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 www.gohuntgeorgia.com . 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 www.gohuntgeorgia.com , 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 www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/wildlife-action-plan.

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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.

http://www.newswise.com/articles/nau-scientists-bring-new-species-of-turtle-out-of-its-shell

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Waterbuck born at Zoo Atlanta

Kokopelli, a 9-year-old female waterbuck at Zoo Atlanta, gave birth to a calf overnight on August 22, 2010. The newborn appears to be healthy and has been observed nursing and following Kokopelli in their African Plains habitat.
 
The calf is the fifth offspring for Kokopelli and 8-year-old Arizona. Like giraffe calves, waterbuck calves are precocial, generally walking within an hour of birth.

Found throughout southeastern sub-Saharan Africa, waterbuck are among the world’s largest antelope species. The species name refers to the fact that waterbuck are often found near water sources, are good swimmers, and possess oily, “waterproof” coats.

Kokopelli’s youngster will make an interesting new neighbor for the 1-month-old giraffe calf born to Glenda on July 13. Voting to name Atlanta’s tallest baby continues online on zooatlanta.org through Wednesday, August 25 at 5 p.m. The winning name and contestant will be announced during a special naming celebration at Zoo Atlanta on Saturday, August 28 at 10 a.m. Stay tuned to zooatlanta.org for event details.




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Monday, August 23, 2010

Name The Healthy Bird And Keep Backyard Poultry Free From Disease

(NAPSI)-The plucky rooster that is the mascot for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Biosecurity For Birds campaign needs a name. He's loud and proud. He has everything going for him: a nice home, a bevy of admiring hens and good health...everything but a name. From now through October 2010, bird enthusiasts can submit their name suggestions for the mascot, who headlines USDA's campaign that offers tips and information to poultry owners on how to protect their birds from infectious poultry diseases. The contest is sponsored by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Biosecurity For Birds campaign.

"I know all my chickens have names, and our mascot certainly should have one," said Andy Schneider, The Chicken Whisperer and national spokesperson for the campaign. "I urge all my fans and bird lovers to log on to the website, participate in the contest and give this healthy bird a name."

Contest Details

Contestants may submit their suggestions by logging on to http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov. A panel of poultry enthusiasts and marketing experts will review the nominations and select three top choices that will be posted on the Biosecurity for Birds website. Bird lovers will then have two weeks to vote for their favorite name.

The winning name and the person who submits it will be announced during Bird Health Awareness Week in November. The winning contestant will receive a deluxe duffel bag and will be interviewed and featured on the Biosecurity For Birds website.

Tips For Bird Owners

Biosecurity For Birds is a public awareness campaign that seeks to educate both new and experienced poultry owners about important steps to take to protect their flock. Poultry owners can help keep disease away from their farms and backyard pens by keeping things clean and watching for signs of infectious poultry diseases such as avian influenza, or "bird flu." Schneider reminds bird owners to "clean your shoes, clean your cages and equipment, and wash your hands before and after working with your birds." Plus, bird owners should not borrow or share bird supplies. If they must, items should be cleaned and disinfected before being brought home.

For more safety tips and to enter the contest, visit the Biosecurity For Birds website at http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Squirrel Hunting Season Opened Aug. 15, 2010

Whether still, stalk or squirrel dog hunting is your preference, the beginning of squirrel season is just around the corner. Often revered as a celebrated American fall tradition, squirrel hunting provides the perfect opportunity to introduce youth or a novice to the sport of hunting. Unlike some big game hunts, the pursuit of bushytails often involves more action for energetic youth, providing a greater level of interaction with the outdoors.

Beginning August 15, 2010 and lasting through February 28, 2011, hunters can pursue both gray and fox squirrels. The maximum daily bag limit is 12 per hunter.

“Prior to the successful restoration of white-tailed deer, pursuing squirrels in the fall became a significant cultural hunting tradition in Georgia,” says John Bowers, Wildlife Resources Division’s Game Management assistant chief. “Squirrel hunting provides one of our best opportunities to introduce youth to hunting, instill in them our responsibilities to wildlife conservation and provide exposure to the outdoors. Additionally, it’s fun, inexpensive and provides constant action.”

Squirrel hunting, especially with squirrel dogs such as feists, terriers and curs, is a great way to introduce youth to hunting and the outdoors. In terms of number of hunters and harvest, squirrels are the second most pursued small game species in Georgia, behind doves.

Georgia’s wildlife management areas offer access to nearly one million acres of hunting opportunity for only $19 a year, and squirrel hunting is allowed on WMAs at specified times during the statewide squirrel season. Hunters are advised to check the hunting regulations for specific WMAs and dates.

The two species

Both the gray and fox squirrels can be found throughout Georgia. The gray squirrel, abundant in both rural and urban areas is the most common species. Though mostly associated with hardwood forests, grays also can be found in mixed pine/hardwood forests. Predominantly gray, with white under parts, gray squirrels appear more slender-bodied than fox squirrels, weighing anywhere from 12 ounces to one-and-a-half pounds.

Fox squirrels have several color phases, varying from silver-gray with a predominantly black head, to solid black, to a light buff or brown color tinged with reddish-yellow. Generally larger than grays, fox squirrels range in weight from one pound to nearly three, and are more closely associated with mature pine and mixed pine/hardwood habitats and especially in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions.

For more information on the 2010-2011 squirrel hunting season or other small game hunting seasons, visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com, contact a local Game Management office or call (770) 918-6416.


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Friday, August 13, 2010

Gator-Frenzy Video Creates Buzz About Stephen C. Foster State Park

Gators galore! A Georgia fisherman’s video of a rare alligator “feeding frenzy” is bringing unexpected attention to the Okefenokee Swamp. Ray Cason of Homerville had just launched his boat at Stephen C. Foster State Park on July 10 when he documented hundreds of alligators feeding in a narrow canal. His short video was posted by the Clinch County News and has since been picked up by Southeastern media and viewed by nearly 50,000 people.

Imagining themselves in Cason’s boat, people tend to have one of two reactions: “Get me outta here!” or “Quick, where’s my camera?” For those eager to see alligators and explore the mysterious swamp, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is offering advice for a good visit. Rangers are reminding tourists that such massive gatherings of alligators is extremely rare, prompted by low water levels that force fish into small areas. Visitors are almost sure to see alligators, but not in a large gathering as shown in the video. Typically, alligators are solitary animals that slip under the black water when boats approach.

The footage was shot in the small canal that leads from Stephen C. Foster State Park’s boat basin into the main channel of the Okefenokee Swamp. Visitors can bring their own boats or rent them from the park when water levels are high. However, when water levels are as low as they are currently, boat rentals may not be available. Park staff encourage visitors to call before traveling to determine if canoes, kayaks or motorized jon boats can make it through the narrow canal. For their own safety, pets are prohibited in all boats.

“People don’t realize that alligators will go after dogs and other pets,” said Park Manager Travis Griffin. “They aren’t interested in adults in boats, but they have been known to go after fish on rods and poles. This is why we tell anglers to not put stringers or fish baskets in the water.”

Feeding any wildlife in the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is illegal. Griffin emphasized the danger of feeding alligators because they learn to associate people with food. He recommends that visitors admire the giant reptiles from a distance and keep their hands and feet inside boats. Children should not play near the water’s edge.

The famous swamp is in a remote part of southeast Georgia, so visitors usually stay overnight. Stephen C. Foster State Park, which is the main western entrance, rents nine fully equipped cottages with kitchens, bathrooms, screened porches and grills. Campers can choose from 64 shaded sites nestled among Spanish moss and saw palmettos. Because the nearest grocery store is 18 miles away, guests are encouraged to bring all supplies.

Stephen C. Foster State Park also features three miles of nature trails and boardwalks, a small gift shop and museum. Park gates are open 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. Spring and fall are the most popular times to visit, so guests are encouraged to make reservations in advance. Summer is the slowest season, due to heat and biting insects.

The Okefenokee Swamp is considered to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia. It is the largest blackwater swamp in North America, and one of the largest in the world. Visitors come from across the globe to paddle the still, tea-colored water that reflects blue sky and cypress trees. Birders can look for wood storks, white ibis, great egrets, green-backed heron, marsh wrens and more than 200 other species. Visitors might also see black bear, white tail deer, raccoon, red fox, bobcat, opossum, fox squirrel and other species.


Before You Go:
Stephen C. Foster State Park
17515 Hwy. 177
Fargo , GA 31631
(912) 637-5274
www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/StephenCFoster
www.fws.gov/okefenokee/

Park Hours:
7 a.m. – 10 p.m. (gate locks at closing; no late entry)

Office Hours:
Fall/Winter 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Spring/Summer 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Fees:
$5 Entrance fee per vehicle.
$25-$28 Campsites
$125 Cottages

Pets:
Visitors are encouraged to leave pets at home because they are not allowed in boats, even privately owned watercraft. Dogs are allowed in the campground and only in select cottages with advance notice. Never leave pets unattended in vehicles.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wilson's Plover Upswing - Census of these Birds Shows Surge in Nesting Pairs

With more than 350 nesting pairs, Wilson’s plovers in Georgia are doing much better than 10 years ago, according to a survey led by the state Department of Natural Resources.

The survey in May and June found three times as many nesting pairs as in 2000. The increase for these shorebirds state-listed as rare in Georgia is credited mostly to improved habitat, according to wildlife biologist Tim Keyes of the DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section.

Of 19 islands surveyed, Cumberland led with 106 nesting pairs, followed by St. Catherines and Ossabaw with 49 and 44 pairs, respectively. All accretional beach and dune areas considered potential nesting habitat, including terraced sand and wrack flats, embryonic and developed dune fields, and beach wash-over plumes not subjected to regular tidal flooding, were surveyed on foot.

“The high numbers of Wilson’s plover this year, coupled with observing many chicks at a number of locations, was an exciting find,” Keyes said. “Beach nesting birds face so many challenges, ranging from storms and high tides to avian and terrestrial predators and human and canine disturbances, it often seems remarkable that they ever successfully fledge young.”

Wilson’s plover is a medium-sized shorebird once numerous on south Atlantic and Gulf Coast beaches. Following declines, the species is now listed among high-priority animals in the Georgia Wildlife Action Plan, a comprehensive strategy that guides efforts statewide to conserve biological diversity.

Apart from counting nesting pairs of Wilson’s plovers, workers placed signs in areas of high nesting concentrations to warn beach-goers of the birds’ presence. When faced with close human approach, adult birds will flush off the nest and, using distraction displays, attempt to lure people away from the nest. If the birds are kept from the nest too long, the eggs may overheat or be eaten by gulls, crabs and other predators.

Keyes said survey participants included Jen Hilburn of the St. Catherines Island Foundation, Scott Coleman of Little St. Simons Island and several volunteers who also help monitor sea turtle nesting. The National Park Service on Cumberland and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also provided assistance.

Keyes thanked all who helped. “This survey would not have been possible without the full cooperation and at times participation of people working on all of Georgia’s barrier islands, and we are very grateful to them for their assistance.”

His goal is to repeat the survey every five years, depending on manpower.

This year’s census of Wilson’s plovers follows estimates of 107 nesting pairs in 2000, 360 in 1980 and 200-250 in 1986-1987.

The survey is an example of how buying a nongame license plate or donating to the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund supports wildlife conservation. Contributions benefit the Nongame Conservation Section, which receives no state general funds for its mission to conserve wildlife not legally hunted, fished for or trapped, as well as rare plants and natural habitats in the state.

How can you help?

Donate online at www.georgiawildlife.com. Click “Donate to the Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund” and follow directions. The process is secure. Donations are tax-deductible.
Buy a license plate featuring a bald eagle or a ruby-throated hummingbird, available for a $35 fee at tag offices, by checking the wildlife license plate box on mail-in registrations and through online renewals (http://mvd.dor.ga.gov/tags).
Contribute through the Give Wildlife a Chance checkoff. Fill in an amount more than $1 on line 27 of the long state income tax form (Form 500) or line 10 of the short form (Form 500EZ). Contributions can be deducted from refunds or added to payments.

For more information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com or call Nongame Conservation offices in Social Circle (770-761-3035), Forsyth (478-994-1438) or Brunswick (912-264-7218). Call the Forsyth office or go to http://tern.homestead.com/ for details on The Environmental Resources Network. TERN is a nonprofit advocacy group for the Nongame Conservation Section.



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The HSVMA to Give 10 Trip Awards for Veterinarians Attending Equine Workshop

The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association is seeking entries for its Equitarian Workshop Trip Awards. Practicing veterinarians interested in attending the Equitarian Workshop in Vera Cruz, Mexico October 17-22 are encouraged to apply. Entries can be submitted online through Sept. 5, 2010.

The HSVMA has partnered with The American Association of Equine Practitioners and the AAEP Foundation, Universidad National Autónoma de México and the Donkey Sanctuary to help launch the Equitarian Workshop.

The workshop will be an opportunity for veterinarians from the USA and Mexico to meet and learn about the best ways to provide care for working horses, mules and donkeys. The unique format will include lectures by veterinary professionals with experience in delivering care in rural areas, and field experience in farming communities currently serviced by an established program of the veterinary school at Universidad National Autónoma de México.

Dr. Eric Davis, director of HSVMA Field Services and a presenting clinician said, "The curriculum has been specifically designed to make participants effective Equitarians and ready to help the world's working equines and the people who depend on them. For those of us who have struggled in this field without a road map, this workshop is a dream come true."

A panel of judges, including Drs. Eric Davis and Jay Merriam, another presenting clinician, will select the 10 award winners based on the quality of the essays submitted.

The 10 winners will receive a $500 travel stipend to attend the Equitarian Workshop.

Interested individuals should complete the online application and submit a 500-1000 word essay on the topic, "Why do you feel it is important for the veterinary profession to donate time and resources to help equines in need around the world, and what are your motivations to participate?"

For complete rules and to access the online form, go to hsvma.org/education.

Detailed information about the workshop can be found at aaep.org.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

IFAW and the USM Gulf Coast Research Laboratory Conduct Urgent Study of Endangered Whale Sharks in Oiled Waters

/PRNewswire/ -- International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) scientists are concerned that the protected whale shark, the world's largest fish, may be a quiet victim of the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. IFAW is responding to an urgent appeal for assistance from the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (USM-GCRL) to conduct research on whale shark biology, behavior and movement patterns in the Gulf before it's too late.

The newly discovered essential whale shark feeding area may already be contaminated. It's been three weeks with very few sightings of whale sharks in what are usually normal congregate areas of the northern Gulf of Mexico, leading scientists to worry they may be the unseen victims of the Gulf oil spill.

Not only are whale sharks the biggest fish in the sea but they may also be one of the most vulnerable to the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Despite their large size, whale sharks feed on the tiniest of creatures -- plankton, fish larvae and small crustaceans. However, whale sharks in the northern Gulf may be adding oil and toxic oil dispersant chemicals to their diet as they have been found in areas within and surrounding oiled waters.

"These whale sharks are facing a lethal one-two punch," said IFAW biologist Jacob Levenson. "First is the impact on the animal's ability to breathe as a result of the oil physically coating its gills and secondly is the long term impacts of passively accumulating toxins from oil and liberal dispersant use."

Unlike birds, fish, mammals and other animals, because sharks are negatively buoyant and lack a gas-filled swim bladder, they quietly sink into the depths when they die, never to be seen again. Other than a few accounts of their occurrence, in aggregations, information is scant for whale sharks in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Levenson is joining scientist, Dr. Eric Hoffmayer of the USM-GCRL to conduct research that is crucial to understand how the toxic oil is impacting whale sharks and deciding what can be done to save them before time runs out. The information gathered by the team is also critical to ensure that government and oil companies have accurate information to best protect this species. Currently, there are no provisions in place in BP's spill response plan to protect these beautiful and rare animals.

Levenson and Hoffmayer will make several day trips offshore in boats with aircraft support to gather data and tag animals for future satellite tracking.

"Figuring out what happens to these goliath fish is not just good science, it's important to understand how this toxic cocktail moves through the food chain. Whatever happens to whale sharks is likely to be experienced by manta rays and other animals not normally tested as part of NOAA's Seafood Monitoring Program," added Levenson.

So far, Dr. Hoffmayer has been able to deploy a few satellite tags when he encountered an aggregation of over 100 whale sharks this past June. He is currently tracking one shark with a surface satellite tag in the offshore waters of the Gulf. So far the shark has stayed away from the area impacted by the oil spill. He is hoping to tag several others to determine their daily movements.

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Advanced Disposal Produces Gopher Tortoise Relocation Movie

 Editor's Note:  This is a great story and video about gopher tortoises and the conservation efforts of a large company.  Our only disappointment in our viewing of it was the video is quite small when it is clicked on at the home site.  

Watch the video.  It's educational value is terrific.  Kudos to Advanced Disposal for their efforts on behalf of the tortoise!

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Advanced Disposal is looking to make a certain colony of gopher tortoises famous in an effort to bring awareness to the federally-protected species. The environmental services company today released its documentary-style film “Relocating the Gopher Tortoise at Turkey Trot Landfill.”

“Relocating the Gopher Tortoise at Turkey Trot Landfill.”

The film takes viewers through the unique process of relocating a colony of gopher tortoises and teaches them why this keystone species is such an important part of the south uplands ecosystem.

Advanced Disposal was awarded a contract to build a municipal solid waste landfill on a permitted and approved site in Washington County, Ala. During the assessment process, the company and its regulatory partners discovered a colony of gopher tortoises on the 300-acre landfill site.

The film tells the story of how the gopher tortoises were relocated to a preservation owned by South Alabama Utilities just 30 miles away from Turkey Trot Landfill. It documents the burrow identification processes utilizing GPS technology, two types of capture techniques, medical assessment process and release at the new location. Countless hours were spent by several companies and organizations including U.S. Army Corp of Engineers; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Alabama Department of Environmental Management; Board of Commissioners of Washington County, Alabama; Environmental Services, Inc.; South Alabama Utilities; Hodges, Harbin, Newberry & Tribble, Inc. and Advanced Disposal to ensure a smooth and successful transfer of the tortoises.

“Advanced Disposal strives to be a stellar corporate citizen in all of the communities in which we live and work,” said Mary O’Brien, chief marketing officer with Advanced Disposal. “When we learned that we would be relocating a colony of gopher tortoises, we decided to capture it on film and utilize it as a fun, engaging educational tool while showing our commitment to the environment. We think this film does just that and hope that others will help us build awareness for this special species.”

Projects like Turkey Trot Landfill assist in tortoise conservation actions that could not otherwise be developed without the scientific data collected during the relocation process. Taking specific measurements when collecting the species and conducting the long-term monitoring and research at the preserve help scientists understand more about the tortoises’ habitat needs, survival rates, and reproductive success. The information gained from relocating the tortoises from Turkey Trot Landfill will assist U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in making long term conservation goals to protect the species in perpetuity.

Copies of the DVD are being sent to local schools, environmental and conservation groups, wildlife preservations and youth organizations to help grow an appreciation for the gopher tortoises. People can also watch the film by going to www.AdvancedDisposal.com and clicking on the gopher tortoise video link.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Zoo Atlanta: Naming Contest Begins Today for Baby Giraffe

Now that lucky visitors are being treated to sightings of Atlanta’s first giraffe calf, the next milestone in order for the city’s tallest baby is a name. Zoo Atlanta officials announced last week that a naming contest for the calf will launch online on zooatlanta.org on Monday, August 9.

Beginning today, voters are encouraged to visit zooatlanta.org to view and select from a final list of names submitted by Zoo Atlanta staff and Volunteers; the Zoo Atlanta Board of Directors; and local media outlets. Voting will continue online through Wednesday, August 25. The winning name will be announced during a naming celebration on Saturday, August 28. As an added incentive for voting, each participant will also be entered for a chance to win a Zoo Atlanta Membership and an exclusive behind-the-scenes animal encounter.

Stay tuned to zooatlanta.org for naming contest details.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

UGA researchers unlocking the secrets of cross-species rabies transmission

 Like most infectious diseases, rabies can attack several species. However, which species are going to be infected and why turns out to be a difficult problem that represents a major gap in our knowledge of how diseases emerge. A paper just published in the journal Science by a team of researchers led by Daniel G. Streicker, a Ph.D. student in the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology, has begun to close that knowledge gap.

The paper, co-authored by researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and Western Michigan University, provides among the first estimates for any infectious disease of how often a disease can be transmitted across species in complex, multi-host communities and the likelihood of disease establishment in a new host species.

“Rabies happens to be an ideal system to answer these questions,” said Streicker. “Rabies occurs across the country, affects many different host species and is known to mutate frequently.” Although cases of rabies in humans are rare in the U.S., bats are the most common source of these infections, according to the CDC.

To determine the rate at which rabies infects multiple species, Streicker and his colleagues used an enormous dataset, unprecedented in its scope, containing hundreds of rabies viruses from 23 North American bat species. They used gene sequencing and tools from population genetics to quantify how many cross-species transmission (CST) events were expected to occur between each pair of species from any infected individual. Their analysis showed that, depending upon the species involved, a single infected bat may infect between 0 and 2 members of a different species; and that, on average, the probability of cross-species transmission occurs only once for every 73 transmissions within the same species.

“What’s really important about this is that molecular sequence data, an increasingly cheap and available resource, can be used to quantify CST,” said Streicker.

Associate professor Sonia Altizer, Streicker’s advisor in the Odum School, agreed. “This is a breakthrough,” said Altizer. “The team defined, for the first time, a framework for quantifying the rates of CST across a network of host species that could be applied to other wildlife pathogens, and they developed novel methods to do it.”

The researchers also looked at what factors allow diseases to move across species, such as foraging behavior, geographic range and genetics.

“There’s a popular idea that because of their potential for rapid evolution, the emergence of these types of viruses is limited more by ecological constraints than by genetic similarity between donor and recipient hosts,” explained Streicker. “We wanted to see if that was the case.”

They found, instead, that rabies viruses are much more likely to jump between closely related bat species than between ones that diverged in the distant past. Overlapping geographic range was also associated with CST, but to a lesser extent.

“CST and viral establishment do not occur at random, but instead are highly constrained by host-associated barriers,” Streicker said. “Contrary to popular belief, rapid evolution of the virus isn’t enough to overcome the genetic differences between hosts.”

Streicker believes that what he and his colleagues have learned about bat rabies will be influential in understanding the ecology, evolution and emergence of many wildlife viruses of public health and conservation importance. “The basic knowledge we’ve gained will be key to developing new intervention strategies for diseases that can jump from wildlife to humans,” he said.

Streicker is continuing his work with rabies and bats, with funding for a three-year study from the National Science Foundation. He and Altizer, in collaboration with investigators at the CDC, University of Michigan and the Peruvian Ministries of Health and Agriculture, will explore how human activities affect the transmission of the rabies virus in vampire bats in Peru and how those changes might feed back into altering the risk of rabies infection for humans, domesticated animals and wildlife.

“This kind of synthetic, interdisciplinary work is precisely what we aim for in the Odum School,” said John Gittleman, Odum School dean. “The success of this research hinges on bringing together the fields of genetics, evolution and disease in a large-scale ecological context. Big problems in ecology will be solved in this way.”



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Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Simply Irresistible" - Proper Dog Guide Etiquette

/PRNewswire/ -- It is often hard to resist petting a cute, floppy eared dog when you see one. So, what do you do when you see a guide dog curled under a restaurant table, or walking along side a person who is blind or visually impaired? The Pennsylvania Association for the Blind encourages following these guidelines when encountering these specially bred and trained dogs;

-- Don't touch, pet, talk to, feed or otherwise distract the dog while
he/she is wearing a harness.

A guide dog is a highly trained dog that acts as a mobility aide to the blind and visually impaired. When a dog is in harness, they are "on duty or working" and must concentrate for the safety of his/her owner or handler.

-- Don't attempt to grab or steer the person while the dog is guiding, do
not attempt to hold the dog's harness or give the dog commands.

A dog or handler may be in an unfamiliar situation that requires their full attention. Grabbing a harness or leash can disorientate and confuse the team. The handler will give the dog commands when necessary and will ask for assistance if needed.

-- Don't walk on the dog's left side.

Walking on a dog's left side may distract or confuse the dog. Instead, walk on the handler's right side and several paces behind him or her.

-- Speak to the person, not the dog.

Many handlers enjoy introducing their guide dogs. Both owner and dog go through training to work as a team, and in most cases develop a strong companionship through the process. Ask the handler if you can pet the dog. If they say yes, do not pat the dog on the head, but stroke the dog on the shoulder area.

Guide dogs are the guiding eyes for people who are blind or visually impaired, and you can expect to see them anywhere the public is allowed. So, the next time you see those "Simply Irresistible" puppy eyes follow these few guidelines and you will insure the safety of both the handler and the dog.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Black Bear Sightings Still Possible in Late Summer

Each year the likelihood of bear sightings throughout the state, even in urbanized areas and suburbs, increases. Whether it’s a young male bear roaming across the metro Atlanta area or a hungry bear sifting through a North Georgia campsite for an easy meal, the possibility exists and residents should be aware.

“A black bear sighting is something that few people ever forget – especially when it is in your backyard. Human populations have grown and expanded into areas traditionally inhabited by bears and when conflicts arise the bear is often perceived as a threat or nuisance,” says Wildlife Resources Division Assistant Game Management Chief John W. Bowers.

Black bears most commonly are found in three areas of the state - the north Georgia mountains, the Ocmuglee River drainage system in central Georgia and the Okefenokee Swamp in the southeastern part of the state. However, black bears can and do range over larger areas; especially in early spring and late summer, when activity patterns increase. Young male bears also are known to roam larger areas in an effort to establish their own territory.

Black bears are omnivorous and opportunistic, and their diet consists of whatever food is readily available at any given time of year.  Black bears may be attracted to the scents of human food, pet food, birdseed, beehives and even compost piles. When bears can easily obtain such foods, they begin to associate humans with food and as a result, lose their innate fear of people. Wildlife biologists with the Wildlife Resources Division encourage residents to heed the following tips in an effort to minimize bear conflicts and lessen the chance of wild bears becoming habituated to people:

·    NEVER, under any circumstances, feed a bear. Such activity is unlawful.

·    Keep items, such as grills, pet food or bird feeders off-limits to bears. Clean and store grills when not in use, keep pet food indoors and take bird feeders down if bears are in the area.

·    Make sure trashcans are bear-proof or kept indoors.

·    When camping or picnicking, keep your site clean. Never leave food or coolers unattended. Never keep food in or near your tent. Store food in properly sealed containers and whenever possible, store these containers in a vehicle. If camping in backcountry areas, hang packs or food bags at least ten feet off the ground and at least four feet from the trunk of a tree.

“All residents, especially those in known bear areas, are encouraged to be responsible and help prevent conflicts by making non-natural, human-provided ‘foods’ unavailable to bears,” says Bowers.

Though the American black bear (Ursus americanus) is now considered the most common bear in North America and the only bear found in Georgia, at one point the species was nearly eradicated from the state due to poaching and habitat loss. Yet, because of sound wildlife management practices Georgia’s current black bear population is healthy and thriving and is estimated to be about 5,100 bears statewide.

For more information regarding black bears, visit www.georgiawildlife.com, contact a Wildlife Resources Division Game Management office or call (770) 918-6416. The public also can visit their local library to check out a copy of an informational DVD entitled, “Where Bears Belong: Black Bears in Georgia.”



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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Morris Animal Foundation Study Finds Veterinarians and Physicians Want More Dog Bite Prevention Training During Schooling

/PRNewswire/ -- Morris Animal Foundation (MAF), a nonprofit organization that promotes longer, healthier lives for animals through humane research, recently funded a study to determine how educated veterinarians and physicians are about dog bite prevention techniques. Only 21 percent of veterinarians and 5 percent of physicians reported that they had acquired most of their knowledge about dog bites from medical or veterinary school. Most interesting, the study found that the vast majority of those surveyed would like to have more information about dog bite prevention during their schooling.

"We hope the information from this study can be used to develop better curricula for medical and veterinary training programs," said Patricia N. Olson, DVM, PhD, president/CEO of MAF. "This curriculum could prove to be of benefit to both people and dogs alike, helping us to better live side by side."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has collected some eye-opening statistics on dog bites. Fifty percent of dog attacks involve children under 12 years old. The rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for children ages 5 to 9 years, and the rate decreases as children age. Almost two thirds of injuries among children ages four years and younger are to the head or neck region. Sixty-five percent of bites among children occur to the head and neck.

The CDC and other dog bite prevention experts offer these simple precautions to parents, veterinarians and physicians about the dangers of dog bites and how to avoid them. These precautions are particularly important during the summertime, when people and dogs are outside more and the bite rates rise.

Parents can take several precautionary steps:
-- Instruct your children never to approach and interact with dogs they
don't know.
-- Avoid contact with a chained dog unless the owner gives permission
that it is safe to approach the animal.
-- Never allow children to tease or pester any dog.
-- Adopt a zero-tolerance policy for any form of animal abuse, and
instruct children to treat all dogs in a humane and caring manner.
-- Teach your children how to interpret a dog's body language, such as
recognizing changes in posture or when a dog shows its teeth.
-- Never leave small children alone with a dog.


Dog owners can take steps to avoid potential dog bite situations:
-- Take your dog to obedience and socialization classes to decrease the
threat of biting.
-- Recognize the warning signs of aggression and act accordingly.
-- Choose a dog you are confident you can physically control.
-- Keep dogs that demonstrate strong predatory tendencies, such as
hunting and killing smaller animals, away from toddlers and young
children.



Following these steps can help ensure that you have a fun, safe summer with your children, and it can also significantly decrease the number of dog bite accidents. For more information, contact your veterinarian or family physician/pediatrician. You can also visit us at www.MorrisAnimalFoundation.org or on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter for up-to-date information.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Zoo Atlanta: Giraffe calf takes first peek at the public

Zoo Atlanta officials announced July 28 that Atlanta’s first giraffe calf may now be spotted in her African Plains habitat. Lucky guests may be treated to sightings of the new giraffe calf, who has been confirmed to be female, during select intervals until she is on exhibit full-time.

Born July 13, 2010, to 3-year-old Glenda, the calf is currently exploring the savanna-inspired yard with her mother and her aunt, Glenda’s 4-year-old sister Mona. Future milestones will include introductions to her father, 4-year-old Abu, as well as to the exhibit’s other residents, including ostrich and zebra.

Stay tuned to zooatlanta.org for exciting updates on the calf’s progress.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Biggers & Callaham, LLC DBA Mice Direct Recalls Frozen Reptile Feed Because of Possible Health Risk

Biggers & Callaham LLC., D/B/A Mice Direct of Cleveland Georgia is recalling frozen reptile feed (mice, rats, chicks), because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can affect animals and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products. People handling contaminated pet food can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the product or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

The frozen reptile feed was distributed in all states, except Hawaii, through pet stores and by mail order and direct delivery.

Frozen reptile feed was shipped in plastic bags with the following product codes M-SP100, M-P100, M-PF100, M-F100, M-H100, M-W50, M-A50, M-JA25, R-P100, R-F50, R-PUP50, R-W50, R-S50, R-M20, R-L10,R-J5, R-C5, R-M3 followed by E9, F9, G9, H9, I9, J9, K9, L9 or A10, B10, C10, D10, E10, F10, G10 and whole frozen chicks in 25 count bags.

Human illnesses that may be related to the frozen reptile feed have been reported in 17 states. The recalled product should not be fed to animals, even after heating in a microwave oven, since the heating may not be adequate to kill Salmonella. The recall is based upon sampling by the FDA of frozen mice. The company continues their investigation.

Products shipped after 07/24/2010, will be irradiated in a similar manner as raw food for human consumption in order to address the Salmonella issue associated with these products.

Consumers who purchased reptile feed from Mice Direct are urged to contact Mice Direct by telephone at 888-747-0736 from 9:00a.m-5:00p.m EST Monday-Friday or by e-mail at sales@micedirect.com for instructions concerning this recall and for credits towards replacement of unused product.

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Big Season For Georgia's Smallest Turtle

Drought in the mountains the past two summers dried up much up the suitable habitat for bog turtles, but thanks to wet weather, increased trapping and improved management efforts, 2010 is looking like a record season for the smallest of Georgia’s protected turtles.

Federally threatened and listed as endangered in Georgia, bog turtles are rare in much of their native range due to loss of habitat. Researchers know of only 67 turtles in the state, 16 of which were released from a “headstart” restoration effort. With increased trapping efforts this year, 40 percent of the known bog turtles in Georgia were captured and released during the monitoring season.

Trapping allows biologists to monitor populations, find new ones and collect egg-bearing females for the headstart program.

In the past, trapping was limited to 30 traps. Efforts were ramped up in 2010 when help from a State Wildlife Grant that provided funding for more traps and supported two bog turtle interns for the summer, Bryan Hudson and Theresa Stratmann. With the additional staff, Georgia Department of Natural Resources biologist Thomas Floyd was able to set 145 traps covering 12 sites in four counties.

“DNR’s recent bog habitat restoration efforts are a double-edged sword for bog turtle conservation,” Floyd said. While habitat improvements have been accomplished over the past three years, these efforts inadvertently made it harder to capture turtles that were previously concentrated in small pockets of suitable habitat. Yet, said Floyd, “The long-term benefits of these habitat improvements are well worth this added difficulty.”

Project Orianne joined the DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section in bog turtle conservation efforts this year. With 40 traps from DNR, staff at Project Orianne, an organization furthering conservation of eastern indigo snakes, trapped in multiple sites in northeastern Georgia.

There are three reasons for trapping bog turtles. Primarily, biologists trap in order to monitor known populations, collect data from individual animals on an annual basis and document previously uncaptured individual turtles. The second reason is to collect gravid females for the Bog Turtle Headstart program, which is why trapping is done from mid-May to mid-July. Turtles are also trapped to identify potential new populations.

One such population was discovered this year at a Union County wetland. The find demonstrates why bog turtles, which are typically elusive, often go unnoticed by landowners. The new site had all the characteristics of bog turtle habitat. But it took a month before a turtle was captured -- a lone male. Since bog turtles are not known to travel great distances and the closest population is approximately three miles away, biologists assume this turtle represents a new population for the area.

In addition, three new turtles were trapped in a Towns County site that had not been monitored since 1997 due to a lack of resources, along with three new turtles within a known population in Fannin County.

Another development this season is Georgia’s entry into a cooperative effort with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Biological Resources Division. Genetic samples taken from every bog turtle captured will be sent to the Leetown Science Center in Kearneysville, W.V. In doing so, DNR has joined all other states with known bog turtle populations in supplying genetic samples that will help biologists begin to understand the relatedness among populations of turtles across different states, as well as among and within local populations in Georgia. Information gleaned from these analyses is expected to help guide Georgia’s headstart efforts in determining an appropriate genetic source for establishing new bog turtle populations within the species’ range in the state.

Of the 21 turtles captured and released so far in 2010, three were gravid. Starting this year, the Chattahoochee Nature Center, a long-time cooperator in Georgia’s Bog Turtle Headstart program, agreed to receive gravid females during this and subsequent seasons. Gravid turtles were held in captivity until eggs were laid. Although the collection of gravid females from the wild is an important source of hatchlings, in previous years more hatchlings have been produced from captive stock than from wild-caught turtles. Beginning next year, Chattahoochee Nature Center will also be breeding some 15 captive bog turtles produced from previous years of the Bog Turtle Headstart program.
To learn more about bog turtles, watch a short video here or visit the DNR Wildlife Resources Division’s website, www.georgiawildlife.com.

Georgians can help conserve bog turtles and other rare and endangered animals not legally hunted, fished for or trapped, as well as native plants and habitats, through buying wildlife license plates featuring a bald eagle or a ruby-throated hummingbird. They can also donate to the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund state income tax checkoff or contribute online and by mail. These programs are vital to the Nongame Conservation Section, which receives no state general funds.

Visit www.georgiawildlife.com for more information, or call Nongame Conservation offices in Social Circle (770-761-3035), Forsyth (478-994-1438) or Brunswick (912-264-7218).

BOG TURTLES AT A GLANCE
Bog turtles are the smallest turtles in North America, averaging only 3.5 inches in length. Dark in color they are easily distinguished by a bright orange blotch on the head behind each eye. Like many turtles, they will bask in the sun when active but when it gets too hot these little guys burrow deep into the boggy soil to escape the sun’s rays. Females will lay two to five eggs and hatchlings emerge 52-60 days later, usually in mid-August.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

P&G Recalls Two Lots of Prescription Renal Diet Cat Food due to a Possible Health Risk

The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) (NYSE:PG), is voluntarily recalling two specific lots of its prescription renal dry cat food as a precautionary measure, as it has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella.

The following products are included:

Product Name
Lot Code
UPC Code
Iams Veterinary Formulas Feline Renal 5.5 lbs
01384174B4
0 19014 21405 1
Iams Veterinary Formulas Feline Renal 5.5 lbs
01384174B2
0 19014 21405 1

This product is available by prescription through veterinary clinics throughout the U.S.

No illnesses have been reported. A FDA analysis identified a positive result on the lot codes listed above. Lot codes can be found in the lower right corner on the back of the bag.

Consumers who have purchased dry cat food with these codes should discard it. People handling dry pet food can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with surfaces exposed to this product. Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may have decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, pets may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

For further information or a product refund call P&G toll-free at 877-894-4458 (Monday – Friday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM EST).

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IFAW, NSALA Save Unwanted Dogs From Canada 'Dog Shoot'

/PRNewswire/ -- IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) rescued 36 dogs from a "dog shoot" in Northern Canada that was scheduled to control the local dog population. IFAW worked with rescues and shelters across Eastern Canada to find homes for twenty-nine of the dogs. The remaining seven dogs will arrive at North Shore Animal League America (NSALA) in Port Washington, N.Y. today, where they will have a second chance at permanent homes in the United States.

IFAW's Northern Dogs Project team was in a remote Canadian community providing vital veterinary care and humane education when concerned community members alerted IFAW's team that due to concerns about the number of roaming dogs, unwanted dogs would soon be rounded up and shot. In many remote communities without access to regular veterinary care, this is often considered the only means of controlling the dog population.

"Once we heard about the dog shoot, we immediately collaborated with a vocal minority of community members who wanted to find a humane solution for these unwanted dogs," said IFAW's Canadian project manager, Jan Hannah. "It is a mark of tremendous progress for the community to move from dog shooting to considering transport as a humane alternative."

This community is one of eight in which IFAW has been working with since 2002, providing veterinary services, animal welfare education and outreach, assistance with animal control regulations and, in some cases, finding homes for unwanted dogs.

North Shore Animal League America's SVP of Operations Joanne Yohannan said, "The seven dogs that are being humanely relocated represent the hope for all of the roaming dogs in this area. It is an example that you do not have to shoot animals to combat an overpopulation problem."

In 2005, IFAW and NSALA teamed up during IFAW's Chinese dog rescue to find new homes for 30 homeless dogs from an overcrowded shelter in China, which could not be legally re-homed in Beijing due to local size and breed restrictions and strict dog ownership regulations. These high profile dogs helped raise awareness about shelter pets and led to increased shelter adoptions. To adopt a dog or cat, contact North Shore Animal League America at 516-883-7575.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

New Report Shows Sharp Declines in Populations of Wild Cats and Dogs

/PRNewswire/ -- The Fading Call of the Wild, a report released today by the world's leading wildlife conservation organizations, details the increasing threats and plunging populations of big cats and rare canids living in the wild. Faced with a striking loss of habitat and prey due to over-development of land and direct killing by poachers and others who see them as a threat, wild cats such as lions, cheetahs and snow leopards, and wild dogs like the Ethiopia wolf and bush dog face an uncertain future.

Eighty percent of all wild cat species are experiencing population declines, as are 25 percent of wild canids - the family of foxes, wolves and wild dogs. The report looks beyond the raw numbers and delves into the plight of 15 of these species that are considered ecologically vital, detailing their current numbers in the wild, changes to the population in the last ten years, and conservation solutions for improving their status. The 15 species were chosen because they are considered umbrella species that, if conserved appropriately, protect their corresponding landscapes and other species dependent on those ecosystems.

A snapshot of the report's findings include:

-- A century ago there were as many as 200,000 lions living in Africa,
today there are fewer than 30,000. Lions are now extinct from 26
countries that they formerly occupied. The single greatest threat to
lions is killing by people who own livestock. Herders and ranchers
shoot, trap and poison lions across their range.
-- There are fewer than 500 Darwin's Fox living today. The animal are
found only in Chile and their restricted distribution makes them
highly vulnerable to extinction. The gentle and curious canids are not
fearful of people which contributes to their endangerment, however
timber exploration and land development are the two biggest factors
that have pushed the animals to the brink.
-- There are fewer than 7,000 snow leopards in the wild today. Snow
leopard poaching is rampant with their bones and hides frequently
confiscated in illegal shipments of wildlife parts bound for markets
in China and throughout Asia.
-- Fewer than 500 Ethiopian wolves remain with more than half found in
the Bale Mountains. The highly social animals live in packs which
makes them especially vulnerable when their populations decrease.
Entire packs are wiped out by rabies outbreaks, while those that
survive face rapid loss of habitat.
-- One of the most ecologically and genetically unique animals, African
wild dogs exist in less than seven percent of their historic range,
and are extinct in 22 countries that they formerly inhabited.
Accidental snaring and rabies have decimated populations throughout
Africa, and fewer than 8,000 of the animals remain.


The report calls for increasing conservation resources and swift policy changes, specifically passage of the Great Cats and Rare Canids Conservation Act that would provide conservation assistance to the 15 species highlighted in the Fading Call of the Wild report.

"Great cats and rare canids are currently suffering from a variety of threats and the positive impact from their protection will no doubt benefit them and many other species," said Jeff Flocken, DC Office Director, IFAW. "The Great Cats and Rare Canids Conservation Act offers viable and valuable methods to ensure a safe future for these majestic animals."

First introduced in July 2004, and set to expire this year unless the Senate takes action, the measure would provide wild cats and canids the same type of conservation assistance presently supporting tigers, great apes, elephants, sea turtles and other iconic species through the Multinational Species Conservation Funds, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The funds were designed to conserve species deemed by Americans to be of special global value, but simultaneously endangered with extinction.

Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) are leading the charge to usher the bill through their chamber this Congress. The House passed the measure in April 2009 with a two-thirds majority and bi-partisan support led by Reps. Jay Inslee (WA-01), Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) and the International Conservation Caucus. The Act is supported by more than 80 scientific, animal welfare, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos and aquariums.

Actress Glenn Close contributed the foreword for the report and noted, "Whether it is the iconic African lion or the shy Darwin's fox, these animals hold an important place in the landscapes they occupy. They are all ecosystem guardians. As predators, they maintain healthy functioning places, and their absence negatively affects wildlife and people. Not only would losing these species have drastic ecological and economic impacts, I believe their loss will impact us in ways we aren't event able to yet articulate."

The report was authored by Panthera, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, in cooperation with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Canids and Cats Specialists Groups.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Alligator Quota Hunt Application Window Closes July 31st

The window of opportunity is closing for those interested in the 2010 alligator hunting season.  If you want a chance to hunt, you need to be sure to get your online quota application in before midnight July 31.  The 2010 alligator hunting season runs Sept. 4-Oct. 3 and 850 applicants will be selected to participate. 

Applicants should check their application status through their account after the deadline.  Selected hunters will receive a temporary harvest tag and information packet by mail in early August. Additionally, hunters have the opportunity to attend a voluntary training session during which wildlife experts provide information on safety, capture and handling techniques, processing and more.

In Georgia, alligators typically live south of the fall line (which roughly traverses the cities of Columbus, Macon and Augusta), occupying a variety of natural wetland habitats including marshes, swamps, rivers, farm ponds and lakes. Male alligators can reach 16 feet in length, while female alligators rarely surpass 10 feet. Large alligators could weigh more than 800 pounds. Opportunistic carnivores, they eat small mammals, aquatic insects, crayfish, frogs, fish, turtles, water birds and more.

For more information on the 2010 alligator hunting season, visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com , contact a WRD Game Management Office or call (770) 760-3045.

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paws4claws.com Kicks Off Paws N'Doodles Show & Tail Contest to Benefit American Humane Association's Pets and Women's Shelters (PAWS)® Program

/PRNewswire/ -- To celebrate the launch of its online social and e-commerce networking community for pet lovers, paws4claws.com is holding the Paws N'Doodles Show & Tail Contest. The contest, which solicits the best short story about a pet accompanied by a doodle illustrating it, will benefit American Humane's Pets and Women's Shelters (PAWS) Program, which promotes on-site housing of pets at domestic violence shelters.

paws4claws.com created the contest to help the PAWS Program raise awareness about the lack of domestic violence shelters that accommodate abused women with pets, and to help fund those accommodations at more shelters across the U.S. All net proceeds from the contest will go to the PAWS Program.

American Humane, the leading organization raising awareness about The Link® between animal abuse and other forms of violence, launched the PAWS Program in 2008. Because there are few options for safely housing pets from abusive homes, domestic violence victims often feel they have little choice but to stay and subject themselves, their children and their pets to further violence. In fact, up to 85 percent of women entering domestic violence shelters reported that a partner had threatened, injured or killed the family pet, according to a 1997 study.

How to Enter the Paws N'Doodles Show &Tail Contest

Entering the contest is simple and can be done online. Take a high-quality digital photograph or scan of your doodle, and save it in JPEG or PDF format. Save your story as a Word document or a PDF. Then fill out the Paws N'Doodles online entry form at http://www.wizehive.com/paws4claws.html and attach your artwork and story. The deadline for entries is midnight on Sept. 26, 2010.

Contest Entry Fee

The fee for a single entry in the Paws N'Doodles Show & Tail Contest is $5.00 U.S. per entry. You may submit as many entries as you wish, but each single entry must be accompanied by the corresponding $5.00 U.S. entry fee and a separate entry form. All entry fees will be donated to the PAWS Program.

First Prize

The first-prize winner will receive $500, and his/her artwork will be featured as the cover art of the Paws N'Doodles Show and Tail book to be published in 2011 to raise funds for the PAWS Program. A matching $500 donation with a framed copy of the first-prize doodle and short story will be presented to American Humane for the PAWS Program.

Voting

Entries will be posted at www.paws4claws.com, and viewers can vote online for their favorite entries beginning Aug. 15, 2010, through midnight on October 22, 2010.

For more contest rules, as well as second and third place and honorable-mention prize information, visit www.paws4claws.com.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

The HSUS and HSLF Praise U.S. House for Cracking Down on Cruel ‘Crush’ Videos

The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund commend the U.S. House of Representatives for overwhelmingly approving H.R. 5566 by a vote of 416-3 to provide law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on traffickers of animal crush videos.

This narrowly crafted statute, introduced by Reps. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif. and Gary Peters, D-Mich., with 263 cosponsors, will ban interstate and foreign commerce in obscene videos showing the intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, and impaling of puppies, kittens, and other live animals for the sexual titillation of viewers.

H.R. 5566 was introduced in response to the April Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Stevens. The Court ruled that a l999 law on depictions of animal cruelty was "overbroad" because it might criminalize some Constitutionally protected speech. The Court acknowledged the long history of animal protection laws in the United States and left open a pathway for Congress to pass a more targeted law aimed at extreme animal cruelty.

"By enacting H.R. 5566, Congress can provide a top kill to a merciless subculture of animal crushing videos that have bubbled up in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling on the subject in April," said Wayne Pacelle, president & CEO of The Humane Society of the United States.  "This legislation is narrowly tailored to address the Court's concerns, and the current legislation does not limit speech, but only conduct of the most abhorrent and vile kind."

"Violence is not a First Amendment issue; it is a law enforcement issue," Rep. Gallegly said. "Ted Bundy and Ted Kaczynski tortured or killed animals before killing people. The FBI, U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice consider animal cruelty to be one of the early warning signs of potential violence by youths. This bill is one step toward ending this cycle of violence."

"Animal torture videos are heinous, barbaric and completely unacceptable and we're going to stop them once and for all," said Rep. Peters. "It's hard to believe that this sort of thing even exists, and that a new law is needed to prevent it.  Animal torture is outrageously disturbing and common decency and morality dictates that those engaged in it shouldn't be profiting from it, they should be in prison."

 The HSUS and HSLF express their strong gratitude to Congressmen Gallegly and Peters for working to protect animals from malicious acts of cruelty. The groups also thank Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., Ranking Member Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Scott, D-Va., for their leadership in addressing this problem swiftly, and Congressmen Jim Moran, D-Va., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., for their long-standing involvement on the issue, along with all the members who cosponsored and voted for this important legislation.

Facts

In 1999, an HSUS investigation uncovered an underground subculture of animal crush videos in which puppies, kittens and other small animals are stomped, smothered and pierced to death, often by women wearing high-heeled shoes, to cater to those with a fetish for viewing this cruel behavior.
Legislation originally introduced by Rep. Gallegly and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1999 banned the creation, sale, and possession for interstate or foreign commerce of depictions of illegal and intentional maiming, mutilating, torture, wounding, or killing of a living animal.
Before the 1999 law was enacted, there were approximately 3,000 horrific animal crush videos available in the marketplace, selling for up to $300 apiece.
That market disappeared soon after Congress enacted the 1999 law with overwhelming bipartisan support, but since a federal appellate court declared the law unconstitutional in July 2008, crush videos have once again proliferated on the Internet.
The House Judiciary Committee's Crime Subcommittee took expert testimony at a May 26 hearing, and the full Judiciary Committee unanimously approved H.R. 5566 by a vote of 23-0 on July 23.

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Black Rhino Passes at Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta officials announced today that Boma, a 23-year-old male eastern black rhinoceros, passed away on July 22, 2010, despite two weeks of aggressive treatment by the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams.

“We are saddened by this loss. Bo was a special member of the Zoo Atlanta family for more than 20 years and was an important ambassador for a critically endangered species,” said Raymond King, President and CEO. “The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams exhibited extraordinary commitment and dedication to his care and treatment, particularly during the last few weeks as his condition declined.”

Boma had several periods of intermittent gastrointestinal problems that became severe earlier this month despite aggressive treatment. His condition went from guarded to grave since the week of July 12.

Born in 1986 at the Zoo Dvur Kralove in the Czech Republic, Boma has resided at Zoo Atlanta since 1989. He was considered part of the rebirth of the Zoo in the late 1980’s. Zoo Atlanta is also home to a female black rhinoceros, Andazi, 3. As is the case with all animal deaths, regardless of age, a necropsy will be performed at the University of Georgia through Zoo Atlanta’s partnership with the Department of Pathology in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
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Dogs need a little more love during mosquito season

(ARA) - As a parent, you would never consider sending your child to school without the proper vaccinations. But did you know that according to the American Animal Hospital Association, about 50 percent of dogs in the United States go without preventative treatment for one of the most common diseases among canines?

Many people consider their dogs to be part of the family. And with mosquito season in full swing, dog owners should consider the best way to protect dogs against heartworm disease. Mosquito bites may be just a simple nuisance to humans, but they can spread heartworm disease without pet owners knowing, and dogs are most at risk of becoming seriously ill from the disease.

Heartworm used to be relatively contained in the American southeast, where warm, humid temperatures create good breeding grounds for mosquitoes. However, longer warm seasons in northern states and increased pet travel throughout the country have led to dramatic growth in the spread of heartworm over the past decade. Veterinarians in regions that were once considered low-risk now report heartworm outbreaks in their clinics, and the parasite can now be found in all 50 states.

Recognizing heartworm infection can be tricky. Symptoms include chronic cough and fatigue, but often the disease does not show any signs until it reaches an advanced stage. Eventually, heartworm can lead to lung, heart, liver and kidney failure.

Fortunately, heartworm prevention is simple, cost effective, and the best way to save dogs from the long, difficult and expensive treatment required once infection takes hold. Here are a few ways to keep dogs safe:

* The American Heartworm Society recommends getting your dog tested annually for heartworm. During these visits, talk to your veterinarian about the best method of prevention against the disease.

* Protect your dog with a monthly application of a heartworm preventative medication. Some topicals, like Advantage Multi for Dogs (imidacloprid + moxidectin) Topical Solution, also kill fleas and treat intestinal parasites, such as hookworms, roundworms and whipworms.

* During warmer months, keep your dog inside as much as possible during early morning and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

Through annual testing and use of monthly preventatives, you can protect your dog from heartworm disease and help keep your dog healthy. If you haven't thought about prevention before, now is the time in the peak of mosquito season. For more information on heartworm prevention, visit advantagemulti.petparents.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent



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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Giraffe born at Zoo Atlanta

Glenda, a 3-year-old female giraffe at Zoo Atlanta, has given birth to her first calf. Born on July 13, the newborn stands around 6 feet tall and is estimated to weigh between 100 and 150 pounds. The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams will continue to monitor both Glenda and the calf, who will have an opportunity to bond indoors before exploring their African Plains habitat.

“We are extremely excited about the birth of the calf,” said Raymond King, President and CEO. “Giraffes have long been a very popular and charismatic part of the collection.”

As is typical of the species, giraffe mothers give birth standing up, and their offspring are usually born feet-first. Healthy calves are able to walk within two hours of birth.

The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams previously based their estimation of Glenda’s condition on weight gain and physical signs that she was expecting. “Glenda’s exact birth window remained uncertain. Giraffe gestation is 15 months,” said Dr. Dwight Lawson, Senior Vice President of Collections, Education and Conservation.

Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in October 2006, Glenda and her half-sister, 4-year-old Mona, arrived at Zoo Atlanta in October 2007. The females share their habitat with the calf’s father, 4-year-old Abu.

The world’s tallest living land mammals, giraffes are native to grasslands and open woodlands in east Africa. The species is not currently endangered, although wild populations face decline due to habitat loss.

Mother and calf will bond off-exhibit for two to three weeks; stay tuned for exciting details on the calf’s debut.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Alternative Evolution: Why Change Your Own Genes When You Can Borrow Someone Else's?

/PRNewswire/ -- It has been a basic principle of evolution for more than a century that plants and animals can adapt genetically in ways that help them better survive and reproduce.

Now, in a paper to be published in the journal Science, University of Rochester biologist John Jaenike and colleagues document a clear example of a new mechanism for evolution. In previous well documented cases of evolution, traits that increase an animal's ability to survive and reproduce are conferred by favorable genes, which the animal passes on to its offspring.

Jaenike's team has chronicled a striking example of a bacteria infecting an animal, giving the animal a reproductive advantage, and being passed from mother to children. This symbiotic relationship between host animal and bacteria gives the host animal a readymade defense against a hazard in its environment and thus has spread through the population by natural selection, the way a favorable gene would.

Jaenike provides the first substantial report of this effect in the wild in his paper "Adaptation via Symbiosis: Recent Spread of a Drosophila Defensive Symbiont," but he says it may be a common phenomenon that has been happening undetected in many different organisms for ages.

Aside from shedding light on an important evolutionary mechanism, his findings could aid in developing methods that use defensive bacteria to stave off diseases in humans.

Jaenike studied a species of fly, Drosophila neotestacea, which is rendered sterile by a parasitic worm called a nematode, one of the most abundant, diverse, and destructive parasites of plants and animals in the world. Nematodes invade female flies when they are young by burrowing through their skin and prevent them from producing eggs once they mature. However, when a female fly is also infected with a bacteria species called Spiroplasma, the nematodes grow poorly and no longer sterilize the flies, Jaenike found. He also discovered that, as a result of the Spiroplasma's beneficial impact, the bacteria have been spreading across North America and rapidly increasing in frequency in flies as they are passed from mother to offspring. Testing preserved flies from the early 1980s, Jaenike found that the helpful bacteria were present in only about 10% of flies in the eastern United States. By 2008, the frequency of Spiroplasma infection had jumped to about 80%.

"These flies were really getting clobbered by nematodes in the 1980s, and it's just remarkable to see how much better they are doing today. The spread of Spiroplasma makes me wonder how much rapid evolutionary action is going on beneath the surface of everything we see out there," Jaenike said.

He reasoned that the substantial increase in Spiroplasma infection was an evolutionary response to the recent colonization of North America by nematodes. As the nematodes invaded the continent, the bacteria proved to be a convenient and potent defense against the nematodes' sterilizing effect. Now, the majority of flies in eastern North America carry the bacteria, and the bacterial infection appears to be spreading west. Without any mutation in their own genes, the flies have rapidly developed a defense against an extremely harmful parasite simply by co-opting the genetic material of another organism and passing it on from generation to generation.

"This is a beautiful case showing that the main reason these Spiroplasma are present in these flies is for their defensive role," said Nancy Moran, the Fleming Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. Moran studies the role of defensive symbionts in aphids. "These heritable symbionts are a way for an animal host to acquire a new defense very quickly. One way to get a truly novel defense is to get a whole organism rather than mutating your own genes that aren't that diverse to begin with."

Jaenike's work could also have implications for disease control. Nematodes carry and transmit severe human diseases, including river blindness and elephantiasis. By uncovering the first evidence of a natural, bacterial defense against nematodes, Jaenike's work could pave the way for novel methods of nematode control. He plans to investigate that prospect further.

Jaenike's coauthors on the paper are Robert Unckless and Lisa Boelio from the University of Rochester, and Steve Perlman and Sarah Cockburn from the University of Victoria in British Columbia. The work was funded by the National Science Foundation.

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