West Texas plague outbreak may be killing Prairie Dogs; Maine legislature addresses conflict between landowners and hunters; US Dept of Interior proposes removing Gray Wolf from Endangered Species List; and a Rabies report from Georgia. Travel Warnings for the Fiji Islands.

Prairie dogs. Courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Texas 05/04/11 examiner.com: by Robert Herriman – With a suspected plague outbreak in West Texas that was killing off prairie dogs the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) had their wildlife specialists dust a 40-acre ranch during the last week of April. In a USDA-APHIS news release issued Tuesday, they explain how over a two-day period, the wildlife team dusted prairie dog burrows with the insecticide, deltamethrin (DeltaDust). According to the report, this insecticide is safe for mammals. The insecticide is to kill fleasin the burrows that transmit

Black-footed ferret

the deadly bacterial agent, Yersinia pestis. Though plague has not been confirmed, this prairie dog die-off is consistent with other outbreaks of plague in this area. Not only did the USDA-APHIS do this in Texas for the protection of human health, but also to maintain a habitat for the endangered black-footed ferret. Prairie dogs are a mainstay in the diet of the black-footed ferret. (For complete article go to http://www.examiner.com/infectious-disease-in-national/usda-dusts-prairie-dog-burrows-texas-because-of-suspected-plague-outbreak )

Maine 05/04/11 downeast.com: by George Smith – Private landowners are being heard loud and clear this legislative session, on a host of issues from vernal pools to coyote baiting. The Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee endured a lengthy hearing on two controversial bills that pitted private landowners against hunters, but the final result won the support of both. LD 223, proposed by the Maine Farm Bureau, would have required sportsmen to have written permission to access cropland, pastureland, and orchards. It was killed unanimously by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. LD 559, sponsored by Rep. Andy O’Brien, turned out to be the vehicle of compromise. Andy’s bill initially required that a hunter get written permission from the landowners when baiting any animal, hunting coyotes and bobcats with dogs, and hunting coyotes or bears. Because it’s impossible to keep dogs off posted land when they are pursuing a game animal, the original version of LD 559 would have effectively ended the hunting of coyotes and bobcats with dogs. Skip Trask, the seasoned lobbyist for the Maine Professional Guides Association and Maine Trappers Association, played a significant role in the amended version of O’Brien’s bill that received its final review and approval on May 2. Trask initially spoke strongly against both bills. But during a work session, he reported that he could support a requirement that the permission of landowners be secured before placing bait for any animal on private property. Just two years ago, sportsmen’s groups defeated a similar proposal. Here’s what the final amended bill includes, as it heads to the full House and Senate.

 1) A person may not place bait without oral or written permission of the landowner or the landowner’s agent and the bait site is plainly labeled with a two-inch-by-four-inch tag identifying the name and address of the person establishing the bait site.

2) A person may not hunt with a dog in pursuit of bear, coyote, or bobcat unless the dog has a collar that legibly provides the name, telephone number, and address of the owner of that dog.

3) A person may not, while either hunting alone or hunting with other persons, use more than six dogs at any one time to hunt coyotes.

4) A person may not use a dog to hunt a coyote thirty minutes after sunset to thirty minutes before sunrise.

(For complete article go to http://www.downeast.com/georges-outdoor-news/2011/may/maine-landowners-being-heard-clear )

National05/04/11 doi.gov: Press Release – Excerpts – “The Department of

Gray wolves

the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it is proposing to delist biologically recovered gray wolf populations in the Western Great Lakes, and – in accordance with recently enacted legislation – reinstating the Service’s 2009 decision to delist biologically recovered gray wolf populations in the Northern Rocky Mountains.”

“As part of today’s actions, the Service is publishing a final rule – as directed by legislative language in the recently enacted Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations bill – reinstating the terms of a 2009 rule removing gray wolves in a portion of the Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment (DPS) encompassing Idaho, Montana and parts of Oregon, Washington and Utah from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Gray wolves will remain listed under the ESA in Wyoming, although the Service is working closely with that state to develop a wolf management plan that would allow wolves in Wyoming to be removed from the list in the future.”

“The Service is also publishing a proposed rule to remove gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes area — which includes Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, and portions of adjoining states — from the list of endangered and threatened species because wolves have recovered in this area and no longer require the protection of the ESA.”

Eastern wolf (canis lycaon)

“As part of the proposed rule, the Service would revise the range of the gray wolf (the species Canis lupus) by removing all or parts of 29 eastern states due to newer taxonomic information indicating that the gray wolf did not historically occur in those states. The Service is also initiating status reviews of gray wolves in the Pacific Northwest and Southwest to determine the appropriate entity and listing status of that entity in those areas, as well as seeking information on a newly-recognized species, the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon), throughout its range in the United States and Canada. The Service is seeking public comment as part of this process.”

“The proposed rule to remove wolves in the Western Great Lakes from the ESA, as well as the final rule reinstating the 2009 final delisting rule for the Northern Rocky Mountain DPS as directed by the 2011 Full-Year Appropriations Act will publish in the Federal Register on May 5, 2011. The final rule for wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountain DPS will be effective immediately upon publication.”

“Public hearings for the proposed removal of wolves in the Western Great Lakes and proposed removal of eastern states from the gray wolf listing will be held May 18 in Ashland, Wisconsin, and on June 8 in Augusta, Maine. More information on the hearings will be available at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/ or by calling 612-713-5350.” (For complete press release go to http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/Interior-Announces-Next-Steps-in-Protection-Recovery-and-Scientific-Management-of-Wolves.cfm )

Georgia 05/03/11 moultrieobserver.com: by Alan Mauldin – The Colquitt County Health Department has advised residents in a neighborhood where a suspected rabid raccoon was sighted Tuesday to take precautions. The department was notified Tuesday morning that a raccoon was acting oddly, said Lawanda Lovett, an environmental health specialist. She did not know what specifically alerted someone to call the office. The animal was seen in the portion of East Bethel Avenue located outside the city of Moultrie. “We have not been able to catch this animal and have it tested,” Lovett said. “We’re telling them (residents) to take all safety measures, including not feeding or petting any stray animals.” The last confirmed case of rabies of an animal in the county was in November 2010, she said.

Travel Warnings:

Fiji 05/04/11 rnzi.com: Fiji’s Ministry of Health is concerned at the rise in leptospirosis cases, urging people who show any symptoms to seek medical treatment immediately. Since January this year, Fiji has had forty two cases of leptospirosis, including four deaths. For the same period last year, there were only 35 cases. The infection is caused by bacteria called leptospira that is often found in domestic animals and in their subsequent environments. Ministry spokesman, Peni Namotu, says humans can easily get leptospirosis through skin contact and consumption of contaminated food and water infected by the urine of animals.

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