Author Archives: Jerry Genesio

CANADA: Five NUNAVUT hunters attacked by POLAR BEAR ~ MASSACHUSETTS man diagnosed with HUMAN RABIES ~ CALIFORNIA petting zoo owner has raiding MOUNTAIN LION shot ~ CALIFORNIA rancher has raiding MOUNTAIN LION trapped ~ IOWA police shoot MOUNTAIN LION ~ NORTH DAKOTA man shoots MOUNTAIN LION in his house ~ WISCONSIN scientist to lead study of LYME DISEASE ~ CANADA: CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE found on SASKATCHEWAN DEER farm.

Polar Bear. Courtesy National Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin.


Nunavut 12/22/11 A group of hunters near Igloolik, Nunavut, had a harrowing experience when they were attacked by a polar bear that was with her cubs. The bear died after the hunters shot it. On Wednesday, five men went out to retrieve their cache of Igunaq, or aged walrus meat, when the bear attacked them. John Arnatsiaq, 58, squared off against the bear after it went after his friend. “All of a sudden the bear was right there. But it wasn’t going for me – it was going for the other guy,” said Arnatsiaq.

Arnatsiaq jumped in between the two and shoved a hammer in the bear’s mouth. “What I did was poke the bear with the hammer and put the hammer in its mouth and pull to make him angry so it will go after me instead of going after that guy. Because I knew that guy had bullets in his pocket and that his rifle was not loaded,” said Arnatsiaq. Arnatsiaq said the bear kept going for his friend and swatted Arnatsiaq away. Arnatsiaq grabbed the bear’s fur and kept swinging the hammer. “And then we were fighting for a few minutes and then I missed my footing and almost fell. That’s when the bear was going for my shoulder,” he said. The bear bit into his hand which was covering his shoulder. At that point, the other hunters were finally able to shoot the bear and the cubs, which had joined in the fight. “It could have been worse, I’m fine, I’m ok,” he said.

inArnatsiaq said the bear was hungry and wanted the walrus meat. Arnatsiaq didn’t escape unscathed – the bear also bit his face, requiring him to get five stitches in his lip. He said his body is also sore. Arnatsiaq has had close polar bear encounters before. In the past, he smashed a bear on the nose with his camera. “First time with a camera, this time with a hammer. Probably no more next time,” he said. Polar bears are the largest terrestrial carnivores on the planet. Adult female bears can weigh up to 550 pounds and can grow to nearly eight feet in length.

Massachusetts 12/30/11 by Matt Stout & Ira Kantor — A Barnstable man given a grim outlook by state officials after being diagnosed as the first human victim of rabies in Massachusetts during the past 75 years may have a better chance to survive than public health officials say, according to a doctor who revolutionized treatment of the previously fatal disease. The man, who is in his 60s but not identified by state officials, remains in critical condition at a Boston hospital after likely being bitten by a bat inside his home or a converted barn. Though the disease only shows up in a handful of humans nationwide each year, rabies has a mortality near 100 percent, said Dr. Larry Madoff, director of the Department of Public Health’s Division of Epidemiology and Immunization. “Almost nobody survives.” But Dr. Rodney E. Willoughby, a Wisconsin pediatrician who created a drug regimen that helped a teenager become the first person to survive the disease without immunization, said the unnamed Bay State victim may still have a chance to avoid the fate of the five other rabies victims in the country who died from the disease this year, despite the man’s age.

We’re quoting about 20, 25 percent survival,” Willoughby told the Herald in a phone interview, though he declined to say if he had any direct involvement in the Massachusetts man’s case. “It’s not zero, but 20 percent isn’t something to write home about.” Thomas McKean, Director of the Barnstable Health Division, confirmed yesterday the man lived in the Cape Cod town. The man’s wife is also undergoing treatment in case she, too, was infected, McKean said. No one else lived on their property, which McKean said includes a barn that had been converted into office space, where the man may have been bitten. State officials yesterday were still awaiting the results of species tests, but they said there were bats in the man’s living quarters. – For complete article see

California 12/28/11 by David Danelski — A mountain lion that took a heavy toll on the animals in an Oak Glen petting zoo was killed on Christmas night when it returned to a sheep carcass to feed. The 7-year-old female lion had been raiding the petting zoo at Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho apple orchards. In all, 13 goats and sheep died, said Devon Riley, who owns the business in the mountains east of Yucaipa. When the goats and sheep started to disappear in late November, California Department of Fish and Game officials investigated and determined it was the work of a cougar. The department issued Riley’s a special permit to shoot the lion. When the goats and sheep started to disappear in late November, California Department of Fish and Game officials investigated and determined it was the work of a cougar. The department issued Riley’s a special permit to shoot the lion. The lion would hop a fence, grab an animal and then stash the carcass in a nearby willow thicket, Riley said. To discourage the predator, the Rileys moved their animals to pens close to their home. But the attacks continued. “She just found the next spot to go to,” he said. “We saw her only twice, always in the middle of the night.”

The end came about 11:30p.m. Sunday. “She killed a sheep, and she returned to feed on it,” Riley said. Riley’s son, 19-year-old Seth, killed the lion with a shotgun. Kevin Brennan, a Fish and Game wildlife biologist, said the cougar was about four feet long and weighed 82 pounds, a normal size. The animals live about 10 years in the wild, he said. Property owners can legally kill mountain lions or bears that attack livestock or pets, Brennan said. The resident must first obtain a permit or catch the animal in the act.

California 12/28/11 by Kollin Kosmicki — A county-designated trapper caught a mountain lion Tuesday after an Aromas rancher reported two steers were killed the previous day, said San Benito’s agriculture commissioner Ron Ross. A rancher off Anzar Road on Monday discovered two dead steers of about 450 pounds each. He suspected a mountain lion may have been responsible and reported it to the San Benito agriculture commissioner’s office. On Monday night, a county-hired expert with the U.S. Department of Agriculture set out a trap, and caught the mountain lion in a cage Tuesday morning, Ross said. The lion was about 100 pounds and has been euthanized, which is a state requirement when the big cats are captured after such encounters. There have been occasional reports from local ranchers of possible cougar attacks – some officials have expressed concern about a growing population and needing a statewide count of the species – but it is uncommon to actually capture a mountain lion in a trap, or large cage with a door that shuts when an animal enters. “To my knowledge, this is the first time (with a capture) on the San Benito County side of Aromas,” Ross said. The area where the trapper caught the lion is mostly rural with pockets of residential neighborhoods nearby. The trap was located about 100 yards from a residence, according to officials.

Iowa 12/23/ Authorities have shot and killed a mountain lion in western Iowa. The police chief in Blencoe, near the Nebraska border, and a Monona County Sheriff’s Deputy responded early Friday after someone reported seeing the animal. The officers shot the adult male lion after finding him in a tree. Officials believe the lion likely came from a state west of Iowa. Biologists with the Department of Natural Resources believe most of the lions seen in Iowa are pushed out of their native areas by older, dominant males. The lion will be analyzed to determine its age, feeding habits and place origin. It will eventually be mounted and put on display in Monoma County. The Department of Natural Resources says wildlife protection isn’t extended to mountain lions in Iowa.

North Dakota 12/22/ News Release — State Game and Fish Department officials are confirming that a rural western North Dakota homeowner shot and killed a 38-pound mountain lion kitten inside his home on Wednesday evening. According to chief game warden Robert Timian, upon returning to his farmstead northwest of Grassy Butte Wednesday, the homeowner discovered the mountain lion kitten lying on his couch. The man then grabbed a .22 pistol kept near his doorway, shot the animal, and then contacted Game and Fish. Timian said the initial investigation revealed the garage door was open during the day, and the door from the garage into the house was open when the owner returned home. Since the lion apparently killed four domestic cats in the house, and other domestic cats were present, it’s possible the lion was attracted to the house by cat scent coming through the open door, Timian added.  “This is a very unusual situation,” Timian said. “The homeowner probably wasn’t in any danger from the small lion, and he was well within his rights to dispatch it.” The home is located in an area of North Dakota where mountain lions are present. While Game and Fish periodically gets reports of lions in or near farmsteads, Timian said this is the first one that has entered a home. The fact that it was a young animal may have been a factor in its presence around a dwelling.

Wisconsin 12/22/ The Medical College of Wisconsin has received a $1.9 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Jenifer L. Coburn, PhD, professor of medicine, division of infectious disease, is the primary investigator of the grant. Wisconsin is one of the states with a high incidence of Lyme disease, with 20,000 cases being diagnosed since tracking began in 1980.

Dr. Jenifer Coburn

In the United States, 30,000 cases were diagnosed in 2010. Many patients are not diagnosed for weeks or months, and untreated cases can lead to permanent neurological impairment. In this research project, Dr. Coburn will study a protein named P66, which is a part of the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi. P66 has been shown to be critical to the ability of the bacterium to cause infection in mammals. Learning more about this protein and the way it contributes to infection could lead to novel approaches to prevention and early treatment of Lyme disease.


Saskatchewan 12/21/ Chronic wasting disease has been discovered on another game farm in Saskatchewan. It is the fourth case in the province so far this year. The latest case involves a white tail deer from a farm in the Prince Albert area. The animal was discovered to be carrying the disease through a mandatory testing program for all animals over the age of 12 months that die on farms. Canada Food Inspection Agency scientists say the disease poses very little risk to humans. However, they say to prevent the spread of CWD to other animals or farms it is necessary to slaughter the entire herd.

Deer with CWD

Alex McIsaac, from CIFA, says slaughter is the only way to do an accurate test. “Unfortunately we don’t have a live animal test at this time so that’s the only way we can determine how far it has spread, unfortunately it’s by destroying animals and using this post-mortem sample.”


Santa’s REINDEER get clean bill of health from AVMA

North Pole 12/23/11 News Release — The president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) returned this week from a health check-up at the North Pole, declaring Santa’s reindeer to be healthy, free of disease, and ready for their Christmas Eve flight.

‘I can assure you that all of them are in healthy condition and are all ready to go for Christmas Eve,’ said Dr. René Carlson, upon her return to the United States.

In addition to supervising all of the business affairs of the association, the AVMA president serves as the official veterinarian of the North Pole. In this role, Dr. Carlson is charged with providing the yearly health exam for Santa’s reindeer.

The reindeers’ annual exam includes ensuring a health check about a month prior to their Christmas Eve flight to make sure they’re healthy and not showing any signs of disease, such as brucellosis, tuberculosis, or chronic wasting disease, that can be transmitted to other animals.

‘It’s important that they don’t have any diseases they could give to other animals during their trip around the world,’ said Dr. Carlson. ‘They also need to be healthy, so they’re less likely to catch any diseases themselves on that long flight.’

Once she determined the reindeer were healthy, Dr. Carlson filled out the official “North Pole Certificate of Animal Export” that provides Santa with the documents he and his reindeer need to travel.


CALIFORNIA police find two MOUNTAIN LION cubs under car in Burbank ~ UTAH DNR finds CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE in new area ~ FOLLOW-UP REPORTS: SOUTH CAROLINA woman with RABIES has died.

A mountain lion cub. Photo by California Fish & Game.

California 12/20/11 Police say two badly malnourished mountain lion cubs were found hiding under a car in Burbank and taken to a wildlife center for recovery. City News Service reports that the animals were taken to the California Wildlife Center in Calabasas on Tuesday after animal shelter workers were called to the vehicle on East Orange Grove Avenue. Police Sgt. Darin Ryburn said there were reports that some residents tried to hit the cubs with brooms. The animals appear to not have been fed by their mother in a few weeks. The cubs were put with another litter at the wildlife center in hopes they would be accepted and cared for. The facility tries to rehabilitate animals that belong in the wild but have been injured or orphaned.

Utah 12/20/11 A deer infected with chronic wasting disease has been found in a new area in Utah. That’s not a surprise, though—the new area is next to an area where the disease has been for years. Technicians at the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Logan have finished testing tissue samples taken from more than 1,200 deer, elk and moose this fall. Hunters across Utah took the animals, and biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources collected the samples.

Deer with CWD

One of the deer that was taken on the San Juan deer hunting unit in southeastern Utah tested positive for the disease. This is the first time a deer from the unit has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). Leslie McFarlane, wildlife disease coordinator for the DWR, says she’s not surprised that a deer from the San Juan unit tested positive for CWD. “We’ve found deer with CWD on the La Sal Mountains,” she says. “The La Sal Mountains are just north of the San Juan unit.”

Follow-Up Reports:

(See December 17, 2011; SOUTH CAROLINA DHEC confirmed case of HUMAN RABIES.)

South Carolina 12/20/11 by Tenessa Jennings – A Sumter County woman who became South Carolina’s first case of human rabies in more than 50 years has died, according to the coroner. Sumter Coroner Havrin Bullock said 46-year-old Ivey Durant died from complications from rabies. Officials believe she was bitten by a bat.

FLORIDA zoo training FERAL CATS to protect exotic residents and visitors ~ MOUNTAIN LION report from CALIFORNIA ~ NIH scientists begin CHIKUNGUNYA VACCINE trial ~ TRAVEL WARNINGS for BRAZIL.

Florida 12/18/11 by Carolyn Susman — The next time you visit the Palm Beach Zoo, feel free to feed the ducks and the geese and to follow the roaming peacock around. But stay clear of Snuggle Cat. He’s working. Snuggle Cat is part of a unique experiment the zoo is conducting to reduce the number of feral cats that have invaded zoo property and that can pose a health threat to zoo animals. Shockingly, over the past years, there have been deaths at the zoo because of cat-borne illnesses such as toxoplasmosis that can cause fatal infections in kangaroos and wallabies. And the feline leukemia virus can threaten the health of jaguars, tigers and African servals. The problem even affected which zoo animals were brought in and how they were housed. “Decisions were made, that were big time, not to get new animals or create new exhibits,” said Dr. Michele Miller, director of conservation medicine for the zoo and a veterinarian. The problem was hard to control. “Being in the center of an urban park, we find that the feral cats wander in on their own or are dropped off,” says Miller. She says that two or three feral cats a week would show up on zoo grounds and later produce kittens. Zoo staff tried collecting the animals and relocating them to places like the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, but that became increasingly difficult. And it didn’t stop the ferals from invading.

About six months ago, a “team decision” was made to neuter a couple of these cats, treat them for illnesses, vaccinate them, and act toward them the way “a responsible pet owner would.” The object was to create “resident” cats that would view the zoo as their own territory and patrol it against the invasion of others, Miller explained. So far, it seems to be successful. “I do think it’s helping,” she said. “We’re not seeing other feral cats. We don’t have to deal with taking ferals where they might have to be destroyed or to be concerned that they have introduced diseases to staff or visitors.” Snuggle Cat is one of these new residents. He’s friendly, but signs are posted that caution against petting him or approaching him like a house cat. There’s always the possibility he might bite or nip a stranger. And having cats like Snuggle Cat around doesn’t slow the zoo’s strict approach to keeping its animals well.

The zoo staff works “very hard” to keep its animals healthy, Miller said, and the feral cats had presented a “very significant concern.” The zoo’s animals are vaccinated, but the shots are “not 100 percent effective.” So, removing a possible source of infection was extremely important. Miller is aware that treating feral cats this way is controversial. She knows that the trap, neuter, release approach can draw opposition — as it has in Palm Beach — because the cats can present a threat to native wildlife. Even house cats, though, can hunt for fun. Snuggle and the other patrol cats are “very well-fed” to prevent these instincts from over taking them, Miller points out, so Snuggle is often content to stretch out on the porch of the zoo’s cafe and take in the sun. “It’s an up-close and personal zoo,” Miller says with a smile. And Snuggle Cat helps it stay that way.

California 12/19/11 Altadena, Los Angeles County: Mountain lion sighting reported. See
Global 12/20/11 News Release — An experimental vaccine to prevent chikungunya fever, a viral disease spread by certain species of mosquitoes, is being tested in a clinical trial conducted by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) scientists at the National Institutes of Health. The vaccine was developed by researchers at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center (VRC) using non-infectious virus-like particles to prompt an immune response. The trial is testing the vaccine’s safety and ability to elicit antibodies against chikungunya virus. It will enroll 25 healthy adults aged 18 to 50 years.

Chikungunya virus infection is generally not fatal but it can cause debilitating symptoms, most often fever, headache and severe joint pain. Symptoms usually subside in a few weeks but can last for months. The first cases of illness were reported in the early 1950s in east Africa. The disease is now endemic throughout much of Africa and parts of Asia. India, for example, has reported frequent outbreaks with significant public health impact, including a 2006 outbreak that lasted eight months and resulted in 1.25 million suspected cases of illness. Global travel and trade have increased the risk that the disease will spread. A 2007 outbreak of chikungunya fever in Italy prompted concern that the virus is becoming established in non-tropical settings and could pose a worldwide threat. There is no specific treatment for the illness and no vaccine to prevent it.

Dr. Gary Nabel

“A vaccine to prevent chikungunya fever, an emerging global health concern, would address an important need,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “If successful, this approach also might be used to develop vaccines against related mosquito-borne viruses, including those that cause Western, Eastern and Venezuelan equine encephalitis.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, human infections with these equine viruses are rare, but, in the case of Eastern equine encephalitis, more than 30 percent of infected people die and most of the survivors suffer serious neurological complications. In 2010, scientists led by VRC Director Gary Nabel, M.D., Ph.D, reported that rhesus monkeys inoculated with the virus-like particle chikungunya vaccine 15 weeks prior to virus exposure were completely shielded from infection. Monkey blood serum containing anti-chikungunya antibodies generated by the VLP vaccine also protected immune-deficient mice from becoming infected with chikungunya virus, the scientists showed.

Travel Warnings:

Brazil 12/19/11 News Release — Yellow fever is a risk for travelers to most areas of Brazil, except coastal regions. During 2009, an outbreak of yellow fever, including a number of deaths, occurred in parts of southeastern Brazil that had not been affected by yellow fever for many years. In response, the Brazil Ministry of Health has gradually expanded the list of municipalities for which yellow fever vaccination is recommended in the four southeastern states of São Paulo, Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul.

Globally, yellow fever occurs in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America and is spread to people through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Symptoms can include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, backache, nausea, and vomiting.

Currently, Brazil and CDC recommend yellow fever vaccination for travelers to the following states:

  • All areas of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Distrito Federal (including the capital city of Brasília), Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, and Tocantins.
  • Other designated areas of the following states: Bahia, Paraná, Piauí, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and São Paulo. Vaccination is also recommended for travelers visiting Iguassu Falls.
  • Vaccination is NOT recommended for travel to the following coastal cities: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador, Recife, and Fortaleza.

Brazil currently does not require yellow fever vaccination for entrance into the country. However, travelers are strongly urged to get the yellow fever vaccine before traveling to an area of Brazil with risk of yellow fever virus transmission.

DEER gets unofficial pardon from WISCONSIN governor ~ FOLLOW-UP REPORTS: The now famous OREGON GRAY WOLF known as OR-7 is still traveling alone ~ RABIES reports from NEW JERSEY, NORTH CAROLINA, and RHODE ISLAND.

White-tailed deer fawn. PD. Wikimedia Commons.

Wisconsin 12/16/11 Gov. Scott Walker has given an unofficial pardon to an orphaned deer the state had threatened to euthanize. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recently sent a letter to 49-year-old Marvin Graaf of Lake Geneva. It asked him to surrender the deer so she can be euthanized since she’s tame came from a chronic wasting disease area. The deer was living on his farm for 15 months since her mother was hit by a car. Graaf nursed the then-fawn back to health and his ex-wife named her Charlotte. DNR spokesman Bill Cosh said officials are discussing possibly sending Charlotte to a wildlife rehabilitation facility.

Follow-Up Reports:

(See November 3, 2011: Lone GRAY WOLF in Oregon travels 300 miles crossing Cascades looking for mate and new territory; November 12, 2011: Oregon Wild launches CONTEST for youngsters to come up with new name for a lone GRAY WOLF known only as OR-7; November 15, 2011: OREGON’s OR-7 lone WOLF crosses into Jackson County; December 13, 2011: OREGON’s wandering lone WOLF – OR-7 – captures the imagination of a worldwide audience.)

Oregon 12/18/11 According to Richard Cockle, a reporter with The Oregonian, the 2 ½-year-old male gray wolf known internationally as OR-7, spent four days last week hanging about the south boundary of Crater Lake National Park. John Stephenson, a federal biologist, said that was unusual so he decided to see what OR-7 was up to. Using handheld GPS equipment, Stephenson found an elk carcass in the same general vicinity. Tracks in the area suggest that OR-7 is still traveling alone and probably won’t be siring more wolves in Oregon’s Cascades. He has now traveled about 730 miles since leaving his pack in the northeast corner of the state. – To read Cockle’s complete article go to

New Jersey 12/16/11 Middletown, Monmouth County:  Following separate incidents, a skunk and a raccoon have tested positive for rabies. See

North Carolina 12/19/11 Charlotte, Mecklenburg County: A coyote acting strangely in the vicinity of the Aldersgate retirement community was captured and has tested positive for rabies. See

Rhode Island 12/16/11 Smithfield, Providence County: Eleven people have been treated for rabies as a precaution after a pet cat tested positive for the virus. See


South Carolina 12/16/11 News Release — Health officials have diagnosed South Carolina’s first case of human rabies in more than 50 years, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today. “We are deeply saddened to report that a middle-aged woman from Sumter County has contracted the rabies virus,” said Eric Brenner, M.D. and medical epidemiologist with DHEC’s Bureau of Disease Control. “There are only about one-to-three cases of human rabies each year in this country. Tragically, rabies almost always ends in death.” Dr. Brenner said almost all rabies infections occur as the result of a bite that introduces infected saliva into the fresh wound.  “In this instance, we believe it’s likely she was bitten by a bat that entered her home a few months ago,” Dr. Brenner said. “The rabies virus travels slowly through the body until it reaches the brain and central nervous system and produces serious initial symptoms including headache, difficulty swallowing, seizures, anxiety, agitation and confusion. Most patients die within a few weeks after the onset of these symptoms.”

Bat bite marks.

In adherence with agency procedures, DHEC staff will conduct an investigation to determine if anyone else might have been exposed to the virus. This investigation will include members of the patient’s family, friends, co-workers, healthcare providers and others who have been in close contact with her in the weeks before she developed symptoms. “It is important to note that person-to-person transmission of rabies has never been documented, with the exception of special circumstances in medical settings,” Dr. Brenner said. “Exposure to the blood of an infected person is not considered a reason to be treated for rabies.”

 “If you find a bat inside your home, don’t release it outside,” Dr. Brenner said. “Do not touch the bat with your bare hands. Trap it under a container and contact your county DHEC environmental health office to have the bat tested for rabies. If the bat is found outside on the ground, don’t touch it. And if a pet comes in contact with a bat, the bat should be trapped under a container and you should call your county DHEC environmental health office to have the bat tested for rabies.”

The last confirmed case of human rabies in South Carolina occurred in December 1959 when an elderly Florence County man was bitten by a dog. Prior to that, in March 1958, an elderly Clarendon County woman contracted rabies when she was bitten by a fox.

Part of national park in COLORADO closed due to MOUNTAIN LION activity ~ NEVADA firefighter’s death due to HANTAVIRUS ~ CANADA: NEW BRUNSWICK reports COYOTES attacking PETS ~ TRAVEL WARNINGS for AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, INDONESIA, MARSHALL ISLANDS, & MALAYSIA.

Mountain Lion. Courtesy of US Department of Agriculture.

Colorado 12/15/11 News Release – Dinosaur National Monument has closed the Split Mountain Campground, Picnic Area and Green River Access effective immediately due to mountain lion activity. On the afternoon of December 11th, a mountain lion was observed dragging a mule deer kill down from the hill to a cache site in the Campground. Mountain lions can cache their kills and return to feed for a number of days, and they exhibit defensive behavior around the carcass during that time. In winter conditions, the lion can remain near the cached carcass for one to two weeks. Due to the significant safety risk posed by the lion and the cached food supply, the Split Mountain area is closed until further notice. It is anticipated that the area will reopen within two weeks. Visitors are reminded that although mountain lions, also known as cougars, are rare to see, all of Dinosaur National Monument is suitable habitat. -For precautions that should be observed within the monument go to

Deer Mouse

Nevada 12/14/11 The Elko County coroner has confirmed that the death of Paul Cash, 39, a fire captain with the Nevada Department of Forestry who died last February, was due to complications from a Hantavirus infection. In a complaint filed by the Occupational Safety and Health Chief Administrative Officer, the coroner claims Cash contracted the virus at one of the Spring Creek fire stations just outside of Elko. According to the complaint, firefighters were potentially exposed to deer mice feces, but despite federal law, they were not required to use protective gear while cleaning up areas with mouse droppings. The complaint goes on to state that firefighters routinely swept up the station with equipment that had been stored next to possible deer mice nesting sites. It is known that Hantavirus infection can be contracted by inhaling dust containing deer mouse feces. After receiving confirmation that Cash died because of occupational exposure to Hantavirus, the Nevada division of forestry failed to notify OSHA as federal law requires.


New Brunswick 12/13/11 The Department of Natural Resources is investigating three recent reports of coyotes attacking pets in Oromocto. See

Travel Warnings:

World Travel Health Alerts 12/14/11

AUSTRALIA: Dengue warning for North Queensland
Heading to North Queensland? Beware of dengue. That’s the message to both residents and travelers as the state’s north prepares for the wet season. More details.
Advice to travelers: Travelers visiting Queensland’s tropical north should take the same bite-prevention measures as those heading to tropical destinations overseas. Cover up and apply an insect repellent containing effective active ingredients, such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, to exposed skin when outdoors. There is no vaccine or preventative medication for dengue.

BRAZIL: Dengue epidemic alerts
The Brazilian Ministry of Health has issued an alert warning of the potential for dengue epidemics in 48 municipalities due to high numbers of Aedes aegypti mosquito breeding sites. More details

INDONESIA: South Jakarta a hot spot for dengue
The Kebayoran Lama district in South Jakarta has one of the highest rates of dengue in the national capital. Other districts with high case numbers include: Pasar Minggu (194), Tebet (151), Jagakarsa (123), Cilandak (118), Pesanggrahan (93), Kebayoran Baru and Setiabudi (85), Pancoran (61), and Mampang Prapatan (49). More details.

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Dengue count now tops 500
Three months after i ts sudden arrival, 506 dengue cases have been reported, including 138 hospital admissions. There have also been cases on Ebeye Island (3) and the outer islands of Arno (5), Utrik (7), and Enewetak (3). The outbreak has prompted a massive local clean-up. More details.

MALAYSIA: Sarcocystosis cluster on Tioman Island                            A cluster of sarcocystosis cases have been reported among travelers returning to various countries from Tioman Island, located on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. More details.
Advice to travellers: Sarcocystosis is caused by a parasite called sarcocystis, and occurs in tropical or subtropical countries, mainly in South East Asia. Most people infected with sarcocystis do not have symptoms, however it can cause muscle pain, mild diarrhea, and fever. While there is no vaccine or treatment for sarcocystosis, most infected people recover without treatment. Travelers should follow safe food and water guidelines, and practice good hygiene.

OREGON finalizing rules to allow compensation for WOLF depredation ~ RABIES reports from GEORGIA (2), & VIRGINIA ~ CDC REPORTS: EID Journal Highlights – DENGUE outbreak in FLORIDA, 2009; RABIES in captive DEER in PENNSYLVANIA, 2007-10; and BABESIOSIS in the ELDERLY, 2006-08.

Gray wolf. Photo by Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Oregon 12/14/11 The return of the gray wolf to Oregon has already resulted in conflicts between the predatory animal and livestock, leading to past, present and future losses for Oregon ranchers. This past session, the Oregon Legislature established a $100,000 grant program to compensate the ranching community when livestock and working dogs are attacked and killed by wolves. The Oregon Department of Agriculture is finalizing the rules surrounding that compensation program, which goes into effect immediately upon the director’s signature. “Even though a plan is in place to manage wolves returning to Oregon, there is compassion for the suffering of livestock and the producers who experience losses due to depredation,” says Dr. Don Hansen, state veterinarian with ODA. “The legislature has decided to support those people who have suffered losses as well as those who want to protect their livestock by practicing prevention.”

House Bill 3560 directed ODA to establish and implement a wolf depredation compensation and financial assistance grant program. The grant funds may go to ranchers who have had their livestock killed or injured by wolves, or to those who take measures to reduce the possibility of wolf attacks. The ultimate decision of who gets the money, how much, and why will be made at the county level. “ODA has the responsibility to oversee the program, but the monies go to counties,” says Hansen. “It’s the counties who have the responsibility to apply the rules, request the grant funds, and distribute funds that are received.” Counties are directed to award funds under one of two scenarios. Compensation may be paid to persons who suffer loss or injury to livestock or working dogs due to wolf depredation. Financial assistance may also be provided to persons who implement livestock management techniques or non-lethal wolf deterrence techniques designed to limit wolf and livestock interactions. The rules are set up to ensure the awards are appropriate and that money isn’t handed out just because someone asks for it. – For complete article go to

Georgia 12/14/11 Gillsville, Hall County – A feral cat that bit a man last weekend has tested positive for rabies. This is the 16th case of the virus reported in the county this year. See

Georgia 12/13/11 Lula, Hall County – A skunk is most recent of 15 rabies cases in the county this year. See

Virginia 12/13/11 Campbell County – A skunk is most recent of 593 rabies cases in the state this year. Two dogs were exposed. See


Florida 12/14/11 Emerging Infectious Disease Journal – Dengue Outbreak in Key West, Florida, USA, 2009, Elizabeth G. Radke, et al.  For more than 60 years, no cases of dengue had been acquired in the continental United States outside the Texas-Mexico border; therefore, a reported suspect case in Florida in 2009 was cause for concern. An investigation, consisting of a survey and blood testing, found 13 Key West residents in the sampled area who had been infected with dengue virus in 2009 and reported no travel outside the United States. From the survey results, researchers estimated that 5 percent of people in the surveyed area had been infected, which would mean that more infections occurred in 2009 than were reported. Factors that put people at risk for dengue infections included having windows frequently open, using air conditioning less frequently and having yards with large amounts of vegetation or bird baths. Preventing future cases will require personal protection against mosquitoes, mosquito control, early diagnosis, appropriate testing, and prompt reporting of suspected cases. A total of 27 and 66 cases of locally acquired dengue were reported in Key West in 2009 and 2010, respectively. There were no cases of locally acquired dengue in 2011, which is indicative of the success that local health authorities, mosquito control and the public are having in controlling dengue in Key West. – Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 18, No. 1, (January 2012)

Pennsylvania 12/14/11 Emerging Infectious Disease Journal – Rabies in Captive Deer, Pennsylvania, USA, 2007–2010, Brett W. Petersen et al.   Rabies is almost always fatal, unless preventive treatment is received soon after exposure. Although usually associated with small wild animals, rabies has recently been found in large captive animals—farmed deer that probably became infected through contact with wildlife. Four deer farmers in Pennsylvania were potentially exposed to rabies and received vaccination against rabies. More cases could be prevented by vaccinating deer against rabies, decreasing wildlife contact with captive deer, and educating deer farmers about their risks. – Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 18, No. 1, (January 2012)

National 12/14/11 Emerging Infectious Disease Journal – Babesiosis among Elderly Medicare Beneficiaries in the United States, 2006–2008, Mikhail Menis et al.  In the United States, recently, there has been an increase in the number of reported clinical and transfusion-transmitted babesiosis cases. Human babesiosis is a tick-borne disease that is generally mild but may cause life-threatening anemia in people at high risk, such as the elderly, who are also likely to receive blood transfusions. Review of the Medicare databases confirmed that most cases recorded in claims data occurred in the northeastern United States, during peak tick season, and also suggested that the disease may be spreading to other regions. Among potential causes for disease expansion are human encroachment into tick and deer habitat, growing deer populations, climatic effects and travel to disease-endemic areas. – Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 18, No. 1, (January 2012)

Former wildlife manager’s book claims ELK feeding program in WYOMING risks exposing herd to CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE ~ OREGON’s Imnaha WOLF pack has 19 confirmed LIVESTOCK kills in less than two years ~ NEW MEXICO RABIES ALERT ~ NORTH CAROLINA COYOTE ALERT.

Bugling Elk. Photo by New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation.

Wyoming 12/12/11 by Nick Gevock – The decades-old practice of feeding elk throughout western Wyoming has created a grossly overpopulated herd that is rife to catch disease that could cause large die-offs and spread throughout the Yellowstone region. That’s among the findings of a new book written by Sheridan resident Bruce Smith, a retired wildlife manager who ran the feeding program on the U.S. National Elk Refuge near Jackson.

Smith, in his new book titled “Where Elk Roam: Conservation and Biopolitics of Our National Elk Herd,” argues that Wyoming has grown accustomed to holding far more elk than the ecosystem can support in many areas. And that heavy concentration is setting the herd up to potentially catch chronic wasting disease, which is always fatal in wildlife. “It’s foolish to try to lead people to believe that a place as snowbound as Jackson Hole can support 12,000 elk, because it never did before,” Smith said in a telephone interview. “Those feed grounds in western Wyoming potentially are going to become biological hotspots for spreading chronic wasting disease throughout the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.”

Dr. Bruce Smith

Smith, who holds a doctorate in zoology from the University of Wyoming, worked as a wildlife manager on the elk refuge for 22 years before retiring in 2004. He ran the feeding program on the range but said his long history of publications pointed out the problems with the policy. – For complete article go to

Imnaha pack alpha male.

Oregon 12/13/11 ODFW confirmed that another cow was killed by wolves from the Imnaha pack over the weekend. The yearling heifer was found dead on private land in Wallowa   County. This brings the total number of confirmed livestock losses by Imnaha pack wolves to 19 since spring 2010. It is the fifth confirmed livestock loss to wolves since an Oct. 5, 2011 court-ordered stay ended ODFW plans to kill two wolves from the Imnaha pack in an attempt to stop further livestock losses. While the pack is continuing a pattern of chronic livestock depredation begun in spring 2010, ODFW wolf coordinator Russ Morgan characterizes the recent kills as a “significant” change in the pack’s behavior. Previously the pack killed mostly smaller calves, but now it has shifted to larger-sized yearling and adult cows. The timing is also new, as depredation by this pack has not been previously confirmed during the period October through December.

“The latest incident reaffirms that the pack is in a pattern of chronic depredation, which we expect to continue,” said Morgan. “While we believe the appropriate response is lethal removal of these problem wolves under the chronic depredation rule that option is off the table due to litigation.” The wolves targeted the ranch twice over two days. The cattle involved had recently been gathered and placed into a holding pasture near the main ranch house, as they were scheduled to be hauled on Monday. On Sunday morning, the landowner discovered that the cattle had been run through the fence and the yearling heifer was found dead a half mile away. The cattle were returned to the pasture, only to be scattered again by Monday morning. GPS radio-collar data shows that the alpha male of the Imnaha wolf pack was present at the site of the depredation and was also in the area when the cows were scattered the next day. Other wolves from the pack were likely with the alpha male, but their VHF radio-collars don’t allow such close location tracking. The alpha male wolf was in remote country about five miles  from the pasture the evening before the Sunday morning attack, yet by 2 a.m. he  was only about 300 yards from the main ranch house, on the way to the pasture  with cattle.

This rancher had taken a variety of non-lethal measures on different areas of his large ranch over the past two years. He had installed barrier fences with fladry (flagged fencing that can deter wolves) on parts of his ranch and has used a radio-activated guard device that makes noise when a radio-collared wolf approaches. The rancher had also increased monitoring of his livestock and has used a radio receiver to detect when a collared wolf was nearby. “This is a good example of a situation where the landowner had done everything right,” said Morgan. “I don’t think there are other measures that could have been reasonably taken in this case, so it is a very frustrating situation for livestock producers and wildlife managers.”

ODFW continues to work with area landowners on non-lethal ways to avoid wolf-livestock problems. For example, ODFW sends twice-daily text messages about wolves’ locations to area livestock producers. A range rider funded by ODFW and Defenders of Wildlife has monitored the wolves’ location in relation to livestock. Besides non-lethal measures, ODFW has also provided some ranchers with permits to kill a wolf they catch “in the act of biting, wounding or killing” livestock or with permits that allow them to haze wolves. The chance to use these permits is rare because wolves typically avoid people and usually attack livestock at night. None of these permits issued by ODFW has ever been used, again because it is very rare for a person to actually be present when a wolf is “in the act” of attacking livestock.

This landowner and others that have lost livestock animals to wolves are likely to be compensated for their losses. Earlier this year, the Oregon State Legislature and Governor Kitzhaber directed the Oregon Department of Agriculture to create a wolf compensation program. The program is expected to be in effect in early 2012. Ranchers that lost livestock since early September 2011 (when a compensation program funded by Defenders of Wildlife ended) will be eligible for retroactive compensation. Summaries of the wolf investigations and confirmations can be found on ODFW’s livestock loss investigations page.

New Mexico 12/12/11: Carlsbad, Eddy County – State health officials urge pet and livestock owners to get animals vaccinated after three skunks test positive for rabies. See

North Carolina 12/12/11: Charlotte, Mecklenburg County – Pet dog attacked, nearly killed by coyote outside pet owner’s garage in residential neighborhood. See