Sunday, September 5, 2010

Gone, gone, gone...

All About Animals has evolved and is now "If it breathes..." The title 'All About Animals' didn't quite encompass all the things that we wanted to post on here. We like our fish, reptiles, and other breathing types that don't technically fall under the "animal" category. We hope you'll follow our new blog. We've moved all the great stories from this blog into our new blog. We plan to hang onto this one until everyone is used to the new one even though we won't be updating it. Check it out: If it breathes...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Doggie Exercises...

Having a hard time getting motivated to do your exercises? Involve your dog .

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sept. 1st Deadline for Quota Deer Hunt Applications

The window of opportunity is closing for those interested in applying for a quota deer hunt on select public land and at select State Parks.  If you want a chance to hunt, you need to be sure to get your online quota application in before midnight September 1.    A total of 35 quota deer hunts on public land and six State Park quota deer hunts are scheduled.

“The Wildlife Resources Division offers hunters of all ages the opportunity to experience deer hunting in every region of the state, including unique opportunities on Sapelo and Ossawbaw Island,” says Division Assistant Chief of Game Management John Bowers.  “Deer harvest during these public land quota hunts are tagged by the Division and do not count toward the hunters statewide season limit.”

Georgia’s online quota hunt application system provides hunters an expedient, easy and customer friendly means to apply for alligator, deer, state park, turkey and waterfowl quota hunts.  Additionally, the systems customer accounts afford applicants not selected for quota hunts a convenient method to accrue and maintain preference points that can be applied to future applications.

To learn more about quota hunts and the quota hunt application process, interested hunters should visit the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division website at . Select “Hunting” and then “Quota Hunts” for more information.  How do you know if you are selected? Applicants can check their application status through their customer account after the deadline.  

For more information on 2010 quota deer hunts, visit , contact a WRD Game Management Office or call (770) 760-3045.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

States Make Headway Conserving Sandhills

In June 2009, Georgia and three neighboring states received a $1 million federal grant to increase the quality, quantity and connectivity of prime sandhill habitat. The three-year project was aimed at benefiting gopher tortoises and as many as 54 other sandhill species that need significant conservation measures.

Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and groups such as Project Orianne, The Nature Conservancy and the Gopher Tortoise Council provided $1.66 million in matching money and work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant, part of the State Wildlife Grants Competitive Program.

Plans called for increasing prescribed fire, removing non-native sand pines and overgrown hardwoods, and thinning pine plantations. These efforts are critical to the open canopy and diverse herbaceous groundcover typical of healthy longleaf pine, turkey oak-dominated sandhills.

The overriding goal: Restore nearly 40,000 acres of priority public and private sandhill sites, rebuilding habitat for the tortoise and other priority species. The project could help keep gopher tortoises off federal endangered or threatened species lists and set the stage for long-term conservation of sandhills species, from hognose snakes to Bachman’s sparrows.

One year in, the states and partners have made excellent progress.

Teaming with The Nature Conservancy of Georgia, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources conducted prescribed fires on 4,700 acres at high-priority sandhills sites across the Coastal Plain, including Yuchi Wildlife Management Area, Ohoopee Dunes Natural Area, Fall Line Sandhills Natural Area, and private lands in Marion, Taylor, Talbot and Bryan counties. Also, non-native sand pines have been removed or sold for cutting on nearly 1,000 acres of state and private lands.

At Ohoopee Dunes in Emanuel County, prescribed fire was conducted on more than 1,000 acres. Many of the areas had not seen fire in many years, leading to buildups of woody underbrush and suppression of grassy groundcover. Shan Cammack with the DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section planned and led the prescribed fires.

“Careful planning and execution produced successful entry burns at Ohoopee Dunes this year,” Cammack said. “With strategic ignition, drier sparse areas were burned hotter while sensitive areas with heavy fuel loads and duff were burned cooler.”

In Florida, the Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership, a land management public-private cooperative, did prescribed burning on more than 8,400 acres of state lands. Sand pine and hardwoods on another 265 acres were cleared.

In Alabama, The Nature Conservancy of Alabama and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ State Lands Division burned about 2,500 acres of sandhills on state lands, planted 186 acres of longleaf pine, thinned pine plantations on 122 acres and removed hardwoods on 76 acres.

During the project’s first year, ecological restoration was initiated on more than 15,000 acres in Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

The grant also included monitoring to track progress. This component involved baseline gopher tortoise surveys on a subset of properties, plus vegetation sampling and breeding bird surveys.

All pre-treatment vegetation, bird monitoring and tortoise surveys are either completed or in progress. The work has provided some interesting stories.

Florida is surveying gopher tortoises on the Hutton Unit of the Blackwater Wildlife Management Area in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties. Burrow densities have been low, about 0.1 burrows per acre surveyed. Comparatively, densities on the sand ridges of Townsend WMA in Georgia are about one per acre. At Ohoopee Dunes, they are about 0.7 per acre. In sandier soils on some more-regularly burned longleaf-wiregrass ecosystems in southwest Georgia, densities may reach two to three burrows an acre.

The low densities at the Hutton Unit may be attributed to several factors, including human predation, which was historically higher in northwestern Florida than other parts of the tortoise’s range, and fire suppression before the state acquired the property in 1998.

Yet, despite fewer burrows, the search at Hutton is anything but boring.

According to Barbara Almario with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, “Florida’s tortoise survey crew encounters snakes on an almost daily basis. One of the tortoise survey technicians accidentally stepped on an eastern diamondback rattlesnake one day.

“Fortunately, the snake was a little slow that morning and (the technician) escaped without injury.”

For the coming year, Georgia DNR is developing restoration plans for several private sites. Federal funding for longleaf planting on state lands has freed some sandhills grant funds. DNR is also considering burning even more acres at Ohoopee Dunes and Townsend, Yuchi and Penholoway WMAs. The hope at Ohoopee is to collaborate with adjacent private landowners on restoring sandhills.

Sandhills conservation is a priority in the Georgia Wildlife Action Plan, a comprehensive strategy that guides DNR efforts to conserve biological diversity. For more, go to

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Tiger Rattlesnake Found

On Thursday, August 27, 2010, zoo officials coordinated last minute efforts with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to transport confiscated rattlesnakes to Zoo Atlanta. On Friday, August 28, 2010, an adult female rattlesnake was discovered missing from its cage in the quarantine facility. Zoo officials have been working around the clock to locate and capture the snake.

Early Monday, August 30, 2010, zoo officials received a phone call regarding a snake sighting. A member of the reptile staff responded to the call on Atlanta Avenue (a vacant home that is being remodeled). Upon arrival the snake was found dead on the front porch of the vacant home.

“We are grateful the snake was found,” said Raymond King, President and CEO. “We are conducting a thorough review of the incident to ensure all appropriate adjustments to procedures and protocols occur.”

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Friday, August 27, 2010

National Zoo Successfully Grows Two Species of Anemones Using Coral Techniques Learned in the Field

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo has become the first in the zoo and aquarium community to use coral larvae settling techniques to successfully grow two species of anemones—an accomplishment that will provide the Zoo a unique opportunity to learn how anemones grow.

“We have many questions about how to care for these animals as they grow from larvae to adults,” said Mike Henley, an animal keeper at the Zoo’s Invertebrate Exhibit who applied the technique to the anemones after they had spawned. “The oceans are not an infinite resource and so anything that we can learn about the captive management of coral and anemones will go far in our ability to conserve them.”

The anemones—both of which are commonly called Tealia red anemones under the species of Urticina—spawned in late April and early May, just days apart. Hours after they spawned, Henley collected the eggs and sperm from the more than 2,000-gallon tank and put them together in smaller tanks to increase the chances of fertilization. After fertilization, the larvae settled and metamorphosed into a polyp. Henley put some of the developing larvae in a circular tank—called a kreisel—that automatically stirs the water to prevent the larvae from binding to one another, which would kill the animals. The kreisel is the same tank Henley and others use in the field in Puerto Rico to hold coral larvae. Other free-swimming larvae went into a regular tank with aeration and rocks to settle on. Now the Zoo has hundreds of thriving anemones behind the scenes, all smaller than the tip of a pencil.

“Sometimes we take the lessons we learn with animals in captivity and apply that to conserving them in the wild,” said Alan Peters, curator of the Zoo’s Invertebrate Exhibit. “But here we were able to apply what we’ve learned both in the field and from ex situ work and it is yielding some exciting results.”

While anemones and coral are both in the Anthozoa class of animals, they differ in a few notable ways. Anemones metamorphose into a single polyp, while coral will divide into a second polyp and a third and so on, to form a colony. In addition, anemones have a muscular foot they use to attach to rock, while stony corals make their own calcium carbonate rock that they live on. But both can sting and are carnivorous, feeding on crabs, shrimp, fish and zooplankton. More than 1,000 sea anemone species inhabit the world’s oceans at various depths, from the sandy seashore up to the surface. Visitors to the Zoo can see six different species of anemones, including cold and warm water anemones. Although anemones are not endangered, ocean habitats around the world are in decline as the result of pollution, runoff and sedimentation, climate change, acidification and poor fishing practices.

Henley will continue to observe the anemones to learn about their growth rate and the conditions that are necessary to rear these species in captivity, including the food, light and water temperature they require.

“In the past if the anemones spawned in the tank, it’d be a big headache,” said Henley. “You’d have to do frequent water changes because when the gametes—or reproductive cells—get too concentrated and deteriorate, it causes the water quality to crash. That’s the common experience among many of our zoo and aquarium colleagues. But this was different—so far it’s amounted to young anemones that we will continue to learn from for months, even years, to come.”

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Newswise: Scientists Bring New Species of Turtle Out of Its Shell

Newswise — When scientists announce the discovery of a new animal species, we often imagine exotic, difficult to reach locations—the untouched shore of a distant island, the forests of the rain-drenched Amazon or the darkest depths of the Arctic Ocean.

But the recent announcement of a new species of turtle in the southeastern United States proves that even in a country considered to be well-explored, perhaps more awaits discovery.

In June, Jeff Lovich, NAU adjunct faculty member in biology, and Josh Ennen, NAU affiliate, published the discovery of a new species of turtle in Chelonian Conservation and Biology International Journal of Turtle and Tortoise Research.

Found in the Pearl River, which flows through Mississippi and Louisiana before it meets the Gulf of Mexico, the newly named Pearl Map Turtle, or Graptemys pearlensis, had been mistaken for a turtle native to the neighboring Pascagoula River. Ennen found it odd that the Pascagoula Map Turtle was found in both rivers and wanted to further investigate.

Ennen was completing his dissertation at University of Southern Mississippi when he decided to take a closer look at the inhabitants of the two rivers. His research led him to Lovich, who had found, described and named the last turtle species in the same region in 1992.

“I was familiar with Jeff’s work when questions started coming up,” Ennen said. “Based on the genetics, morphology and geographic isolation, I was considering classifying the turtles as distinct population segments when I decided to contact Jeff.”

Lovich, a research ecologist with U.S. Geological Survey’s Colorado Plateau Station at NAU, shared his findings and insight as the scientists built their case for classification of the new turtle species. His access to geologic and geographic data with the USGS assisted in their developing theory that the turtles had evolved into separate species.

“You’d expect to see similar aquatic species in these rivers due to their proximity,” Lovich said. “However, with sea level changes associated with glacial and interglacial periods in the past, animals in these rivers were periodically separated for tens of thousands to millions of years.”

Ennen and Lovich observed pattern variations between turtles in two rivers, and examining their DNA verified that the turtle endemic to each river was a different species.

The announcement of the Pearl Map Turtle, “Genetic and morphological variation between populations of the Pascagoula Map Turtle (Graptemys gibbonsi) in the Pearl and Pascagoula Rivers with description of a new species,” brings the number of native turtle species in the United States to 57, including six in Arizona, with approximately 320 species documented worldwide.

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