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Flu - Colorado | Avian flu and the
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| Bald Eagle HATCHING! | Ca
Condors nest in Big Sur | domoic
acid and marine mammals | E. S. A. in
peril | ospreys | sea
otters, causes of death | Kenya - migratory
bird day | poisoning in China |
Western Snowy Plover and the ESA |
whooping cranes, Illinois | Whooping
Cranes, Wisconsin |
Wildlife Service keeps tiny
shorebird on Endangered Species list
DON THOMPSON, Associated Press
SACRAMENTO - Federal wildlife officials have rejected
two petitions to remove the Western snowy plover from Endangered
Species Act protections, but they proposed easing penalties
for harming the tiny shorebirds in areas where the population
seems to be recovering.
The birds live on Pacific coast beaches, laying
their eggs in depressions in open sand where they are vulnerable
to predators and people. That has led since 1999 to the
closure of the dry sand portions of many miles of beaches
during the March-through-September nesting season, just
when humans like to go to the beach.
The Surf Ocean Beach Commission of Lompoc and the city of
Morro Bay had filed to remove the species from federal protection
in California, Oregon and Washington, arguing that the snowy
plover actually isn't in danger of extinction and isn't
genetically distinct from inland populations.
Fish and Wildlife rejected the petitions Friday,
finding there was not enough crossbreeding between inland
and coastal plovers to sustain the beach-breeding variety.
Most of the estimated 2,600 birds, listed as "threatened"
since 1993, live south of San Francisco.
But the wildlife service also said that counties with approved
management plans for plovers and that are meeting goals
for recovery of the species shouldn't face the same restrictions
as other areas if some of the nesting birds are disturbed.
The agency has proposed allowing counties that meet bird
population goals over five years to lift some restrictions
on activities in nesting areas or allow humans to use more
miles of currently closed beach. That would encourage more
counties to come up with preservation plans, the service
"I think it's a reasonable compromise. Realistically,
if we were to flat-out delist the birds, we would see them
go away from coastal areas," plover researcher and
biologist Dave Lauten told the Eugene (Ore.) Register-Guard.
Read the decision at http://www.fws.gov/sacramento
of wetlands way to curb bird flu
BY MBAE LAWRENCE
THE loss of wetlands around the world is forcing
wild birds that may have avian influenza onto alternative
sites like farm ponds and paddy fields, where they come
into contact with chickens, ducks, and geese, a new report
commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP) has revealed.
According to the report by Dr. David Rapport of Canada,
the restoration of the tens of thousands of lost and degraded
wetlands could help reduce the threat of an avian flu pandemic
by providing wild birds with their preferred habitat.
The report’s preliminary findings were announced at
a scientific seminar on avian influenza taking place at
UNEP headquarters in Nairobi.
"Wetland depletion has direct implications
for migrating wild birds," Dr. Rapport says.
Due to lack of enough natural habitat for staging, nesting
and migration, areas associated with rice paddies and farm
ponds prove to increasingly attract the wild birds.
Current "heroic efforts" focusing on "isolation,
quarantine, culls and medications" are likely to be
quick fixes offering only limited short term benefits,”
Dr. Rapport, who is an honorary professor of the Ecoystem
Health Program, Faculty of Medicine, University of Western
Ontario, and a member of the firm EcoHealth Consulting of
Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, said
In his report, he recommends that governments, the United
Nations and public health experts back environmental measures
over the medium and longer term to counter the spread of
diseases like the highly pathogenic strain of bird flu,
This strain has killed or caused the culling of 200 million
poultry birds in the current outbreak that began in December
The H5N1 virus has been confirmed in 45 countries
on three continents - Asia, Europe and Africa and up to
date, the virus has killed 108 people, all in Asia and majority
died after handling diseased poultry.
Health experts fear that the H5N1 strain could mutate into
a form of the virus that spreads easily from human to human,
triggering a global avian flu pandemic that might cause
the deaths of millions of people.
"Intensive poultry operations along migratory wild
bird routes are incompatible with protecting the health
of ecosystems that birds depend upon. They also increase
the risks of transfer of pathogens between migrating birds
and domestic fowl," he writes.
He also suggests reducing contact between wild birds and
poultry by shifting livestock production away from humans
and other mammals such as pigs.
The report acknowledges that in some parts of the world,
such as Southeast Asia, separating poultry from people is
at odds with generations of cultural traditions and practices.
"As unpalatable as this may be, where it is clearly
in the interest of preventing future pandemic with potentially
catastrophic global effects, it can and should be undertaken,"
"These thought provoking findings will need
to be looked at in detail by all those involved in fighting
current and future threatened pandemic. However, what this
research underlines is that the link between a healthy environment
and disease prevention is no marginal topic, but an important
component in public health policy, particularly in a globalized
world," Shafqat Kakakhel, UNEP deputy executive director
Wetlands are natural water storage features that
filter pollution, help absorb floods, and are inhabited
by numerous species including fish. "Their ability
to disperse and keep wild birds away from domestic ones
is now yet another compelling argument for conserving and
rehabilitating them," Kakakhel added.
During the biannual meeting that ended March 31 in Brazil,
the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological
Diversity (CBD) concluded that a far wider range of species
than birds may be affected by bird flu with Large cats like
leopards and tigers, small cats such as civets, and other
mammals like martens, weasels, badgers, and otters might
also be at risk.
The CBD delegates concluded that over 80 percent of known
bird species, both migratory and non-migratory, might also
be at risk, with members of the crow and vultures families
of particular concern.
Culling of poultry, especially in developing countries where
chicken is a key source of protein, may lead to local people
killing wild animals for food, the CBD delegates warned
as this may put new pressure on endangered species such
as chimpanzees, gorillas and other great apes.
The delegates also expressed concern over the development
of a genetic monoculture of domestic poultry, claiming that
this may make domestic fowl less disease resistant.
The two day avian flu seminar, organized by UNEP, the Convention
on Migratory Species (CMS), and the African Eurasian Water
Bird Agreement builds on the work of the international Scientific
Task Force on avian influenza established by CMS last August,
includes experts from 13 UN agencies, treaty organisations
© 2006 Times News Services Ltd,All rights reserved.http://www.timesnews.co.ke/21apr06/nwsstory/opinion1.html
flu can be hard to spot in wild birds
Virus' arrival in U.S. could initially be difficult to detect,
No need to cull wild birds to stop birdflu: expert
20 Apr 2006 21:38:22 GMT Source: Reuters
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
WASHINGTON, April 20 (Reuters) - Ducks and other wild birds
are carrying the feared H5N1 virus, but there is no need
to cull or otherwise target them as part of efforts to control
the virus, experts said on Thursday.
Poultry are more important carriers of the virus, and H5N1
avian influenza has probably been circulating, unseen and
steadily, for years in Southeast Asian flocks, the experts
in the Netherlands and Sweden said.
"With our current limited knowledge on highly
pathogenic avian influenza in wild birds, there is no solid
basis for including wild birds in control strategies beyond
the physical separation of poultry from wild birds,"
Ron Fouchier and Albert Osterhaus of Erasmus Medical Center
in Rotterdam and a team of colleagues wrote in a report
published in the journal Science.
"Even in areas with significant outbreaks in
poultry, virus prevalence in wild birds is low, and the
role of these wild birds in spreading the disease is unclear,"
"However, there is at present no scientific
basis for culling wild birds to control the outbreaks and
their spread, and this is further highly undesirable from
a conservationist perspective," they added.
The H5N1 bird flu virus has spread quickly in recent months,
and has been reported in birds in more than 40 countries
across Asia, Europe and parts of Africa.
Humans rarely catch the virus, but it has killed 110 people
and infected 196 since 2003. Experts fear the virus could
acquire the ability to pass easily from human to human and
could kill millions of people in a pandemic.
The virus is found naturally in ducks, and usually
does not make them sick. But they can spread it, especially
in their droppings.
"It has been shown that influenza viruses remain infectious
in lake water up to 4 days at 22 degrees C (72 degrees F)
and more than 30 days at 0 degrees C (32 degrees F) (7),"
the researchers wrote.
DABBLING IN DISEASE
Dabbling ducks -- those that prefer to browse in shallow
waters, such as mallards -- are particularly likely to carry
the virus with no ill effects.
When chickens and ducks are allowed to mingle, chickens
can become infected and H5N1 kills them very quickly.
Veterinarians and other animal-health experts say quick
culling of poultry is the best way to deal with this, but
there has been some debate about the role of wild birds.
"It is clear that the H5N1 problem originated from
outbreaks in poultry and that the outbreaks and their geographical
spread probably cannot be stopped without implementation
of proper control measures in the global poultry industry,"
Fouchier's team wrote.
"Poultry trade and mechanical movement of infected
materials are likely modes for spreading highly pathogenic
avian influenza in general," they added.
"It is most likely that the H5N1 virus has
circulated continuously in domestic birds in Southeast Asia
since 1997 and, as a consequence, has evolved substantially,"
Something must have changed, experts agree. H5N1 has been
around in birds since 1959 and a 1997 outbreak in Hong Kong,
in which 18 people became infected, was quickly stopped
with merciless culling and disinfection of bird markets.
But it re-emerged in 2003 and has accelerated its spread.
The experts suggested that the spring migration may not
spread the virus much. Water fowl seem most susceptible
to infection when they are young, and they cited studies
showing that the viruses are more common in birds in the
autumn and less common in the spring.
crane pairs nesting at refuge
By BETSY BLOOM | La Crosse Tribune
NECEDAH, Wis. — It’s not geese that
are laying the golden eggs at Necedah National Wildlife
Refuge this spring.
At least four pairs of rare whooping cranes are nesting
at the refuge, raising the possibility the endangered birds
will produce the first chicks hatched in the wild in Wisconsin
in more than a century, officials said.
Richard Urbanek of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who
is senior biologist for the ongoing whooping crane restoration
project, said he suspects a fifth pair is nesting on the
refuge as well, and a sixth pair could be in a nearby state
The project, started in 2000, brings young cranes
hatched in captivity to Necedah, where they are trained
to follow an Operation Migration ultralight plane 1,200
miles to Florida’s Gulf coast.
As hoped, most of the 64 birds released through the project
have made their way back to Wisconsin in the spring, Urbanek
Two of the pairs now on the nest at Necedah did produce
one egg each last year but left it unattended long enough
it was eaten by predators.
That’s a potential threat this year as well —
the refuge is “full of raccoons,” Urbanek said
— but the birds seem to have better parenting skills
“They’re sticking really close to the nest and
they’re doing everything just about perfect,”
Nesting began last week, so the eggs should hatch in early
The tall, white cranes only produce one to two eggs in a
season. “Their reproduction is very slow,” Urbanek
All of the nesting females are 4 years old, and were released
in the project’s second year, while the males range
in age from 5 to 3. Whooping cranes take four to
seven years to mature enough for breeding, and often will
pair for a couple years before nesting, said Larry Wargowsky,
The prospect of having home-grown chicks at the refuge doesn’t
mean another batch of captive-hatched young cranes won’t
be brought in this year, Urbanek said.
But the number of young birds the refuge receives this year
could be lower, due to a late snowstorm that collapsed breeding
pens at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md.,
which has provided most of the project’s cranes.
The project also will repeat its “direct autumn release”
program, in which fledgling cranes from the International
Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wis., were set loose at the
refuge in October in hopes they would follow the older birds
on migration to Florida. Last year, four direct-release
cranes successfully arrived on their own at Chassahowitzka
National Wildlife Refuge in west-central Florida.
The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership project is
trying to establish a migrating flock of whooping cranes
east of the Mississippi River. The goal is to have at least
25 breeding pairs in the eastern United States by 2020.
Nearly extinct in 1941, whooping cranes had a total population
of 453 in March 2005, with about 275 in the wild. The
only other migratory flock of this strictly North American
species, the tallest bird on the continent, nests in western
Canada and winters on the Texas Gulf Coast.
For more information, visit www.bringbackthecranes. org
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
flu expected to arrive in U.S. soon
April 14, 2006
BY JOHN HEILPRIN
AdvertisementWASHINGTON -- In about three weeks,
waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds will start arriving
in Alaska to begin mating. That's when and where government
scientists expect the first case of bird flu to show up
in the Unites States.
To screen the birds for the deadly virus, the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service and Alaska's Fish and Game Department
are setting up more than 50 backcountry camps accessible
mainly by float planes or boats.
$29 mil. program to test 100,000
More than 40 species of waterfowl and shorebirds
are considered susceptible to infection by the H5N1 bird
flu virus that has killed more than 100 people,
mostly in Asia. It also has killed or led to the slaughter
of more than 200 million chickens, ducks, turkeys and other
domestic fowl in Asia, Europe and Africa.
Species migrating from Asia across the Bering Strait
-- considered the most likely carriers of the H5N1 virus
-- include eiders, pintails, geese, long-tailed ducks, dunlins,
sandpipers and plovers. There's also concern about gulls,
terns and falcons.
The surveillance program will cost $29 million. Rick Kearney,
wildlife program coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey,
said it will collect and sample 100,000 birds -- 15,000
to 20,000 in Alaska alone -- and called it an early warning
system for poultry producers and health officials in the
lower 48 states.
''If we find it this summer, it could provide them with
several weeks of warning,'' he said. ''We're looking in
all places, but we're looking most intently in the place
we most expect to find it, Alaska.''
After Alaska, surveillance priorities are a matter
of geography: the Pacific flyway from the Canadian border
to southern California and then east to the Central, Mississippi
and Atlantic flyways.
Rare Bald Eagle Hatches
Officials celebrate the first chick born in more than 50
years on the Channel Islands.
By Gregory W. Griggs, Times Staff Writer — April 14,
years of trying to bring bald eagles back to the Channel
Islands, wildlife officials on Thursday celebrated the first
successful, unaided hatching of a chick in more than half
The chick hatched Wednesday on Santa Cruz Island, the largest
in the eight-island chain.
"This is a key element in the restoration of
the Channel Islands," said David Garcelon, president
of the Institute for Wildlife Studies in Arcata, Calif.,
which manages the eagle restoration program. "Getting
a keystone, top predator back into the system is a tremendous
accomplishment" on Santa Cruz Island without the aid
A pair of adult eagles, born in captivity but raised on
Santa Catalina Island, relocated to Santa Cruz Island last
year and established a nest early this year. In March, biologists
confirmed the presence of two eggs. They believed one of
the eggs was not viable.
Biologists are now waiting for the parents, a 5-year-old
male and a 4-year-old female, to feed the unnamed chick.
They expect this to happen in the next few days.
After about eight weeks, scientists plan to make their first
personal contact with the chick, which they will fit with
an electronic transmitter and tag for future identification.
The hatching comes during the fifth and final year of the
$3.2-million restoration program overseen by the National
Park Service, which owns nearly a quarter of Santa Cruz
Island, and the Nature Conservancy, which began purchasing
the majority parcel of the formerly private island in the
Since the late 1940s, bald eagles have been unable to hatch
on the Channel Islands without human help because their
eggs contain high levels of toxic PCBs and DDT, a now-banned
pesticide that Montrose Chemical Co. and other firms discharged
off the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the 1950s and 1960s.
Money for the eagle restoration project came from a $140-million
settlement paid by Montrose, other chemical companies and
about 100 municipalities.
"We're doing a lot of restoration programs and now
we're starting to turn the corner," said Kate Faulkner,
chief of natural resources for Channel Islands National
Park. "The ban on DDT is what led us to this point
today. It's a long road, but I think this tells us we're
on the right path."
For more information on the Institute
of Wildlife Studies program on Santa Cruz Island, see: http://www.iws.org/
main causes of sea otter deaths are:
· Parasites. Domestic cats
and opossums, both introduced by people, shed parasites in
their feces that are washing into the ocean and entering the
marine food chain. The parasites attack the otter’s
brain. Otters are also dying of intestinal parasites. Otters
pick these horny-headed worms up from crabs. Intestinal parasites
are one of the few diseases common among otters that do not
have a direct connection to the land pollutants.
· Infections. Otters contract bacterial
gastrointestinal diseases found in humans. These include salmonella
and giardia food and water poisoning. Otters in the southern
end of their range are also dying of valley fever, a fungal
disease in humans that originates from the soil.
· Heart disease. This unusual cause
of death among wildlife is on the rise in otters. Evidence
suggests it is associated with domoic acid poisoning and possum
· Domoic acid. This toxin is produced
by some algal blooms called red tides. Domoic acid poisons
all kinds of marine mammals, but its effect on otters is slower
and more pervasive. Biologists do not list domoic acid as
a primary cause of otter deaths but believe the poison causes
the animals to die of other causes such as heart disease.
Biologists believe that nutrients from polluted runoff may
be triggering more frequent red tides.
· Chemicals. Otters’ blood contains
elevated levels of pesticides and other man-made substances.
Biologists suspect that these chemicals are compromising the
immune systems of otters, making them more susceptible to
Colorado expects bird flu will arrive in fall
Migrating flocks that mix with Asian birds can't be kept out,
but officials call human infection unlikely.
By Dave Curtin, Denver Post Staff Writer
When the greenwing teal and the Canada goose fly south to
Colorado this fall, state wildlife veterinarians expect they'll
bring avian flu with them.
After mingling this summer in Alaska with migratory birds
from Asia, where the virus first surfaced, some North American
birds are likely to pick up the flu, wildlife officials say.
Colorado and federal officials already have prepared monitoring
and screening systems.
There will also be a telephone hotline for people to report
dead birds - 877-462-2911.
Officials stress, however, that one northern mallard
with the flu does not make a pandemic.
"Remember that avian influenza is an animal disease,
it's not a human disease," said Keith Roehr, acting state
veterinarian with the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
"The people who have become ill in most cases
have very intimate and chronic contact with infected birds,"
Roehr said." The virus doesn't infect people very easily,"
he said. "With common hygiene and protection, people
are at low risk."
Still, an army of state and federal agencies is getting
ready to do battle against the H5N1 bird flu virus, which
has infected tens of millions of wild birds and domestic poultry
in Asia, Europe and Africa.
Fewer than 200 people have been infected - with the flu killing
half of them.
To combat the virus, multiple Colorado agencies have joined
to form the Avian Influenza and Surveillance Education Task
Force for early detection of the virus when it lands in Colorado.
The effort will cost more than $500,000, according to Kristy
Pabilonia, a Colorado State University researcher and the
The state Division of Wildlife has been swabbing migratory
birds since December to test for the flu.
The Department of Agriculture is monitoring poultry and livestock
birds, and CSU tests the samples in a lab.
So far, 175 wild birds have been screened - mallards in northeastern
Colorado and turkeys in the central-west region, said DOW
veterinarian Laurie Baeten.
The task force will begin screening Canada geese along
the Front Range in June, Baeten said.
Once the virus is confirmed in birds migrating through Colorado,
the next line of defense is protecting commercial poultry
facilities and small backyard flocks.
"There is no way to prevent wild birds from migrating
into the United States, but we have fairly good biosecurity
in place to prevent mixing of wild birds with domestic poultry,"
That isn't true in Asia, where wild birds commingle with poultry
and the virus has ravaged the domestic chicken population.
"Here, the commercial poultry - egg layers and meat birds
- are confined in an indoor facility and don't have direct
contact with migratory birds," said Pabilonia.
A greater concern is noncommercial poultry - backyard
hobbyists, 4H clubs and small operators. These birds are outside
part of the day, and they may come in contact with migratory
waterfowl, Pabilonia said.
Wild birds flying into a farm pond shed the virus in feces,
potentially infecting domestic ducks and backyard chicken
The virus can also be transmitted from bird to bird through
saliva and nasal secretions.
Pabilonia has been testing backyard flocks for about a year
without finding the disease.
Meanwhile, Roehr, the acting state veterinarian, says the
state's commercial poultry operators can protect their birds
from the virus.
One of Colorado's largest egg producers, Morning Fresh Farms
in Platteville, has a shower-in and shower-out policy for
employees in direct contact with birds, said president Derek
Those employees also wear masks, respirators and uniforms.
Tires and undercarriages of delivery trucks are disinfected
before entering the property.
"We've had these measures in place for eight or 10 years,"
Yancey said. "All commercial industry has some type of
biosecurity program. It's protecting our livelihood and our
The current avian flu threat is only one of many risks the
poultry industry faces, Roehr said.
"Other types of avian influenza - both high and low pathogenic
- have existed in the United States," Roehr said.
Last month, the Bush administration announced a federal plan
to coordinate state and federal wildlife agencies.
The plan puts Colorado on the second tier of a three-tier
risk system. Alaska and the Pacific Northwest get top priority
in federal funding for bird testing.
Colorado will get $50,000 in federal funds to collect 500
wild bird samples, said Baeten.
The state health department plans to monitor poultry workers.
"It can be transmitted to humans, and that's why we are
very interested in monitoring it," said Kathe Bjork,
an epidemiologist for the state Department of Public Health
"We're also interested in worker safety for people who
work with birds that are sick," Bjork said. "We
will have guidelines for worker safety and protective equipment,
and we will monitor them for illness."
Staff writer Dave Curtin can be reached at 303-820-1276 or
flock to Kenya for migratory bird day
09 Apr 2006 15:38:53 GMT, Source: Reuters, By Marie-Louise
LAIKIPIA, Kenya, April 9 (Reuters) - Kenyan children
recited poems and Peruvian artists portrayed migrating birds
alongside dozens of performers and conservationists gathered
in Kenya to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day.
Conservationists, artists and activists met on the edge
of the Great Rift Valley to try to counter the negative
influence which bird flu has had on how people view migratory
Their meeting in Laikipia, about 180 km (112 miles) north
of Nairobi, precedes a U.N. Environmental Programme bird
flu seminar in Nairobi this week.
Kenya's part of the Great Rift Valley -- a vast geographical
feature that runs from northern Syria to central Mozambique
-- is a haven for birds like flamingos, pelicans and storks,
but is thought to be at risk from bird flu.
Millions of birds migrating from Asia to the northern
hemisphere stop here to enjoy the freshwater ponds, dams
and lakes, all possible conduits for the avian flu virus.
The role of migratory birds versus the trade in bird products
in the spread of avian flu has also been the source of much
debate, with conservationists contending the disease's spread
has not closely followed known bird migrations.
Scientists have not reached a consensus on the issue.
"Because the role of migratory birds is a very obvious
one, it's often very tempting to say that migratory birds
are bringing the disease," Robert Hepworth, executive
secretary of the Convention on Migrating Species, told Reuters.
"Migratory birds have been involved of course,
but the actual evidence of migratory birds spreading this
disease across continents on a large scale is very patchy."
In Africa, the poultry trade poses a bigger risk for the
spread of bird flu than migratory birds, some experts say.
Bird flu has spread rapidly since late 2003 from Asia to
Europe, the Middle East and Africa, killing 109 people worldwide
and raising the spectre of a mutated form which could pass
easily between humans and kill millions of people.
From the start of the year, more than 30 new countries have
reported outbreaks, increasing panic among populations who
fear migrating birds may have come in contact with the disease
and brought it to their doorstep.
"Something they look forward to seeing in the
back garden is now being seen as a threat," Leon Bennum,
director of science and policy at BirdLife International,
"There's a panic and hysteria spreading. People don't
understand the role wild birds play."
Conservationists say some people have destroyed nests or
have wanted to cut down trees for fear infected migratory
birds would perch in their gardens.
"For people in Europe to be destroying swallows' nests
as a response to this disease is a disproportionate, unjustified
overreaction," Hepworth said.
World Migratory Day was celebrated in 40 countries on Sunday
with bird walks and small festivals.
"This is a symbolic occasion which is going to declare
to the world that the migratory birds do matter and that
we do something in protecting them", Italian author
and conservationist Kuki Gallmann said.
© 1998-2001 Reuters Limited.
Cranes Sighted at Dupage Forest Preserve (early
Imagine you and 13 friends decide to embark on a long journey
where you must travel more than 1,200 miles on your own
power, finding food and shelter along the way. And there
will be no one to guide you back; you'll have to remember
the route you took to get there. This was the task that
faced the 14 whooping cranes that recently stopped
at a wetland at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County's
East Branch Forest Preserve in Glendale Heights for a couple
of days of hard-earned rest.
Life is difficult for North America's tallest bird, the
whooping crane (Grus americana). Included on the federal
endangered species list, only a little more than 300 birds
live in the wild. Breeding pairs typically raise only one
chick each year, and individual whooping cranes do not reach
breeding maturity until they are 4 years old. Habitat loss,
poaching and disease brought the birds to a low point in
the 1940s, when the population shrank to 16.
A recovery program began in 1967, and in 2001, the first
assisted migration from Wisconsin occurred when a human-piloted
ultralight aircraft led young cranes to wintering grounds
along Florida's Gulf Coast.
The birds that stopped at East Branch hatched in
spring 2005 and last fall were led by ultralight from Wisconsin
to Florida, where they spent the winter. These birds began
their spring migration on their own from Florida on this
The birds' brief visit was exciting for District staff.
According to animal ecologist Scott Meister, whooping crane
migration patterns can be similar from year to year, and
the birds may continue to use DuPage County as a stopover
point on their long journey.
The whooping crane is not the only species reliant
upon large natural areas and high-quality wetlands. "The
more wetlands the District can conserve and restore, the
more migratory birds such as cranes, rails, bitterns and
moorhens that can find their critical habitat needs met
here in DuPage County," notes Meister.
In fact, the District has been an important factor in the
increased health of North America's only other native crane
species, the sandhill crane (Grus canadensis). Listed as
a threatened species in Illinois, sandhill cranes have faced
many of the same dangers as whooping cranes, with loss of
breeding habitat as a critical factor in the species' decline.
Today, the species is recovering to stable condition, with
a population of around 650,000 throughout North America.
Groups of hundreds of sandhill cranes stop in DuPage County
each year to rest and feed during their annual migrations.
And, a breeding population has even returned to the county's
large natural areas for several years, finding suitable
wetland habitat to raise new generations of these majestic
"The whooping cranes' stopover is just one more example
of why habitat preservation is so important," says
Meister. "So many species rely on the forest preserves
for their very survival."
Since 1915, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
has served the people of DuPage County through its mission
to acquire and hold lands for the purpose of preserving
the flora, fauna and scenic beauty for the education, pleasure
and recreation of its citizens. Today the Forest Preserve
District owns or manages over 25,000 acres of land, including
60 forest preserves and one state park. For more information,
visit www.dupageforest.com, or call (630) 933-7200.
- flight over Chicago in 2002.
Bald eagles intent on making rickety tree their home
TOWN CREEK— Instinct led a young bald eagle couple to
pair up, build a nest and mate, but they somehow missed Mother
Nature's class on architectural stability. :::snip:::
on Wed, Mar. 29, 2006 California condors spotted nesting
in Big Sur
BIG SUR, Calif. - For the first time in more than 100 years,
California condors were spotted nesting in the northern
part of the state, scientists said.
The condor couple was found Monday displaying typical
nesting behavior inside a hollowed-out redwood tree in Big
Sur, a mountainous coastal region south of Monterey, the
Ventana Wildlife Society said Tuesday.
"For the past 10 years when this sort of thing came
up, it turned out to be just in my dreams," Kelly Sorenson,
the group's executive director. "Now it is a reality."
The male and female took turns guarding the nest
every two or three days, never leaving the nest unattended
for more than several minutes, the scientists said.
"Although the view into the cavity is very limited
and we can't actually see the egg, we strongly suspect they
have an egg based on their behavior at the nest site,"
said Joe Burnett, a wildlife biologist.
Scientists have worked for years to bring the condor back
from the brink of extinction.
Ventana, a nonprofit group, began releasing condors into
the wild in 1997 and now monitors a population of 38 condors
in Central California.The last known condor egg
in Northern California was collected in 1905 in Monterey
The condor recovery effort has increased the number of birds
tenfold over the past two decades. But about 40 percent
of released condors have died from attacks by golden eagles
and power lines, among other causes.
Biologists said the mortality rate of condors in Big Sur
is much lower.
Information from: San Jose Mercury News, http://www.sjmercury.com
be March: Ospreys Return to the Patuxent
Mar 22nd - 5:53am
LOTHIAN, Md. (AP) - One of the surest signs that spring has
arrived on the
Patuxent River is the sight of an osprey displaying a freshly
caught fish to his mate.
While ospreys and their mates winter in Central and South
America separately, ospreys return to their mates every spring.
Almost driven to extinction in the 1960s by the use of the
pesticide DDT, ospreys abound once again on the Chesapeake
At the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, more than two dozen
breeding pairs nest, said Karyn Molines, a naturalist
at the sanctuary. "People come from Europe, where the
ospreys never made a comeback, and they are amazed that we
have so many," Molines told The (Baltimore) Sun.
For those who make the trip to the sanctuary about 20 miles
east of Washington, the brown-and-white birds of prey put
quite a show. Mating rituals include the "fish flight,"
in which the male zips around his mate waving a large fish.
Catching large fish is an important skill because during the
breeding season, males might present as many as eight fish
to the female each day. Unlike kingfishers or pelicans, which
plunge headfirst into the water for fish, ospreys snag fish
with sharp talons on their
feet. Mating, which lasts only seconds, is repeated many times,
not only to breed, but to bond, Molines said.
More than 2,000 osprey pairs now nest in the bay, according
to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Web site.
The number of ospreys in the state has returned to 1950s levels,
said Chandler Robbins, an ornithologist with the Patuxent
Wildlife Research Center.
Molines said the number is up from two breeding pairs
on the Patuxent in 1972 when Maryland banned DDT use.
"It's an ecological success story," Molines said.
However, Don Merritt, a biologist with the Horn Point laboratory
in Cambridge, said ospreys could once again be
threatened, this time by pollution and declining numbers of
small fish such as menhaden. Ospreys feed on larger fish,
such as striped bass, that depend on menhaden for food.
Information from: The Sun (Copyright 2006 by The Associated
of the seas
Marine mammals provide insight into
the health of oceans
By Bruce Lieberman
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
February 19, 2006
ST. LOUIS – Toxic algal blooms, animal waste
and chemical pollution are making coastal waters an increasingly
dangerous place for marine mammals and other animals that
feed on them – including humans.
Marine mammals, as a consequence, have become sentinels
of ocean health, signaling various kinds of naturally occurring
and man-made environmental threats, said scientists gathered
last week in St. Louis for the annual meeting of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science. The
conference ends today.
“I believe that these sea lions that are washing up
along the coast are actually acting as important canaries
in the coal mine, warning us of some ocean changes that
contribute in fact to human health,” said Frances
Gulland, a researcher at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito
in Northern California.
Gulland has studied how domoic acid – a toxin produced
by some algae that proliferate in algal blooms along the
coast – threatens the health of sea lions. Algal blooms,
which occur worldwide, are sometimes known as red tides
and are common off San Diego County beaches.
Some types of blooms are toxic, others are harmless.
But all types of algal blooms have appeared more frequently
in recent years, and scientists don't know why. River runoff
polluted with fertilizers may be one cause, and global warming
may contribute, but there are no conclusive answers, scientists
Domoic acid spreads in the food chain when it's eaten by
sardines, anchovies and other fish that larger predators
then eat. Sea lions with the toxin can develop
brain damage that causes seizures and comas. The toxin may
cause females to spontaneously abort pregnancies.
The toxin can sicken and even kill humans. The first
known case of domoic acid poisoning in humans was in 1987,
when 150 people were reported ill with neurological and
gastrointestinal problems after ingesting farmed blue mussels.
In 1991, the first evidence of domoic acid on the West Coast
was found when a large number of pelicans and cormorants
died in Monterey. Then, between May 15, 1998, and
June 19, 1998, 70 California sea lions were stranded along
the Central California coast from San Luis Obispo and Santa
Cruz. Of the 70 sea lions, 57 died. Since then, toxic algal
blooms have occurred off the California coast every summer.
Because marine mammals become sick when they eat fish, commercial
catches of fish are screened for the toxin before they can
be sold. But sport fishermen who eat their own catch could
be at risk of ingesting the toxin, scientists said.
In the Gulf of Mexico off Florida, toxic algal blooms that
produce a chemical called brevetoxin have hit manatees hard
in recent years, said Gregory Bossart, with the Harbor Branch
Oceanographic Institution in Ft. Pierce, Fla.
Brevetoxin can be found in the air above the surface of
the water, so that manatees who breathe in the contaminated
air are gassed to death, Bossart said.
Toxins found in the air just above coastal waters in the
Gulf can apparently make people ill. Bossart and his colleagues
have associated incidents of algal blooms with an upsurge
in the number of people reporting to nearby emergency rooms
with bronchitis, asthma flare-ups and other respiratory
Studies in mice, meanwhile, have shown that exposure to
brevetoxin can cause long-term damage to the animal's immune
system, Bossart said.
“We really need to understand the mechanisms of these
toxins, how they cause disease,” he said. “We
need to understand the chronic effect of these toxins and
we need to understand why red tides are apparently increasing
Some diseases originate on land. Off California,
brain damage in sea otters who swim near major water outflows
along the coast of urban areas has been linked to a parasite
called toxoplasma gondii. The parasite is commonly found
in the feces of cats that washes down storm drains and into
the ocean, said Patricia Conrad, a scientist at the University
of California Davis.
Between 1998 and 2004, a survey of 257 live sea otters off
California found that 38 percent of them were infected with
the parasite, Conrad said. Of 305 dead otters found
during that same period, 52 percent of them had been infected.
The problem is likely to get worse as the huge population
of domesticated and feral cats in the United States –
estimated at about 150 million – rises, Conrad said.
A cat owner herself, Conrad has urged people to keep their
cats indoors to prevent them from eating the birds and rodents
that often carry the parasite. She recommends bagging
cat litter for disposal at sanitary landfills.
“What the sea otters are trying to tell us about this
land-sea connection is a very important message,”
she said. “Not only what we do, but what our pets
do on the land, can actually affect not only us but the
animals in the sea, like sea otters.”
Man-made pollution that finds its way into the ocean, meanwhile,
has reached even Arctic lands, where dangerous chemicals
have accumulated in the tissues of killer whales, seals,
polar bears and other animals that feed on fish and other
Todd O'Hara of the University of Fairbanks has cataloged
several toxins in the animals, including pesticides, flame
retardants, stain repellents and heavy metals such as cadmium
Humans who live in the Arctic and hunt in the sea for subsistence
are also exposed to such chemicals, and O'Hara is studying
the health risks they face.
“There's a clear connection with polar bears and the
Arctic fox as indicators of ocean health,” he said.
“These animals feed on similar species as humans.
We share resources with these animals.”
Bruce Lieberman: (619) 293-2836; firstname.lastname@example.org
birds: vectors or victims of avian flu?
24 Jan 2006 01:01:08 GMT; Source: Reuters
By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Do the wild birds that
fly through cold winter skies to warmer lands silently carry
deadly bird flu around the world? Or are they simply potential
With the virulent H5N1 form of bird flu now killing people
in Turkey, there is a growing debate about how it is spread.
Many scientists believe migrating wild fowl are responsible
for carrying the virus from Asia and Siberia to Romania
and Turkey. And although some argue there is not enough
evidence yet for firm conclusions, the theory is gaining
"Scientists are increasingly convinced that
at least some migratory waterfowl are now carrying the H5N1
virus in its highly pathogenic form, sometimes over long
distances, and introducing the virus to poultry flocks in
areas that lie along their migratory routes," the World
Health Organisation said in its latest bird flu fact sheet
It said scientists found that viruses from the most recently
affected countries, all of which lie along migratory routes,
were almost identical to viruses recovered from dead migratory
birds at Qinghai Lake in China.
The viruses from Turkey's first human cases were also virtually
identical to the Qinghai Lake strain, it added.
In Romania, the outbreak was first detected in and around
the remote Danube Delta, Europe's largest wetlands which
also happen to lie on a major migratory route for wild birds.
"We do know that avian influenza viruses are carried
by migratory birds all over the world. But not all of them
are highly pathogenic or H5N1," Juan Lubroth, the senior
officer for infectious diseases with the United Nations
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), told Reuters.
"I think that wild birds may introduce the virus but
it is through man and man's marketing systems (the poultry
trade) that the disease spreads. It is also possible that
poultry can transmit the virus to wildlife when they share
the same ecosystem," Lubroth said.
MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS
The H5N1 virus has killed at least 80 people since late
2003, mostly in Asia. Victims contract the virus through
close contact with sick birds, but there are fears it could
mutate into a form that can pass easily from person to person
-- making the question of how it is spread across regions
"Should this new role of migratory birds be scientifically
confirmed, it will mark a change in a long-standing stable
relationship between the H5N1 virus and its natural wild-bird
reservoir," WHO said.
The FAO said this month that the virus could spread to Africa
and Europe during the northern spring migration.
"The avian influenza virus could become entrenched
in the Black Sea, Caucasus and Near East regions through
trade ... and it could be further spread by migratory birds
particularly coming from Africa in the spring," it
The H5N1 strain has not yet been detected in Africa -- not
an easy task given already high rates of mortality among
the continent's chickens. Tests on dead wild birds from
Malawi and Ethiopia have been negative and hundreds of tests
of migratory bird droppings in South Africa have found no
The growing popularity of the migratory bird theory
has worried an increasingly vocal group of conservationists
who fear unfounded claims could lead to indiscriminate slaughters.
"The pattern of outbreaks between Asia and eastern
Europe do not follow any known pathway for migrant birds,
which tend to fly on northerly-southerly routes. They don't
go east-west," Dr Richard Thomas of BirdLife International
Andre Farrar, an ornithologist with Britain's Royal Society
for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), said if migratory birds
were spreading H5N1, it would have been spotted elsewhere.
"Go back a stage and start off in southeast Asia. If
migration was the primary route you would have expected
it in Australasia but it hasn't shown up there," he
However, Farrar said it was prudent to keep looking.
"There is clearly a theoretical risk that migrant birds
can carry bird flu. There is published work showing that
ducks in captivity can survive H5N1 infection and can shed
the virus and we'd be foolish to ignore this," he said.
He said the focus on migratory birds detracted from other,
more useful policies to fight the virus like public education,
biosecurity measures and curbs on the movement of poultry.
Conservationists say tens of thousands of healthy wild migrant
birds in infected countries have been tested over the last
decade, but not one has had the virus.
Wild birds that have been found to have the H5 virus, such
as swans found in Croatia in October, were already dead
-- suggesting they were victims rather than vectors.
BirdLife says the poultry trade is a more likely vector.
"South Korea and Japan are two countries to have suffered
outbreaks of H5N1 in poultry and wild birds following importation
of infected duck meat," it said in a statement.
"Both countries stamped the virus out by culling infected
poultry around disease areas, and imposed strict controls
on poultry and poultry meat imports. Neither country has
suffered a recurrence of the virus despite the influx each
autumn of hundreds of thousands of wild migrant birds,"
Conservationists are also concerned about reports of wild
birds being killed because of fears of avian flu in several
countries from Madagascar to Vietnam.
People and wildlife jostle for land in East Africa
Rodrique Ngowi | Amboseli National Park, Kenya
23 January 2006 11:00
Elephants, buffaloes and other wild animals drink water from
one side of a swamp, while Maasai warriors watch hundreds
of cattle graze on another side as the tropical sun sears
the parched land of the wildlife sanctuary.
Wildlife officials recently bent stringent conservation
regulations to allow cattle into this national park -- the
only permanent source of water in the region -- to help the
Maasai save precious livestock from a punishing drought.
Conservation workers warn that Amboseli's delicate swamps
and streams face a severe threat from government plans to
hand over management of the park to the local county council,
a move that will likely result in the granting of rights to
Maasai for collection of firewood and water in the sanctuary
and to graze their cattle there regularly.
Competition for pastures and water could drive wildlife out
of this tiny sanctuary and intensify conflict between animals
and people in a region already scarred by clashes over scarce
resources, said Connie Maina, spokesperson for the Kenya Wildlife
While the prolonged drought has yet to kill any animals in
wildlife sanctuaries, it has already started to push elephants
to leave national parks and game reserves to search for food
and water near human settlements -- triggering conflicts between
pachyderms and people.
Dwindling wildlife would discourage tourists from visiting
Amboseli, Kenya's second-highest earner of tourism revenues.
That would hurt the local community that uses the earnings
for education, health services and digging wells, said deputy
senior warden Thomas Mailu.
Conservation groups have sued the government to stop the handover
to Olkejuado county council, whose predecessor ran the sanctuary
from 1961 until environmental degradation caused by mismanagement
and internal wrangling prompted the central government to
take over in 1974.
Local and international conservation groups say the county
council politicians lack the ability, experience and qualified
personnel to conserve wildlife and their habitat, maintain
roads and provide security for tourists and animals in a border
region troubled by armed banditry.
Still, government spokesperson Alfred Mutua said the government
will go ahead with plans to hand over the park to the council.
"The government is empowering the local community so
that they can benefit directly from the resources in their
area," Mutua said.
Amboseli is essentially a huge salt lake that fills with water
during the rainy season and dries up completely in arid months,
except for the swamps and streams that provide water for wild
animals, migratory birds, people and cattle.
The water comes from rain and melting snow that seeps from
Kilimanjaro -- Africa's tallest mountain that dominates the
skyline from neighbouring Tanzania.
Amboseli's new status "is going to be absolutely suicidal
as far as the management of wildlife is concerned" because
the removal of stringent conservation controls could lead
to the drying up of water sources, Mailu said.
The Maasai, however, said they are happy that they will be
able to set new priorities over access to water and pastures
for cattle and wildlife once the sanctuary is handed over.
They plan to press their councillors to open up more parts
of Amboseli to livestock.
"We could negotiate with them because they are our people.
If it is cows, they have cows like these, so they are people
that we could talk to and they could listen to us," nomadic
cattle herder Saiyanka Mollel said after washing a herd of
400 cows that later grazed in Amboseli.
"Cows are our life," Mollel said as two elephant
calves pressed heads together and used their trunks to fight
in the distance.
Amboseli is the second-highest earner of revenues among Kenya's
59 national parks and reserves. Only six of these make a profit
and finance conservation in others. Taking Amboseli from the
KWS would hurt the less popular sanctuaries, said the KWS's
But local tourist guide Saitoti Saibolob said the new arrangement
is fairer to residents who would get a bigger portion of revenues
since they share the land with wildlife and often lose cattle
Kenya is not the only East African nation struggling to ensure
wildlife and people share water and land. Ethiopian authorities
have relocated members of local ethnic groups from the Nech-Sar
National Park and handed over its management to a private
The Netherlands-based African Parks Foundation is
also expected to take over Ethiopia's Omo National Park,
home to the Mursi, towering nomads famous for huge clay plates
inserted into the lips and ear lobes of their women.
Government plans to evict them "would severely disrupt
their present economy, a semi-nomadic mix of cattle herding,
riverbank cultivation following the Omo flood and bushland
cultivation following the main rains", Survival, a London-based
group that helps tribal people, said on its website.
One official, however, said Ethiopia needs to develop the
tourism industry, which is Africa's second-largest source
of foreign exchange, after oil.
"For the last 40 years we have totally neglected our
conservation areas and wildlife," said Tadesse Hailu,
head of the Ethiopian Wildlife and Conservation Department.
In Tanzania, conservation workers are concerned
that officials are studying an application by a Dubai-based
businessman to build a hotel on the route of the annual migration
of more than 1,5-million wildebeest, zebras and other herbivores
-- the world's most spectacular wildlife sight.
The planned hotel in the Serengeti National Park would violate
stringent conservation rules that ban the construction of
permanent structures inside national parks. -- Sapa-AP
arrested for killing rare wild birds
www.chinaview.cn 2006-01-20 08:22:35
BEIJING, Jan.20 -- Two men suspected of poisoning hundreds
of rare species of wild birds in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu
Province, were arrested on Wednesday, the local public security
bureau revealed yesterday.
A group of five local residents scattered poisoned grains
in Yancheng National Rare Birds Nature Reserve several times
last month, intending to lure and kill wild ducks and sell
their downs for money, according to Zhang Kai, a police
officer who investigated the case.
Two suspects were caught when they came back days later
to pick up the bodies of these ducks.
More than 200 such ducks were poisoned and killed and at
the same time some rare species of wild birds that cohabitate
with the ducks also died after eating the grains.
About 400 wild birds were reported to have died including
three red-crowned cranes and dozens of white and black storks,
said Zhang, from the Sheyang branch of Yancheng Municipal
Public Security Bureau in north Jiangsu.
Several cases of poisoning and killing endangered species
of wild animals have been reported in both Yancheng and
other nature reserves in recent years.
Lu Shicheng, an expert in wild birds protection,
told China Daily: "Severe punishment should be imposed
on people who do this. Killing three birds with a protected
level such as red-crowned cranes will lead to sentences
of more than 10 years in prison, in accordance with the
country's current wild animal protection law, if they are
According to Lu, as a fundamental way to ensure the welfare
of the wild birds, Yancheng nature reserve should further
enhance their protection work and promote people's awareness
in wild animal protection.
Out of the 400,000-hectare Yancheng natural reserve, only
the 19,000-hectare core area has been under full-time close
supervision, according to Deng Jingdong, vice- director
of the site.
It was set up in 1984 and provides shelter to more
than 3 million wild birds every year, including 14 species
of the country's most highly protected birds and 76 species
of second-level protected birds.
The nature reserve is the only place in the country for
almost all the 1,500 migrant red-crowned cranes in the world
to spend their winter, Deng added.
the Los Angeles Times — LETTERS
Endangered Species Act is in peril itself
January 20, 2006
your article "Grizzlies May Lose Protection" (Jan.
because it highlights how important the Endangered Species
Act is to the recovery of America's wildlife.
For more than 30 years, the act has been successful at preventing
the extinction of species such as bald eagles, grizzly bears
and manatees. In fact, only nine out of about 1,800 plants
and animals listed as endangered have been declared extinct.
However, recently Rep. Richard W. Pombo (R-Tracy) pushed
legislation through the House that could actually lead to
more wildlife extinctions and undermine our national commitment
to protecting endangered species. Fortunately, we have a
chance to stop this disastrous and destructive bill in the
Here in California, we must urge Sens. Dianne Feinstein
and Barbara Boxer to not only vote against the bill but
become champions for the Endangered Species Act, so that
we may continue to protect species such as the grizzly.
Field Organizer, Defenders of Wildlife, Riverside, CA
HERE for 2005 wildlife news
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