avian Research (AFAR). The birds were individually exposed to audio recordings of either predators or non-predator species for two days. Afterward, all birds were allowed to flock together in outdoor conditions for a week, during which they were not exposed to any further audio recordings.

They gauged ‘enduringly fearful behavior’ after this week-long period by measuring each individual’s reaction to hearing a chickadee alarm call distinct from those they were exposed to seven days previously. The team estimated each bird’s levels of fearfulness by measuring how long they remained ‘vigilant and immobile’ (i.e., ‘freezing’) upon first hearing the alarm calls. They used freezing as a proxy as it is an anti-predator behavior demonstrated in almost every type of animal, they explain.

    “To assess effects on behaviour, individuals were again housed solitarily in acoustic isolation chambers, and all were exposed for 15 minutes to playbacks of conspecific alarm calls, a signal which, like hearing predator vocalizations, alerts the hearer to a predator danger,” the paper explains.

The long-term effects of exposure on the brain were assessed by measuring ∆FosB protein levels in the amygdala and hippocampus, two areas of the brain involved in PTSD in humans. The amygdala is responsible for fear processing and the acquisition and expression of fear memories, the team explains, whereas the hippocampus is involved in memory formation. ∆FosB is a transcription factor, meaning it can turn other genes on or off. It is “unusually stable” for a transcription factor (i.e. has long-lasting effects) and, among other things, is known to promote resistance to the consequences of chronic stress.

Zanette’s team is the first to show that the effects of predator exposure on the neural pathways that govern fear in animals can persist far beyond the initial ‘fight or flight’ response. They showed that this response remains measurable over one week later even for animals that have been allowed a peaceful, quality life after exposure.

They explain that retaining a powerful and enduring memory of a life-threatening predator encounter might seem crippling, but it’s actually evolutionarily-rewarding if it helps the individual avoid such events in the future. The team says their findings support the view that PTSD is the cost of inheriting an evolutionarily primitive mechanism that prioritizes survival over the quality of life.

The results suggest predator exposure could impair the behavior of prey species much more, and for longer than previously assumed. They also tie in well with past research in which Zanette and her collaborators show that scared parents are less able to care for their young.

The paper “Predator-induced fear causes PTSD-like changes in the brains and behaviour of wild animals” has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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« Reply #6214 on: Aug 16, 2019, 03:55 AM »

A Christmas tragedy: The Arctic has lost 2.6 million reindeer over the past 20 years

It's an environmental catastrophe.

Mihai Andrei byMihai Andrei
August 16, 2019

The Arctic is changing unnaturally fast, and neither reindeer nor caribou can keep up with it.
Image in public domain.

Santa’s helpers need some help themselves — the magnificent Arctic reindeer numbers are in sharp decline, and the consequences can be devastating for their entire ecosystem. Since the mid-1990s, the size of reindeer and caribou herds has declined by 56%, from an estimated 4.7 million animals to 2.1 million. It’s the lowest number since monitoring began.

    “Five herds,” out of 22 monitored “in the Alaska-Canada region, have declined more than 90 percent and show no sign of recovery,” according to the latest Arctic Report Card from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, out Tuesday. “Some herds have all-time record low populations since reliable record keeping began.”

Reindeer and caribou are the same species: Rangifer tarandus. These animals are known not only for their magnificent antlers, but also for their impressive journeys, in which they travel thousands of miles looking for food. They reshape the vegetation by grazing and are important not only to other animals in the same environment but also to local people, to whom they are a source of food and livelihood.

Normally, the decline of reindeer populations shouldn’t really be surprising — they can fluctuate greatly, researchers say. But this time, it’s different . The losses are simply too high to dismiss as a natural process.

    “The fact that these herds are declining shouldn’t be a shock — they do it all the time,” Russell said by phone from the Yukon territory in Canada. “But they’re at such low levels, you start to be concerned. […] If we return in 10 years and [their numbers] have gone down further, that would be unprecedented.”

The reasons for this decline are complex are involve a combination of climate change, hunting, disease, and low food availability — a group of problems which go hand in hand. The final straw, it seems, might be that global warming is causing longer, hotter summers. These warmer summers facilitate the spread of disease and place extra stress on the caribou.

    “Warmer summers also have adverse effects through increased drought, flies and parasites, and perhaps heat stress leading to increased susceptibility to pathogens and other stressors,” the report notes.

If we take a step back, what’s happening to these reindeer populations is representative of the large-scale problems faced by most wildlife on Earth. Earth’s wilderness has decreased at an alarming level, with recent reports showing that we’ve wiped out almost all the planet’s wild areas — the average vertebrate population has declined by 60% since 1970.

The Arctic, too, is changing — faster than any other ecosystem — and it’s not clear if the caribou can adapt in time.

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« Reply #6215 on: Aug 16, 2019, 03:57 AM »

Gay Penguins, and Their Hope for a Baby, Have Enchanted Berlin

Two male penguins at Zoo Berlin have adopted an egg, delighting Germans and raising the prospect of the zoo’s first penguin chick in almost two decades.

By Liam Stack
NY Times
Aug 16, 2019

BERLIN — Skip and Ping moved to the German capital in April and soon decided to start a family. They scrounged around for objects like a wet rock and a slimy fish they could nurture in the hopes that it would one day hatch into a child, according to zookeepers.

But needless to say, neither the rock nor the fish ever hatched for Skip and Ping, who are both male king penguins at Zoo Berlin, said Maximilian Jäger, a spokesman. The zoo knew they were a couple when they arrived from Hamburg this year, and it became clear within weeks that they wanted to start a family, he said.

“It is very common that two penguins of the same sex come together. I don’t think it is the majority of penguins, but it is not rare either,” Mr. Jäger said on Tuesday. “We are sure they would be good parents because they were so nice to their stone.”

So the zookeepers decided to give Skip — short for Skipper — and Ping a shot at fatherhood after a 22-year-old female, called The Orange because of the color of her wings, laid an egg in July. She had never hatched a chick of her own.

“We just had to put the egg in front of one of them, and he knew just what to do,” Mr. Jäger said. “He took his beak and put the egg on his feet and then put his stomach over it, which is the normal thing penguins do.”

The prospect of two gay penguins adopting an egg and raising a chick has become a feel good story in Germany in recent days. On Tuesday, penguin fans, journalists and a television crew from the country’s public international broadcaster gathered to watch Ping sit on the egg.

“They were really the thing that pushed me to come to the zoo, because I really do not come to the zoo very often,” said Anna Schmidt, a 33-year-old gender studies researcher from Berlin who described them as “the happy couple.”

Penguins are not the most expressive birds, but Ping and Skip seemed unfazed by all the attention. They sat on a rock and looked serenely out a window, their backs to the audience, while nearby The Orange groomed her wet feathers.

“I knew homosexuality existed in the animal world but I had never heard of gay adoption in the animal world,” Ms. Schmidt said. “I am not sure why they decided to adopt, but I am sure they had their reasons.”

There may be one catch, though. Anja Seiferth, the penguin keeper at Zoo Berlin, said it was not clear if the egg had been fertilized. That means it might never hatch.

She said there was no way to know for sure until early September, when the zoo will either welcome a penguin chick or not. If it does, it will be the zoo’s first penguin chick since 2002.

“I hope Ping and Skip get a little penguin baby and become the best parents you’ve ever seen,” Ms. Seiferth said. “I hope that is what happens, but so far we do not know if it will.”

Like many expectant parents, Ms. Seiferth said, the pair seemed different now that they were tending an egg. Skip is normally the “tough” one, she said, while Ping is “more smooth.”

“They are a little bit angrier now, a little bit protective,” she said. “They do not want us to come too close to them or too close to their egg. Before they had the egg they were very cool and were more relaxed. But they have a job now.”

Homosexuality has been observed in a number of species of animals, who tend to have fewer hangups than humans. But gay penguins seem to be unusually prominent in the world of animal homosexuality.

There have been same-sex penguin couples at many zoos, including the Central Park Zoo in New York, Sea Life Sydney Aquarium in Australia and regional zoos or aquariums in Denmark and Ireland.

And then there is the London Zoo, which in June celebrated Pride month — and its six gay Humboldt penguins — with a banner in the penguin exhibit that said “Some penguins are gay, get over it.”

If there are any other gay animals at the Berlin zoo, the zookeepers said they had not made themselves publicly known.

“We don’t know if there are any other gay animals in this zoo,” Mr. Jäger said. “There may be.”

Watching Skip and Ping on Tuesday, Ms. Schmidt said their story made her think of the lingering obstacles some same-sex parents face in Germany.

Surrogacy is banned, which means gay male couples in particular tend to rely on adoption when they want to start a family. Lesbians must navigate a complex process to be recognized as the second parent when their partners give birth.

“The state does not want the family, the nucleus of nationhood, to be autonomous or to create a new kind of family,” Ms. Schmidt, the gender studies researcher, said. She turned again to Skip and Ping, who still sat with their backs to the crowd.

“But we can see that nature does not care,” she laughed. “For them, there are no boundaries.”

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« Reply #6216 on: Aug 16, 2019, 03:58 AM »

Elderly skeletal elephant spared Sri Lanka parade

on August 16, 2019
By Agence France-Presse

A skeletal 70-year-old elephant has been withdrawn from a high-profile annual Buddhist pageant in Sri Lanka following a social media firestorm against parading the feeble animal.

The chief custodian of the Temple of the Tooth — which organizes the event — Pradeep Nilanga Dela said Tikiri would not be part of Wednesday’s grand finale, involving dozens of jumbos.

Dela said the elephant’s “medical condition” meant her owners told him she would not be part of Kandy city’s parade and told AFP by telephone, “Tikiri is being treated.”

Animal-lovers lambasted the authorities for forcing the aged animal to parade several kilometers (miles) wearing elaborate clothing at the hugely popular night festival.

Asian elephant expert Jayantha Jayewardene described the animal’s treatment as inhumane.

“Obviously the animal is severely under-nourished, it is close to death”, Jayewardene told AFP.

“Owners parade their elephants to gain merit for themselves and not for the animal. This should never have been allowed,” he said, adding he was relieved she would not be paraded.

Lek Chailert, the founder of the Save Elephant Foundation, said on social media that spectators do not realize how weak Tikiri was because she was covered in an elaborate costume.

“No one sees her bony body or her weakened condition, because of her costume,” Chailert said. “No one sees the tears in her eyes, injured by the bright lights that decorate her mask, no one sees her difficulty to step as her legs are short shackled while she walks.”

The Temple of the Tooth, Buddhism’s holiest shrine on the island, holds the annual festival with traditional drummers and dancers as well as nearly 100 tamed elephants.

Many rich Sri Lankans keep elephants as pets, but there have been numerous complaints of ill treatment and cruelty.

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« Reply #6217 on: Aug 17, 2019, 04:43 AM »

 The week in wildlife – in pictures

Endangered bonobo, migrating storks and one of the world’s biggest raptors


Click to see all: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2019/aug/16/the-week-in-wildlife-in-pictures

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« Reply #6218 on: Aug 17, 2019, 04:43 AM »


We had to take down the thread we had on animals because of being notified by the Guardian newspaper out of England that we had to do so because we had been posting article from their website. Anyway, I am a great lover of animals, and a champion for their well being. So I want to start up a new thread that will not post articles from the Guardian. Hopefully, what I do post from whatever source will just let us be because, in the end, it is about doing whatever we can to help our animal friends.

God Bless, Rad


All friends of animals,

I would like to direct your attention to a world wide organization who is doing all it can for our animals friends. They really need all the support and help possible, including donations of money. Please visit their website at http://www.worldanimalprotection.org/ to learn more about all that they do, and how you can donate to them if you feel so inclined. Below is just some of the incredibly important things that they are doing. Please help them if you can.

God Bless, Rad

                                          World Animal Protection

We move the world to protect animals.

Animals in communities: We move the world to protect the one billion animals that live in communities.
We move the world to protect the one billion animals that live in communities

Animals in farming: We move the world to protect the 70 billion animals farmed each year.

Animals in disasters: We move the world to protect and rescue animals in disaster zones. Animals in disasters

We move the world to protect and rescue animals in disaster zones

Animals in the wild: We move the world to protect wild animals – and keep them in the wild.

Global animal protection: We move the world to put animal protection at the heart of global thinking.

Education: We move the world to teach students and vets that animal protection is vital.


                                                Hope For Paws

Here is another outfit called Hope For Paws that is just doing incredible work for animals that need help that really needs financial support to help them keep doing what they do. Here is there web address so you can see what they do: https://www.hopeforpaws.org/. And here their address do donate: https://www.hopeforpaws.org/donationrecurring. And here is an example of what they do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q3PDuU17P4

Hope for Paws is a 501 C-3 non-profit animal rescue organization (E.I.N: 26-2869386). We rescue dogs, cats and other types of animals suffering on the streets or neglected in the wild. Through rescue and education, Hope For Paws works to raise awareness for abandoned animals.
Hope For Paws was founded on June 11, 2008 by Eldad Hagar.

For eight years, Eldad volunteered with other rescue organizations in the Los Angeles area. Because he gravitated towards the most challenging rescues, often saving animals with the most pressing and complex medical conditions, rescue organizations need thousands of dollars to care for the new animals. At one point, Eldad started to feel like a burden on the main organization where he was volunteering and decided it was time to be responsible for his own fundraising. Eldad spent a few hours thinking about a name for the new rescue organization, and came up with Hope For Paws.
When and why did you decide to start posting videos on YouTube?

A friend of Eldad's mentioned one day: "If I didn't personally know you, I would have never believed the stories you're always sharing with me".  She continued to say "Why don't you take a camera with you, and show me... take me with you on a rescue journey".  YouTube was a fairly new platform, and the first video uploaded by Hope For Paws was seen 14 times (10 of the views were from Eldad's Mom).  The channel has grown significantly since that first video in 2009, and as of today, Hope For Paws has almost 3 million subscribers and over 660,000,000 views!

Please help these folks and the animals they rescue.


                                                Howl Of A Dog

Howl Of A Dog is a small nonprofit animal rescue organization located in Romania.

We rescue abandoned, neglected, injured and abused animals from the streets and from over-crowded shelters, we offer them the medical care they need and find them loving forever homes.

To help reduce dog overpopulation which is a huge problem in our country and to prevent abandonment, we provide free neuter/spay programs and we also support and help low-income families pay for veterinary care and lifesaving medical treatment for their dogs.

At the same time, our efforts aim to build a more compassionate and responsible society. We want to raise awareness and show the world how amazing all animals are and how their unconditional love, loyalty and friendship can bring joy and happiness and improve the lives of their human companions.

Through the stories of our rescued animals we are trying to inspire and help humans learn to respect and protect the lives of other species we share this planet with, resulting in better lives for both the animal and human communities.

Many of the dogs we rescue are seniors or dogs with special needs that would otherwise have very few chances of surviving by themselves on the streets and would be usually scheduled for almost immediate euthanasia in over-crowded shelters from Romania. Being unfairly considered “less-adoptable” because they are old, blind, abused, traumatized or injured, these dogs wait for a home much longer than the average adoptable pet does, sometimes even years. For some of them, we may even be the only family they will ever have.

While waiting for their forever families, our rescued animals are provided with everything they need, from veterinary care and adequate nutrition to basic training and lots of affection. They even have their own parties, on Christmas and other special occasions!

All the animals we rescue are being fostered by us, at our house. They are accommodated in a very nice, clean and cozy facility that we built specially for them and they have a play yard and a large fenced-in area, with grass and trees where they can run and play safely. And of course, they also have full access to our house. They live with us as part of our family and are considered and treated as family members, being given all the love and attention they need to be happy.

Our commitment is to find the most suitable adoptive homes for the animals we save, where they will live happily, being loved and cherished. We also facilitate international adoptions and many of our rescue dogs found forever homes in the USA, Canada and Europe.

Howl Of A Dog does not receive any government funding, our life saving work relies entirely on the support and generosity of compassionate animals lovers like you.

Thank you for helping us give neglected animals the chance to live a better and happier life!

Diana Badescu, Co-Founder
Catalin Stancu, Co-Founder

Howl Of A Dog Organization
Registration Number 33570458, Romania
E-mail: contact@howlofadog.org
Website: www.HowlOfADog.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/HowlOfADog
YouTube: www.youtube.com/HowlOfADog
Instagram: www.instagram.com/howlofadog
Twitter: twitter.com/HowlOfADog

Please help these folks by donating here: https://www.howlofadog.org/make-a-donation/

Some of there rescue videos can be viewed here: https://www.howlofadog.org/howl-of-a-dog-rescue-videos/


      Pegasus Society: rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing of horses and donkeys in Israel

The Pegasus Society was founded by Zvika Tamuz of "Moked Hai" ("Living Hotline"), who has been rescuing animals since 1993.

Zvika has been taking care of horses for over twenty years. In 2004 he became aware of how prevalent the abuse of equestrian animals in Israel had become. Different animal welfare organizations began referring him cases involving these animals, knowing that he had the know-how as well as facility to care for them. News that somebody is actually rescuing and caring for neglected and abused horses and donkeys spread quickly. The National Traffic Police, the National Roads Association and municipal vets, who did not know how to help these animals, also started calling Zvika whenever they encountered a stray horse or donkey wandering alone in a place where they were endangering themselves and others (such as on busy roads).

With the price of iron going up, many residents of the occupied territories began scouring the border area of the Sharon plain, collecting (and quite often stealing) scrap iron. That process marked a new era in terms of the numbers of horses and donkeys in very poor physical condition working in the area. An influx of calls was received from people from Kfar Saba, Ra'anana, Hod HaSharon etc. – appalled by the sight of these emaciated and injured animals pulling carts piled high with very large and heavy loads of scrap iron, beaten mercilessly by their owners to keep them going, many of which simply collapsed on the street, unable to go on. The different animal welfare societies who received these calls referred them to Zvika Tamuz.

In August of 2006 Ms. Eti Altman, spokesperson of the "Let the Animals Live" organization, wrote to several government and state agencies, alerting them to the grave hardships endured by horses and donkeys in Israel and demanding that the government will take responsibility for the rescue operations and, for the expensive upkeep of these animals which, up until then, was being paid for by Zvika Tamuz out of his own pocket.

As a result of this effort, the Ministry for Environmental Protection began funding the rescue operations of donkeys and horses, but there still remained the problem of keeping and caring for them during the long rehabilitation periods they required. There was an urgent need for an organization that would take responsibility of these animals in Israel. Dozens of horses and donkeys were rescued by Zvika, at all hours of the day and night, seven days a week. No report of a horse or a donkey in distress was left unattended to. The fear that the owners would try stealing them back or harming them in any way prevented Zvika from making public the rescue stories, and he emphatically requested that the police would never divulge his name or address.

In May of 2007 a team of the International WAP (formerly WSPA) came to Israel on a visit and was taken by Ms. Rivi Meier, founder of The Society for Cats in Israel, to visit Zvika Tamuz's ranch. This surprise visit provided the basis for the founding the Pegasus Society.

In collaboration with WAP the Pegasus Society started on a new path with a clear vision of establishing an educational center and a visitors center that would convey the message of the plight of these animals and supply the tools that would enable the general public to recognize states of distress in horses and donkeys.

In the 'Susita' sanctuary run by the Pegasus Society these horses and donkeys are being rehabilitated both physically and mentally. Some of them remain at the sanctuary for the rest of their lives and become permanent residents.

One of the upcoming projects the Pegasus Society intends to launch in the near future is an educational program, in the Jewish and Arab sectors alike, with the intention of passing on the message of compassion and caring for animals to the younger generation.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyQvabcygSU

Here is there homepage: https://www.pegasus-israel.org/en/home

And to donate: https://www.pegasus-israel.org/en/home#!88


                                                       WOLF HAVEN

Wolf Haven International is a nationally recognized wolf sanctuary that has rescued and provided a lifetime home for 250 displaced, captive-born animals since 1982. Guided 50-minute walking visits offer guests a rare, close-up view of wolves. Wolf Haven provides a variety of educational programs, participates in multi-agency Species Survival Plan programs for critically endangered wolves and advocates for wolves in the wild.

Main website: https://wolfhaven.org/

To Donate: http://store.wolfhaven.org/donate.asp


                                                  ANIMAL AID UNLIMITED

Animal Aid Unlimited is a life-changing place for both people and animals in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India.

Founded in 2002, our mission is to rescue and treat the un-owned street animals of Udaipur, Rajasthan, who have become ill or injured. Through their rescue we inspire the community to protect and defend the lives of all animals.

Animal Aid’s hospital has approximately 370 animals of different species with us under treatment on any given day, and our sanctuary is home to 150 animals.

Our work focuses on the vital moment when a resident of Udaipur sees an animal who needs help, and stops to help. Taking action is the pivotal experience that can change everything for good.

By providing a phone number someone can call and a shelter and hospital, we are inspiring action in the community. Action that though small at first, maybe just a phone call on our helpline, is the first step for someone on the road of becoming the person that animals desperately need.

Our ultimate goal is equality and protection of all animals and a complete end to the use and abuse of animals. We are working for the day that every dog, donkey, cow, pig, fish and mouse can live their lives in freedom.

Based out of Udaipur, Rajasthan, India, our emergency rescue team responds to calls on our help-line reporting sick or wounded animals in need of help throughout the day, every day. Animal Aid is the life-line for thousands of animals who otherwise wouldn’t stand a chance.

With the involvement of thousands of Udaipur residents who have become aware of street animal’s needs, we have rescued more than 90,000 injured or ill dogs, cows, donkeys, birds and cats to date.

Website: https://animalaidunlimited.org/what-we-do/attachment/street-animal-rescue/

To Donate: https://animalaidunlimited.org/how-to-help/donate/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/AnimalAidUnlimited?&ytbChannel=null
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« Reply #6219 on: Aug 19, 2019, 04:46 AM »

Thailand's 'sweetheart' dugong dies with plastic in stomach

Vets say plastic caused orphan mammal’s infection and should serve as warning about pollution

Jamie Fullerton in Koh Libong and Bangkok
19 Aug 2019 06.10 BST

An orphaned dugong named Marium, who became an internet star after being rescued in Thailand in April, has died.

Veterinarians caring for the dugong off the island of Koh Libong, in south Thailand’s Trang province, said an infection caused by ingesting plastic contributed to her death. They added that the loss of the animal, named “the nation’s sweetheart” by Thailand’s department of marine and coastal resources (DMCR), should serve as a warning about the effects of plastic waste on wildlife.

Dugongs – marine mammals that grow up to three metres long – are vulnerable to extinction, with up to only 250 believed to be living in Thai waters. A team of around 10 vets plus 40 volunteers looked after Marium in shallow water off Koh Libong, after discovering her alone and malnourished in nearby Krabi province.

Aged around four months when she was found, Marium became famous after photos of her hugging vets were posted online and the DMCR set up cameras to livestream her being fed milk formula. Last week she showed signs of stress and refused to feed, after encountering another dugong in the ocean.

On Wednesday Marium was moved to a nursery tank for close monitoring but died early on Saturday morning. Vets said the animal showed signs of shock, and that her autopsy revealed that small plastic pieces had clogged and inflamed her intestines, causing infection.

They found bruises on Marium’s body, which they said may have been caused by an attack from another dugong.

“Everyone is sad about this loss,” said Nantarika Chansue, director of Chulalongkorn University’s aquatic animal medicine unit in Bangkok. “The thing that needs to be resolved, if we’re going to preserve rare marine animals, is to protect the environment for both people and animals.”

Last month on Koh Libong, when Marium was in good health, Chansue voiced concern about the potential for a dugong medical crisis. “One thing we haven’t been ready for is if there’s an emergency,” she said. “In case something happens … this is quite far from the [main]land. We’ve prepared emergency equipment … [but] anything is possible.”

A second orphaned dugong, who is younger than Marium and was found in June near Marium’s original rescue location, is being cared for in the Phuket Marine Biology Centre. Vets were considering moving the creature, a male named Jamil, to Koh Libong when he grew strong enough to deal with ocean conditions. They hoped that both Marium and Jamil would strike out alone in the sea when aged around 18 months, the age at which dugongs leave their mothers in the wild.

Speaking last month, Chansue said: “Everyone fell in love with these two babies.”

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« Reply #6220 on: Aug 19, 2019, 04:48 AM »

E.P.A. Backtracks on Use of ‘Cyanide Bombs’ to Kill Wild Animals

The federal agency said it was re-evaluating the use of the M-44 poison devices, which are used to kill thousands of coyotes and foxes.

By Neil Vigdor
Aug 19, 2019

The federal Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday withdrew its support for the continued use of so-called cyanide bombs to protect livestock from predators, reversing course amid strong opposition to the practice.

The E.P.A. administrator, Andrew R. Wheeler, said he was withdrawing an interim reauthorization for the use of M-44 devices, which are used to kill coyotes, foxes and other animals that prey on livestock. The agency, he added, would re-evaluate the highly criticized practice.

“This issue warrants further analysis and additional discussions by E.P.A. with the registrants of this predacide,” Mr. Wheeler said in a statement on Thursday. “I look forward to continuing this dialogue to ensure U.S. livestock remain well protected from dangerous predators while simultaneously minimizing off-target impacts on both humans and nonpredatory animals.”

The federal Department of Agriculture, along with its state counterpart agencies in Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming, have relied on the M-44s for farming since the mid-1970s.

The devices are smeared with scented bait, which cause predators to bite on and pull them. A capsule containing sodium cyanide, a highly toxic pesticide, is then ejected into the predator’s mouth.

The E.P.A’s withdrawal of the reauthorization does not bar people from using the devices, the agency said in an email on Friday. It will issue a final decision after review.

In its interim reauthorization decision, which was written in June but made public last week, the E.P.A. acknowledged that “an overwhelming majority” of the 20,000 public comments it had received were submitted in opposition to its proposal to renew the use of cyanide bombs.

The agency received the comments as part of a write-in campaign organized by the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians, two environmental groups that have criticized the practice as inhumane.

“I’m thrilled that the E.P.A. just reversed its wrongheaded decision to reauthorize deadly cyanide traps,” Collette Adkins, the carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement on Thursday. “So many people expressed their outrage, and the E.P.A. seems to be listening. I hope the feds finally recognize the need for a permanent ban to protect people, pets and imperiled wildlife from this poison.”

In 2017, the devices killed more than 6,500 animals across the country, according to the federal Department of Agriculture, which acknowledged that 200 of them were unintended targets, including foxes, raccoons, opossums, skunks, swine and a black bear.

According to Predator Defense, a wildlife advocacy group, Dennis Slaugh of Utah died in 2018, 15 years after being poisoned by an M-44 device. Ten other people were injured and nearly 50 dogs killed by the devices in the past three decades, the group said.

Two separate efforts by environmentalists to block the use of M-44s were denied by the E.P.A. in the past decade, in 2009 and 2018. 

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« Reply #6221 on: Aug 19, 2019, 04:51 AM »

New chicks raise hope for hen harrier survival … but shooters take aim

Despite a successful breeding season, the endangered birds still face serious threats

Robin McKie
19 Aug 2019 05.00 BST

A row has broken out between conservation groups over the wellbeing of one of Britain’s most critically endangered birds of prey: the hen harrier. The dispute reveals a basic divide between experts on how to save the birds from eradication in Britain.

Natural England announces on Sunday that 2019 has been a record year for breeding success in England. A total of 15 nests had 12 successful breeding pairs and produced 47 chicks – improving on the previous high point of 46 set in 2006, news that was hailed “as a positive result” by the organisation.

“It is very welcome to see this improvement,” said Natural England’s chairman, Tony Juniper. But the announcement was immediately condemned by the RSPB.

“This success is tarnished by the clear evidence that illegal killing [of hen harriers] continues with no sign of it coming to an end,” said Chris Corrigan, the RSPB’s director for England.

“By the government’s own figures we should have over 300 pairs of hen harriers sky dancing above the English countryside, and yet the species remains on the brink of local extinction.”

Hen harriers have been targeted for decades because the raptors – which eat mainly small birds and mammals – are considered a threat to the profitability of grouse shooting estates. As a result, some gamekeepers trap or shoot them illegally.

In February, Natural England published a study paper that analysed the findings of satellite tagging data collected over 10 years. The study revealed that young hen harriers in England suffer abnormally high mortality, with the most likely cause being illegal killing. This point is acknowledged by Juniper.

“The hen harrier is still very far from where it should be as a breeding species in England, not least due to illegal persecution,” he admitted.

To maintain hen harrier numbers, Natural England – working in collaboration with other conservation groups such as the Moorland Association – has placed emphasis on encouraging brood management schemes that help chicks survive. In some cases, supplementary food is provided to help chicks’ survival and divert adult birds’ attention from taking grouse chicks.

Natural England said this “positive result” meant the past two years had produced 81 fledged chicks, surpassing the total for the previous five years put together.

“The chicks have also hatched in a wider variety of areas this year, including in Northumberland, Yorkshire Dales, Derbyshire and Lancashire – leading to hopes that a corner has been turned in the restoration of the hen harrier population,” it said.

Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, was also enthusiastic. She said: “It has been a fantastic year for hen harriers with a year-on-year increase in both the geographical range of the nests and the type of land on which they have successfully fledged.”

But this suggestion is flatly rejected by Corrigan. “Until something is done to stop illegal killing it is hard to see a bright future for this year’s chicks. We believe licensing of driven grouse moors is the best chance we have of ensuring these wonderful birds will be seen by future generations.”

The RSPB is one of many organisations who believe the best way to protect raptors, and to improve the management of peatlands, is to license grouse moors and give authorities the power to ban shooting estates where protected species are disappearing.

“The pervasiveness of illegal killing means many of this year’s young hen harriers will not get the chance to raise a family of their own and so the population continues to dwindle,” said Corrigan.

These views were recently backed by television wildlife presenter Chris Packham. Commenting after a hen harrier was found with an almost severed leg in an illegally set trap on a South Lanarkshire grouse moor, he said the incident – which meant the bird had to be destroyed – showed that the UK shooting industry “was out of control, obviously beyond any form of self-regulation, and tolerant of an utter contempt for the laws which are meant to protect our wildlife”.

Birds under threat

The merlin

Britain’s smallest raptor preys on other birds such as the meadow pipit but suffered a serious decline in the 1960s due to pesticide poisoning. Habitat loss, primarily due to afforestation and overgrazing, has since hampered its recovery.

The montagu harrier

One of the most endangered of our birds of prey, this now rarely breeds in the UK. Its status is so precarious that every pair needs special protection, according to the RSPB.

The marsh harrier

The largest of the harriers, the marsh harrier’s numbers declined last century but have recovered in recent years, though it is still given special protection as a schedule 1 listed bird under the wildlife and countryside act.

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« Reply #6222 on: Aug 20, 2019, 03:42 AM »

Scorched Portugal Turns to the Goat as a Low-Cost Firefighter

By Raphael Minder
NY Times

VERMELHOS, Portugal — Portugal has scrambled to find solutions to wildfires that have ravaged the country in recent years. It has tested high-tech tools like drones and used satellites and aircraft to fight the fires. It has grappled with long-term policy changes to improve land management that could prevent them.

And then there is the goat.

Part of Portugal’s problem, as in other southern European countries, is that inland villages have shed their populations. The absence of shepherds, goatherds and farmers has left forest lands overgrown, allowing fires to spread and burn faster. Steep slopes are out of reach for a tractor and are very costly to tend by hand, difficult in any case for an aging population.

A simple, low-cost solution, Portuguese officials now hope, may lie with the humble goat, which feeds on the underbrush that fuels fires, if only enough goatherds and shepherds can be found and supported in a way of life that is disappearing.

Leonel Martins Pereira, 49, is his village’s last. Increasingly, he may also be Portugal’s first line of defense against wildfires.

He is now part of a pilot program started by the Portuguese government intended to help shepherds in an arduous and isolated job that may prove essential to his country’s ability to adapt to a future defined by climate change.

His hilltop village, Vermelhos, in southern Portugal, is surrounded by strips of barren land, as if a powerful lawn mower had driven across the area.

That is a credit to his 150 Algarve goats, an indigenous breed with dark spots on a white coat, who have nibbled away the underbrush that can fuel a fire.

The goats feed off all the local plants, including the strawberry tree, a bush that is turned by villagers into a liquor called aguardente de medronhos.

The strawberry tree’s leaves also have a sticky protective film that catches fire easily. But for the goats it is food worth scaling the mountainsides for.

The goat project was started by a government forestry institute last year with a budget of just a few thousand euros.

So far, it has enlisted 40 to 50 goatherds and shepherds across the country, with a combined livestock of 10,800 goats that graze across about 6,700 acres, in selected areas that are more vulnerable to fire.

“When people abandon the countryside, they also leave the land extremely vulnerable to fire,” said João Cassinello, a regional official from Portugal’s Agriculture Ministry. “We have lost a way of life in which the forest was seen as valuable.”

There is no doubt that poor government land management has worsened Portugal’s fires. The project is part of the country’s effort to recover. But challenges remain.

Nuno Sequeira, a board member for the forestry and nature conservation institute that runs the project, said the difficulty was not funding but finding enough shepherds in Portugal.

“It’s just become very hard to find people willing to do this hard work and live in such areas,” he said.
A field that Mr. Martins Pereira’s goats have cleared of underbrush as part of a government pilot project.CreditJosé Sarmento Matos for The New York Times

Vermelhos itself has shrunk to about 25 residents, from over 100 when Mr. Martins Pereira was growing up.

The primary school he attended closed 20 years ago. When he started looking after goats once tended by his great-grandfather, Vermelhos still had about 10 shepherds.

Antonio Barbara, a 93-year-old who used to be a shepherd, listed three things that had changed since his youth: less rainfall, more roads and many more burning bushes and trees.

“We really never had so many fires,” he said, while sitting on a village bench, talking to a neighbor and enjoying the shade.

Although the roads have improved significantly, it still takes one hour to drive the twisty 30 miles between Vermelhos and Faro, the main airport city of the Algarve region, a major tourism destination.

But the tourists congregate at the coasts. They rarely make their way to inland villages like Vermelhos, where the heat and winds sweep across the hills in the summer like air from a blow dryer.

Shepherds like Mr. Martins Pereira emphasize that what they do is more than just a job. Like many other villagers, he left Portugal as a young man for a few years to work in France, but eventually returned to a family village lifestyle that he was missing.

To beat the heat, which can reach above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or more than 43 degrees Celsius, in the summer months when the country is most prone to fires, Mr. Martins Pereira sets off for the hills at dawn and returns late at night.

“Living and working with animals is a 24-hour job,” Mr. Martins Pereira said.

By his own calculations, the government program gives him an extra three euros, or about $3.35, per day, on top of what he can earn from selling his animals and their products, compared with the €30 per hour it would cost to operate a tractor to clear the land.

That is not enough, he said, adding that he was unlikely to sign up again, unless the pay increased and forestry engineers gave him more leeway to decide where his goats should graze. Forestry inspectors, he said, wanted him to focus on clearing roadside areas, which must be protected from fire but where there is not always the best vegetation to feed his goats.

“The state has been wasting taxpayers’ money for years by mismanaging forests and is now saving some money, but without compensating the shepherds properly,” he said.

“Being a shepherd is a vocation, but I don’t think this is worth the extra work and hassle,” he added.

Mr. Sequeira said that he would take account of such complaints, but noted that a pilot phase allows for some fine-tuning before the project is expanded.

“We’re pleased so far, but the goal is to learn before doing this on a larger scale,” he said. “We are trying to change a whole system to prevent forest fires, and that takes time.”

Until then, Portugal is likely to face repeated tragedies.

Hotter European summers and more frequent and recurrent heat waves have spawned a proliferation of wildfires around Europe. Last year, forest fires destroyed about three million acres of European land, an area larger than Cyprus, at a cost of 10 billion euros.

But almost no country has been harder hit than Portugal, which has lost more of its forest to fires since the start of the decade than any other southern European country, including Spain, Italy and Greece, according to the European Commission.

In July, 30 people were injured as fires destroyed vast tracts of forest, and this month about 500 firefighters were needed to put out a major blaze near the central town of Tomar.

Two summers ago forest fires killed more than 100 people. The worst occurred outside Pedrógão Grande, in central Portugal, where 66 people died. The flames cut off a road, leaving drivers stranded in their burning vehicles.

The Pedrógão Grande fire provoked a fresh round of soul-searching in Portugal and highlighted a history of political inaction, deficient land management and the prioritizing of firefighting over fire prevention. This year, Portugal is spending almost half of its rural firefighting budget on prevention measures, compared with only 20 percent in 2017.

“I think we finally understood that we cannot just fight fires but must also prevent them, by working hard in the forest during the months before the summer heat arrives,” said Paulo Dias, a forestry engineer who has been monitoring the goat project.

In the case of Vermelhos, Mr. Martins Pereira and other villagers fought in 2004 against a fire that burned for a week and destroyed the cork trees that form one of Portugal’s main industries.

Firefighters, he recalled, arrived a day after the blaze started and the authorities issued contradictory instructions.

He ignored their advice to let his goats run into the hills, he said. Instead, he kept them instead inside his stable, ensuring their survival.

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« Reply #6223 on: Aug 20, 2019, 03:43 AM »

Birdwatch: owl be your baby tonight

Young birds are everywhere, but none of them compare to the brood keeping my teenage son awake

Stephen Moss
20 Aug 2019 15.44 BST

It’s baby bird time in the garden. Family groups of pied wagtails periodically launch themselves off our rooftop, uttering their loud, percussive call. Green woodpeckers feed on the lawn, the youngsters occasionally flying up to perch precariously on the apple trees in the orchard. Meanwhile, baby robins emerge cautiously from beneath the hedgerow, understandably wary of our dog.

But all this daytime activity cannot compare to what happens after dark. A newly fledged brood of little owls has turned up, and they are certainly making their presence felt. As dusk falls, the sound begins: a loud, insistent yipping, like a cross between a lapwing and a particularly annoying small dog. I had assumed that, as night fell, the owls might head off to hunt; yet even at 3am they continue to call. And not just from the trees at the end of the garden, but sitting on the roof right above our bedroom.

Personally, I love the fact that our smallest owl has chosen to make its home in our back garden, but not everyone in the family agrees. My teenage son Charlie, who sleeps with his window wide open in the hot weather, is being driven mad by the incessant yelping. As you might expect, I have no sympathy – but then again, I am a heavy sleeper.

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« Reply #6224 on: Aug 20, 2019, 03:45 AM »

Washington: outcry after last four wolves in pack killed by state hunters

Environmental groups called deaths of wolves that had killed or wounded cows since 2018 ‘unbelievably tragic’

Associated Press
Mon 19 Aug 2019 20.35 BST

The last four members of a wolf pack that preyed on cattle in a rural Washington state area bordering Canada have been killed by state hunters, prompting protests from environmental groups.

The four wolves were part of a pack that originally had seven members and attacked cows, killing or wounding them 29 times since 2018 and nine times over the last month, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement.

Environmental groups opposed the killings, which they contended benefited one ranching operation in Ferry county in the remote Kettle River Range of mountains that stretches into the Canadian province of British Columbia.

“It’s unbelievably tragic that this wolf family has already been annihilated by the state,” said Sophia Ressler of the Center for Biologicial Diversity, which tried to block the hunt. “It seems like Washington’s wildlife agency is bent on wiping out the state’s wolves.”

Hunters for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife who were inside helicopters tracked down and shot the wolves from the air on Friday, said Sam Montgomery, an agency spokeswoman.

State officials have authorized the killing of numerous wolf packs in Washington that have preyed on cattle in recent years, with environmentalists using the courts to attempt to halt the hunts. They say killing wolves doesn’t protect livestock and contend better management practices are needed to keep wolves away from cattle.

The rancher hired horse riders to ride among the cattle and try to scare the wolves away before the decision was made to kill them, the agency said.

Wolves were all but wiped out by the 1930s in Washington, largely at the behest of the cattle industry. The animals started returning from Idaho and British Columbia about 15 years ago.

Most of the state’s grey wolves are concentrated in rural, mountainous areas of north-eastern Washington, where there have been constant conflicts with ranchers, although some have been spotted in the Cascade Range in western Washington state.

The number of wolves counted in Washington stood at 126 before the four wolves were killed.

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