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Rural News

Return of the grizzly?

High Country News | Posted on March 23, 2017

The draft plan, currently under public comment, offers four alternatives for recovery, with the aim of one day achieving a population of 200 grizzlies. They range from taking no action to augmenting the population with transplanted bears from northwestern Montana and/or south-central British Columbia. One would see the initial translocation of 10 closely monitored bears with the intention of reaching 200 within 60 to 100 years. Another would move in five to seven bears per year for up to a decade. And an expedited approach could lead to 200 bears in a mere 25 years. If the North Cascades bears are ever going to bounce back, says Wayne Kasworm, acting grizzly recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it will take that kind of intervention. Though a small population has long existed on the British Columbia side of the Cascades, major river valleys, human development and railways have prevented those grizzlies from moving south across the border, says Kasworm. But trapping and moving bears can be difficult. Not all survive the stressful journey. Some slip their radio collars and wander off. Others attack livestock or pets. Transplanting grizzlies to restore a population isn’t entirely new, though — and it’s worked before.


Latest: Gray wolves delisted in Wyoming

High Country News | Posted on March 23, 2017

In 1995, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced endangered gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho, and they soon spread throughout the Northern Rockies. After a series of lawsuits, in 2011 Congress delisted wolves in Montana, Idaho and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah. (“How the gray wolf lost its endangered status— and how enviros helped,” HCN, 6/6/11). In Wyoming, wolves remained listed until 2012, when they came under state management. Conservation groups sued, and federal protection was restored in 2014.
In a March 3 ruling, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision. Wyoming’s wolves will again be placed under state management, and Wyoming will implement its 2012 plan, which allows wolves to be shot on sight across most of the state. “This decision highlights that Congress should not step in to block judicial review under the Endangered Species Act,” wrote Earthjustice attorney Timothy Preso in a statement. Plaintiffs say they may ask for a rehearing.


Genetic Engineering Can Help Us Save Animals’ Lives

Futurism | Posted on March 23, 2017

From tackling cancer to eradicating single-gene mutations, the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tool is often portrayed as the eighth wonder of the world by many. We look to CRISPR regarding how it affects us as a species, but the implications of the CRISPR Cas-9 system extend far beyond just humanity. The gene editing tool’s precision and efficacy can be implemented in manipulating the genetics of our agriculture as well as animals. It would be wrong, however, to think that this is humanity’s first attempt at the genetic manipulation of crops and pets alike—to be fair, we have been doing it since the inception of human civilization itself. Thirty thousand years ago, our ancestors were the first individuals to manufacture genetically modified organisms (GMOs) before it was cool. Through selective breeding or artificial selection, wild wolves in East Asia were selected for docility. With more obedient animals at their side, humans from 32,000 BCE could optimize their hunter/gatherer lifestyles. After several millennia, the artificially-selected wolves began to resemble the dogs we see today. Crops weren’t spared from our genetic coercion either. In fact, humans had domesticated several forms of wheat since 7800 BCE. However, our greatest success in genetic modification through artificial selection comes from corn. So how does CRISPR work? Unlike other gene editing tools in the past, CRISPR works to propagate sequences through generations at a 97% effectiveness rate. The system is naturally found in viruses, but researchers were able to manipulate the tool to essentially work as a copy and paste function for any desirable genetic information. The advent of CRISPR is revolutionizing business, with corporations taking advantage of the easy-to-use genetic engineering to even edit pets


LaPorte County creates morgue for cats, dogs

North West Indiana Times | Posted on March 22, 2017

Owners of pets killed on the road will get a chance to provide them with a proper burial under a new program in LaPorte County.LaPorte County Animal Control officer Jane Bernard said the effort is about providing closure and peace of mind for owners wondering about the fate of their missing dog or cat."We just thought that as a good community we want to take care of people's pets," she said.For years, the LaPorte County Highway Department has taken deceased cats and dogs found along roadsides directly to a composting pile containing wild animals that suffered a similar death at its main location at 1805 5th St. in LaPorte.Road crews on Thursday were instructed to take all bodies to the LaPorte County Small Animal Shelter at 2855 W. Ind. 2, next to the fairgrounds.Bernard, who's also the director of the shelter, said bodies will be scanned. If there's a microchip with contact information, an attempt will be made to reach the owner.Contact information will also be gleaned from any ID tags.


Cyanide trap injures Eastern Idaho boy, kills dog

Capital Press | Posted on March 22, 2017

An eastern Idaho sheriff says he’s investigating after a cyanide trap placed by federal authorities to kill coyotes injured a 14-year-old boy and killed his dog. Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen tells the Idaho State Journal that the device activated Thursday near the Eastern Idaho city of Pocatello.Nielsen says the boy was taken to a hospital to be tested for cyanide poisoning but was not seriously injured and was released. The dog, a 3-year-old Lab named Casey, died.


Prisoners train wild animals and rehabilitate themselves

Daily Yonder | Posted on March 22, 2017

More than a dozen men in orange, with the initials of the Arizona Department of Corrections stenciled on their shirts, are caring for 35 wild horses and burros on grounds about 50 miles southeast of Phoenix. The men shovel fresh hay into stalls, the wind carrying wisps into the air. They start to groom the horses.  Bear, the horse, isn’t happy. Rick Kline picks up Bear’s right foreleg, and tries to clean the dark horse’s hoof. Bear keeps shaking his head and tail, stomping out his discomfort.  “It’s okay,” Kline says quietly. He tries again. And again. Eight tries later, Bear accepts Kline’s calm commands.Kline, an inmate at the Arizona State Prison in Florence, helps care for and train wild horses and burros the state captures and offers for adoption. The Bureau of Land Management funds and oversees a program that annually provides about 120 wild horses and burros for adoption, according to its website. The mission is to reduce the population to prevent overgrazing.First, the animals need to be domesticated after they’re transferred from a holding facility. Inmates train and care for the horses and burros for three or four months at the prison.Inmates gain an education beyond learning to train horses.


The last, best chance to restore an ecosystem

Daily Yonder | Posted on March 22, 2017

In northcentral Montana, along the Missouri River as it flows east from its origins, a nonprofit organization is working hard to conserve a large piece of the plains. By blending the public with the private, philanthropy with entrepreneurship, patience with boldness, the American Prairie Reserve is stitching together a 3.5 million-acre park for people and wildlife. And their ambition is paying off, both for the land and wildlife conservation targets they hope to reach.  “The way we see it, we have a last, best chance to save – to restore – a functioning ecosystem right here and right now,” explains Hilary Parker, the reserve’s communication and outreach coordinator.“We are in a unique position because of what’s here. We have a large area of previously untilled prairie, so we have the land itself. And we have the rule of law, unlike some places in the world” says Parker, where conservation activities can be threatened by property disputes or poaching. “This means we can plan and implement restoration work with confidence over the long term.”That confidence appears warranted, as the American Prairie Reserve has moved aggressively to achieve its goals. Since its 2001 founding, the organization has:Acquired 86,586 acres of private lands.Acquired grazing leases on 266,518 of federal and state public lands.Established and expanded a 700-head bison herd.Conducted ecological restoration work.Established a conservation restoration tool, the Freese Scale, to measure the reserve’s practices and inspire other prairie restoration projects.Launched a private-label grassfed beef enterprise, Wild Sky beef, to provide income and incentives for beef producers on bordering ranches to adopt wildlife-friendly grazing practices.


Cargill’s protein unit donates fencing to Kansas fire victims

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on March 21, 2017

Cargill Inc. said its Wichita, Kans.-based North American protein business is donating $50,000 in new fencing materials to ranchers who lost fences during last week’s fast-moving wildfire in western Kansas and two nearby states. The wildfires consumed more than 1,000 square miles of grazing land in rural Kansas, destroying an estimated 100,000 miles of ranch fencing in Kansas alone, Cargill noted in a news release. The company said the Kansas Livestock Association told officials that replacement fencing materials were needed more than anything else to rebuild what the fire destroyed.


Researchers trial "genetically engineered" tree to rebuild US chestnut population hit by chestnut blight

Agriculture Week | Posted on March 21, 2017

Once a dominant species of the eastern US, the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was devastated early last century by the disease chestnut blight, caused by the fungal pathogen Cryphonectria parasitica which was recently detected in southwest England. Now researchers at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), part of the State University of New York, have planted 100 transgenic young trees which carry a wheat gene enabling them to withstand the blight in a "seed orchard"in upstate New York. When they grow large enough to produce pollen, this will be used to fertilise the flowers from wild-type "mother trees" to preserve genetic diversity. Half of the resulting nuts will inherit the blight-resistance gene. "They will be the basis of the trees we will eventually give out to the public," said ESF professor William Powell, who has led the project. "And they'll be the basis for the trees we will use for demonstration and research for the next 100 years."


Deadly fungus taking toll on Minnesota bats

inForum | Posted on March 21, 2017

The number of bats counted in the Soudan Underground Mine has dropped 70 percent due to white-nose syndrome, according to the annual survey of the state's largest bat wintering area.Researchers have known since 2013 that the deadly fungus was present on some bats that spend their winter deep underground in the former iron ore mine near Tower. Last winter was the first time they had seen hundreds of dead bats outside the mine during winter months, a sure sign of white-nose syndrome. This winter, the deaths have mounted to catastrophic levels. "Last year we had maybe 1,000 dead bats on the surface. This year it's more than 2,000 and counting. The ravens are really enjoying it, so it's hard to get a good count of the dead bodies," said Jim Essig, manager at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park.


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