Wildlife

Ursine Illness

California wildlife officials warn that a new unexplained neurological illness is causing some black bear cubs in the state to exhibit overly friendly “doglike” behavior with humans.

Several have been fearlessly eating and camping out in backyards as humans look on. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) says one young bear that was picked up was lethargic and underweight, displaying head tremors and a subtle head tilt.

Encephalitis, or brain inflammation, appears to be the cause. “At this point, we don’t know what causes the encephalitis, so we don’t know what, if any, health risks these bears might pose to other animals,” said CDFW wildlife veterinarian Brandon Munk.

Giraffe Disease

The Kenya Wildlife Service is investigating a mysterious skin disease that has killed more than 10 giraffes in the far northeast of the country. The illness was first reported last May, with six of the animals dying within the following five months. It eventually spreads to the mouth, where it interferes with the giraffes’ ability to eat.

The local reticulated giraffes, also known as Somali giraffes, have been recently under threat from poaching because livestock markets in the region have been closed due to the pandemic. Locals also believe the animals’ meat boosts libido, making them a target for slaughter.

Global Warming

Bears are Waking Up Too Soon

Europe just had its warmest winter ever, the US has just had its hottest December and January on record — and as a result, the bears are waking up from hibernation early because they think it’s spring.

According to the Guardian, there have been bear sightings in February and early March in Russia, Finland, Canada, and the US. In Banff in Canada, a grizzly bear was spotted on March 3, and in Yellowstone Park in the US, another grizzly was seen on March 7.

According to Yellowstone’s website, male grizzlies normally come out of hibernation in mid- to late March, and females with cubs emerge later, in April to early May.

If they wake up too early, there isn’t enough of their omnivorous diet for them to eat. And if they don’t have enough to eat, they go in search of food, where a run-in with humans is a possibility as they rifle through garbage and gardens.

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Wildlife

Bears Starving in Canada

Grizzlies in Canada are starving as the salmon population withers amid climate change. Excruciatingly thin grizzly bears in Canada are fresh evidence of the dire consequences of climate change and vanishing food sources for wildlife. Salmon, a key food source for grizzlies, is at an all-time low, affected by climate change. Fisherman say the salmon population is the smallest they’ve seen in 50 years.

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Bird Populations in Mojave Desert Collapse

Bird populations in the Mojave Desert have collapsed over the last century, and now scientists say they know why: The animals’ bodies can’t cope with the hotter and drier weather brought on by global warming.

The discovery, described this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, draws upon historical records and high-tech virtual bird modeling to explain how climate change has caused such drastic population losses — and how it will likely cause even deeper losses in the future.

As climate change and habitat destruction due to human activity continue across the globe, many species have found themselves in decline or under threat. A recent study in the journal Science, for instance, found that there are nearly 3 billion fewer birds in North America today than there were in 1970.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – British Columbia, Canada

Hungry and homeless: B.C. wildfires are forcing bears out of critical habitats. While many people across the province have been forced to flee their homes due to wildfires, so too have wildlife. Fires rip through forests, destroying habitats and burning food sources.

When a bear is forced out of its territory, it will move in search of a new home. However, that new home may already be inhabited, at which point the bears will fight each other to lay claim to the patch of land. Usually, the weaker bear will be pushed further away in search of food, creating a ripple effect, according to Langen, until it wanders into an urban area, sniffing out garbage cans for food. This represents a danger to the public and to the bear.

Numerous bears have been treated at wildlife sanctuaries and societies for dehydration and malnutrition caused by the wildfires. A number of animals have also died.

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Wildfires

Bears burned in Southern California wildfires now back home in the wild

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Two bears that were badly burned in last month’s Southern California wildfires are back in the wild after doctors used alternative treatments, including acupuncture, to save them.

Rescuers brought the bears and a 5-month-old mountain lion to vets with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and UC Davis.

Dr. Jamie Peyton says she and colleagues stitched tilapia fish skins on the animals’ feet to soothe the burns. Doctors commonly use pig and human grafts on burned people. Peyton says the bears soon were up and walking around in their bandages.

Wildfires – Australia

Volunteers from Rural Fire Service brigades across the Northern Rivers, New South Wales, have been helping to battle a large blaze south of Narrabri in the state’s west. The fire at Dipper Rd, Dandry, has burnt out about 60,000 hectares. It has now been contained.

Wildlife

Hungry Bears

Two people have been killed by bears in Russia’s Far East this fall due to dwindling food sources, according to a forestry worker.

AFP reports that authorities on Sakhalin Island say they were forced to shoot dead 83 of the bears during the past week because of their aggressive behavior.

The worker told the agency that there are not enough fish, berries and nuts for the bears to store up their usual fat reserves for winter. He added that overfishing of local salmon has also led to the ursine hunger.

Wildlife

Solar Strandings

A string of powerful solar storms interacting with Earth’s geomagnetic field may have been the cause of 29 beachings of sperm whales around the North Sea last year, scientists say.

Researchers from Germany’s University of Kiel found that the solar storms distorted the planet’s magnetic field by hundreds of miles, interfering with the whales’ sense of orientation.

Klaus Heinrich Vanselow and colleagues conclude that the whales would have been confused by the magnetic shifts because they grew up in the eastern Atlantic where such solar disruptions are typically much weaker.

Wildlife Conflicts

Animal rights groups expressed outrage at the Romanian government’s move to kill or relocate 140 bears and 97 wolves following a number of attacks on humans.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) strongly denounced the measure and blamed the attacks on deforestation. “The authorities should first address the problems that have prompted bears to get closer and closer to human settlements in the search for food,” Cristian Papp, the head of WWF’s Romanian branch, told Agence France-Presse.

About 6,000 brown bears roam in and around the country’s Carpathian Mountains.

Wildlife

280 bears massacred in shocking Florida bear hunt

More than 200 bears have been savagely massacred in a bear hunt in Florida, USA despite widespread outcry from animal rights activists.

The week-long cull – branded a “trophy hunt” by activists – began across the state yesterday amid furious protests.

One of the first kills of the hunt went to 49-year-old Bryan Smith, who claimed: “He had a good life and a good death.”

Several lactating females have also being killed, according to local media reports – meaning their cubs will starve to death.

The hunt was approved after officials claimed Florida’s black bear population had grown to 3,500 – up from several hundred in the 1970s – and presented a safety hazard.

Almost 3,800 permits were sold for the hunt to blood-thirsty Americans before the deadline on Friday.

Those with permits are allowed to use firearms and bows to kill the creatures this week – but unleashed dogs or bait are banned.

Animal activists deplored the hunt saying that: “There is not a bear problem in Florida but a leadership problem. If wealthy land developers have their way in Florida we will have no bears or panthers and will be left with the endless strip malls of box stores.”

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Environment

Mild Scandinavian Winter Stirs Bears and Buds Flowers

The bulge of warm air over Northern Europe, pushed up by the Arctic vortex on the other side of the Atlantic, has caused bears to emerge early from hibernation in Finland and plants to bud earlier than normal in Norway.

While North Americans have shivered in the coldest weather in decades, Nordic residents have experienced one of the mildest winters in a century.

The Norwegian newspaper Sunnmørsposten published reader photographs of daffodils emerging as early as mid-December, along with crocuses, daisies, dandelions and honeysuckle.

“It was very unusual to see no snow in large areas where it is normal in December,” said Ketil Isaksen, a scientist at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

“Only in the mountains and certain parts of Norway could you find snow.” Heavy rainfall, instead of snow, is believed to have flooded bear dens, forcing the animals out of hibernation.

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