Maine forester asks hunters to respect private property; Winners of Pennsylvania’s Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s Coyote Hunt must now take polygraph test; a Feral Cats report from Arizona; Rabies reports from Arkansas, Florida, New Jersey, and North Carolina; and a Coyote report from Ohio. Travel Warnings for Bangladesh, Paraguay, and St Martin / St Maarten.

Maine 03/21/11 by Gordon Mott – There have been quantum changes in public hunting on private land. When hunting season once arrived, the woods and fields belonged to sportsmen and women for a few weeks except for a break on Sunday. Hounds were out in seasons for bear, bobcat and raccoon. And then there was peace. Today, changed Maine statutes allow some hunters to be out all day, all year long except Sunday, and all night for eight and a half months of the year. Coyote and raccoon hunters equipped with digital sighting and viewing devices hunt at night behind camps and residences on unposted land, their only limit to discharge firearms more than 300 feet from buildings or residences.

Fields with livestock are swept with lights. Firearms disturb the night near farms and camps without people being notified. Hound packs unlimited in size pursue coyote on unposted private land through farms, front yards and woodlots all year round.  Bait is placed on private land all year without hunters asking any permission, using standards that ensure it will be hidden from landowners. In season, bear bait can be hidden by these same standards without asking permission or paying the landowner a fee for a bait station. Motion detecting cameras are placed without notification to the private owner.  An average 12 hunters per Maine municipality are licensed to hunt at night and the number is growing, according to data from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

These are intrusive and troublesome departures from traditional public activities on private land.  Maine private property owners form the foundation of the wildlife economy. Private properties provide almost all the land and protect the brooks and streams where nature produces all Maine wildlife and fish. They then provide the majority of the places where the public hunts and experiences living creatures.  Outfitters, lodges, local businesses, Maine Guides all receive revenues from free access to private land they don’t own. The economic value of wildlife recreation in Maine totaled more than $1.5 billion in 2006. Hunting, trapping, fishing and wildlife watching are larger in value than all skiing, whitewater rafting, snowmobiling, windjammer cruises, or other recreational attractions combined. Wildlife-generated revenues surpass the economic value of Maine’s commercial fishing industry, according to the 2006 study.

The landowners who donate the very foundation of this economy are barred from participating in it. Maine landowners are guilty of a crime if they charge for access to their lands to take game. Only those few landowners who enter into leases for exclusive access to lands for fishing or hunting by groups who bar the public receive revenues in the wildlife economy. And now landowners are burdened with more costs to manage these new uses on their lands — after carrying the costs of taxes and ownership and giving up timber revenue to preserve wildlife habitat for the public.

We all lament that access to private land is diminishing. Requests for public signs to post land increased 50 percent last year, according to Bob Duplessie, the former landowner relations manager for the Department of Conservation.  Many landowners who traditionally opened private properties to the public would continue to do so if only landowner permission were required to manage these new kinds of public use. Instead, they bear extra costs for signage, gates, road trenches and rock barriers to protect their properties. When the difficult decision is made to post land to manage these uses, it is usually posted against all access and everybody loses.

Two bills to help address these private property rights issues will be presented for public hearing in Augusta at 1 p.m. on March 21 before the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee.

LD 559 will require written permission to be obtained from landowners to place bait of any kind on private land. It would also have hunters actually ask for permission to hunt at night on private land and to pursue bear, bobcat or coyote with hounds. No change in permission is required for any other traditional hunting activities. Another provision of the bill is that a special purple paint can be used in place of signs for managing access to property.

LD 223 is an important complementary bill that requires written permission for recreational activities and trapping on farmland.

Unlikely, but it would be quite wonderful if those supporting these new year-round, night-and-day uses of private land are willing to support extending courtesy to the landowners who provide them the opportunity for recreation. It will be an important win for all if we see a reduction of posted land as a result of mutual courtesy.  Gordon Mott is a professional forester. He lives in Lakeville.

Pennsylvania 03/21/11 by Mark Nale – (Excerpt) “With a combined purse of almost $35,000, the largest coyote hunt in the eastern United States is not immune to potential cheats. How to cheat is no secret: Weight could be added to a coyote. Coyotes could be shot weeks in advance and frozen until the contest. Pen-raised coyotes could be fattened and then entered. Coyotes could be shot out-of-state and brought in. Ten guys could hunt in the tournament, with only one or two actually paying the registration fee — any coyote then shot by any hunter in the group could be entered by a person who is registered. Of course, all of these things and more are against the rules. Enforcing the rules is another matter.  With all of this as background, a different atmosphere surrounded the final weigh-in at the 20th annual Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s Coyote Hunt when it was held in late February. It was caused by the addition of a polygraph test— the first ever for a coyote hunt in Pennsylvania.” (For complete article go to )

Arizona 03/20/11 by Mike Leiby – Pinetop-Lakeside Animal Control Officer Randy Hemmings says there is a serious feral cat problem in town.  Hemmings said he understands that residents feed homeless cats out of the goodness of their hearts, but doing so has consequences.  Those consequences are multi-fold. Hemmings said not only will feral cats frequent the homes of people who feed them, they will leave unwanted proof of their visitations, including urine and feces.  The urine cats spray when marking their territory is unpleasantly aromatic, stains fabrics and once the scent penetrates fabric, wood or concrete, is all but impossible to eradicate.  Their feces is no less offensive.  Hemmings said feral cats will start colonies. Once they do so, it is nearly an entrenched problem.  He says cats breed prolifically, almost exponentially. At worst cats can get pregnant, nurse a litter of between 1 and 12 kittens three to five times a year.  That equals anywhere between 3-60 kittens in one year from a single female cat. A more realistic average is four kittens per litter over 10 years with 29 litters producing 116 kittens.

Hemmings said feral cats kill wildlife including birds, squirrels, raccoons and even skunks.  “They hunt for food, they are predators and there is nothing wrong with that. It is their nature.”  He said some days he gets only one or two calls to set cage traps. Other days he is setting the humane traps, collecting the contents and transporting the captured animals to holding facilities from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. non-stop.  He has no choice but to hold a feral cat for three days. Once the holding period is up it is euthanized.  Skunks, raccoons and other wildlife caught in the traps are a different story. Hemmings said he has no obligation to do so, but on his own time he takes the skunks, raccoons and other wildlife deep into the forest and releases them back into the wild.  One of the reasons he cannot do the same with feral cats is because they commonly carry diseases and conditions like feline leukemia.

Even though no evidence suggests humans can contract feline leukemia from cats, it is recommended that pregnant women, people with suppressed immune systems, the very young, and the very old avoid contact with infected cats.  A bird that merely gets a flesh wound from a cat will likely die anyway from infection caused by the cat’s saliva.  Humans who are scratched, clawed or bitten can likewise have the wounds become infected and need medical treatment. Then there is the possibility of rabies.  “We don’t have a rabies issue up here right now, but wild animals, including feral cats, can carry the disease.”  Transporting feral cats is no slight task according to Hemmings.  “I had one who got loose and then went into the window. I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and the whole time he was squirming and trying to claw, scratch and bite me.  “That one was so wild it had to be put down. There was nothing else we could do with it.”  Hemmings said unfortunately that is often the case with feral cats. They are typically so used to living as wild animals they cannot be completely tamed.  Even if a person is successful in domesticating a feral cat, Hemmings said it is almost certain there will be instances of wild behavior. Hemmings said if there was one thing he would advise people to do, it would be to spay and neuter their pets.  He said that he was told by Pet Allies staffers that they spayed and neutered 1,501 White Mountain pets in their first year of operation.  Humane Society of the White Mountains Director Deena Pace said Hemmings is on-the-money with his advice.  She said she would prefer not to have to euthanize the cats, but it is a matter of economics. She said severe declines in donations and funding has forced the Humane Society of the White Mountains to reduce staff to nine full-time employees and one part-timer.

Arkansas 03/20/11 The Arkansas Department of Health confirmed Sunday that a second skunk has tested positive for rabies in Greenwood, Ark.  Greenwood police said they were called about a skunk on Raymond Wells Drive Tuesday. The caller said that the skunk looked sick and had difficulty walking.  The skunk was put down and sent off to the Arkansas Health Department for testing.  “Our concern is high with two cases of rabies in one week. I cannot stress enough that pet owners get their cats, dogs and horses vaccinated. The vaccination not only protects your pets, but protects you as the owner and your family. Pet owners can walk into any local veterinary office and get the vaccination for an average of $15 to $32. One other point I would like to stress is there is no test for rabies that doesn’t involve putting your pet down. If you love your pet, see the vet. If anyone observes any animal acting strange, do not approach the animal, immediately contact your police department or the sheriff’s office,” said Lt. Will Dawson.  This is the third rabies case in Sebastian County in three days time.

Florida 03/21/11 by Alexandra Seltzer – After a raccoon was found in Palm Beach Country Estates testing positive for the deadly disease rabies, Animal Care and Control is warning residents to be on the lookout for any aggressive wildlife.  The owner of three Dalmatians brought the dead raccoon to Animal Care and Control after it was found with the dogs Friday.  “The Dalmatians ultimately killed the raccoon,” said Tim O’Connor, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County Department of Health.  The Florida State Laboratory, in Lantana, confirmed that the raccoon was rabid.  The Dalmatians’ rabies shots were up-to-date, but to be safe the dogs will be home quarantined for the next 45 days, O’Connor said.  If attacked or bitten by a rabid animal, contact the nearest hospital or the health department at (561) 671-4184.  Animals exhibiting signs of sickness and aggressive behavior should be reported to Animal Care and Control at (561) 233-1200.

New Jersey 03/21/11 Wayne police said they killed a potentially rabid fox Sunday afternoon. Officer Robert Fernandez responded to a Foxboro Road residence on a report that a sick fox, which was described as “mangy,” was lying near a back fence on the property, possibly suffering from rabies, said Capt. James Clarke.   Based on the animal’s physical appearance, Fernandez killed the animal with two rounds of Double-O buckshot from a 12-gague shotgun. The fox was placed in a garbage bag and taken to the Wayne Animal Shelter, where it was disposed of Sunday.  Police warned residents in the area on Feb. 23 of a potentially rabid fox that reportedly attacked children that afternoon.

North Carolina 03/21/11 Health officials have issued a rabies notice for residents near the Knollwood subdivision in Apex.  A case of rabies was confirmed Monday in a raccoon found near the intersection of Oak Street and Maple Avenue. The raccoon interacted with a currently-vaccinated dog.  “We don’t want to alarm residents in the vicinity of the Knollwood subdivision, but they should be aware of this case and of the potential for exposure to themselves, family members and their pets,” said Michael Williams, Animal Control director for Wake County.  Anyone who sees an animal acting in an unusual manner is urged to call Wake County Animal Control at (919)212-7387.

Ohio 03/20/11 by Dorothy Markulis – When Bradford Way resident Joan Hudson heard her little papillon dog barking in the back yard, she was surprised to see two coyotes there chasing her dog.  Hudson said when her husband ran outside, the coyotes stopped chasing the dog.  “The coyotes stopped dead in their tracks.,” Hudson said. “It was still pretty scary.”  Hudson said she called police, but the coyotes were gone when officers arrived.  “With so many people in Hudson having invisible fencing I think they ought to be warned that the coyotes are out there. The invisible fencing keeps their dogs in the yard, but it doesn’t keep coyotes out,” she said.  Hudson said this wasn’t the first time she’s seen the coyotes but it wasn’t until after she saw a television news report about them that she realized that’s what they were.  “They looked like small German shepherds,” she said.  A spokesperson for the Hudson Police Department said there have been only a few calls about coyotes.  Jeff Westerfield, wildlife biologist for the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s northeast Ohio district, said every community in this area has coyotes.  “They are much more common than people think,” Westerfield said. “They are nocturnal animals so many times people are not aware they are in their neighborhoods.”  Westerfield said coyotes going after dogs is not the norm. He said cats are the more likely victims.  Westerfield said his department has no definite numbers on coyote sightings since they are so common and cause minimal problems.  “In Ohio’s history there has been just one report of a coyote biting someone,” Westerfield said.  He said subsequent testing of that animal, which was shot, showed that the coyote had rabies.

Travel Warnings:

Bangladesh 03/21/11 Catholic health workers have

Fruit bat.

launched a battle against an outbreak of encephalitis spread by the deadly Nipah virus, which is threatening people in the diocese of Rajshahi in northwestern Bangladesh.  In a bid to contain the disease, the episcopal and diocesan commissions for healthcare held a joint workshop for around 64 nurses and medical volunteers to explain the crisis.  Encephalitis is acute inflammation of the brain, usually stemming from a viral infection and caused when the body’s immune system attacks brain tissue by mistake. Symptoms include headache, fever, confusion, drowsiness, and fatigue. More advanced and serious symptoms include seizures or convulsions, hallucinations, memory problems, and even a coma. One major cause of the disease in Bangladesh is the Nipah virus whose natural host is fruit bats of the pteropus genus. Humans can be infected by drinking raw date sap and fruit bitten by the bats or birds.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO) half the reported cases of the Nipah virus in humans in Bangladesh between 2001, when the disease first appeared in the country, and 2008 were human-to-human transmissions. The disease is at its most acute from December until May when people usually collect palm date sap.  Up to February of this year there were a total of 176 human cases of Nipah viral infections. Of that number 130 (74%) died.  The virus first appeared in Malaysia in 1999.-946-6739

Paraguay 03/19/11 Paraguay reported today that dengue is spreading, with 8,000 cases of acute fever syndrome registered and 850 confirmed, 547 more than last week.  According to the latest report from the Health Ministry’s General Health Security Service reported in its last repost that the rate of incidence went from 19,086 cases to 28,019 for every 100,000 inhabitants.  The worst situation was in Alto Parana, 327 km west of Asuncion, with a 44.03 percent, and the Metropolitan Area, with 41.  The most affected areas are Asuncion and seven municipalities of the Central department: Fernando de la Mora, Luque, Lambaré, Ñemby, San Lorenzo, Villa Elisa and Mariano Roque Alonso.  Although the late Health Ministry Report did not mention deaths, nine deaths were reported last week and five others were being investigated.

 St. Mart / St. Maarten 03/21/11 Ten confirmed cases of dengue fever were recorded for the month of February, the Collective Preventive Services (CPS) section of the Ministry of Public Health reported over the weekend.  CPS said three of the infected persons resided on the French side of the island.  CPS also reported four confirmed cases for the month of January, one of which was fatal.


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