California neighborhood’s SKUNK population has noses out of joint ~ New study confirms WEST NILE VIRUS transmission linked to land-use patterns and specific BIRDS called “super-spreaders” ~ Canada: BC hunter kills charging GRIZZLY.

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California 10/23/11 by Michael Fitzgerald – Nature arms skunks with scent glands on their rumps. Skunks can accurately shoot a “highly offensive” spray that reeks of “rotten eggs, garlic and burnt rubber.” This jinxed odor pervades the Collegeview neighborhood these days, where an unusually big invasion of skunks has residents’ noses out of joint. “The whole neighborhood is just, like, inundated with skunks,” said neighborhood resident Betty Stover. The Stovers tried everything to rid their house of skunk smell. Shutting windows, buying fans to cleanse the air; feverishly Febrezing. Nothing worked. The odor intensified. First, it stank just at night – skunks are evening foragers – but then by day, too. Finally the powerful smell hung in the air 24/7. Under the circumstance, Martha Stewart living became difficult. “People would come in and they’d go, ‘Eeeewww!’ ” A skunk hosed their dog. “We had to bring the dog into the back shower and get all kinds of concoctions and wash her down,” Stover said. “And she still reeked for weeks.” Stover became paranoid. “I was afraid to go out at night. I was afraid I might run into a skunk. It’s like being a prisoner in her house. … We were, like, ready to move out.” Instead the Stovers hired a trapper. Nick Catrina of Animal Damage Control spied skunk tracks leading to a broken screen opening to the space under Stover’s house. He set traps. He trapped 12 skunks living under the house. Twelve skunks – not as unusual as you might think, Catrina said. “The most skunks I ever pulled out from under a house in Stockton was 56,” he said. “Couple years ago. Next to the biggest house in Brookside.” Stockton’s skunk population rises and falls in cycles, says Pat Claerbout, the head of the city’s Animal Services. This is a boom. Things are worse in the Collegeview neighborhood because it abuts the Calaveras River. – For complete article go to

American Robin. Photo by Kristof. Wikimedia Commons.

North America 10/20/11 News Release – A National Science Foundation funded study published in this week’s issue of the journal Science, confirms that only a handful of bird species appear to be important in the transmission of West Nile Virus (WNV). According to Marm Kilpatrick, a biologist at the University of California-Santa Cruz, the familiar American Robin plays a key role across much of North America. In fact, the robin is such an important host species that Kilpatrick refers to them as “super-spreaders” of the virus.

Dr. Marm Kilpatrick

In any given area, the one or two species of mosquitoes that also play a role prefer robins over other, often even more abundant species of birds such as house sparrows. These mosquitoes also like crows, but the crow population has dropped off, probably because of WNV, and the robin population, which had been growing rapidly, has leveled off. Kilpatrick suspects that is also because of WNV. Kilpatrick also notes that the birds, including the robin, and the mosquitoes that transmit WNV are abundant in areas that have been modified by human activities and, as a result, transmission of the virus is highest in urbanized and agricultural habitats. – For complete article go to


British Columbia 10/24/11 by Sandy Hall – A hunter was forced to shoot and kill a grizzly bear that charged him and his dog near Lumby. The man was hunting deer last Wednesday when he spotted the large bruin going after his dog. When the hunter yelled the bear turned on him. The man managed to fire at the bear from about a 10 metre distance and the wounded animal ran away. The animal died of its injury and was discovered the next day. It was a 550 pound male, about 7 to 9 years old.


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