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Jan 16, 2018, 01:28 PM
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Author Topic: ANIMAL NEWS FOR DAEMON SOULS AND ALL ANIMAL LOVERS  (Read 416004 times)
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« Reply #4380 on: Jan 11, 2018, 05:19 AM »

Bats’ brains boil in Australia heatwave

Agence France-Presse
11 Jan 2018 at 07:58 ET       

Hundreds of bats have died in sweltering conditions in Australia, with many dropping from their perches as the scorching temperatures "fried their brains", wildlife officials said Tuesday.

A record-breaking heatwave saw the mercury rise to 45 Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in Sydney's western suburb of Campbelltown on Sunday where hundreds, if not thousands, of the animals fell from trees after succumbing to the heat.

"They basically boil," Campbelltown flying fox colony manager Kate Ryan told the local Camden Advertiser.

"It affects their brain -- their brain just fries and they become incoherent. It would be like standing in the middle of a sandpit with no shade."

The flying fox, Australia's largest bat, is listed as a "vulnerable" species nationally with its survival ranked as a "critical priority" under local laws.

New South Wales Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) said the loss of bats to the brutal conditions could run into the thousands.

Rescuers were able to save the lives of more than a hundred of the animals, but many scattered across the ground perished and others died still clinging to trees.

"In extremely trying conditions volunteers worked tirelessly to provide subcutaneous fluids to the pups that could be reached and many lives were saved but sadly many were lost too," WIRES said on Facebook.


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« Reply #4381 on: Jan 11, 2018, 05:22 AM »

Mush! Training for the the Can-Am dog sled race – in pictures

Marla Brodsky, a professional musher, is building her Alaskan husky dogs’ distance endurance to prepare them for 100- and 250-mile races. They often train in subzero conditions near their home in Northampton, Massachusetts

Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty
Guardian
11Jan ‘18 07.00 GMT

Click to see all: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2018/jan/08/mush-training-can-am-dog-sled-race-marla-brodsky-in-pictures


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« Reply #4382 on: Jan 11, 2018, 05:27 AM »


The Most Valued Anti-Poaching Equipment May Surprise You

By Heartie Look
Ecowatch
1/11/2018

In recent years, the battle against wildlife poaching in Africa has taken a high-tech turn. Night-vision goggles, body armor and unmanned aerial vehicles have all become part of the modern ranger armament. But for rangers on the ground, their actual requests are often more quotidian — starting with a good pair of socks.

“It is not always the fancy kit that rangers need,” said Keith Roberts, executive director for wildlife trafficking at Conservation International (CI). “It is rather the basics that can make all the difference.”

In response to this need, CI partnered with Osom Brand, a clothing company specializing in sustainable goods, to donate 1,000 pairs of high-quality socks specifically designed for rangers protecting wildlife on the front lines in Africa. Like all Osom Brand products, the socks are made almost entirely from recycled clothing, a process that reduces waste and eliminates the need for water and toxic dyes.

Working with the group For Rangers, a nonprofit focused on supporting the welfare of rangers and their families, the custom-designed socks have been sent to conservancies across central and northern Kenya. Recipients include armed anti-poaching teams working in some of the most challenging locations in Africa, including rangers with CI’s Sarara Initiative as well as the unit in charge of protecting Sudan, the last remaining male northern white rhino.

Seemingly a small matter, socks are indicative of a broader trend in equipping anti-poaching efforts across the continent. Though technical equipment can be important for matching the expanding capabilities of poachers, wildlife law enforcement ultimately comes down to boots on the ground, Roberts says. In the rush to provide the latest technology and tactics, the success and failure of anti-poaching efforts still hinges on the skill and dedication of rangers willing to put their lives on the line.

The welfare and safety of rangers is a global concern: Worldwide, an estimated 1,000 rangers were killed in the line of duty in the last decade, according to The Thin Green Line Foundation. Yet support for the families of these fallen rangers is often neglected, leaving outside groups to shoulder this solemn task.

In recognition of their extraordinary sacrifices, CI launched its recent Thank a Ranger action, encouraging supporters everywhere to express their gratitude online. Over 6,000 individuals responded with personal thank-you messages — a small gesture of support for the dangerous work rangers do all around the world.

“Rangers work in extreme conditions,” Roberts said. “They’re on the front lines dealing with anything from guys with machetes to armed militias. Efforts like these provide valuable encouragement. Rangers know that they are recognized by folks all over the world.”


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« Reply #4383 on: Jan 11, 2018, 05:30 AM »

Police arrest man over Northampton cat deaths

Man questioned over death of five cats as officers investigate whether attacks are linked to so-called Croydon cat killer

Jamie Doward
Guardian
11 Jan ‘18 16.06 GMT

A man has been arrested over a string of cat killings in Northampton as police continue to investigate whether the attacks are linked to the so-called Croydon cat killer. But a charity working in cat protection has played down the significance of the arrest.

The 31-year-old man was held after five cats were found dead and mutilated in the town between August and November last year.

Northamptonshire police said the suspect, who was arrested in connection with arson attacks and cat mutilations in the Duston and Kingsley Park areas, had been released under investigation.

The force confirmed it was working closely with the Metropolitan police inquiry into a number of animal deaths, known as Operation Takahe.

But it said that although the offences were similar to attacks in the London area, officers were not sure that they had been carried out by the same person.

South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty (Snarl), which has been cataloguing the deaths and helping police with the investigation, has said it does not believe that the person arrested was behind the killings and warned pet owners that their animals were still not safe.

The group believes up to 400 cats and other small animals may have been slaughtered across the country by at least one culprit, who has also been labelled the M25 cat killer and the UK animal killer.

In a statement on its Facebook page, Snarl said: “The person or persons known as the UK animal killer remains active and we continue to attend incidents, the latest one yesterday.”

Over the festive period there was a string of reported attacks in south London, north London, Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, and Tunbridge Wells in Kent.

Snarl’s co-founder, Boudicca Rising, said that she believed the most recent spate of attacks could hold the key to catching the killer.

“What is really clear from the timeline over Christmas is that he was in south London and then started travelling again,” she said. “We have always thought he is a south London resident. He seemed at ease with getting around and the killings seemed more confident.”

The attacker was first labelled the Croydon cat killer because it is believed the killings started in the south London area in about October 2015.

But small animals, including rabbits and foxes, have since been found dead and mutilated across the country.

In an interview with the Observer in 2016, Rising said she believed the killings were the work of the same person. “They are mostly bodies with the heads, or heads and tails, removed.”

The same year the RSPCA also investigated some of the cat killings believed to have been the work of the Croydon cat killer. It said an examination of the bodies by its vets suggested that the cats’ heads and tails appeared to have been removed by a human.

The Met has been working with the RSPCA and Snarl, while a £10,000 reward has been offered to anyone who provides information that could lead to the arrest of the killer.


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« Reply #4384 on: Jan 11, 2018, 05:32 AM »

May drops manifesto promise to allow foxhunting vote

U-turn over plan to allow parliament chance to reverse ban on bloodsport could trigger backlash by rural Tories

Michael Savage Policy editor
Guardian
11 Jan ‘18 08.21 GMT

Theresa May has confirmed that she has ditched plans that would have allowed the end of the ban on foxhunting, in the latest attempt to repair the Conservatives’ reputation on animal rights.

In a U-turn that will anger some party members and supporters in its rural heartlands, she revealed that she was dropping plans in the Tory election manifesto to hold a parliamentary vote on reversing the ban.

The prime minister voted against the ban when it was introduced under Tony Blair and New Labour. However, the decision to include a vote on the repeal of the ban has been blamed by some Tory MPs as contributing to the party’s disastrous result.

In an interview recorded for the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show to be broadcast on Sunday morning, May said that she had “not changed” her personal view on hunting and had “never fox hunted”.

However, she added that she wanted to listen to the verdict of voters at the election. “If I look back at the messages that we got from the election, one of the clear messages we got is that there are a number of areas in which people were concerned about what we were proposing,” she said.

“So, just as we have looked at issues on school funding, on tuition fees, on housing, we are taking forward approaches in relation to that. On this issue of foxhunting, what I can say is that there won’t be a vote during this parliament.

“As I said my own view hasn’t changed. As prime minister, my job isn’t just about what I think about something. It’s about what the view of the country is.”

It follows a concerted effort by the party and Michael Gove, the environment secretary, to counter social media campaigns denouncing the party’s record on animal rights. A Survation poll taken ahead of the election revealed that 67% of voters believed foxhunting should remain illegal.

During the election campaign, Labour officials said the foxhunting pledge had helped them enormously on the doorstep.

While May’s move had become inevitable, it will unleash a backlash within the party. In previous elections, the Tories have been helped on the ground by Vote-OK, a pro-hunting organisation, mobilising its supporters to back the local Tory campaign. Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, has warned that ditching the hunting pledge would have serious consequences.


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« Reply #4385 on: Jan 11, 2018, 05:35 AM »

Moose set loose: Canada snowmobilers rescue animal buried in snow

After seeing a bull moose’s head protruding from 6ft of snow, a group grabbed their shovels and dug him out – while taking care to avoid a thrashing

Ashifa Kassam in Toronto
Guardian
11 Jan ‘18 18.50 GMT

The aim was to check out conditions after a heavy snowfall blanketed the region. But a day of snowmobiling in western Newfoundland, Canada became an impromptu rescue mission after the group stumbled across a moose buried in some 6ft of snow.

“We noticed a head sticking up out of the snow,” said Jonathan Anstey of Sledcore snowmobiling riding clinic. “We weren’t sure what it was at first, but when we looked closer it was a full-size bull moose, up to his neck – literally – in snow.”

The animal’s back half was seemingly trapped in a bog hole, leaving it fighting frantically to gain its footing.

“Moose, when they get agitated, they pin their ears back flat and the hair stands up on their back and they lick their lips aggressively,” he said. “So he was doing all these things.”

A few of the eight-member group grabbed shovels and approached the moose from the back, hoping to keep a safe distance from the animal’s thrashing.

“A full grown bull moose can reach up to 1,000, 1,200lb easily. They can inflict some serious damage if they intend to,” said Anstey. “I wouldn’t suggest anybody else try it, but in this situation we felt comfortable doing what we did.”

After a few minutes of digging, the group managed to carve out a path behind the animal. The snowmobilers then moved about 50ft away, watching as the moose crawled out of the hole. It stuck around for a few seconds, shaking itself off. “And then he gave us a look or two and trotted on his way,” said Anstey.

In a 2016 rescue, Canadian firefighters smash ice to rescue moose from frozen lake: <iframe src="https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/environment/video/2016/dec/13/canada-moose-firefighters--rescue-frozen-lake-video" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

The group also continued on their way, coming across several other moose that were struggling to make their way through snow as high as the animals’ torsos. “But we kept our distance and let them do their thing and kind of left them alone.”

The rescue marked the second time that Anstey has helped a moose in distress – the last time was some eight years ago after he spotted a moose that had lost its footing on a hillside and ended up sliding on its back into a pair of trees. Anstey, who was by himself, managed to pry the animal loose but it later succumbed to its injuries.

Still, Anstey stressed that moose should be left alone as much as possible. “We’d like to be known as a back-country riding clinic and not a moose rescuer,” he said. “You’re in their home when you’re traveling in the backcountry, so we don’t want to add to that.”


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« Reply #4386 on: Jan 12, 2018, 04:58 AM »

Dead Koala screwed to post in Australia park

Newsweek
12 Jan 2018 at 12:26 ET 

Australian authorities are investigating after a dead koala was found screwed to a post at Brooloo Park Lookout in Queensland on Wednesday.

Koala Rescue Queensland posted a photo of the dead animal on its Facebook page at 9:30 a.m. yesterday and pleaded that the public come forward with any information useful in catching the culprit.

“All is not as it seems in this photo," the animal rescue organization wrote. "This poor koala has been screwed to the pole with building screws, he is deceased, but whether or not he was when cruelly attached to the structure is unknown."

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has warned that the criminal responsible could face animal cruelty charges, reported the BBC.

The koala’s cause of death has not yet been determined; however, its fur was covered in dry blood at the time of discovery.

Michael Beatty, a Queensland RSPCA spokesperson, confirmed that the organization has requested a postmortem to determine time and cause of death for the investigation.

"This is very disturbing," Beatty said, "whether or not the koala was dead, how somebody would think this was in some way humorous, when little kids go to that lookout area, is beyond me."

Social media has exploded with countless angry comments, condemning the perpetrator. The original post by Koala Rescue has already amassed 5,000 shares and is growing by the hour.

“Absolutely disgusting. How could anyone do this to our beautiful defenceless animals that God put on this planet for us to look after is incomprehensible. I hope they get caught and thrown into jail with the keys thrown away,” Melbourne-based commenter Kate Hubbard wrote.

“What horrible creature could have done this? It's heartbreaking to imagine the suffering of this poor dear koala! It seems that there are some who look for new and horrific ways to be cruel to defenceless animals. This is sickening. May karma get a move on for this one,” Rosemary Hislop added.

Under The Animal Care and Protection Act a general offence of cruelty carries a maximum penalty of $198,913 or three years imprisonment.

Severe cases are also covered by the Criminal Code Act 1899, which states a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

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« Reply #4387 on: Jan 12, 2018, 05:02 AM »


Salmon and Orca Survival Threatened by Chlorpyrifos Pesticide: Government Report

Ecowatch
1/12/2028

A group of three widely used agricultural pesticides jeopardizes the survival of endangered salmon, according to a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) biological opinion unveiled this week. Chlorpyrifos, malathion and diazinon—all organophosphate pesticides—harm salmon and their habitat to the point that their survival and recovery are at risk, according to the report. Southern Resident Killer Whales, or orcas, are also at risk as they depend on salmon.

The NMFS crafted the report to comply with a 2014 court deadline for the agency to determine whether these pesticides threatened salmon with extinction. Upon determining that these organophosphates jeopardize salmon survival, the biological opinion offers three options for protective measures to avoid that outcome with a variety of measures including buffer zones, spray reduction technologies and pesticide stewardship programs.

"The best available science clearly shows these pesticides are a major threat to endangered salmon and to our orca whales, which need salmon to survive," said Patti Goldman, managing attorney at Earthjustice. "These pesticides are bad for people every way they are exposed to it and toxic to salmon."

Chlorpyrifos, widely used in citrus, nuts and orchards, is acutely toxic and associated with neurodevelopmental harms in children. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) refused to ban chlorpyrifos in 2017, despite overwhelming evidence that shows the pesticide harms children, workers and the environment.

Malathion is used in more than 100 food crops, and about half of total applications in the U.S. are on alfalfa, cotton, rice and wheat. A number of growth anomalies have been observed when fish were exposed to malathion, according to studies. Diazinon is used on rice, fruit trees, sugarcane, corn, potatoes and horticultural plants.

NMFS had a Dec. 31, 2017, deadline for completing the consultations for these three pesticides, and was on track to meet this milestone and issue a biological opinion. Dow AgroSciences asked the agencies last April to derail the consultation process. Late last year, the Trump administration asked the courts to give agencies a two-year delay but complied with the 2017 deadline after Earthjustice and the fishermen and conservation groups it represents pushed back.

"Salmon have been waiting four decades for relief from toxic pesticides in many of our rivers," said Glen Spain, Northwest regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. "The agencies should do their job."

This case is one in a series of cases that have pushed to ensure that endangered salmon on the West Coast are safe from toxic pesticides, as required by the Endangered Species Act. In 2002, a successful lawsuit brought by Earthjustice established that the Environmental Protection Agency has the duty to protect salmon and comply with the Endangered Species Act when registering pesticides for use.

At that time, the U.S. District Court in Seattle found that the federal government had failed to protect 26 endangered and threatened species of salmon and steelhead from 54 toxic pesticides. The judge ordered EPA to consult with NMFS to identify permanent measures needed to protect the salmon and steelhead from the pesticides.

Since then and as a result of multiple lawsuits, the EPA started the process of consulting with NMFS to determine whether EPA's pesticide registrations impacts endangered salmon and steelhead. The Fisheries Service delayed doing its part, which led to this lawsuit and court-ordered deadlines.

Pesticides have profound effects on Northwest salmon and are a serious factor in their decline. Now that the biological opinion has been released, fishermen and conservation groups want the EPA to move expeditiously to put the protective measures in place.

"Those of us who fight to protect and restore rivers and their critical fisheries are very pleased that the biological opinions were released," said Sharon Selvaggio, of Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides. "To protect salmon, we need to respond to what the science is showing us."

Federal government inaction puts at risk billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. As recently as the late 1980s, salmon and steelhead fishing in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Northern California brought in $1.25 billion to the regional economy and supported more than 62,000 family wage jobs, according to independent economic studies. Government studies from Washington, Oregon and California show the economic benefits of dwindling salmon have grown exponentially since then.

Salmon runs have declined because of dams, climate change, widespread habitat loss and pesticide runoff. Scientists have found that, even at low levels, pesticides can cause the abnormal sexual development of salmon and impair their swimming ability, growth, development, behavior and reproduction.

Earthjustice is handling the case on behalf of Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, and Institute for Fisheries Resources.


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« Reply #4388 on: Jan 12, 2018, 05:05 AM »


USDA Plans to Side With 'Fake Organic' Egg Producers, Ditch Animal Welfare Rule

Ecowatch
By Katherine Paul and Alexis Baden-Mayer
1/12/2018

If nutritional quality and animal welfare issues factor into your egg-buying decisions, get ready for more bad news out of the Trump administration's U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA plans to ditch rules, finalized under the Obama administration, that would have required organic egg producers to provide hens with more space and more outdoor access.

The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) Rule was the result of a 14-year effort by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to tighten up animal welfare rules for organic egg producers.

The OLPP was set to be enacted in January 2017. But under the incoming Trump administration's regulatory freeze, the rule was delayed multiple times. Now the USDA wants to throw it out completely.

If the agency succeeds, organic egg producers won't have to follow updated animal welfare rules—rules that the industry fought for, and that consumers overwhelmingly support.

Why would the USDA get rid of this law? To help "Big Organic" egg producers who already routinely ignore existing animal welfare standards keep pocketing higher profits.

If the OLPP is thrown out, "fake organic" egg producers will get to keep their production costs low. This will allow them to continue underselling smaller organic producers who follow the rules. At the same time, they capture a big share of the organic egg market by selling their eggs under the USDA Organic seal.

In other words, it's a great way to feather their nests.

These practices not only make it more difficult for smaller organic egg farmers to compete, they also cheat consumers who believe certified organic means higher animal welfare standards. Instead consumers are unknowingly buying eggs from producers who run nothing more than industrial-scale operations indistinguishable from factory farms apart from the type of feed they use. The result are eggs of inferior nutritional quality. (Studies show that authentic certified organic eggs have a deeper yoke color which translates into higher levels of Vitamin A, Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E and beta carotene).

Better nutrition and better animal welfare standards aren't the only benefit for consumers who buy authentic certified organic eggs. Organic eggs produced by ethical farms where hens have real access to pasture, including organic regenerative poultry systems, have far less impact on the environment than those that come from factory farm-type egg operations that pollute with impunity.

Who are the "Big Organic" egg producers? Cal-Maine Foods and Herbruck's, which was the subject of a Washington Post exposé last year. Herbruck's sells some of its eggs under the Eggland's Best brand. But the bulk of the eggs sold by these producers end up on store shelves under private label (store brand) names.

In fact, most retail grocery chains that sell "organic" eggs under their own label (think Aldi's Simply Nature, Whole Foods 365 Organic, Trader Joe's, Kroger Simple Truth, Costco, Walmart, etc.) get their eggs from huge factory farm-type operations that routinely violate USDA National Organic Program (NOP) rules.

Lobbyists for the Cal-Maine and Herbruck's claim they'll have to get out of the organic market if the new OLPP rule is allowed to stand. Christopher Nichols, third-generation egg farmer in California told the Los Angeles Times that's bunk:

"Don't let them fool you. They knew darn well that they were building these buildings out of compliance. And they knew that when this day came, that they were going to have to face this decision. But they probably figured that they had the money and the political muscle to overrule it."

Smaller producers, Nichols told the LA Times, "just don't have that."

Is there still time to keep the USDA from scuttling the new rule? Maybe.

The USDA reopened a 30-day comment period. Consumers and others have until January 17 to tell the USDA to enact the OLPP.  Please also take action here: http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=21370


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« Reply #4389 on: Jan 12, 2018, 05:09 AM »

Insect declines: new alarm over mayfly is ‘tip of iceberg’, warn experts

Modest pollution in many English rivers is enough to kill 80% of eggs, increasing concerns over insects which are vital to all ecosystems

Damian Carrington Environment editor
Guardian
12 Jan ‘18 06.30 GMT

Modest levels of pollution found in many English rivers are having a devastating impact on mayflies, new research suggests, killing about 80% of all eggs.

Clouds of emerging mayflies were once a regular sight on English summer evenings and they are a key part of the food chain that supports fish, birds and mammals. The finding that even pollution well below guidelines can cause serious harm adds to concerns about plummeting insect numbers.

In October, a study found that the abundance of flying insects has plunged by 75% in 25 years, prompting warnings that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon”, with profound impacts on human society.

Paul Knight, chief executive of Salmon and Trout Conservation (STC), which is conducting an in-depth three-year survey of rivers, said: “The results of this groundbreaking new study are irrefutable. We believe this is just the tip of the iceberg. Lose your invertebrates and other species will follow.”
Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect numbers
Read more

The new research looked at the blue-winged olive, a common mayfly present across the British Isles and most of continental Europe. Its numbers have fallen significantly in recent decades and it has almost vanished from some English rivers.

The prime suspects for this decline are fine sediment and phosphate pollution in rivers, which are washed off farmed fields and also result from untreated sewage. Some research has been done on how the larval and adult stages of mayflies are affected by pollution, but not on their eggs.

“The young life stages are the most vulnerable, just as with human babies,” said Nick Everall, at the Aquascience Consultancy and who led the research published in the journal Environmental Pollution. Blue-winged olive eggs are laid on river beds and then have to survive for up to eight months over winter before hatching into nymphs.

However, experiments in the laboratory found that the fine sediment settles on the eggs and suffocates them, by preventing oxygen transferring into the egg. The sediment can also allow fungus to grow and kill the eggs, while phosphate is known to affect the development of eggs.

At levels very close to existing guideline limits - 25mg per litre of fine sediment and 0.07 mg/l of phosphate - the researchers found 80% of the eggs died. Most English rivers contain more phosphate than this – only 17% have “good ecological status” under EU rules. High sediment levels are also frequently found, with 40% or rivers having more than 10mg/l – a level the new work shows is harmful to the mayfly eggs – and 10% more than 25mg/l.

“Mayflies such as the blue-winged olive are a crucial component in the aquatic food chain but numbers have declined substantially in many UK rivers over the past 30 years, particularly in chalk streams,” said Everall, whose study was supported by STC.

“Their continuing loss can affect the survival of other important species such as wild fish, bird life and mammals,” he said. “This research shows even modest levels of sediment and phosphate, below current national thresholds, have a significant impact on egg survival.”

Knight said: “Current regulations are simply not rigorous enough to detect the extent of the problem. This latest study supports growing concern about current guidelines.” He said STC was working with local Environment Agency teams to develop more appropriate targets, but that these need to be implemented nationally.

Everall said climate change was unlikely to be a factor in the mayfly declines, as the rise in water temperatures have not been sufficient to date, but he said pesticides could be playing a role. In December, “alarming” test results showed most British rivers are polluted by powerful insecticides called neonicotinoids and in 2013 research in the Netherlands revealed neonicotinoid pollution in water led to sharp drops in insect numbers.


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« Reply #4390 on: Jan 13, 2018, 07:01 AM »

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Rockhopper penguins, bleeding heart baboons and a flying fox are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

Compiled by Eric Hilaire
Guardian
13 Jan 2018 14.00 GMT

Click to see all: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2018/jan/12/the-week-in-wildlife-in-pictures


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« Reply #4391 on: Jan 15, 2018, 05:06 AM »


World's biggest wildlife reserve planned for Antarctica in global campaign

Vast 1.8m sq km fishing-free zone would protect species, such as penguins, leopard seals and whales, and help mitigate the effects of climate change

Matthew Taylor
Guardian
15 Jan 2018 08.01 GMT

A global campaign is being launched to turn a huge tract of the seas around the Antarctic into the world’s biggest sanctuary, protecting wildlife and helping the fight against climate change.

The huge 1.8m sq km reserve – five times the size of Germany – would ban all fishing in a vast area of the Weddell Sea and around the Antarctic Peninsula, safeguarding species including penguins, killer whales, leopard seals and blue whales.

The idea was originally put forward by the EU and is being backed by a new Greenpeace campaign to be launched on Monday. The proposal already has the support of several countries – including the UK – and will go before a conference of the Antarctic nations in October.

Will McCallum, of Greenpeace’s new Protect the Antarctic campaign, said: “The next few years are absolutely essential for the future of our oceans and we are in desperate need for governments to come together and do what is best for these amazing ecosystems.”

He said a decision in 2016 to create a smaller sanctuary around the Ross Sea in the Antarctic proved global cooperation to protect the oceans is possible.

“Now we want to go one better and create the world’s largest protected area. We want to create that momentum that says this is not just possible, it is inevitable if we are to protect the wildlife that call the ocean home and crucially help mitigate the worst effects of climate change.”

The sanctuary would stop industrial-scale krill fishing in the area, which scientists say is decimating key food that many larger animals – from penguins to whales – rely on.
xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg"> Penguins starving to death is a sign that something’s very wrong in the Antarctic

Norway, China, South Korea and Russia are big players in the krill fishing industry and campaigners say the success of the proposal will depend on persuading those countries to back it.

McCallum said: “World leaders shouldn’t allow an ocean wilderness to be exploited by a handful of companies. In the 1980s it took a global movement to protect the Antarctic’s land. Now we need to protect its oceans.”

Greenpeace are setting off on a three-month expedition of the Antarctic this week and say a quarter of a million people around the world are already signed up to support the idea.

24 national governments and the EU are members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources [CCAMLR], which is responsible for the conservation of Antarctic waters. It will decide on the new sanctuary proposal at a conference in Australia in October.

Julian Gutt from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, which put forward the original proposal, said it would be an important moment in the fight to create a sustainable global ocean system.

“This will bring huge benefits in protecting this amazing ecosystem, in preserving the biodiversity and ecosystem functions of the ocean and in the wider fight against climate change.”

The seas around Antarctica are some of the most important in the world with a huge diversity of species. If successful, campaigners hope the sanctuary will build momentum towards a UN ambition to create a network of marine protected areas covering international waters.

Experts say that, as well as protecting wildlife by allowing ecosystems to recover in and around the Antarctic, the ocean sanctuary would provide global benefits, with recovering fish populations spreading around the world, encouraging vital biodiversity and providing food security for billions of people.

Callum Roberts, professor of marine conservation at the University of York, said the sanctuary would also play a key role in tackling climate change – soaking up huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

“The Antarctic is very important in locking away carbon in deep-sea sediments. There is also a very rapid rate of sinking there – it has some of the coldest waters in the world … and this sinking is one of the great pumps of the global ocean system.”

He added that the new sanctuary would be an important step to preserving a sustainable global oceans system.

“The Antarctic is a massively important area and you mess with it at your peril.”


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« Reply #4392 on: Jan 15, 2018, 05:09 AM »


Animal welfare groups call for higher standards for farmed chickens

Retailers and restaurants urged to sign up to new cross-European guidelines amid growing concerns over cruelty in intensive meat production

Rebecca Smithers Consumer affairs correspondent
Guardian
15 Jan 2018 07.01 GMT

New welfare standards for farmed chickens have been demanded by a large coalition of European animal protection groups, including the RSPCA, in a bid to address growing concerns about inhumane conditions in the intensive and large-scale production of meat.

Supermarkets and restaurants are being urged to sign up to the new blueprint, which represents the first time a single set of requirements has been agreed on across the continent.

The complexity of the lengthy supply chain and ugly side of the chicken business was exposed last year when a Guardian and ITV News investigation into the 2 Sisters operation revealed workers altering food safety records for poultry processed at the firm’s plant in West Bromwich. The UK’s largest supplier of supermarket chicken temporarily shut the plant following undercover filming which also revealed poor hygiene standards.

To help curb some of the cruellest aspects of the business – which sees fast-grown, over-bred birds collapsing under their own weight – the new standard stipulates the use of higher welfare breeds. It also bans inhumane live bird shackling during slaughter, and specifies more natural light and space, room to perch and “enrichment” items such as straw and vegetables for pecking.

The authors of the pan-European guidelines are urging retailers and food service businesses across Europe to commit to raising welfare standards across their entire chicken supply chain by 2026. Marks & Spencer is the first retailer to have signed up to the higher standards.

Broiler chickens – those raised for meat only – are produced more than any other farm animal for meat, by far, with a staggering 950 million slaughtered each year in the UK alone, and 50 billion worldwide. This is expected to increase rapidly and by 2020 to become the largest meat sector in the world. Fast food chain McDonald’s, traditionally a beef-focused business, now sells more chicken than beef and expects that by 2020 it will source more than 10 times the volume of chicken it does at the moment.

“Despite rapidly growing demand, there has been little progress made in improving the welfare of the majority of chickens bred for their meat,” said Sophie Elwes, farm animal welfare specialist at the RSPCA. “The scale of suffering is substantial, including the use of fast-growing breeds which can contribute to painful conditions such as severe lameness and heart defects. This January it will have been 10 years since chicken welfare was highlighted by celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and sadly there hasn’t been as much progress as we hoped there would be.”

Oliver and Fearnley-Whittingstall’s two programmes highlighted housing, space and environment as important factors that compromise the welfare of chickens rather than the emerging issue of “turbo-charged” breeding and accelerated weight gain. The RSPCA says “genetic selection, especially that for fast growth, is likely to have the greatest impact on chicken welfare. It is also one of the biggest challenges to overcome, because fast-growing birds have changed the face of the industry and shaped consumer expectation for cheap chicken, with large yields of breast meat.”

Elwes added: “Retailers can often justify the selling of chicken reared to lower-welfare standards by citing … both ‘consumer choice’ and a range of price points, which in fact gives little choice to consumers on a budget other than to purchase intensively reared chicken.”

Recent polling by the RSPCA shows that eight out of 10 people (86%) who buy chicken expect the supermarkets to ensure that all chicken meat they sell is farmed to high welfare standards. Labelling may eventually be changed as a result of the new campaign, as in the UK currently only products labelled RSPCA Assured meet the new standard across all systems of production, eg indoor, free-range and organic.

Marks & Spencer head of agriculture Steve McLean said: “Animal welfare is at the heart of our business and we know how important it is to our customers. I’m proud of our record, however it is my responsibility to push the boundaries. We will therefore begin a series of trials in January designed to test the new standards and how they work in a commercial farming supply chain.”

Andrew Stephen, chief executive officer of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, commented: “This welcome consensus creates an opportunity for restaurants and the whole food service sector. We will be working to accelerate the sourcing and serving of meat from birds bred to these higher standards.”


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« Reply #4393 on: Jan 15, 2018, 05:11 AM »


Honey Bees Attracted to Glyphosate and a Common Fungicide

By Dan Nosowitz
Ecowatch
1/15/2018

All species evolve over time to have distinct preferences for survival. But with rapidly changing synthetic chemicals, sometimes animals don't have a chance to develop a beneficial aversion to something harmful.

New research from the University of Illinois indicates that honey bees—which are dying en masse—may actually prefer the taste of flowers laced with pesticides that are likely harmful. The study tested honey bee consumption of different sugar syrups, some plain and some with different concentrations of common pesticides. They found that while the bees didn't care for syrup with extremely high concentrations of pesticides, at low levels, the bees flocked to those pesticides.

Among the pesticides tested were the ever-controversial glyphosate, the most common pesticide in the U.S., which previous studies have also shown to be attractive to honey bees. Chlorothalonil, which is ranked as the 10th most commonly used fungicide in the U.S., usually on peanuts and potatoes, also proved to attract more honey bees. (The connection between fungicides and honey bee health is not that clear; studies suggest they are not in themselves highly toxic, but in combination with other factors can be dangerous).

The bees did not universally prefer adulterated syrups; the researchers note that they avoided prochloraz, a fungicide sold under the name Sportak. And of course, laced sugar syrup is not the same as a flower in the wild. Still, it's another alarming bit of news about our bees.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.


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« Reply #4394 on: Jan 15, 2018, 05:15 AM »


These adorable foxes, once nearly extinct, have made a record-breaking comeback

By Karin Brulliard
WA Post
1/15/2018

A pair of island foxes, which have made a quick comeback from the brink of extinction. (Photo courtesy of Chuck Graham via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The Channel Islands, off the coast of Southern California, are the only home of a species of tiny fox that looks like a plush toy. How the island foxes got there from the mainland is up for debate — maybe with Native Americans, maybe on storm debris. But fossils show they’ve lived on the islands for many thousands of years.

Along the way, these descendants of mainland gray foxes evolved into four-pound “island dwarves” whose size was better suited to survival in their isolated habitat with its slim resources. Though they are omnivores the size of a cat, in this environment they were long the top predators. They ate lizards, birds, deer mice and plants.

The foxes’ decline started when 19th-century settlers brought livestock to the islands and some of their pigs escaped. The feral swine attracted golden eagles, which dined on piglets and saw the little foxes as excellent snacks. The petite canines had never evolved defensive instincts, and predator was now prey.

“They have this naive, adorable little personality,” said Christina Boser, the Nature Conservancy’s island fox ecologist. “They’re not really scared of people,” let alone raptors, she said.

The foxes on one island, Santa Catalina, were also ravaged by canine distemper brought by dogs. In this out-of-whack ecosystem, the foxes’ numbers on the four islands plummeted to fewer than 200 by the late 1990s, a drop of 90 percent. In 2004, they were declared federally endangered.

But just 12 years later, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday announced that the foxes of San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands had so rebounded that they were being taken off the endangered species list. That makes them the 37th species ever removed from the list due to recovery — and the protagonists of the fastest mammal recovery in the Endangered Species Act’s 43-year history. The Santa Catalina island fox was downlisted to threatened.

“It shows that we can do recovery,” Dan Ashe, director of Fish and Wildlife, said in an interview this week, adding that the Obama administration has delisted 19 species. “Here you have an example of one that, for mammals, is getting off the list in record time due to a lot of collaboration.”

Ashe was referring to critical comments about the Endangered Species Act, one of which is that many plants and animals seem to be permanent residents on the list. Other detractors say it takes too long for at-risk species to get on the list, a case biologists make in a new study that found the process takes an average of 12.1 years.

The island ecosystem that facilitated the foxes’ rapid downfall also made their recovery simpler than it might be for mainland species. They were also beneficiaries of intense cooperation between groups including the National Park Service, which manages five of the islands, and the Nature Conservancy, which owns most of Santa Cruz.

The recovery effort involved trapping and captive-breeding the foxes on the islands, which are 12 to 70 miles off coast, so as not to expose them to mainland parasites. Between 2005 and 2006, more than 5,000 feral pigs were killed using helicopters, snipers, traps and dogs, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2007. The predatory golden eagles were trapped and relocated to the mainland. Bald eagles, which had lived on the islands before being wiped out by DDT poisoning, were brought back. (Fortunately for the foxes, those eagles like to eat fish.)

By 2008, more than 230 captive-bred foxes had been released into the wild, Ashe said, and they reproduced magnificently. Today, there are nearly 6,000 foxes on the four islands.

Boser, who began working on Santa Cruz in 2006, said that there was a time when the traps she set for monitoring purposes hardly ever caught a fox.

“I was out there last week and put down 10 traps and caught nine foxes,” she said. Before, she added, “you took a picture with a fox, because this was a rare thing and this was exciting. Now you’re seeing them on the roads and the fields and all over the place.”

Today, Boser said, the biggest threat is disease. Although visitors are prohibited from bringing dogs to Santa Cruz, “we see dog poo on the beaches,” she said, so all the foxes must be vaccinated against rabies and canine distemper. Dogs are also the reason the Santa Catalina foxes are still listed as threatened — pooches are allowed there, so the chance of another epidemic remains, Fish and Wildlife said.

Boser called the foxes’ comeback “totally exciting,” but she said there’s more to be learned from the animals. Researchers have found that the foxes are the least genetically diverse reproductive species ever studied. Knowing more about how this affects their fitness in an isolated place with so few resources, Boser said, could hold lessons for mainland species that live in island-like habitats, such as the mountain lions of Los Angeles’ Santa Monica Mountains.


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