Friday, October 30, 2009

Battered and Bruised - Abused Elephants to Be Rescued in Zimbabwe

/PRNewswire/ -- The rescue of nine cruelly abused elephants from a commercial training facility in Zimbabwe will begin on Monday, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - has announced.

The elephants were confiscated in April 2009 after an inspection by the Zimbabwe National Society for the Protection of Cruelty against Animals (ZNSPCA) found cruel and torturous methods were being used to "tame and train" them for the elephant back safari industry - a popular tourist activity in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in southern Africa.

The ZNSPCA requested IFAW to step in and assist in translocating the elephants to a safe haven with a view to rehabilitating the elephants and releasing them back into the wild.

"These elephants have been subjected to the most appalling cruelty, all in the name of servicing an indefensible form of safari industry," said Neil Greenwood, spokesman IFAW Southern Africa.

"In fact 10 elephants were originally caught for training. Tragically one - a young male named Dumisani - died of malnutrition and the abuse he was subjected to. Given all of this, IFAW has assembled a top team of capture experts to translocate the remaining nine elephants to safety with the least possible stress."

The elephants will be transported from a privately owned ranch in the West Nicholson area, south of Bulawayo where the elephants were being "trained," to Hwange National Park, some 700 kilometres (437 miles) further east.

The wild elephants were originally caught on protected land in October 2008. In April 2009 when the ZNSPCA inspected the training facility they discovered some of the following abuses taking place:

-- Elephants chained on one leg and being fed from a distance requiring
them to stand on three legs and strain at their chains to reach their
food. This practice was intended to enforce the dominance of the
handlers and caused severe wounds to the chained legs.
-- Restricted access to water and shade.
-- Varying degrees of wounds caused by training techniques and chaining.
-- An adult female elephant separated from her male calf causing
unnecessary stress and physical suffering to both calf and mother.
-- Chaining for long hours preventing the elephants from socialising with
each other.

The translocation of the elephants will begin on Monday afternoon, 2nd November and has been mandated by the Government of Zimbabwe. The elephants will be darted and transported in a single group to Hwange National Park overnight before being released into a large rehabilitation boma for monitoring before eventually being released into the park.

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From the Mountains to the Sea, Georgia is Hooked on Bass

Georgia has a diversity of bass that continues to reel in anglers from across the nation. As the only state in the nation with six of the seven black bass species, Georgia stands out as a bass angler’s paradise. This fall, regardless of where you are in the state, bass fishing opportunities abound, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division is providing anglers with some helpful bass fishing information.

“Bass are a favorite species for anglers, and while people are most familiar with largemouth bass, it is by no means the only bass angling opportunity in the state,” says John Biagi, the division’s chief of Fisheries Management. “We encourage all anglers, beginners and experienced, to get out this fall, enjoy the weather and fish for bass – and don’t forget to take a kid fishing!”

Several species of black bass are fall favorites, including largemouth, smallmouth, shoal and spotted bass. Redeye and Suwannee round out the six available black bass species here in Georgia.

The knowledge of where to go is just part of the ammunition necessary to becoming a successful bass angler – having the right equipment is the other component for success. For species such as largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass, the division recommends using a six-foot medium action, spinning outfit spooled with 8-10 lb. test line. Next, you need to determine if you will be fishing top-water or deep-water. The top-water bite typically is best in the early morning and late evening.

During fall, bass key in on shad forage while feeding up for the winter. Floating or shallow running baits resembling small shad, minnows or blueback herring will entice bites from all three bass species. For deep-water bass angling, use 1/4 - 3/8 oz. jigheads with your favorite plastic curly-tailed grub or plastic shad lure skewered on it (recommended colors: green pumpkin and watermelon seed), Texas or Carolina rigged plastic worms and lizards, jigging spoons, deep diving crankbaits, live nightcrawlers or minnows. Deep-water angling can be utilized year-round, but can be especially effective in summer and winter when fish move offshore in a lake or reservoir.

Another fall favorite, striped bass, often confused as one of Georgia’s six black bass species, actually belong to the temperate bass family. Anglers can find some exceptional striped bass fishing in Georgia, including native coastal river populations.

When fishing for striped bass in Georgia’s estuaries, one should come equipped with a medium-heavy spinning outfit (20-30 lb. class) with one of the new small diameter superlines. This will assist in getting the bait to the bottom where striped bass are feeding on shrimp (Oct.-Nov.). Effective lures include 1/2 - 3/4 oz. bucktail jigs, 1 oz. rattle traps and 1 oz. swim shads.

For bass fishing throughout Georgia, the division recommends the following fishing spots and the species to pursue at each:

· Lakes Hartwell, Nottely and Lanier – Oct.-Dec. is a great time to catch spotted and largemouth bass on these major impoundments. Anglers should target deeper offshore areas of 10-30 ft. of water and structures such as standing timber, submerged islands with woody cover (brush and stumps) and rocks. Bass will often suspend over open water at these depths, feeding on shad and blueback herring.

· Chattahoochee River (below Morgan Falls Dam) – Fall provides excellent largemouth, spotted and shoal bass fishing on the Chattahoochee. Anglers can take many approaches – jon boats, wading and float tubes to get close to their favorite species. Fly-fishing also is a productive method for bass on the river.

· Lake Oconee – Largemouth bass are plentiful during fall on this reservoir. Anglers should concentrate on tributary arms such as Sugar Creek, Lick Creek, Sandy Creek and the upper ends of the three major tributary arms (Oconee River, Apalachee River and Richland Creek). Concentrate on depths less than five feet.

· Lake Richard B. Russell – Largemouth and spotted bass fishing is excellent during the fall when water temperature drops into the 60s. Concentrate on major creek arms where you’ll find bass following schools of baitfish (threadfin shad) as they migrate into creeks.

· Lakes Varner and Black Shoals – The upper half of these reservoirs are great spots to fish for largemouths, though there is no one particular hot spot. Light line and smaller lures are more effective at Black Shoals as the water tends to be clearer.

· West Point Lake – Serious largemouth bass anglers need to head to this lake to test their skills. As water temperatures cool, areas to target include creek mouths and points, the upper end of the lake and around the numerous blown down trees in the water.

· Big Lazer Public Fishing Area (PFA) – If you like fishing for largemouth on a smaller lake, give this 195-acre PFA a try. It’s intensely managed to produce extra pounds of bass. In the fall, bass often are caught in shallow to medium-depth water near structure and drop-offs in the coves or off the main channel.

· Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center/Marben Farms PFA – Bass fishing always picks up in the fall as bass become more aggressive when the water temperature drops. Bennett and Fox lakes are the best place for “lunker” size bass and anglers should concentrate on fishing flooded timber and calm waters in the mornings for their best chance at this PFA.

· Ocmulgee PFA – This new PFA is well on the way to developing into a trophy bass destination. Some of the bass in the reservoir have grown to more than 10 pounds in just about three years! Currently, the average size bass is 6.5 pounds. The standing timber left in the lake during construction and the aeration system, which creates a current for the lake, concentrates bass for anglers. Points, underwater high spots, standing timber and thicker cover will be good areas for anglers to target. Top-water baits fished around the edges of thicker brush are recommended for early morning while fishing swimming lures around the brush edges or pitching weedless baits into the thick brush may be best for later in the day.

· High Falls Lake – This 650-acre lake is an untapped resource for largemouth bass – quality bass catches are frequent, with an occasional “lunker” reeled in as well. Buck Creek is the most popular spot for largemouth anglers and fishermen are encouraged to target boat docks and aquatic vegetation mats.

· Coastal Rivers – Fall is the best time to fish for stripers in Georgia’s coastal rivers as they are moving down river as water temperatures drop, feeding on the abundantly available bait, such as shrimp and menhaden, in estuaries. Anglers should concentrate on fishing the upward current side of any bridge piling or structure. Most strikes occur within one ft. of some sort of structure, so get lines in there tight to get a bite.

· Toccoa River – The Toccoa River watershed is the best place to hook a homegrown smallmouth. They are present in the river just upstream (south) from Lake Blue Ridge, in the reservoir itself, and in the warmer, lower half of the lake's tailwater near McCaysville. Tossing a herring-imitating crankbait or a live crawfish toward rocky banks and points in the reservoir is a best bet for Georgia bassers wanting to add this species to their list of caught fish. More information is available in the Lake Blue Ridge fishing prospects, .

· Ochlockonee River – As the rarest of Georgia’s black bass species, Suwannee bass are most abundant in the Ochlockonee River in south Georgia. (They are also present in the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers). Anglers wishing to pursue these feisty fish would be advised to use light tackle with plastic worms or small spinnerbaits. Anglers fishing for Suwannee bass on the Ochlockonee River should concentrate on areas south of Thomasville. Canoes and kayaks are the preferred craft for maneuvering the small, black, tree-laden waters of the Ochlockonee. Three boat ramps are located in this stretch of the Ochlockonee: Hwy. 19 in Thomasville; Hwy. 93 below Cairo; and Hadley’s Ferry off of Midway Rd.

· Flint River – Shoal bass are one of the signature species of the Flint River. Shoal bass can reach weights of over eight pounds and are an exciting challenge in the swift water. Shoal bass can be caught on a wide variety of lures, and some of the favorites are small swimming minnows, spinner baits, top water poppers and Texas-rigged worms and lizards. A favorite technique involves floating or motoring to a major shoal and then wade-fishing the pools and swift runs with spinning tackle or fly rod. Wading the shoals is particularly suited to fly-fishing. Just bring your six to eight weight bass or trout rod and plenty of wooly buggers and poppers.

· Ocmulgee River – Shoal, largemouth and spotted bass provide excellent fall fishing in the Ocmulgee River both upstream and downstream of Macon. Shoal and spotted bass are more common above Macon, though shoal bass also are found below the Fall Line and are fairly common as far south as Warner Robins. Preferred shoal bass lures are small to medium swimming minnows, spinner baits, poppers and artificial worms. Largemouth are the predominate black bass below Macon and good catches are possible using the right techniques. Most of the larger snags along the bank, particularly in areas of low current velocities, are home to one or more largemouth bass and they can be fooled with a lightly weighted plastic worm or lizard cast as close to the structure as possible. Spinner baits, medium Rapala-type crank baits, and plastic jerk baits are also effective but the key is triggering the fish to leave the cover to hit your bait.

· Savannah River – Largemouth bass are abundant in this river downstream of New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam to the estuary. When the river’s flow is low, good numbers of fish can be found around woody debris along the banks and diversion structures within the main channel. As the river’s flow increases and water fills backwater areas of the flood plain, fish tend to occupy sloughs and tributary creeks where water current is quite slower than in the main channel. When fishing these backwater areas, smaller lures and plastic worms tend to be effective, as a more subtle approach more often triggers strikes in these quiet, slow-moving spots.

· Ogeechee River – The Ogeechee is home to a very healthy largemouth bass population. Methods used in other coastal rivers will be effective here but anglers must scale down the size of their vessel and equipment in order to access a large portion of river above the tidal area. With many sand bars and fallen trees extending across almost the entire river, a lightweight, shallow-draft boat is essential in order to find the many miles of remote stretches of river that exist in this system. Also, with a low tree canopy reaching out over the river in many spots, a shorter fishing rod can be quite advantageous when trying to make that perfect cast.

For more information on each of the six species of black bass, check out Georgia’s Black Bass brochure online at . Also, log on for more bass fishing tips, fishing destinations and other bass-related information.

Take Me Fishing™! A recent national survey indicated that 87 percent of Americans believe
fishing and boating have a positive effect on family relationships. So take your family fishing and you will always have something in common.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Delayed Harvest Trout Streams Open Nov. 1

North Georgia offers few better ways to observe fall foliage beauty than a trip to a trout-filled delayed harvest mountain stream. With more than 4,000 miles of trout streams and three species of trout, there are fishing and simultaneous leaf-viewing opportunities closer than you think. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division highlights the five delayed harvest streams available to anglers beginning Nov. 1.

“Georgia trout streams are designated as seasonal, year-round or delayed harvest, and different streams offer varying populations of rainbow, brown and brook trout,” says the division’s Trout Stocking Coordinator Perry Thompson. “The delayed harvest streams have special regulations from November 1 – May 14. Since these delayed harvest streams are regularly stocked and the trout are caught and released, catch rates remain high, making them a great destination for new and seasoned anglers alike.”

The five trout streams managed under delayed harvest regulations are the Toccoa River located on U.S. Forest Service land upstream of Lake Blue Ridge in Fannin County (from 0.4 miles above Shallowford Bridge to 450 feet above the Sandy Bottom Canoe Access), Amicalola Creek on the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area (from Steele Bridge Road downstream to Georgia Hwy. 53), Smith Creek at Unicoi State Park, the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta (Sope Creek, downstream of Johnson Ferry Road, downstream to the Hwy 41 bridge) and a portion of the Chattooga River (from Ga. Hwy. 28 upstream to the mouth of Reed Creek) on U.S. Forest Service land bordering South Carolina.

“Remember, these streams are catch and release only during the delayed harvest season and also are restricted to artificial lures with one single hook from Nov. 1 – May 14,” Thompson adds. “When May 15 rolls around, harvest is allowed under the general regulations pertaining to designated trout water.”

In addition to the excellent fall fishing opportunities delayed harvest streams provide, there also are ample year-round trout fishing opportunities in a number of Georgia streams. These designated year-round streams are open to fishing throughout the year.

Blue Ridge Tailwater: This tailwater is actually a stretch of the Toccoa River located downstream of Blue Ridge Lake in Fannin County and in many trout fishing circles is considered both blue-ribbon trout fishing and Georgia’s best kept secret. Anglers will find good numbers of both rainbow and brown trout, with an occasional trophy-sized fish caught. Most anglers prefer to float from shoal to shoal and then get out and wade to fish. Ultralight spinning gear and small spinners, such as rooster tails and panther martins, are best bets. Anglers should keep safety in mind – high water and strong currents can occur when the dam’s turbines are on. Keep a close eye on the water level and return to boats immediately if it starts to rise.

Noontootla Creek Watershed: This watershed offers some high quality year-round fishing for wild brown and rainbow trout, with many of its tributaries offering a chance at a wild brook trout (a real plus since most other brook trout waters are closed to fishing after Oct. 31). Both Noontootla and its tributaries are managed under an artificial lure only regulation and have a 16” minimum size limit in order to “recycle” the 8”-12” trout that make up most of the population.

Dukes Creek: This stream, located on the Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area offers year-round trout fishing by reservation (706-878-3087). All fish caught here must be released immediately and anglers must only use artificial lures with barbless hooks. The stream offers a great chance at a trout over 20 inches, so bring your camera for a quick shot before release. Best time to fish is after a rain discolors the water.

Chattahoochee River: For good trout fishing close to metro-Atlanta, the Chattahoochee River downstream of Buford Dam offers family-friendly and close-to-home, year-round fishing for stocked rainbow and brown trout and wild brown trout. Despite the recent rains, fishing in the Chattahoochee River will continue to be good and Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area parks offer good bank, wading and boating opportunities. Be aware that some National Park Service parks downstream of Morgan Falls Dam are closed due to recent flooding. Contact CRNRA (678-538-1200) to learn about park closures. The river will be stocked through the fall months to keep angler catches high. Year-round harvest is legal from Buford Dam to Sope Creek. Best fishing is at low flow when the river is clear to slightly stained.

Some additional notable year-round trout streams include the Conasauga River, Tallulah River and the Chattooga River.

To download free Georgia trout stream maps and other trout fishing tips, or for additional trout fishing information, visit . Anglers must possess a current Georgia fishing license and a trout license to fish in designated trout waters.

Take Me Fishing! ™ A recent national survey indicated that 87 percent of Americans believe fishing and boating have a positive effect on family relationships. So take your family fishing and you will always have something in common.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

PETCO Offers Three Ways to Give to Pets in Need This Holiday Season

/PRNewswire/ -- More than 1,000 PETCO stores nationwide will encourage families to Think Adoption First during National Pet Adoption Weekend Nov. 7 and 8 when they partner with their local animal shelters to hold adoption events. In addition, the National Pet Adoption Weekend kicks-off PETCO's annual Tree of Hope fundraiser for the PETCO Foundation and PETCO's partnership with the IAMS® annual Home 4 the Holidays® pet adoption drive.

"PETCO supports the goals of all pet parents with the opportunity to provide a home, a donation or a healthy lifestyle to a pet in need this holiday season. Last year PETCO raised more than $3 million through the Tree of Hope campaign in PETCO stores, and the PETCO Foundation was able to help more than 5,000 animal shelters," said Jim Myers, Chief Executive Officer for PETCO. "Through our National Pet Adoption Weekend and Tree of Hope campaign we hope to boost the number of animal adoptions and monies raised to make a positive difference in the lives of thousands of animals."

The Tree of Hope fundraiser allows PETCO customers to purchase snowflake card ornaments for $5, $10 or $20 donations through Dec. 24. Customers may also purchase PETCO Foundation "Peace on Earth, Good Homes for Pets" T-shirts or sweatshirts while supplies last. In addition, IAMS will donate $1 to the PETCO Foundation for every bag of IAMS cat or dog food sold at PETCO stores from Nov. 7 to Dec. 24 in support of the 2009 Home 4 the Holidays goal to find homes for 1.5 million animals by the end of the holiday season.

Every PETCO customer who adopts an animal through one of PETCO's sponsored animal adoption events or its charitable partners are invited to join PETCO's Think Adoption First program. When proof of a pet adoption is brought into a store and a P.A.L.S. loyalty program membership is activated, customers will receive a free brochure that features exclusive savings on food and supplies. In addition, new pet parents will receive a year-long series of educational e-mails regarding the health and well-being of their new pet, as well as special offers of up to 25 percent in savings each month.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Save Your Pets from a Hair-Raising Halloween

While Halloween can be a frighteningly good time for children and adults alike, it can also be petrifying for your pooch or terrifying for your tabby. The Humane Society of the United States is reminding pet owners that this haunting holiday may be too scary for your pet. Companion animals aren't used to the doorbell-ringing, costumed creatures and general hustle-and-bustle that come into our homes at this time of year.

"For your pet's comfort and safety, the best thing that you can do is to make sure that they have a stress-free holiday," according to Adam Goldfarb, director of the Pets at Risk program for The Humane Society of the United States. "The noises, smells and people can be overwhelming for many pets on Halloween, so create a safe haven in one room of your home where he or she can quietly relax."

To help keep pets safe and happy this Halloween, The HSUS recommends the following tips:

Keep your pets safely indoors, away from trick-or-treaters and other Halloween activities.
Make sure that all of your pets are wearing tags with current ID. Opening the door repeatedly for trick-or-treaters creates plenty of escape opportunities.
Keep candy out of your pets' reach. Chocolate and other ingredients can be toxic to them.
Most pets are happiest wearing nothing but their birthday suit. Costumes and masks can make your pets uncomfortable or even cause injury.
Decorations can be dangerous, so be sure to keep them safely away from pets. Candle flames can set fire to a pet's fur. Hanging or dangling decorations can be an entanglement or choking hazard to some animals.
Use fake cobwebs sparingly, if at all. Pets can choke on fake cobwebs set up indoors. Outdoors, fake webs may be a hazard to birds and wildlife.
When going out trick-or-treating, leave your dog at home. Dogs can be easily excited by the Halloween commotion and a dog bite or lost dog will quickly end the evening's fun.
Don't forget about wildlife on Halloween, either. Nocturnal animals, such as raccoons, opossums and foxes will be out looking for food. If you come across a wild animal while out trick-or-treating, your best bet is to keep your distance (and keep your pets away from wild animals, too).

Though bats are classically associated with Halloween, those in colder climates will most likely be hibernating at this time of year. Most bats won't be interested in sucking your blood, but they'll happily munch away on the insects that may be pestering you while out trick-or-treating.

Paying heed to the tips above, we can all work together to keep our beloved pets and our wild neighbors safe this Halloween.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Add life and color to your winter landscape: Attract wild birds to your backyard

(ARA) - Feeding wild birds is an easy way to add a splash of color and song to your outdoor living space this winter, plus help the birds thrive through the toughest season for them. Attracting birds to your backyard is as easy as setting out bird feeders filled with quality food.

In fact, winter is a perfect time to feed wild birds, as a variety of species, including dark-eyed juncos and native sparrows, migrate south. Other species such as cardinals, woodpeckers and goldfinches will stay around through the winter and will be eager to frequent feeders where they find a ready, steady supply of food. Feeding wild birds not only brings a little life to your backyard during the cooler months, but also helps the birds thrive through the winter, so they – like you – will be ready to enjoy spring when it arrives.

Getting started is simple:

* Offer a feeding station that consists of a birdfeeder filled with a quality seed mix. Choose a blend that is specially formulated to attract a variety of birds. Ingredients should include bird favorites like black oil sunflower, thistle and peanuts, which are attractive to a wide range of birds including cardinals, chickadees, finches, native sparrows and more. Feeding a premium wild bird food like Scotts Songbird Selections ensures birds will get adequate energy and nutrition to help weather the winter. Visit to learn more about feeding wild birds.

* Choose a feeder appropriate for the type of seed blend you are feeding. Common types include covered or open platforms for any size seed blend, cylinders or tubes for small seeds, and a hopper or “house” style to hold larger seeds like sunflower. You can easily make your own bird feeder, or purchase one of the many types available in home improvement, hardware and other mass retail stores.

To attract even more birds:

* Offer more than one feeder with different foods to give birds with varying feeding preferences options and ensure you attract a variety of species.

* In addition to a variety of quality seed blends, consider offering suet as well. Birds use a lot of energy, especially in the winter, and suet is the high-energy snack that can help keep them going through the tough times. Rich in calories because it’s primarily made of fat, suet attracts woodpeckers, chickadees and many other species. Some suet, like Scotts Songbird Selections Multi-Bird Suet with Fruit and Nuts, is embedded with other treats birds love, such as seeds, nuts or dried fruit. Present the suet in a wire cage. The birds will cling to the cage and peck at the suet through the gaps.

Other tips for winter feeding:

* If you live in a region that receives significant snow accumulation, make sure feeders are raised high enough off the ground to escape the snow buildup. Place feeders close to the house in locations with a good view from a favorite window. If possible, keep feeders a short bird’s flight from the cover of protective trees, to help birds feel more secure when feeding.

* Wild birds have a particularly hard time finding fresh water in the winter. Consider adding a few heated birdbaths to your backyard landscape. Heated baths, many with thermostatic controls, are available in most home improvement, hardware and bird specialty stores.

* If you’re worried about squirrels raiding and damaging your feeder, consider feeding them too. Offer something the squirrels will find even more enticing than bird food – like corn – and they’ll be less inclined to visit your birdfeeder.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Good Mews Kitty Kegger and Silent Auction November 21

Good Mews Animal Foundation, a non-profit, no-kill cage free cat shelter rated “Best Place to Adopt a Pet” by the readers of Atlanta Magazine for the last two years, is celebrating our 21th anniversary with a Kitty Kegger and Silent Auction.

The event will be held on Saturday, November 21, 2009 from 7pm-11pm at Indian Hills Country Club, 4001 Clubland Drive, Marietta, Georgia. The $50 admission price includes hors d’Ĺ“uvres, dancing by local band “Zero to Sixty” and bidding on fabulous auction items to benefit the cats and kittens of Good Mews. Dress code is casual – team color jerseys bearing your favorite college or professional football team are encouraged! After all, what’s a Kegger without some lively conversation and trash talking???

Donations of additional items for the silent auction are needed. Business and individual sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information about the Kegger and to purchase tickets or a sponsorship, check out the “Events” menu at or call 770-499-2287.

The shelter, located at 736 Johnson Ferry Rd. Suite A-3, Marietta, is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Despite 20-Year-Old Ivory Ban, Situation for Elephants More Desperate Than Ever

/PRNewswire/ -- The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) today called upon the United States and the world community to renew its commitment to the global ivory ban, which has been systematically undermined to the point where elephants could soon disappear from the face of the earth.

Established by the U.S. and the other signatories to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) 20 years ago today, the ivory trade ban gave elephants the highest possible level of legal protection and effectively banned international trade in ivory. The ban was put in place in response to the alarming slaughter of elephants in Africa during the 1980s, when elephant poaching had slashed the continent's population from more than 1.2 million to about 450,000 in just 10 years.

Elephant poaching and global demand for ivory plummeted while the ban was fully enforced, but the peace was short-lived. Beginning in 1997, pro-ivory trade forces pushed through decision after decision that methodically undermined the ivory ban, culminating in massive, "legal" ivory stockpile sales to China and Japan as recently as 2008. The aftermath of these sales, according to Kenyan and other African wildlife authorities, has been an undeniable surge in poaching and elephant slaughter in countless African elephant range states.

Scientists now believe that more than 100 elephants die every day to fuel the ivory trade, and that number is increasing. At the rate they're being slaughtered, African elephants could become extinct across most of their range by 2024, less than 15 years from now.

"The lesson is crystal clear," said Jeff Flocken, IFAW Washington, D.C. Office Director. "Any legal ivory trade leads to illegal slaughter because the legal market gives poachers an easy way to sell their illegal stocks."

Ironically, the 20-year anniversary of the global ivory ban comes just a day after the 1-year anniversary of the ivory ban on eBay, Inc., the world's leading Internet marketplace. The company made the historic decision to ban sales of ivory from elephants and all other animals on Oct. 19, 2008, and ivory has effectively disappeared from the companies' web marketplaces.

"The courageous action that eBay took one year ago proves that the only solution is to reinstate a total and permanent ban on ivory sales," said Flocken. "The U.S. was a leader on this issue back in the 1980's when the global ban was put in place, and we need that leadership again if we are to save this iconic species."

"Many Americans don't realize that the U.S. is still one of the world's largest consumers of ivory, so it's on our shoulders to help save this species while we still can," Flocken said.

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Halloween Dog Bite Prevention Tips From Doggone Safe

/24-7/ -- Changes in routine and the strange sights and sounds of Halloween can cause stress in a normally placid family dog. Keep dogs out of the fray by securing them away from the door and providing a long-lasting chew treat. Teach kids to Be a Tree and stand still if any dogs come near them on Halloween.

Halloween is lots of fun for kids, but many dogs will be confused or upset by kids in strange costumes and by lots of people coming to the door, but never being invited in. Doggone Safe offers the following tips for dog owners, kids and parents:

Dog owners:

1. Secure your dog behind a closed door or in a crate in a room away from the front door or the party if children are meeting at your house.
2. Give him a juicy bone from the butcher, a sterilized bone or Kong stuffed with hotdog, Rollover or other soft dog treats or a pre-stuffed bone from the pet store.
3. Play music or leave a TV or radio playing in the dog's room to help mask the sounds of the activity at the front door.
4. Close drapes so that the dog does not see people coming and going through the window.
5. If you have a dog that barks at the sound of the doorbell, disconnect it or watch for trick-or-treaters so that they do not have to ring or knock.
6. Puppies and dogs that like to chase can get overly excited by costumes with dangly bits or streaming material. Supervise very carefully if you have a dog that may try to play with your children's costumes while they are wearing them. Teach kids to Be a Tree and stand still if the dog does start nipping at their costume since the more they move, the more exited the dog will get.
7. Keep your dogs (and cats) indoors around Halloween time. Pets have been stolen, injured or poisoned as part of Halloween pranks or other rituals.

Kids and Parents:

1. Avoid houses if you can hear a dog barking behind the door, you can see a dog behind a screen door or you see a dog tied up in the yard or barking behind a fence.
2. Never approach any dog, even if you know him. He may not recognize you in your costume.
3. If an owner opens the door and there is a dog there, just stay still and wait for the dog owner to put the dog away. You can tell them you do not want to come near the dog. Do not move toward the person and dog. Wait for them to come to you to give you your candy. Wait for them to close the door before you turn and leave.
4. If a dog escapes just stand still and Be a Tree (hands folded in front, watching your feet). He will just sniff you and then move on. Wait for the owner to come and get the dog before you turn away.
5. If you meet a loose dog, Be a Tree and wait until it goes away.
6. It is best to ignore other people's dogs on Halloween if you meet them out walking. The dog may be worried about all the strange creatures that are out and about. Even if you know the dog, he may not recognize you in your costume.

Doggone Safe wishes everyone a safe and happy Halloween!

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Fish Vision Discovery Makes Waves in Natural Selection

Emory University researchers have identified the first fish known to have switched from ultraviolet vision to violet vision, or the ability to see blue light. The discovery is also the first example of an animal deleting a molecule to change its visual spectrum.

Their findings on scabbardfish, linking molecular evolution to functional changes and the possible environmental factors driving them, were published Oct. 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This multi-dimensional approach strengthens the case for the importance of adaptive evolution," says evolutionary geneticist Shozo Yokoyama, who led the study. "Building on this framework will take studies of natural selection to the next level."

The research team included Takashi Tada, a post-doctoral fellow in biology, and Ahmet Altun, a post-doctoral fellow in biology and computational chemistry.

Vision ‘like a painting'

For two decades, Yokoyama has done groundbreaking work on the adaptive evolution of vision in vertebrates. Vision serves as a good study model, since it is the simplest of the sensory systems. For example, only four genes are involved in human vision.

"It's amazing, but you can mix together this small number of genes and detect a whole color spectrum," Yokoyama says. "It's just like a painting."

The common vertebrate ancestor possessed UV vision. However, many species, including humans, have switched from UV to violet vision, or the ability to sense the blue color spectrum.

From the ocean depths

Fish provide clues for how environmental factors can lead to such vision changes, since the available light at various ocean depths is well quantified. All fish previously studied have retained UV vision, but the Emory researchers found that the scabbardfish has not. To tease out the molecular basis for this difference, they used genetic engineering, quantum chemistry and theoretical computation to compare vision proteins and pigments from scabbardfish and another species, lampfish. The results indicated that scabbardfish shifted from UV to violet vision by deleting the molecule at site 86 in the chain of amino acids in the opsin protein.

"Normally, amino acid changes cause small structure changes, but in this case, a critical amino acid was deleted," Yokoyama says.

More examples likely

"The finding implies that we can find more examples of a similar switch to violet vision in different fish lineages," he adds. "Comparing violet and UV pigments in fish living in different habitats will open an unprecedented opportunity to clarify the molecular basis of phenotypic adaptations, along with the genetics of UV and violet vision."

Scabbardfish spend much of their life at depths of 25 to 100 meters, where UV light is less intense than violet light, which could explain why they made the vision shift, Yokoyama theorizes. Lampfish also spend much of their time in deep water. But they may have retained UV vision because they feed near the surface at twilight on tiny, translucent crustaceans that are easier to see in UV light.

A framework for evolutionary biology

Last year, Yokoyama and collaborators completed a comprehensive project to track changes in the dim-light vision protein opsin in nine fish species, chameleons, dolphins and elephants, as the animals spread into new environments and diversified over time. The researchers found that adaptive changes occur by a small number of amino acid substitutions, but most substitutions do not lead to functional changes.

Their results provided a reference framework for further research, and helped bring to light the limitations of studies that rely on statistical analysis of gene sequences alone to identify adaptive mutations in proteins.

"Evolutionary biology is filled with arguments that are misleading, at best," Yokoyama says. "To make a strong case for the mechanisms of natural selection, you have to connect changes in specific molecules with changes in phenotypes, and then you have to connect these changes to the living environment."

From eScienceCommons

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Bats and Bugs: Nature's 'Trick or Treat'

/PRNewswire/ -- To avoid becoming a bat's tasty treat, a species of tiger moth plays a trick with sound. The moth can make up to 450 ultrasonic clicks in a tenth of a second to jam the hungry bat's sonar and escape death.

The discovery was made by Aaron Corcoran, a Wake Forest University graduate student, and William Conner, professor of biology at Wake Forest.

"This is the first example of prey that jams biological sonar," Conner says.

Their research documenting the bat vs. moth evolutionary arms race was published in Science. Corcoran will also present his findings at the North American Symposium on Bat Research in November and traveled to Japan to address the Animal Sonar Symposium this summer.

In a series of experiments, Corcoran and Conner observed free-flying big brown bats hunting moths in a sort of "bat cave" set up in the basement of the biology building. High-speed infrared video cameras recorded the interactions between predator and prey. The researchers also recorded the high-frequency sounds made by both the bats and the moths during each interaction.

When a tiger moth hears the sonar pings of a bat in search of prey, it clicks back using a paired set of structures called "tymbals," Corcoran says. The high-speed, high-frequency clicks disrupt the bat's echolocation cycle. Although the researchers have yet to discover exactly how the jamming works, the sounds could mask the echoes that the bat uses to locate the moth. Or, it might blur the bat's acoustic image of the moth so the bat can't determine its exact location.

"Sonar jamming illustrates a new level of escalation in a 50-million-year-old arms race," Corcoran says.

Now, Corcoran is doing field research to learn more about how the sonar-jamming defense works in the wild. He has found the perfect place to study the ultrasonic battle of bats and moths. In the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona, one in every three moths is a Bertholdia trigona, the species of moth that uses ultrasonic clicks as a sonar-jamming defense.

Many species of bats, including the one they studied in the lab, are also prevalent.

He is trying to figure out if the moths are using evasive maneuvering combined with sound to evade capture.

"Are they combining defenses or does sonar jamming work so well that they go along their way without making elaborate loops and spirals to avoid being eaten," Corcoran says. He would also like to know if the defense that works so well against big brown bats in the lab, will work against other species of bats in the wild.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Humane Society of the United States Offers Reward in Decatur, Ga. Puppy Starving Case

The Humane Society of the United States is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for starving a puppy named Little Bit in Decatur, Ga.

The Case:

Police and news reports give the following account: Two people dropped off a malnourished puppy at the Village Vets of Decatur Thursday night, prompting staffers to call DeKalb County Animal Control to investigate possible animal cruelty. The mixed-breed pit bull puppy was so emaciated that she couldn't stand or lift her head.

Video surveillance from the clinic showed a man and a woman getting out of a black SUV to drop off the puppy at the front lobby. The woman filled out paperwork indicating the dog is named Little Bit, but she provided false information, including the alias Tamika Howard. Veterinarians determined the dog was not ill or diseased, and detectives believe food was intentionally withheld from the 5-month-old puppy. Little Bit has gained a few pounds since her arrival at the clinic.

Animal Cruelty:

Getting the serious attention of law enforcement, prosecutors and the community in cases involving allegations of cruelty to animals is an essential step in protecting the community. The connection between animal cruelty and human violence is well documented. Studies show a correlation between animal cruelty and all manner of other crimes, from narcotics and firearms violations to battery and sexual assault.

"Those who abuse animals can be dangerous to people," said Cheryl McAuliffe, The HSUS' Georgia state director. "Americans have no tolerance for violence against the creatures who share our world."

The Investigators:

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the DeKalb County Police Department's Animal Cruelty Unit at 404-294-2645.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Doggie Dash, Woofstock style, to be Held October 24

Georgia Heartland Humane Society will host a "LOVE IN FOR THE ANIMALS". Doggie Dash, "Woofstock style" will be held Saturday, October 24th. Registration will begin at 9:30 and the walk will begin at 10:30. Doggie Dash is a 3k walk and will be held along the shady paths of Shakerag Park in Peachtree City. The purpose of the walk is to raise money for homeless animals and all participants who raise at least $50.00 will recieve a tye dyed Doggie Dash T-shirt.

After the walk, participants can visit local vendors as they enjoy free coffee and baked goods and listen to the music of the 60's. Pets can get in touch with their creative side by creating their own Pupcasio, an original paw painting (don't worry mom, there's no mess) or make a sentimental paw prints for their special person. There will be free pedicures and pet massages as well as free 5 minute neck massages for human participants. All dogs will recieve free treats and a free bandana.

Participants are encouraged to collect pledges from friends, co-workers, relatives and neighbors. They can participate as individuals or form teams. The individual or team that raises the most money will receive a prize. Georgia Heartland Humane Society is an all volunteer, non profit, 501c3 organization that has been rescueing homeless, injured and abused animals for over 13 years.

For more information or to register on line go to gaheartland. com .

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Cutting Pets' Stress Naturally

(NAPSI)-The sounds of fireworks may remind us of celebrations, but for many pets, the explosions, along with thunderstorms and other common warm weather sounds, can be a significant source of anxiety.

Animals show stress in different ways. Dogs, for instance, might howl, run in circles or simply become lethargic. In rare instances, a stressed animal may even become aggressive.

Dr. Margo Roman, DVM, says pet owners can treat their animal's anxiety--whether it's caused by loud noises, separation, new surroundings, vet visits or other factors--naturally with Rescue Remedy Pet.

Rescue Remedy is a blend of five flower remedies formulated more than 70 years ago. Now available, alcohol-free Rescue Remedy Pet is suitable for all kinds of pets including reptiles, fish (add to water), birds, cats, dogs, horses and rabbits.

The remedy is available in dropper format, helping to make it easier to administer. You can find it at Whole Foods and anywhere natural products are sold and at

Natural remedies can help relieve anxiety in pets.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Top 10 pet health tips for the holidays

(ARA) - Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Kwanzaa – no matter what you’re celebrating, pet owners need to remember to keep their pets safe and healthy for the holidays.

“Veterinarians often see an uptick in the number of problematic calls during the holiday season,” explains Dr. Larry R. Corry, AVMA president. “Whether it’s an exposure to chocolate or fatty foods or pets upset due to unexpected guests or costumed visitors late at night, the holidays can present problems for pets. The AVMA urges all pet owners to include the health and safety of their pets in any plans for the holidays.”

Here are the AVMA’s top 10 pet tips for holiday safety:

1. Be wary of holiday decorations; pets often consume them. “The animal raids the Christmas tree, for example, and this can be unhealthy for the pet and very upsetting for the pet owners,” explains Corry. “If they consume enough tinsel or other decorations, it can cause a blockage that requires surgery.”

2. Flowers are another common holiday feature that can result in an emergency visit. Poinsettias, Amaryllis and mistletoe are on the list of common holiday plants that can be dangerous and even poisonous to house pets who decide to eat them, Corry says.

3. Just like people, some pets are better at dealing with houseguests than others. If you know your pet has a problem with visitors, work with your veterinarian for solutions. For severe problems, your veterinarian may recommend medications or even boarding the animal.

4. Don’t let your pet climb the Christmas tree. If the tree falls over, your pet could be injured. Consider tying the tree to the ceiling or a doorframe using fishing line.

5. Cover Christmas tree water to keep animals from drinking it. The sap from live Christmas trees can make your pet sick.

6. Many people believe that people food makes good treats for their pets, but this isn’t the case. Many common ingredients in a holiday feast – like onions, garlic, chocolate and artificial sweeteners – are poisonous to pets. And dogs that consume an excessive amount of fatty foods, by cleaning a turkey carcass pulled from the trash, for example, can develop a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis.

7. Whether they are Halloween candies or Christmas chocolate, keep sweets out of your pet’s reach, particularly while you’re out. A pet that consumes chocolates while you’re away at work, for example, might be too sick for your veterinarian to save by the time you get home.

8. Unplug decorations while you’re not around. Cats and dogs are often tempted to chew electrical cords.

9. Keep any gift that includes human food out of a pet’s reach. With their sensitive sense of smell, dogs and cats can find those wrapped treats and open them when you’re not around.

10. Candles are a common part of many holiday celebrations. Make sure that you keep lit candles out of a pet’s reach, because the animal could light themselves, or your home, on fire.

The AVMA offers a great deal of information on its Web site,, including a free brochure on common household hazards and a free video about common household poisons.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Halloween Pet Tips From the American Humane Association

/PRNewswire/ -- Candy, costumes, trick-or-treating and frighteningly fun times are what most people think of around Halloween. But pets may find strangers coming to the door dressed as ghosts and goblins a little too scary. Here are some tips from the American Humane Association to help you and your pets have a fun and safe Halloween.

Let your pets celebrate Halloween, too -- Keep a supply of pet treats handy, and reach for one before you open the door for trick-or-treaters. If your pet sits calmly while the door is open, give her a treat! Try a Halloween-themed collar or bandana to show your pet's spirit, instead of a costume that may be constricting or unsafe.

Safety first -- Put pets in a quiet room away from the commotion to reduce their stress and chance of escape. Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with up-to-date ID and rabies tags in case he does escape with the trick-or-treaters. Microchipping your pet is recommended as an added precaution, since a lost pet with a microchip has a greater chance of being reunited with its owner. Also, it's best to keep cats indoors and away from people who may be out to play a mean Halloween prank.

Pet-friendly Halloween decorations -- Instead of an open flame in the jack-o'-lantern, opt for battery-powered, kid- and pet-friendly pumpkins. Open-flame candles and pumpkins with lit candles are especially dangerous because a pet's fur can catch fire. Don't let your pet chew or eat things like crepe-paper streamers; these are often colored with water-soluble dyes that will discolor your pet's mouth and can cause an upset stomach.

Remember: No chocolate and candy! -- Dogs love chocolate as much as humans do, but it is very dangerous for dogs and cats if ingested. Keep all chocolate and candy out of reach of your pets. Have healthy pet treats on hand for your pets, and enjoy the candy and chocolate yourself.

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