Utah plan to restore Black-footed Ferrets likely to be vetoed; North Carolina study of Feral Hogs shows increased risk of exposure to zoonotic parasites; a Coyote report from Illinois; and a Wolf report from Oregon. Travel Warnings for India and the Philippines.

Black-footed Ferret. Photo by Ltshears. Wikimedia Commons.

 Utah 05/02/11 sltrib.com: by Brandon Loomis – A plan to restore one of America’s rarest mammals to northern Utah appears endangered by a fear of the Endangered Species Act. Informal “what-if” chats between state wildlife biologists and ranch managers at LDS Church-owned Deseret Land and Livestock on the south end of Rich County hatched a plan to restore black-footed ferrets there. With the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s blessing, the state would release 20 of the 2-foot-long predators per year — some from a captive breeding program, some from restored colonies around the West — to feast on prairie dogs living on the ranch. Government agents agreed they would impose no new land restrictions there nor on neighboring ranchers, and that they would gather up the animals and quit the experiment if people endured economic losses. But they also gave the Rich County Commission a veto. At a public hearing last month, residents made it clear they expect the commission to wield that veto. Commissioner Bill Cox said he cannot recall receiving any comments favoring ferret reintroduction, and he expects the deal to die with a commission vote scheduled for Wednesday. “There’s too much uncertainty there to bring in an endangered species and put it in an environment where we don’t have total control,” Cox said. “Why bring something in to have to manage around?” Biologists tried to supply certainty. Releasing the animals as an experimental, nonessential population, as the government has done with other ferret colonies, gives flexibility not allowed with endangered species enjoying full federal protection. Program managers said they wouldn’t impose restrictions on grazing or other uses even if ferrets migrate onto federal Bureau of Land Management land. (For complete article go to http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/51714503-90/ferrets-wildlife-ferret-species.html.csp )

North Carolina 04/30/11 sciencedaily.com: America’s feral pig population continues to expand, increasing the potential for interaction with humans and domestic swine — and for spreading diseases. Researchers at North Carolina State University examined feral pigs from eastern North Carolina to determine exposure to two parasites that can be transmitted from animals to people — Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) and Trichinella. The study found that wild pigs host a significant number of these parasites. “If ingested by humans, these parasites can invade muscle tissue and organs, causing flu-like symptoms — with more serious complications in the immune-compromised,” says Dr. Chris DePerno, assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife sciences and co-author of the paper describing the research. “Little research has focused on evaluating feral pigs as potential reservoirs for these zoonotic parasites. Because of the numbers of commercial swine populations in eastern North Carolina, the expanding feral pig population, and the greater interaction with humans, we wanted to determine the exposure of feral pigs to these zoonotic parasites.”

Modern market farm production practices have nearly eliminated the presence of most of these parasites in domestic swine. However, the recent trend toward organic and free-range pig production has increased domestic pig exposure to infection, and the possibility of human infection through pork consumption. Between 2007 and 2009, researchers collected blood serum from 83 feral pigs harvested at Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center in Four Oaks, N.C. The pigs were then tested for the presence of antibodies. The

Dr. Chris DePerno

prevalence of antibodies to T. gondii and Trichinella were 27.7 percent and 13.3 percent respectively, and 4 percent had antibodies to both agents. “As feral pig range and population size expands, the opportunity for feral pig hunting increases. We recommend education programs be conducted for hunters to understand their risk of exposure to these diseases during the cleaning process and meat consumption,” DePerno says. Also, he hopes to conduct additional research examining the interaction of feral pigs with domestic swine operations, especially in light of the growth of free-range pig productions. DePerno conducted the study with former fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology graduate student Mark Sandfoss, Drs. James Flowers and Suzanne Kennedy-Stoskopf in NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Sharon Patton from the University of Tennessee. The research is published in the April issue of the Journal of Wildlife Diseases.

Illinois 05/01/11 go.com: A ragged-looking coyote was discovered at an unlikely place in Chicago — a Metra station. The coyote was found about 7 a.m. Sunday, trapped in the LaSalle Street station. The animal was found where commuters come through a turnstile after exiting Metra trains. Animal control workers used a “catch pole” to grab the coyote. They named the coyote Ellie, and say she’s generally in good health.

Oregon 05/02/11 eastoregonian.com: by Brian Addison – Enterprise – John Stephenson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is calling the dead calf found among Wallowa County rancher Jim Bird’s herd a probable case of wolf depredation, according to Oregon Cattlemen’s Association wolf coordinator Rod Childers. Wallowa County Sheriff Fred Steen and USDA Wildlife Services predator control worker Marlyn Riggs investigated the case of a probable wolf depredation on a calf belonging to Bird on Saturday, April 23. The dead calf was located on private property near Crow Creek Road east of Highway 82. “All the signs and symptoms are consistent with the depredations we’ve seen caused by wolves,” Steen said. “I believe the calf’s death was caused by wolves.” There was a wolf sighting reported in the OK Gulch area the previous evening. Steen said that it appeared as though the calf had been preyed upon no more than 12 hours before the carcass was located. The calf had been part of a herd of 120 cows that had been fed in the area the previous day. It appeared as though the calf was killed sometime during the night or early morning of the 23rd, Steen said. The calf was born late February and weighed about 150 to 160 pounds, according to Steen. Steen said that he followed his protocol after finding the carcass as he was helping Bird with his cattle. He first notified his office and then contacted USDA Wildlife Services after locating the carcass. Riggs declined to comment and USDA Wildlife Services supervisor Dave Williams did not return phone calls before Chieftain press time.

Travel Warnings:

India 05/01/11 gulf-times.com: Contagious diseases, including viral fever that took a heavy toll in Kerala in the last few years have made a comeback in the state’s coastal Alappuzha district. According to health department officials, several patients have been admitted to government hospitals in Alappuzha with leptospirosis, dengue, Japanese encephalitis (JE) and chikungunya. At least 13,500 people in the district have been affected with viral fever this year, health officials have said. Also 25 cases of leptospirosis, eight cases of dengue fever and six cases of JE have been diagnosed, the official said. While leptospirosis is caused by rodents, dengue, JE and chikungunya are spread by mosquitoes.

Philippines 05/02/11 sunstar.com.ph: by Jovi T. De Leon – Pampanga – The Department of Health (DOH) Regional Office here has raised the alert level to critical following the surge of dengue cases in Central Luzon from January to April 16 this year. In a media forum at Partyland on Monday, DOH Regional Director Rio Magpantay asked for media’s help in disseminating information to raise awareness among its partner agencies, as well as heads of local government units. Magpantay said the number of cases in the region is continuously rising, noting a 200-percent increase in the first quarter of this year. “We are experiencing a dramatic peak in the number of cases this year and we are extensively monitoring it to avert a possible outbreak,” Magpantay said. According to the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance unit, 3,688 dengue cases were reported from January to April this year, higher than the same period last year. Bulacan still tops the list with 1,253 cases; Nueva Ecija with 927; Tarlac with 337; Bataan with 316; and Zambales with 186. A total of 17 deaths have been noted so far. In Pampanga, 724 cases with at least two deaths have been reported. Cases were high in Pulung Cacutud and Lourdes Northwest in Angeles City, San Vicente in Apalit, Dau in Mabalacat, Sapang Maisac in Mexico, Lourdes in Minalin and Calulut in San Fernando.


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