Section of Appalachian Trail in Georgia closes due to Bear activity; California study shows rat poison may be killing nature’s own rodent control; CDC participating in new Animal Planet docudrama; Rabies reports from Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, and West Virginia; and Coyote reports from New Jersey, and North Carolina. Canada: A Coyote report from Prince Edward Island.

Black bear. Courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Appalachian Trail 04/16/11 Authorities say bear activity has led them to close a section of the Appalachian Trail in northeast Georgia to camping until further notice. WDUN Radio reports the section is between Neels Gap and Jarrard Gap south of Blairsville. U.S. Forest Service authorities say persistent bear activity — and improper food storage by hikers — contributed to the decision. Authorities said day hiking is still allowed. The 2,175-mile long Appalachian trail runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, and goes through 14 states.

Global 04/17/11 by Tom Knudson – Outside Palm Desert,a

Red-shouldered hawk

young bobcat dies mysteriously at a nature preserve. South of Nevada City, a farmer finds an owl dead near his decoy shed. In San Rafael, a red-shouldered hawk bleeds heavily from its mouth and nose before succumbing at an animal care center. Each of those incidents shares a link to a widely used toxin that is turning up at dangerous levels in wildlife across California: rat poison.  Over the years, rat poison has spared state residents untold filth and disease. But a new generation of highly toxic, long-lasting poisons is killing not only rats, mice and ground squirrels, but whatever feeds on them, too. As a result, toxins are rippling outward from warehouses to woodlands, from golf courses and housing complexes to marshes and nature sanctuaries. In California, the victims include bobcats, barn owls, red-tailed hawks, coyotes, kit foxes, kestrels and scores of other predators and scavengers.

Fox kits

“Rodenticides are the new DDT,” said Maggie Sergio, director of advocacy at WildCare, a Bay Area wildlife rehabilitation center that has responded to dozens of poisoning cases. “It is an emergency, an environmental disaster. We are killing nature’s own rodent control.” Researchers say the federal government has been slow to respond to the problem, which has been building for more than a decade. This June, after years of study, regulations take effect nationwide banning the most toxic, long-lasting rat poisons from hardware stores, big box home improvement centers and other consumer outlets.  But many feel the move does not go far enough, since the poisons can be purchased from other sources.

“We’ve been collecting data forever,” said Stella McMillin, an environmental scientist with the pesticide investigations unit of the California Department of Fish and Game. “They took 10 years after we knew it was a problem. It was absolutely too long.” Research by McMillin and others shows that exposure to rat poison is widespread, especially in and near urban areas where pests, people and poison mix. Around Bakersfield, 79 percent of endangered San Joaquin kit foxes tested have turned up positive for rodenticide. Near Los Angeles, 90 percent of bobcats sampled had rat poison in their blood. “Basically, when we look for it, we find it,” McMillin said.  The same is true all over. Seventy percent of owls sampled in western Canada had rat poison in their livers. In New York, half of 265 birds of prey tested were positive for poison. In Great Britain, one of every two barn owls tested was contaminated. (For complete article go to )

National 04/15/11 by Michael Johnsen – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is participating in a new docudrama that debuted Friday, April 15th on Animal Planet  at 9 p.m., the agency announced earlier this week.  Check your local TV schedule for new and repeat listings.  Animal Planet has ordered six episodes of the new series “Killer Outbreaks.” Each episode features potentially deadly viruses and includes commentary from CDC experts and victims of the outbreaks. “Killer Outbreaks” began production in March 2010, and in total, producers interviewed 43 subject matter experts from across the agency. The show takes what many CDC staff members do for a living and turns it into a thrilling docudrama. In this season, six episodes will cover anthrax, E.coli, hantavirus, rabies, West Nile virus, monkey pox, acinetobacter baumannii, salmonella, valley fever, meningococcal disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. For an episode-by-episode synopsis, click here.

Arkansas 04/16/11 Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart said deputies believe a rabid skunk attacked a dog near Sallisaw Saturday.  The dog has been quarantined and the skunk was euthanized, Lockhart said.  The skunk’s carcass was sent to the state health department to be tested for rabies.

California 04/15/11 by Amy Sylvestri – A rabid bat was found on the grounds of San Leandro High School last week – the first animal in Alameda County to be found infected this year. A teacher found the sick Mexican Free-Tailed bat near the shop classrooms on April 5 and brought it to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek to be treated, said Daniel Wilson coordinator of Alameda County Vector Control. But workers at the wildlife sanctuary recognized rabies symptoms and turned the bat over to the county, where the animal tested positive. In the entire state of California in 2010 there were 144 bats, 23 skunks, four foxes, two dogs, one coyote, and one cow detected with rabies. If you discover an animal that appears to be sick, call the county vector control at 567-6800 or the San Leandro police Animal Control at 577-3206.

Colorado 04/15/11 Public Health Department has announced another skunk has tested positive for rabies. This animal was found in the 500 block of S. Kingston Avenue. This is the third skunk to test positive in Pueblo County during 2011. “This is a very serious situation to have three skunks test positive for rabies this year all on the East side of Pueblo, there are probably more in Pueblo County,” stated Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods Public Health Director at the Pueblo City-County Health Department. She added, “Skunks with rabies are a risk to pets and humans. It is important to talk to your children about not feeding or playing with wild animals.” Locations of the three skunks testing positive for rabies in 2011: the 500 Block of S. Kingston , Gore Rd in Blende, and the 2200 Block of E. 6th St.

Georgia 04/14/11 A dog found on the side of the road by a Floyd County family about six months ago bit four family members last week before running off into the woods. The boxer was found dead the next day and was taken to the University of Georgia where its brain tested positive for rabies. The four family members and an animal control officer who was exposed to the dog are undergoing rabies treatment. Floyd County has reported three other cases of rabies so far this year, all involving raccoons. Last year the county had four cases: three raccoons and one fox.

 Kansas 04/14/11 by Brooke Martin – A first grader is recovering from a dog attack at his neighborhood park. And he says the owner just took the dog and left. Seven-year-old Luke McMillan has five more rabies shots to get after being bit by the dog. Now, he and his family say the breed of dog should not be allowed in the city at all. Luke was playing on the merry-go-round at Sunset Park when, he says, a pit bull jumped up to him and latched onto his leg. The worst part for the family, though, is that the owner just took the dog and left. Luke must now get a full round of rabies shots as a precaution since the dog could not be tested.

Michigan 04/15/11 by Victoria Mitchell – The Royal Oak Police Department has issued a rabies alert after officers found a rabid skunk in the 500 block of Parkdale. According to police, the skunk was euthanized and removed for disposal. Police say if you encounter a suspected rabid animal, immediately contact the police department at 248-246-3500. For more information on rabies, call 248-858-1406 or toll free 800-848-5533 or check the Oakland County health department information sheet. For rabies animal testing, call 248-858-1286 or toll free 888-350-0900, Ext. 8-1286.

Minnesota 04/15/11 Moorhead police are asking for the public’s help in locating a dog that bit a teenage boy this week. Police say the 14-year-old was riding his bike on Monday evening when he reported a dog ran up and bit him on the back of the calf, breaking the skin. The dog’s owner retrieved her dog and told the boy that the dog had had its rabies shots and he shouldn’t worry. But since the dog’s vaccination records cannot be confirmed, the boy has started rabies shots. The dog is described as a small, white, overweight dog with pointy ears. If the dog is found and is current on its vaccinations, the boy won’t have to have more shots.

Missouri 04/14/11 by Gabrielle Biondo –  The St. Louis County Department of Health is warning residents to stay away from and report any bats they come in contact with. Health department officials tell Town and Country-Manchester Patch that a bat was recently found in Manchester, and a resident underwent rabies shots. If you find a bat or come in contact with any wild animal, contact the St. Louis County Department of Health at 314-831-6500. After business hours, and on weekends and holidays, call St. Louis County Police at 314-889-2341.

New Jersey 04/14/11 by John Tredrea – Several coyote sightings in the vicinity of ball fields on Green Street in Pennington Borough have been reported during the past few weeks and Pennington Borough police have issued some guidelines and advice on the matter. Sgt. Steve Friedman said Friday that coyotes are native to this area, but they are reclusive animals that try to avoid human contact and so are rarely seen. ”There is no problem with coyotes in open areas exhibiting typical behaviors, usually late at night or early in the mornings,” the sergeant said. However, anyone seeing a bold coyote coming near human activity during the day should call the police, he added. Call 737-2020 to be connected to an officer or a dispatcher. Voice mail for borough police is at 737-1679. For emergencies, call 9-1-1. If unusual coyote behavior patterns are identified, police will notify animal wildlife officials and have them take appropriate action.

New Mexico 04/14/11 by Martin Smith – Carlsbad – In light of the increased amount of rabies cases cropping up across Eddy County, the Carlsbad Police Department, along with local veterinarians, are putting on a rabies clinic for Carlsbad residents.  Artesia has had two skunks and one house cat test positive for rabies, an acute viral disease that attacks the central nervous system of its victim, within the last couple of weeks, making it possible for rabies to be present in other parts of Eddy County, said Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce representatives.

New York 04/15/ The Schuyler County Health Department said Friday it has received five confirmed rabies cases in the three raccoons and two skunks it has submitted to a state testing lab since Jan. 1. The animals that tested positive were from all areas of the county. During all of last year, the county had only seven animals test positive for rabies. For more information, call the Schuyler County Health Department at (607) 535-8140.

North Carolina 04/15/11 by Ben McNeely – Coyotes have been seen running around Kannapolis – and they aren’t chasing road runners. Public Works crews were working on a sewer line last week, when the unexpected visitors showed up to the site. The crew was working near Buffalo Creek when three coyotes approached them and started chasing them. Cabarrus Animal Control officers looked for the coyotes, said Lt. David Taylor, but couldn’t find them. No one was hurt, but it is another sign of wildlife meeting Main Street. The N.C. Wildlife Office said coyotes are found in every county of the state, and apparently, they are wandering around in urban areas. While generally not considered dangerous toward people, looking up and seeing a coyote in your backyard can be startling. Betty Bost of Kannapolis saw one near Buffalo Creek, which runs near her house on Oakwood Avenue. “He didn’t charge me or anything,” Bost said. “I just happen to see him from a distance.” Bost said her husband saw two coyotes earlier last week as well. Coyote sightings aren’t limited to Kannapolis. Earlier this year, regional media reported on coyote sightings in Charlotte, around the Sugar Creek area. Terry Marsh said he isn’t surprised about the coyote sightings. He’s a state certified trapper who specializes in capturing coyotes and lives in the Roberta area of Concord. He said he’s had a fair amount of calls this year about coyote sightings in the area. His advice: Leave the coyote alone. “They are the ultimate hunter and they are quite adaptable,” Marsh said. “Treat it like any other wild animal.” Coyotes are attracted by trash, Marsh said. They can kill pets, small and large. Coyotes are even capable of taking down a deer, Marsh said. Marsh said to keep trash cleaned up around the house, keep pets on leashes or behind fences. If a coyote gets too close or hangs around the property, call at trapper, Marsh said.

West Virginia 04/15/11 A rabies case has been confirmed in the Kantor Cutoff Road area of Elk Garden, according to the Mineral County Health Department. A raccoon from that area tested positive for rabies. The health department is urging everyone to be cautious and stay away from any animals acting strangely or aggressively. For further information, call the health department at 304-788-1321.


Prince Edward Island 04/14/11 The fear of coyotes in Souris, P.E.I. is stopping residents from exercising outside, says the Eastern Kings Sports Council. The council delivered a survey about coyotes to local residents. Council member Steve O’Brien told CBC News this week 58 per cent of respondents said they are scared of coyotes, and 43 per cent have reduced their time outside. In 2009 a dog was attacked by two coyotes Souris, not long after a woman was killed by coyotes in Cape Breton. O’Brien said more needs to be done to cut down on the coyote population. “A large percentage, 72 per cent, supported a year-round hunt of coyotes,” said O’Brien. “If we can help people overcome their fear and they can get out and exercise safely, then that would be our aim. Get as many people out as possible, getting fit and getting involved with recreation.” O’Brien will be presenting the survey results to the Department of Forestry. He hopes that will encourage the province to bring in a year-round hunt. While most experts agree hunting is not an effective means of controlling coyote populations, some hunters feel it can foster a fear of humans and control their behaviour.


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