Dead DEER in New Jersey may be victims of MIDGE FLIES; Arizona MOUNTAIN LION population growing; California trapper gets MOUNTAIN LION that killed two steers; Idahoan rescues DOG from MOUNTAIN LION; North Carolina man and dog injured by BLACK BEAR; West Virginia DEER hunting regs reflect presence of CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE; Florida officials confirm ST. LOUIS ENCEPHALITIS in SENTINEL CHICKENS; WEST NILE VIRUS reports from CT, FL, ID, MS, & OR; and RABIES reports from NY, & CA. Follow-Up Reports: Patient in Minnesota diagnosed with inhalational ANTHRAX recovering.

Whitetailed Buck. Courtesy National Park Service.

New Jersey 08/31/11 nj.com: by Matt Fair – A virus known in the past to severely affect white-tailed deer populations in New Jersey may be making a reappearance, with an added boost from Hurricane Irene. The virus, known as Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD), was responsible for killing more than 4,000 deer in Burlington and Salem counties in 1999. It killed about 50 deer in Salem County last year, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. Officials in the department say they’ve had reports of dead and possibly infected deer in northern portions of Hopewell Township. Sightings have also occurred in East Amwell in Hunterdon County and Hillsborough in Somerset County. “We’ve had people report seeing up to 30 dead deer,” said Larry Herrighty, assistant director of the department’s division of fish and wildlife. However, he added, only two possible cases have been identified so far. “We don’t have any confirmation yet, but we did send two samples to the laboratory.”

Midge fly carries EHD

Herrighty said the virus is carried by the bites of tiny midge flies that, according to some theories, can be carried into the region by air currents. The disease is typically observed in August and September. “There’s some theories that midges infected with this virus get blown in on summer thunderstorms,” he said, adding that the passage of Hurricane Irene could have carried more of the insects into the Mercer area. “This is a disease that is common in the Southern U.S., and the deer there seem to be fairly immune to it,” he said. The midges die off when cold weather arrives.

Infected deer generally die within five to 10 days of contracting the virus. Symptoms include loss of appetite and a feverish condition that causes them to seek out water sources either for drinking or bathing. The animals grow progressively weaker, they tend to salivate excessively, and they often lose their fear of people. “They’re in a feverish state of mind, and you may be able to approach them without them running away,” Herrighty said. “They won’t get aggressive or anything like that.” The virus can’t be transmitted to humans and doesn’t pose a public health risk, authorities said. Still, Herrighty said, it is important to report animals that might be infected. “Even though deer are overabundant in some of these areas, it’s important to monitor any of these diseases,” he said. “From a recreational value and a health scenario, we need to know what’s going on.” In one year, he said, the disease resulted in a 30 to 40 percent reduction in the deer harvest, although the decreases generally don’t last more than a single year. “In the areas that we saw a 30 percent drop, the population came back within a year or two and the harvest rebounded,” he said. “It hasn’t affected any herd in the long term.”

Arizona 08/28/11 azstarnet.com: by Mark A. Hart, PIO for Arizona Game & Fish Department in Tucson – Western wildlife agency managers believe that mountain lions appear to be more secure as a species now than ever before in recent history. Between 2,500 and 3,000 mountain lions live in Arizona. Current habitat estimates suggest that approximately 67 mountain lions live in the Santa Catalina, Rincon and Little Rincon mountain ranges east to the San Pedro River. That figure is consistent with a large white-tailed deer population there, which has been growing since the late-1990s to mid-2000s, when major fires improved habitat. Other factors make the ranges good mountain lion habitat; for example, the remoteness of some parts of Saguaro National Park East, which is closed to hunting, and of Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, where discharge of firearms is prohibited.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department in Tucson fields approximately 100 calls about mountain lions annually, many of them from the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area and the Foothills. The vast majority are sightings, classified by a department response protocol as a visual observation of a lion, or a report of lion tracks or other sign. There has never been a fatal mountain lion attack in recorded Arizona history. But there have been two attacks causing injuries in the state, and numerous reports of “close encounters” here and throughout the U.S. and Canada. Meantime, a recently completed Game and Fish study with the University of Arizona using radio collars shows mountain lions ranging widely throughout the mountains surrounding Tucson, and using travel corridors to routinely move about Southern and Central Arizona. All this makes situational awareness in the wilderness vitally important.

If a mountain lion is seen, experts advise:

• Do not approach the animal. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.

• Stay calm and speak loudly and firmly.

• Protect small children so they won’t panic and run.

• Do not run from a mountain lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Stand and face the animal. Make eye contact.

• Appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly. The idea is to convince the lion that you are not easy prey and that you may be a danger to it.

• Maintain eye contact and slowly back away toward a building, vehicle, or busy  area.

• Fight back if attacked. Many potential victims have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools, their bare hands, and even mountain bikes. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the animal.

Given a mountain lion’s instinct to chase, trail runners and bikers need to be especially cautious, and avoid using headsets or other devices that prevent hearing what is going on around them. In addition, those who encounter a mountain lion should not stop to take photos, but instead take action to deter an incident or attack. Mountain-lion sightings, encounters, incidents and attacks -especially in neighborhoods, recreational areas, and schools – should be promptly reported to Game and Fish at 628-5376 during regular business hours, or 1-623-236-7201 any time. For more information, see www.azgfd.gov/w_c/urban_lion.shtml

California 08/30/11 hollisterfreelance.com: by Kollin Kosmicki – A county-designated trapper caught a mountain lion Tuesday after an Aromas rancher reported two steers killed the previous day, the agriculture commissioner said.  A rancher off Anzar Road on Monday discovered two dead steers of about 450 pounds each. He suspected a mountain lion may have been responsible and reported it to the agriculture commissioner’s office.  On Monday night, a county-hired expert with the U.S. Department of Agriculture put out a trap, and there was a mountain lion in the cage Tuesday morning, said Ron Ross, San Benito County’s agriculture commissioner.  The male lion was about 100 pounds and has been euthanized, which is a state requirement when the big cats are captured after such encounters.  There have been occasional reports from local ranchers of possible cougar attacks – some officials have expressed concern about a growing population and needing a statewide count of the species – but it is uncommon around here to actually capture one in a trap, or large cage with a door that shuts when an animal enters.  “To my knowledge, this is the first time (with a capture) on the San Benito County side of Aromas,” Ross said.  The area where the trapper caught the lion is mostly rural with pockets of residential neighborhoods nearby. The trap was located about 100 yards from a residence, according to officials.

Idaho 08/29/11 localnews8.com: by Kylie Bearse – Living right next to the mountains has its perks, but it also comes with its fair share of danger. One Swan Valley man and his pet had a close encounter over the weekend with one very big cat. Lynn Dixon has lived in Swan Valley for 26 years, the first time he saw a mountain lion was Friday – with his Yorkie, Sammy, in tow. “I ran over there, as fast as I could go,” said Dixon. “I got over there and I kicked her, tried to get her to let go of the dog. I started chasing her toward the river. I lost my balance and fell into the river then I looked around and saw the dog lying 4 or 5 feet away from me in the shallow part of the river.” Sammy miraculously survived. “She’s got puncture wounds to her forehead and damage to her left leg,” said Dixon. “She went through a lot of trauma but I tell ya she’s a tough little dog.”

Yorkshire terrier

There are still signs of a struggle here where the lion jumped over the fence with the dog in her mouth. And while what Dixon did was incredibly heroic, it was also very dangerous. “Even though your first instinct might be to get between the two of them it’s the last thing you should do,” said Gregg Losinski. “If I’d have thought I wouldn’t have chased the cat, it’s that simple,” said Dixon. “But you don’t think, you just try to save your dog.” Mountain lion sightings are not unusual, especially near the mountains. “Mountain lions are felines so they often act like your house cats, they like to sun themselves, they like to get up on a wood pile maybe,” said Losinski. If you do find a cat on your porch: “the term ‘Fraidy Cat’ applies even to mountain lions,” said Losinski. “They don’t want to mess with people, if you get out there and start yelling at it generally it’ll run of.” And after Lynn’s close encounter, he’s just grateful. “For what she went through, it really is a miracle,” said Dixon. If you do take actions into your own hands and kill a mountain lion in self defense, be sure to report it to Idaho Fish and Game immediately.

North Carolina 08/31/11 wbtv.com: A North Carolina man and his dog are recovering from wounds after a run-in with a bear in their backyard. The Asheville Citizen-Times reported Wednesday that Rick Hall suffered cuts to his chest and a puncture wound to his left cheek after trying to scare a black bear from his property in Candler. His Scottish terrier Baxter suffered six to eight deep puncture wounds. Hall’s wife Caroline says her husband and dog are recovering. Pat Conner says her son-in-law let the dog outside before dawn Tuesday, and the animals came muzzle-to-muzzle in the backyard. Wildlife Resources Commission biologist Brad Howard says bears are roaming the mountains at this time of year, so people should look outside and make sure it’s clear before letting dogs out.

West Virginia 08/31/11 wvdnr.gov: News Release – The discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Hampshire County, West Virginia, represents a significant threat to the state’s white-tailed deer. The disease does not create an immediate widespread die-off of deer, but if allowed to spread, will cause long-term damage to the herd. The DNR is taking action to gather more information on the prevalence and distribution of the disease in the area surrounding all known infected deer. The DNR also discourages supplemental feeding and baiting of deer statewide, and bans these practices in Hampshire County. In addition there are restrictions on the disposal and transport of deer carcasses from within the containment area in WV, VA and MD where CWD has been detected. There are no proven solutions to combating CWD once present in free-ranging deer. Thus, future management actions will be adaptive and based on the findings of current and future surveillance. The Containment Area includes all of Hampshire County, that portion Hardy County north of Corridor H and W.V. Rt. 55 from Wardensville to the Virginia Stateline and that portion of Morgan County which lies west of US Rt. 522. It is illegal to bait or feed deer or other wildlife in the “Containment Area”.

Pinellas County

Florida 08/31/11 tampabay.com: For the first time in six years, St. Louis encephalitis has shown up in Pinellas County. The mosquito-transmitted disease that attacks the central nervous system disappeared in Pinellas when West Nile virus came to town in 2005. But Tuesday, county officials announced they had confirmed St. Louis encephalitis in four sentinel chickens. The chickens are kept in eight locations in the county and tested weekly to detect the presence of mosquitoes carrying diseases. Two chickens in Walsingham Park in Largo and two chickens at the North Highway Maintenance Yard in Clearwater tested positive.

Connecticut 08/31/11 ct.gov: News Release – The State Mosquito Management Program today announced that a Stamford resident has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV) infection. In addition, mosquitoes trapped by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) between August 15 – 22, 2011, have tested positive for WNV in four new municipalities this year: Hartford, Meriden, North Haven and Tolland.

Duval County

Florida 08/30/11 jacksonville.com: The Duval County Health Department announced another confirmed (human) case of West Nile virus, involving a 79-year-old female. This most recent case brings the total to nine confirmed with one reported death associated with the virus.

Gem County

Idaho 08/31/11 idahostatesman.com: by Katy Kreller – A man living in Southeast Idaho has a confirmed case of West Nile virus, according to a release from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The man was hospitalized last week.  Officials say there is other evidence the virus still is active in the area. The mosquito abatement district in Gem County reported mosquitoes there tested positive for the virus.

Mississippi 08/29/11 ms.gov: News Release – Today the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports two new human West Nile virus (WNV) cases in Forrest and Rankin counties, bringing the state’s total to 18 for 2011. So far this year, cases have been confirmed in Coahoma, Forrest (3), Hinds (4), Jones (3), Pearl River (4), Rankin, Tallahatchie, and Wayne counties. One death has been confirmed in Jones County. In 2010, Mississippi had eight WNV cases and no deaths.

Oregon 08/30/11 kgw.com: by Frank Mungeam – Health officials say the first mosquitoes of the season with West Nile virus have been detected in the Jordan Valley of Malheur County in Eastern Oregon.

New York 08/30/11 watertowndailytimes.com: The U.S. Department of Agriculture will begin its distribution of oral vaccine baits Wednesday in St. Lawrence County to help stop the spread of raccoon rabies. The baits will be distributed in Gouverneur, Heuvelton, Canton, Ogdensburg and Waddington. Two rabid raccoons were found in DeKalb, near Richville, one on May 26 and one on Thursday. Two rabid bats were reported in August in Madrid. For information on free rabies clinics for pets call the county Public Health Department at 386-2325.

California 08/30/11 the-signal.com: by Cory Minderhout – An eighth rabid bat was found in the Santa Clarita Valley this year, a county Health Department official said Tuesday. The bat was found alive at a school in Valencia on Thursday about 8:15 a.m., said Dr. Karen Ehnert, acting director for the veterinary public health and rabies control program for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “We were lucky there we no exposures,” Ehnert said. “Adults saw the bat before school started and kept the kids from it.” “We want to remind children to always tell an adult if they see sick wildlife and to not touch (the animal),” Ehnert said. Health Department officials did not reveal the name of the school at which the bat was found. The Health Department does not release the exact location of rabid bat findings so that people will not be discouraged from reporting them, Ehnert said. So far this year, 21 rabid bats have been found in Los Angeles County, a Health Department website said. Normally, eight to 10 rabid bats are found in L.A. County each year. The exact reason for the increase in rabies among the county’s bat population this year was unknown, Ehnert said in a previous interview. Bats live in colonies, and the Santa Clarita Valley is a favored place for them, she said earlier. Anyone who sees a dead or live bat should cover it with a box and call animal control, which will pick the animal up and take it to the Health Department for rabies testing, Ehnert said. “We want to remind people to never touch a live or dead bat and to get their pets vaccinated against rabies,” Ehnert said.

Follow-Up Report:

Minnesota 08/26/11 state.mn.us: News Update – (See August 16, 2011: Minnesota investigates apparent case of inhalational Anthrax) The Minnesota Department of Health in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been investigating a case of inhalation anthrax. The individual, a man in his 60s, had traveled through several states in July and early August, where anthrax is known to be in the soil and to have caused infections in animals, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. He was hospitalized in early August with pneumonia, was determined to have inhalation anthrax and is now recovering. The Bacillus anthracis strain isolated from the patient was found by genetic testing to be similar to other strains isolated in North America. The individual had a prior chronic lung condition, which may have made him more susceptible to infection with anthrax, and had multiple exposures to soil and animal products. No other human cases of anthrax have been reported in 2011.

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