DNA analysis confirms Missouri Mountain Lions are from South Dakota, and its Timber Wolves are from the Great Lakes states; Smithsonian scientist says domestic cats, pet and feral, are primary predators of young Catbirds; a group in Arizona challenges Yuma’s Feral Cat ordinance; Rabies reports from California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Texas; and Coyote reports from California, and Indiana. Canada: Rabies report from Ontario.


Eastern Timber Wolves. Photo by Christian Jansky. Wikipedia Commons.


Missouri 03/29/11 infozine.com: by Jim Low – (Excerpts) Analysis of DNA and other physical evidence is helping biologists learn more about unusual wildlife sightings that have occurred in Missouri in recent months . . . Results confirm ties to mountain lions from South Dakota and timber wolves from the Great Lakes states . . . The string of sightings began Nov. 13 with the shooting of what appeared to be an unusually large coyote in Carroll County. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) sought DNA tests to clarify the animal’s identity  . . . The first round of testing compared DNA from the 104-pound canine to that of western timber wolves. The tests showed a poor match with western wolves but did confirm the presence of coyote DNA. However, further testing linked the animal to timber wolves.  “Coyotes seldom get bigger than 30 pounds in Missouri,” said MDC Resource Scientist Jeff Beringer. “A coyote weighing more than 100 pounds just didn’t seem credible. Wolves are known to interbreed with domestic dogs and coyotes, so we had further testing done to look for evidence of that, and we found it.”  . . . Missouri’s other recent news about large carnivores consists of six confirmed sightings of mountain lions (Puma concolor), also known as cougars, since November. MDC verified three of those sightings – in Platte, Linn and St. Louis counties . . . Two confirmed sightings involved mountain lions that were shot by hunters, one on Dec. 31 and one on Jan. 15. With ample tissue for testing on these two animals, the DNA results were more revealing. Both had DNA consistent with mountain lions from South Dakota or northwestern Nebraska. Beringer said mountain lions from northwestern Nebraska and the Black Hills region of South Dakota are so closely related, it is almost impossible to distinguish between them. (For complete article go to http://www.infozine.com/news/stories/op/storiesView/sid/46929/ )

National 03/18/11 washingtonpost.com: by Peter P. Marra – I love cats. And perhaps I’m being overly generous to myself, but they have a strange affection for me, too. They’ve been among the many pets I’ve had over the years, and they’re a key part of my work as a conservation scientist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.  I love wild birds, too, but unfortunately so do cats, so much so that, according to some estimates, they kill upward of 500 million songbirds a year in the United States alone.

Gray catbirds offer one example of this devastation. Long-distance migratory

Gray Catbird

birds native to the East Coast, catbirds breed in large numbers in the D.C. suburbs, arriving toward the end of April each year from their wintering grounds in Cuba, the Bahamas and southern Florida. Catbirds nests in shrubs, so our suburbs are especially attractive to them. What these catbirds and many other local songbirds don’t realize, however, is that a new (in evolutionary terms) danger lurks in those attractive bushes — the free-ranging cat. In a recently published study, my Smithsonian colleagues and I demonstrated that cats are the primary predators of young catbirds soon after they leave the nest. In fact, in some areas, less than 15 percent of these fledglings survived, largely because of cat predation. Free-ranging cats have turned the D.C. suburbs into ecological traps for birds — sites that attract them for nesting but ultimately cause high levels of reproductive failure.

The free-ranging domestic cat, both pet and feral, has become by far the most abundant mammalian predator on Earth, numbering 80 million to 120 million in the United States alone. You need only look into a neighbor’s yard or down an alley to find one. Unlike our native bobcat and lynx, free-ranging cats are as invasive and disruptive to native ecosystems as gypsy moths or West Nile virus. Whether they are pets allowed to roam, fully feral animals or feral members of a trap-neuter-release (TNR) colony, domestic cats are by nature predators of small animals such as reptiles, birds and mammals — even when they are well fed. It’s not surprising, then, that they have been responsible for numerous animal extinctions on islands. The millions of free-ranging cats in the United States are inflicting similar devastation on wildlife populations here.

I don’t enter lightly into the long-standing debate about free-ranging cats. On one side are people who think cats have a right to roam freely; on the other are those who believe a cat’s only proper place is inside a home. I come down with the latter because, apart from their impact on wildlife, outdoor lifestyles ironically also have negative consequences for cats. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that free-ranging cats have half the life expectancy of indoor cats. Causes of cat death can be gruesome — getting hit by cars, being mauled by dogs or becoming a meal for foxes and coyotes. Life outdoors also means greater exposure to diseases such as toxoplasmosis and feline leukemia. Cats are now the most common domesticated animal to carry and transmit rabies to humans and other wildlife.

The most egregious example occurs with feral cats living in or near TNR colonies. Maintenance of such colonies remains common in many urban and suburban parks and even some national wildlife refuges. The cats in these colonies, although fed, not only suffer the same fates as those described above for free-ranging ferals but the places in which they live can become devoid of most wildlife. Worse, these colonies encourage the dumping of unwanted cats. While neutering can slow a colony’s growth, it is rarely fully effective because more than 70 percent of the cats must be sterilized. New cats arrive, and many go unneutered and unvaccinated. The result is reproductively active colonies that continue to devastate wildlife.

What’s the solution? It is unreasonable to expect to see the elimination of all free-ranging cats, but better education about responsible pet ownership, combined with effective regulations, could reduce their numbers. Such efforts will require more involvement by government at all levels and the implementation of mandatory licensing, more-engaged animal control programs, neutering and indoor-cat campaigns.  For starters, the effects of TNR colonies need to be made clearer to the well-meaning people who support them. Although people on both sides of this debate feel passionately, there is an urgent need to come together to find common ground. Allowing cats to roam outdoors is no good for people, cats or native wildlife.

Arizona 03/29/11 kswt.com: by Elia Juarez – A group of Yuma residents calling themselves the “Kitty Committee” are challenging the city’s recently enacted feral cat ordinance. Members of the committee say it was unfair for the City Council to pass the ordinance without allowing a public vote, so they plan to man a booth at the Yuma County fair in an effort to collect enough signatures to temporarily overturn the ordinance and try to get it onto the ballot in Yuma’s next election. The group says they are opposed to a section of the ordinance that bans the feeding of stray cats, as well as required rabies vaccines and licenses for cats, saying many people cannot afford them.

California 03/29/11 krcrtv.com: Chico Animal Control and Police Department are looking for a dog that bit a teenager so it can be tested for rabies. Around 4:50 p.m. on Thursday a 16-year-old Chico High School student was running past the post office on Vallombrosa Ave. When she ran past a couple with a leashed, black dog, the dog nipped at her rear end. The girl and her fellow runners did not stop to get the couple’s information. The girl’s t-shirt was torn, but she didn’t realize until later that her skin was broken. The Humane Society needs to locate the dog to verify its vaccination history because Butte County is a rabies area. The couple is described as being in their 50’s. The woman has long gray hair. The dog is medium to large in size with a long hair black coat. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the dog or owners is asked to call Chico Animal Control at 897-4960.

California 03/29/11 marinij.com: by Jessica Berstein-Wax – San Anselmo police were chasing an unusual suspect Tuesday morning: a large coyote that ran off with a family’s pet cat in its mouth. Around 8:45 a.m., the owner of a home near Madera Avenue and Sequoia Drive called police and reported seeing the coyote with the family cat, police said. The homeowner had clapped to scare the wild animal away. “They tried to see if they could scare it by clapping loudly … but I guess it scampered off,” police Cpl. Julie Gorwood said. Officers located the coyote minutes later wandering in the area but haven’t recovered the feline, which is presumed dead, Gorwood said. There were about 36 coyote sightings reported to the Marin Humane Society between Jan. 1 and mid-March, society spokeswoman Carrie Harrington said.  “If you were to identify hot spots per se, definitely Terra Linda, Marinwood — we’re getting the most reports from there,” Harrington said. “Most of our reports are just sightings.” In February, Marinwood resident Jim Thompson said a coyote prowling the neighborhood killed two of his cats, a gray long-haired female called Alias and a fluffy yellow male named Big Boy. A Lucas Valley woman reported that a coyote with a broken front leg killed another cat in her neighborhood. Harrington confirmed there have been a few reports of a limping coyote or a coyote with an injured leg coming out of San Rafael and Novato in recent weeks. “There’s always speculation if somebody’s domestic cat is missing,” Harrington said. “That drums up suspicion. … What we do is we usually send an officer to patrol the area where the sighting is reported. Usually by the time somebody gets there, that coyote is nowhere to be seen.”  The humane society generally advises residents to keep domestic cats indoors, walk dogs on leashes and avoid feeding pets outdoors, especially in areas with wildlife such as coyotes and mountain lions. Experts say that if a coyote approaches you, try to make noise and appear large by shouting and waving your arms. The Marin Humane Society tracks all wildlife sightings and is asking anyone who sees a coyote or mountain lion to call 883-4621.

Indiana 03/29/11 wthr.com: by Emily Longnecker – (Excerpts) “People in a quiet Carmel neighborhood are on edge after a vicious coyote attack on a family pet. The coyote snatched a dog right outside a home near 116th Street and Spring Mill Road. If cats have nine lives then a little dog named Hilo has at least two.” “The dog has had surgery and now has dozens of stitches. ‘Fortunately, his wounds were superficial. They were mainly through the skin,’ says Hilo’s veterinarian, Dr. Thomas Mullins, with the Companion Animal Medical Center in Carmel. Mullins says he rarely treats animals that survive a coyote attack. But believes you could see more with more development. ‘Coyotes have adapted to the changing environment. It’s no longer a rural area. This is suburban and they’re adapting,’ says Dr. Mullins. According to the Department of Natural Resources, in rural areas, state law allows landowners to shoot or trap coyotes – even out of season – if they’ve become a problem. But it’s within city limits where people’s hands are tied. City law won’t allow homeowners to shoot a coyote. DNR experts recommend using an air horn to scare the animals away. Stetler hoped the city or county would handle the job.”

Massachusetts 03/29/11 patch.com: Medfield – Animal Control officer Jennifer Shaw told Medfield Patch a teenage boy was bitten on the leg by a medium size, black dog with curly fur and droopy ears Tuesday around 4:40 p.m. ‘This dog was being walked on Main Street by the railroad crossing on a black flexi-leash by a black male, approximately 5-foot-10 with a black mustache,” Shaw said. “This man was wearing a dark coat and a baseball cap. In order for [the teenager] to avoid a series of painful rabies vaccinations, we need to learn of this dog’s vaccination history.” If anyone knows the identity of this dog, please call Animal Control at (508) 359-2315 ext. 3146.

Pennsylvania 03/29/11 lehighvalleylive.com: by Alyssa Passeggio – Allentown police fatally shot a skunk after it bit a resident on Saturday, accoThe skunk was observed behaving oddly in the 2000 block of East Columbia Street before officers killed it, said the release from the mayor’s office. The skunk was sent for lab testing, which confirmed it was rabid. The bitten resident is undergoing rabies vaccinations and is under medical care, the city reports. Allentown Health Director Vicky Kistler says the discovery should remind pet owners to be sure their animals are vaccinated.

Texas 03/29/11 jacksboronewspapers.com: by Pam Hudson – (Excerpt) Jacksboro Police Chief Terry McDaniels confirmed that a skunk killed by a dog Wednesday on Cactus Lane was rabid. The dog is being held in quarantine for 90 days, but so far, does not exhibit signs of rabies. There have been no other cases of rabies in Jacksboro, but McDaniels knew of one confirmed case in Palo Pinto. (For complete article go to  http://www.jacksboronewspapers.com/index.asp?Story=3814 )


Ontario 03/29/11 therecord.com: by Brent Davis – Kitchener — The next few weeks aren’t looking all that pleasant for Matthew Vollmer. The 14-year-old is facing a series of rabies shots after being bitten by a dog over the weekend. But there’s still hope that he can cut the treatments short, if he and his parents can confirm that the dog has its vaccinations. The Vollmers are trying to locate the owner of the German shepherd-type dog, which was being walked by an older teen on Sunday afternoon in the area of Keewatin Avenue, Misty Street and Denlow Street. The teen was also walking a Rottweiler-type dog. Both animals were leashed. Matthew, an avid baseball player and martial arts student, was out running near his home when he came upon the other teen and the dogs. “I went to pass him on the right,” Matthew said. “The German shepherd-looking dog lunged at me and bit my thigh.” As Matthew instinctively pulled away, the teen apologized and asked if he was OK. The twin bites hadn’t torn Matthew’s pants. “I thought I was fine.” Matthew went home, not thinking about asking for the owner’s information. But he discovered the dog had left a jagged, seven-centimetre-long bite mark on his upper right thigh, and he was bleeding. The family went to Grand River Hospital, and filled out an animal bite form for the public health department. His father Dave also called Waterloo Regional Police. The Vollmers and police have knocked on doors in the area, but haven’t found the owner.  “Every time we get a lead, it turns out to be nothing,” said Matthew’s mother, Brenda.  Public health has since contacted the family, outlining the series of rabies shots required if the animal’s vaccination status isn’t known. After two shots on Wednesday and one on Saturday, Matthew will have three more shots over the next three weeks. But the shots could be discontinued if they locate the dog’s owner.  “That’s what we’re hoping, that he doesn’t have to finish the shots,” Dave Vollmer said. “All we want is to get the dog’s history.” The dog-walker, about 16 years old and approximately five feet six inches tall, was wearing a black hoodie. Anyone with information is asked to email davidvollmer@sympatico.ca.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s