Wildlife

One in five European bird species is slipping into extinction

The common brush, the common woodpecker and the nougat are among the species that are running out of extinction in Europe, according to the latest report from the continent’s red list, which states that one in five species of birds is now at risk.

From the Azores in the west to the Ural Mountains in the east, the birds that have been the cornerstone of European ecosystems are disappearing, according to analysis by BirdLife International, which is based on observations of 544 species of native birds. Three species have become extinct regionally in Europe since the last report in 2015: the Pallas agralla, the common button and the pine school.

In total, 30% of the species assessed show a decline in population, according to the observations of thousands of experts and volunteers working in 54 countries and territories. At European level, 13% of birds are threatened with extinction and another 6% are almost threatened.

Wildlife

Elk Liberated

Wildlife officers have finally removed a rubber tire from around the neck of a bull elk in Colorado who had been carrying it around for over two years.

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Wildlife

Resurgent Rodents

Australia’s disastrous mouse plague is growing rapidly again as the country leaves wintertime and approaches the summer growing season.

Following a lull in recent months, experts warn that farmers could again be forced to destroy their crops if they become contaminated by the pests’ droppings or decaying bodies.

The losses and emotional toll inflicted last autumn by untold hundreds of millions of the marauding mice created economic and mental health crises for many growers. Wildlife experts say that the poisons used by farmers to help control the ravenous hordes have also killed large clusters of cockatoos and other creatures.

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Wildlife

‘Dinosaur Shrimp’ emerge after Arizona monsoon

Triops — which is Greek for “three eyes” — are sometimes called “dinosaur shrimp” because of their long evolutionary history; the ancestors of these crustaceans evolved during the Devonian period (419 million to 359 million years ago), and their appearance has changed very little since then.

Following a torrential summer downpour in northern Arizona, hundreds of these bizarre, prehistoric-looking critters emerged from tiny eggs and began swimming around a temporary lake on the desert landscape. Their eggs can lay dormant for decades in the desert until enough rainfall falls to create lakes that provide real estate and time for the hatchlings to mature and lay eggs for the next generation. Triops can live up to 90 days.

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Wildlife

Australian Native Bees Decimated after Bushfires

A Flinders University study found between 50 to 80 per cent of some species’ habitat had been destroyed, with two native bee species moved to the endangered list and another nine marked vulnerable. Local farming and native plant initiatives have been touted to help survival rates in the short term.

Wildlife

‘Cooked’ Mussels

Some of Greece’s hottest summer weather in decades decimated parts of the country’s mussel harvest and the baby mussel seeds that would have grown into next year’s mature population.

Fisherman Stefanos Sougioultzis told Reuters that it was “as if they boiled in their own environment.” The high water temperature in the Thermaic Gulf near Thessaloniki in northern Greece not only caused the mussels to suffer heat stress, but it also encouraged a thick white mass, described as a kind of tube worm, to cling to the mussels and gradually kill them.

Many fishermen feel the gulf will become too warm for the mussels in the hotter summers to come.

New Extinctions

The ivory-billed woodpecker, along with 22 other species of birds, fish, mussels and other wildlife, is set to be declared extinct and removed from the endangered species list, US wildlife officials announced Wednesday.

“For the species proposed for delisting today, the protections of the (Endangered Species Act) came too late, with most either extinct, functionally extinct, or in steep decline at the timing of listing,” the US Fish and Wildlife Service said.

Also slated for delisting are the Bachman’s warbler, two species of freshwater fishes, eight species of Southeastern freshwater mussels and 11 species from Hawaii and the Pacific Islands.

Wildlife

Whale Dies from Human-Caused Injuries

A dead humpback whale that recently washed up on a beach in Staten Island, New York, showed signs of human-caused injuries that may have contributed to its death, experts found.

An examination of the corpse revealed evidence of recent and serious injuries. Healing wounds around the humpback’s head and mouth resembled injuries caused by entanglement with fishing equipment, and lodged in the whale’s intestines was a large chunk of metal, which had damaged the animal’s digestive tract.

The death again highlights the detrimental effect of human interactions with wildlife.

Wildlife

Orcas vs Boats

An increasing number of boats off Spain and Portugal are mysteriously being attacked by orcas, with one sailboat being bashed by about a dozen of the “killer whales” for two hours.

A total of 41 attacks were reported in July alone, with most near Gibraltar.

Orcas had previously been known to lurk around fishing boats and steal tuna that had been caught. But the new encounters are stumping marine scientists, who are not sure they are actual attacks. “I don’t think we can consider them attacks if we can’t fully understand their motivation,” said cetacean expert Susana García-Tiscar.

Wildlife

Australia Loses 30% of its Koalas to Wildfires

Australia has lost 30 per cent of its koala population in the last three years due to the blazing bushfires in Victoria and New South Wales. Warning about the rapid decline in the population of koalas, the Australian Koala Foundation has said the numbers are dropping at an alarming rate.

Wildlife

Penguins Stung to Death

An investigation was launched after 63 African penguins were found dead inside the Boulders African penguin colony in Simonstown, Western Cape in South Africa, on Friday morning. In a statement, the South African National Parks (SANParks) said the penguins were believed to have died suddenly between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Preliminary investigations suggest the penguins were stung to death by a swarm of Cape honey bees. Meanwhile, a dead penguin was found on Fish Hoek beach on Friday, which also had multiple bee stings.

Wildlife

Slaughter of more than 1,400 dolphins in the Faroe Islands

Hunters in the Faroe Islands riding speed boats and jet skis ambushed and slaughtered a super-pod of more than 1,400 white-sided dolphins on Sunday (Sept. 12), leading to outcry from conservationists and even some supporters of the archipelago’s centuries-old tradition of killing the marine animals for food. The dolphins’ bloody, lacerated corpses have been left lined up on the beach following the killings.

The scale of the slaughter drew outrage from conservationists, Faroese natives and pro-hunting parties alike. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society described the killings as a “massacre.”

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Wildlife

Wildfires in Australia caused an explosion of sea life thousands of miles away

Two years ago, in the southern Pacific Ocean, an explosion of algae grew to more than 2,000 miles wide — about the width of Australia.

Giant algal blooms are often tied to land pollution such as runoff from farmland, which is full of nutrients like nitrogen that these plant-like organisms need to thrive. But there were no nearby farms or factories here in the middle of the ocean.

The sprawling bloom was fueled instead by something faraway and unexpected: wildfires thousands of miles to the west. Smoke rising from Australia’s historic 2019 wildfires drifted out to sea and fertilized vast communities of algae. The smoke, which contained the nutrient iron, gave rise to algal blooms that were together larger than Australia. The blooms lasted for about four months.

More research is needed to determine whether the algal blooms are good or bad for the ecosystem.

Wildlife

Glimpse at Tasmanian Tiger

Thylacines, once widespread in Australia, have been extinct for nearly a century, but newly colorized footage provides a glimpse of what they looked like in life.

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Wildlife

Animals are ‘shape-shifting’ as a response to climate change

New review of existing research done by the authors of Trends in Ecology & Evolution, show some animals are adapting to climate change by changing their body size.

Research done on more than 30 animals show that average body size is decreasing while appendages and limbs, such as tails, beaks, and legs are growing for some animals. It’s suggested this is in order to adapt to a warming world caused by climate change. A smaller body size holds onto less heat and therefore keeps the animal cooler. Increased surface area though from a larger appendage now allows for better cooling and easier regulation of body temperature. This means larger appendages would be more advantageous in warmer climates than in cooler ones.

Australian parrots were found to have up to a 10% increase in beak surface area since 1871. Shrews and bats were also found to have an increase in ear, tails, legs and wing size as the climate warmed.

Wildlife

Rodent Takeover

The residents of a gated community in Argentina are struggling to get along with some unruly new neighbours: hundreds of the world’s largest rodents. Local residents have reported that the robust rodents, which can reach over 4 feet (1.2 meters) long and weigh up to 174 pounds (79 kilograms), have been pooping in gardens, destroying flower beds, causing traffic accidents and allegedly biting pet dogs.

Environmentalists say the capybaras are not invading the area but rather taking back their natural home from the multimillion-dollar development, which, in the late 1990s, was built on top of ecologically important wetlands surrounding the banks of the Paraná River, the second-largest river in South America, which was their home.

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