Wild hogs could overwhelm balance of nature in Florida; a Rabies report from New Jersey; Coyote reports from Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island; and a report of Dengue Fever being the most rapidly spreading mosquito-borne viral disease in the world. Canada: A Coyote report from Ontario.

Wild boar. Photo by Richard Bartz. Wikipedia Commons.

Florida 03/16/11 sanibel-captiva-islander.com:  by Charles Sobczak – The European wild boar is one of the most destructive invasive species ever introduced into North America. Originally transported by Hernando de Soto to the gulf coast of Florida in 1539 as domestic livestock, these escaped pigs have now expanded their range northward to the upper peninsula of Michigan, westward to California, and eastward to Virginia. Texas and Florida have the largest populations of wild hogs. In Texas the wild boar is outcompeting the native collared peccary, or javelina, which seldom weighs more than 50 pounds.

In Florida the wild boar population is estimated in excess of 500,000. More than 100,000 wild boars are taken by hunters in the Sunshine State annually, ’though this impressive harvest is still inadequate for keeping the soaring population in check. It breeds year round; the sow is capable of producing two litters a year, with as many as 12 piglets per litter. Left unchecked, the wild hog population in Florida could easily overwhelm the balance of nature and do immeasurable harm to other species by consuming too much of the available food sources. A single 400-pound boar can devour bushels of acorns in a week, leaving little for the other acorn-eating species such as deer, wild turkeys, opossums, raccoons, armadillos, and any number of birds. The wild boar also eats snakes, carrion, refuse, insects, and reptiles.

Another problem with the wild boar is its habit of using its six-inch tusks to root out grubs, roots, and tubers, causing irreparable damage to the understory of forests and pastureland. As a result, many of the region’s parks and preserves such as Myakka River State Park have ongoing trapping operations to reduce or (optimistically) eliminate, the wild boar from the ecosystem. The hogs taken from these traps are sold by the trappers as game meat.

The wild boar story has a silver lining. In the 1920s and 1930s Florida’s white-tailed deer population was intentionally eradicated by the state because it was believed to be transmitting diseases to Florida’s domestic cattle. With the deer population down to 20,000 animals statewide, the only substantial food source left for the Florida panther became the wild boar. This allowed the panther to survive into the 21st century. Today the deer population has rebounded, but feral pigs, especially piglets, still play an important part in the panther’s survival.

The trouble with the panther’s diet of wild pig is that swine are known vectors of diseases. One of these is pseudorabies, a disease similar to rabies that is fatal to panthers. Another common disease is swine brucellosis, which can be fatal to humans as well. Care should always be taken when handling wild boar meat as both the mucous and blood can transmit disease, including trichinosis.

With a half-million wild hogs out there, it is unlikely Florida will ever be free of this intelligent and adaptive omnivore. Its primary cause of mortality is hunting by humans, followed by predation of smaller hogs by panthers; predation of piglets by owls, eagles, coyotes, bobcats, and black bears; and, finally, cannibalization by solitary male boars. Although not inherently dangerous to humans, a cornered or wounded boar wielding six-inch tusks is a formidable threat, and care should always be exercised when encountering one of these animals in the wild.

New Jersey 03/16/11 mycentraljersey.com: by Walter O’Brien – Residents should not be surprised if they encounter a wild fox during this time of the year, the township animal control office warns.  The advisory was prompted by an incident at about 3:50 p.m. March 11 when a wild fox ran out of the woods and bit an identified man who was jogging on Overbrook Road near Chalfonte Drive.  The jogger told township Patrolman Lawrence Anthes that while he was running, a fox came out of the woods, began whining, then ran toward him and bit his pants leg at his calf, police said. The man said he kicked the fox several times before the animal finally let go of his leg and ran back into the woods.  Anthes said the man’s skin did not appear to have been punctured, but the victim reported irritation and itching in the area of the bite. The man went to Hunterdon Medical Center for evaluation and treatment.  Anthes searched the immediate area and called Animal Control Officer Doug Rohl to catch the fox for rabies testing, but the animal could not be located.

Oregon 03/16/11 bluemountaineagle.com: Cougar and coyote hunting is open in Grant County, with several reminders provided by Oregon Department of Fish and Game.  Successful cougar hunters should remember that check-in of skull and carcass is mandatory; see the regulations for details.  Coyote numbers are good in most of the district. They may respond to distress calls.  Coyote hunters in northeastern Oregon need to take extra care to identify their target, as wolves can look like coyotes. Wolves are protected by state law and it is unlawful to shoot them.  ODFW needs hunters’ assistance to establish wolves’ presence in Oregon; please report any wolf sightings or wolf sign to the La Grande office, 541-963-2138 or online.  The Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Area remains closed to entry through April 15. The closure is being put into place to protect winter mule deer as part of the Mule Deer Initiative.  A reminder that the Murderers Creek-Flagtail Travel Management Area will be instituted beginning three days before archery season in 2011.  Use the Oregon Hunting Map to see where to hunt. A link to the map is at Oregon Hunting Map and other fish and game info, www.dfw.state.or.us/

Pennsylvania 03/16/11 outdoorlife.com: by Michael R. Shea – There were nearly 30 of us standing on the side of the road—all in camo, shotguns and rifles slung on shoulders, GPS units and walkie-talkies dangling from necks, half the lot chewing tobacco, dogs whining from crates in the back of pickups—when someone hollered, “Good lord, it looks like the 101st Airborne just landed!”   He was right. To hunt coyotes with dogs it takes a crew. And as Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s Association President Ron Sartori told me in the video above, the dog crews around Frenchville, PA are some of the best in the world. All told, the group OL content editor Alex Robinson and I ran with bagged four yotes in two days.  The hunt was part of Mosquito Creek’s annual coyote contest. It drew 3,541 hunters, all looking to bag the biggest animal and the $7,000 first prize. (For video go to http://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/hunting/2011/03/dog-hunters )

Rhode Island 03/16/11 wpri.com: by Nancy Krause – Lilly, a 12-year-old pug from Middletown, survived a coyote attack this week and she may have an unusual ally to thank.  Gary Paquette had just let Lilly into the yard when all of a sudden, a coyote went on the attack. It happened Tuesday around 5 a.m. on White Terrace in Middletown.  Paquette didn’t know anything was wrong until the family cat started to act strange and began jumping on the sliding glass door.  “I opened the door and could hear a struggle,” Paquette said. “I grabbed a flashlight that was on the table and a stick and I ran out screaming my head off.”  When he got outside, Paquette found his little black dog in the jaws of a coyote, who jumped a three-foot fence to get into the yard.  Paquette was able to startle the coyote, who ran around the yard a few times before then jumping back over the fence and taking off.  Lilly survived, but is now on pain medications and antibiotics.  “She’s got about seven or eight puncture wounds on her back and then she’s got two wounds on either side of her neck and a couple of punctures on her right shoulder,” explained Paquette, who now says Lilly won’t be going outside by herself anymore.  Coyotes have been a growing concern on Aquidneck Island in recent months.  Just last month, residents packed a town meeting to discuss ways to deal with the booming population.  At the meeting, officials advised resident to not feed the animals and to keep a close eye on their pets and young children and to secure trash.  A program has also been launched to pick up road kill in the area, which will take away one of the animals’ food sources.  A scientist is also using GPS technology to study and track the coyote population.

Global 03/14/11 hindu.com:  by N. Gopal Raj – In 18th century America, it came to be called “break bone fever,” a grim testament to the excruciating pain the sufferers experience. Dengue, according to the World Health Organisation, is the most rapidly spreading mosquito-borne viral disease in the world.  In the last five decades, the incidence has jumped 30-fold. The disease is now endemic in over 100 countries, placing two-fifths of the world’s population at risk. Not only is the number of cases increasing as the disease spreads to new areas but explosive outbreaks are occurring, the global agency notes.  Globally, it is estimated that 50 million-100 million people become infected with the virus each year, and 5,00,000 of them — a very large proportion children — develop life-threatening forms of the disease.

“The spread of dengue virus throughout the tropics represents a major, rapidly growing public health problem with an estimated 2.5 billion people at risk of dengue fever and the life-threatening disease, severe dengue,” observed Daniel P. Webster of the John Radcliffe Hospital in the U.K. and others in a review paper published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases in 2009. A safe and effective vaccine, they said, was urgently needed.  But while vaccines are available against yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis, caused by closely related viruses, a vaccine against dengue has proved remarkably hard to develop. Nevertheless, a number of different approaches to producing vaccines against it are being tested, from live but weakened viruses to killed viruses, and giving bits of viral protein. Some of these are already in clinical trials.  One hurdle to any prospective vaccine is that the virus comes in four varieties known as serotypes. A person who recovers after being infected with one serotype develops lifelong immunity only to that form of the virus, not the others.

The paradigm has been to make a vaccine that contains the four different viruses and get simultaneous immunisation against each of them, says Scott Halstead, a leading expert on dengue and vaccines against it. Dr. Halstead, who was born in Lucknow, is currently director of the Dengue Vaccine Initiative’s Supportive Research and Development Programme.  It is possible to combine viruses from different families in a single vaccine as in the case of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. But with regard to the dengue vaccine, when the four different viruses are given together, there will be interference between some of the viruses that is unpredictable and quite erratic, he says.

Sanofi Pasteur, for instance, spent about 15 years working on a vaccine only to find that one virus out-competed the other three. It finally switched to a completely different vaccine type, he added. Others too had a similar experience. (The new type of dengue vaccine from Sanofi Pasteur, vaccine division of the French company Sanofi Aventis, is currently the most advanced in clinical trials. It could be ready for licensing as early as in 2014, according to a paper that appeared in the journal PLoS Medicine last month.)

Canada:

Ontario 03/16/11 theenterprisebulletin.com: by Raymond Bowe – It’s no secret the coyote population is on the rise, but how to deal with it — if at all — remains a bone of contention.  Robbie Swift, who lives on Line 4 North, says the coyotes living around her home are becoming more aggressive and less timid. She fears not only for the safety of her two-year-old shepherd, but also children who live in the area.  A couple of weeks ago, Swift let Phoenix out to do his nightly business when they were surrounded by coyotes.  “One was just sitting there barking, like a dog — it wasn’t even howling,” she said. “Next thing I know, two more come out of the woods. Then they came from all directions.”  Swift believes there were six of them. “All I saw in the moonlight was them coming from all directions,” she added. “They send one out to lure and they try to circle you.”  Swift said the coyotes — which she estimates to be about 60 pounds each — came within 20 feet of her and her 75-pound dog. (For complete article go to http://www.theenterprisebulletin.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3028656 )

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2 responses to “Wild hogs could overwhelm balance of nature in Florida; a Rabies report from New Jersey; Coyote reports from Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island; and a report of Dengue Fever being the most rapidly spreading mosquito-borne viral disease in the world. Canada: A Coyote report from Ontario.

  1. All the stories about wild boar, ferral pigs and the dangers they pose are just …….stories. The TV shows, national geohraphic, outdoor channel hunting shows and such create a lot more hype and angst than what reality calls for. I grew up on a hig and chicken farm. We send to market monthly around 500 pigs. The breed stock were enormous Landras pigs. This is my opinion about the whole dangerous invasive species in the USA. When game commission or anybody involved with nature conservation is asking questions, they will get the right answer. Oh, they are destroying my fields, my crops and they cary and spread disease. They push of deer etc. Yeah right. The pigs are less prone to disease because they are not confined with other pigs. Conditions for disease are less than ideal. They do root up areas they feed in. These are not as extensive as land owners claim it to be. I have pictures of dee and pigs feeding together at a feeder. If the pigs were are damaging as they are made out to be, land owners would welcome hunters onto their land to cleqn it up. The reality is that these “dangerous and destructive” creatures are such a huge source of income that landowners will buy at auction to restock their property for hunters. They love the money ….. and the pigs. Pigs have been roaming the US since the Spanish set foot here and there numbers are not exploding as was stated on the “Pig Bomb” series on TV. Stop axagerating and making the pig issue more than what it is. We apparently do not learn from exagerating experiences. Iraq comes to mind, so does Iran. The hunting community makes fortunes, those selling hunting gear and the land owners are smiling all the way to the bank. Be greatfull for the pigs.

  2. Hi there, awesome site. I thought the topics you posted on were very interesting. I tried to add your RSS to my feed reader and it a few. take a look at it, hopefully

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