A Bobcat report from California; a Feral Hogs report from Kansas; Coyote reports from Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, and Texas; a Hantavirus report from Utah; and a Travel Warning for Trinidad & Tobago.

Bobcat. Courtesy National Park Service.

California 02/15/11 mercurynews.com: by Dennis Rockstroh – Question:  We need your help with an out-of-the-ordinary situation. We live in San Jose, about a mile south of Santana Row and, despite the suburban habitat, we have a bobcat that likes to visit our backyard.  I called animal control and they don’t handle live wildlife. They referred me to state Fish and Game. Although they handle mountain lions, they don’t handle bobcats. They had no suggestions where to go other than for me to leave a message for one of their biologists to see what, if anything, we can do to discourage our nocturnal visitor. I’m concerned about our dog getting attacked (let alone waking us up in the middle of the night barking when the bobcat hops the fence into our yard) as well as all our neighbors’ dogs, cats and little kids. The problem is, who do we contact to get the bobcat caught and safely removed?  We’ve called 311, the county and the state, and no one seems to have the charter to do anything. Do we have to wait until some pets die or a child is mauled? We’ve seen it in the late afternoon and in the middle of the night. 

Answer:  Bobcats and other wildlife are facts of life here, Andy. But for advice on how to handle them, you can call the Santa Clara County Vector Control District at 408-918-4770 and ask for a wildlife technician.  Meanwhile, if a bobcat shows up in anyone’s neighborhood, do not feed it or leave pet food or water outdoors. Keep you pets inside and notify vector control.  Santa Clara County is home to many animals and insects, capable of causing not only discomfort to its residents but also illness or injury, says the district website, at www.sccvector.org.  The hills all around us are the homes of many kinds of wildlife, and it is not uncommon for them to travel into neighborhoods via the many creeks.  The district offers a variety of services and information to help residents protect themselves and their families from these animals and insects of medical importance.  Vector control also works to detect the presence and prevalence of vector-borne diseases, such as plague, West Nile virus, rabies and Lyme disease, through ongoing surveillance and testing  They will also handle calls on and help control rodents and such things as ticks, yellow jackets, cockroaches, bees, fleas and flies. And bobcats.

Kansas 02/15/11 salijournal.com: by Michael Pearce – Wichita — (Excerpt) – For more than 75 years the Wilson family has battled bugs, drought, floods and poor crop prices to keep their Bourbon County farm financially afloat.  Now Mike Wilson fears state budget cuts may allow wild hogs — his “worst problem ever” — to run unchecked.  “You go out there with a combine and you find where you’ve lost 10 acres. It’s all gone,” said Wilson who put a loss of about $6,000 on such a spot. “That’s just one field out of so many. It’s serious.”  With massive cuts coming to most state agencies, Bill Brown, Kansas Livestock Commissioner, isn’t sure if he’ll have any money to help combat Kansas’ wild hog problem.  Since 2006 Kansas has annually donated about $170,000 to a USDA-run program aimed at killing hundreds of wild hogs a year.  The federal agency also donates a lesser amount to the program.  Biologists estimate wild hogs have done more than $3 million in damage to Kansas agriculture since 2006.  As they have in other states, they could soon start spreading diseases to domestic hogs and humans.  Within just the past year biologists have begun detecting diseases like swine brucellosis and pseudo-rabies in Kansas wild hogs.  Both can easily be transmitted to domestic swine and have been in other states.  Brown is worried tularemia, which is becoming common in some Texas wild hog populations, could come to Kansas.  In some cases it can be fatal to humans.   (For complete article go to http://www.saljournal.com/FarmStory/farm-hogs021511 )

Massachusetts 02/15/11 whdh.com: A coyote’s run through a Salem neighborhood ended with the animal caught in a picket fence.  It is back on all fours, after spending hours wedged in the fence.  “This is really the first coyote trapping like this I’ve ever seen,” Wildlife rehabilitator and Peabody firefighter John Spofford said.  Spofford believes the animal tried to hop a fence, but didn’t quite make it. Its hind legs got wedged between two wooden posts.  “The original reports was an animal like a coyote stuck underneath, entangled in a fence,” said Spofford. “I walked in the backyard, looked around, and couldn’t see anything. I looked closer and I could see these two paws sticking through a fence.”  The animal was shivering, and howling.  Spofford and his assistant couldn’t tell how serious its injuries were, but they knew they had to act fast.  “I don’t think the coyote could’ve freed itself. The situation could’ve been really bad if it had broken legs or been there a real long time,” said Spofford.  Spofford used a snare pole, looped one end around the coyote’s neck, and broke the fence posts to free the animal’s legs.  “The animal dropped down, she kind of turned and looked at me, hopefully saying ‘thank you’ to me. The ending turned out real good,” said Spofford.  Spofford says the coyote’s footing was unstable for a few minutes, but it eventually made its way back into the woods.

Minnesota 02/14/11startribune.com: by Mike Kaszuba – A proposal to allow counties and townships to offer a bounty for killing coyotes easily cleared a Senate panel Monday, passing by a 10 to 1 vote.  The legislation, which still has several hurdles before becoming law, was actually passed last year by the Legislature but was part of a larger game and fish proposal vetoed by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty.  “It’s a big problem for the livestock people, particularly those that are raising free-range poultry and sheep,” said Sen. Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls, the proposal’s lead Senate author. “Coyotes are now in the suburbs.”  But Mike DonCarlos, the state Department of Natural Resources’ acting deputy director for fish and wildlife, dismissed the proposal, saying placing bounties on coyotes and other predators usually does not work.  Kubly, however, said bounty supporters “do not see it as a complete resolution. They see it simply as one of the things that will help them keep the [coyote] population in check.”

Oregon 02/15/11 oregonlive.com: by Terry Richard – I’ve lived at the southwest corner of Mount Tabor Park for 25 years and never heard coyotes howling.  Until a couple of nights ago.   They woke me up on Friday and again on Sunday, about 5 a.m. both nights.  The first time I thought I was dreaming, but the second time I went outside on my deck and heard it for certain.  My concern about coyotes is that I have a cat. I don’t want her to end up as dinner. I know she heard them, too, because she was in bed and her ears perked up.  Coyotes are mostly harmless to humans, though not always. The main concern with having them in an urban environment is that small pets tend to go missing.

Texas 02/14/11 neighborsgo.com: by Kirk Dooley — Coyote sightings continue in the Park Cities as these crafty animals adapt to urbanized settings.  On January 23 Susie and Skip Woodall were on their way to dinner in the Highland Park Village when they spotted a coyote crossing University Boulevard at Goar Park. In December the Woodalls had lost their pet cat, Tiger, to a coyote on their front porch on Golf Drive, a few blocks away. Was it the same coyote?  Earlier in January the Woodall’s son, Chase, was taking his date home when they spotted a coyote nearby. Maybe there’s three out there. Or possibly it was the same one. Or maybe there are 100 throughout North Dallas and you never see the same one twice.  On Feb. 4, Richard Smith reported seeing a coyote cross the University Blvd. bridge over the Dallas North Tollway. The wily animal was westbound across the bridge then turned northwest. Smith and his girlfriend came within 100 feet of the coyote. We don’t know if it was thirsty or hungry.  I’m not sure why, but University Boulevard seems to be a major thoroughfare for coyote traffic. If crossing the Tollway is their goal, these coyotes are indeed wily. University Blvd. is the quietest and most secluded place to cross between Bordeaux Avenue and Park Lane. If I’m a coyote, I’m not going anywhere near Northwest Highway, Lovers Lane or Mockingbird Lane.  How about Shenandoah? On Feb. 3, Monique Black saw a coyote running west in broad daylight down Shenandoah Street between Preston Road and Douglas Avenue. “He looked like a healthy German Shepherd, not the scrawny coyotes I see in New Mexico,” she said.  Coyotes love Highland Park as well, with 20 percent of its land set aside for parks, creek beds and green space. Plus some of the estates have large front and back yards – easy places for coyotes to roam unseen at night. The 4200 block of Armstrong Parkway is a prime example. Close to Turtle Creek, big yards, lots of landscaping and low traffic at night. There have been several coyote sightings on that block. Local resident Jack Knox keeps a coyote file, with reports of area sightings. He forwarded to me the only videotaped coyote sighting I’ve seen. Alexandra Figari, daughter of Ernie and Elizabeth Figari, saw a coyote in her front yard as she came home one night this past summer. She had the presence of mind to pull out a camera and capture the trespasser for just under three seconds. It’s not like a hokey Loch Ness monster video or a grainy UFO sighting on film. Alexandra did a credible job capturing a real coyote in her front yard on Armstrong Parkway across from the historic Highland Park pecan tree at Preston Road.  Her dad, Ernie Figari, has been named the block’s game warden by Knox, a Parker County native whose authority in the matter revolves around the fact that he knows more about coyotes than the rest of us. “We have a bizillion coyotes down at Weatherford,” says Knox, who still owns land out there.  Recently Bragg Smith was walking two of his E-Bar-S ranch dogs, Bubba and Bailey, at night near McFarlin Blvd. where it crosses Turtle Creek. His dogs began whimpering, their ears went back and they tried to pull Smith back home. “What’s wrong, guys?” he asked his dogs. That’s when a coyote stepped out of the shadows. Smith started whimpering and raced Bubba and Bailey back home.          

Utah 02/15/11 usatoday.com: by Elizabeth Weise – Rare but deadly hantavirus outbreaks can be predicted months in advance from space, simply

Deer Mouse.

by monitoring surges in vegetation that result in mouse population booms.  The deer mice that carry the hantavirus proliferate when food supplies are abundant.  “The satellite measures the greenness of the Earth, and we found that greenness predicts deer mouse population density,” Denise Dearing, a biology professor at the University of Utah, said in a release. She is one of the authors on a paper about the finding, published Wednesday in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.  Looking at satellite images is much easier than trapping animals, Dearing says.  The same technique could be used to monitor possible outbreaks of other rodent-borne diseases such as rat-bite fever, Lyme disease, bubonic plague, Lassa fever, salmonella infection and various hemorrhagic fevers.  The researchers compared three years’ worth of satellite images of Central Utah and data from thousands of mice captured in the same area. The number of mice with the hantavirus strain known as Sin Nombre climbed after peaks in greenery.  Hantavirus kills 42% of its victims and is contracted by inhaling dust containing mouse urine or feces. In the United States it’s most prevalent in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, California, Washington, Texas, Utah and Montana.

Travel Warnings:

Trinidad & Tobago 02/15/11 newsday.co.tt: by Reshma Baal — The Ministry of Health yesterday confirmed the first dengue-related death for the year, while it is investigating a second death allegedly due to dengue.  This was announced yesterday by Minister of Health Therese Baptiste-Cornelis, at a press conference at the Health Ministry, Park Street, Port-of-Spain. The Health Minister also disclosed a new strain of the dengue virus appears to be emerging locally.

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