COLORADO residential subdivision scene of MOUNTAIN LION DEER-KILL ~ NEBRASKA game officials confirm DEER with CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE found in three counties ~ RABIES reports from GEORGIA (2), and MASSACHUSETTS ~ FOLLOW-UP REPORTS: FLORIDA release of genetically altered MOSQUITOES delayed.

Photo by BoulderColorado.gov

Colorado 01/04/12 skyhidailynews.com: The Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife reported an incidence of a mountain lion deer-kill in the Innsbruck subdivision near Granby. A resident of the subdivision notified the Department on Dec. 22 about a dead deer near Overlook Drive in Innsbruck covered with some sticks and branches, according to the area’s Wildlife Manager Scott Murdoch. Dead prey covered with sticks, leaves and branches is indicative of a mountain-lion kill, Murdoch said. Cats cover dead prey with the intention of returning later to feed on it. Wildlife officials remind residents that any area where deer are present can mean the presence of mountain lion. Feeding wildlife, like deer, can attract their predators to neighborhood areas, Murdoch said, which ultimately puts pets and people in danger.

Deer with chronic wasting disease. Photo by Delaware Division of Fish and Game.

Nebraska 01/04/12 journalstar.com: Chronic wasting disease has appeared for the first time in deer in Buffalo, Custer and Holt counties, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission said Wednesday. The disease affects deer and elk and always is fatal. Humans have never been known to contract it. Twenty-six of 1,565 lymph node samples collected from deer taken during the 2011 November firearm deer season tested positive for the disease, the commission said in a news release. In addition, samples were taken from 37 culled deer that showed clinical symptoms for the disease, with one male mule deer from Garden County testing positive. Those symptoms include a rough, emaciated appearance and a lack of fear of humans. A record 51 positives were found in 3,645 samples in Nebraska in 2010, the commission said, but surveillance efforts were reduced in 2011 due to a lack of funds. The 2011 effort focused on central Nebraska, the leading edge of the disease as it spreads from west to east. The commission confirmed the disease in the state’s deer population in 2000.

Georgia 12/27/11 GwinnettCounty.com: A bat bit a citizen at 1173 Forest Vale Circle in Norcross on December 27, 2011. This animal has not been captured. A gray fox bit a citizen at 182 Jennifer Lane in Lilburn on December 17, 2011. This animal has not been located. A raccoon found at Saint Aurics Drive in Suwanee on December 4, 2011 tested positive for rabies at the state laboratory. A fox found at 450 Hoke O’Kelly Mill Road in Loganville on November 11, 2011 tested positive for rabies at the state laboratory. If you or your child have been bitten or scratched by any stray animals, or if you know of anyone handling this animal please call the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Office at 770.339.3200 ext. 5576.

Georgia 01/03/12 accessnorthga.com: by Katie Highsmith — One final rabies case was reported in Hall County before 2011 came to a close, bringing the total number of rabies cases in the county to 17 for the year. According to officials with Hall County Animal Services, a skunk came into contact with a dog near County Line Road in northeastern Hall County. The skunk was shipped to the Georgia Public Health Lab in Decatur on Dec. 29, where it tested positive for rabies.

Massachusetts 01/03/12 patch.com: Christopher Tanguay — A Concord mother is looking for the dog that bit her young daughter yesterday. The incident occurred yesterday afternoon at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Mitchell Avenue. The family would like to locate the dog in order to assess its health or learn about its vaccination history in hopes of sparing the girl from rabies treatment, which will be mandatory if the animal is not found by tomorrow morning. The dog is described as a beagle mix, tiny, and wearing a blue collar. Any information about the dog or its owner will be greatly appreciated. The child’s mother may be reached at (617) 283-7758.

Follow-Up Reports:

(See July 8, 2011: British bio-tech company stirs controversy by developing genetically modified MOSQUITO to wipe out those that carry DENGUE and other lethal diseases.)

Aedes-aegypti mosquito.

Florida 01/04/12 keysnet.com: by Kevin Wadlow – Confusion over government permits will delay the planned release of genetically altered mosquitoes in Key West for several months. The pilot program outlined by the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District would release a test batch of about 5,000 to 10,000 mosquitoes — the Aedes aegypti species that carries dengue fever — that have been specifically bred to produce offspring that die young. Once planned for January, any release now will occur no sooner than “late spring,” said district Executive Director Michael Doyle. In theory, the released male bugs with faulty breeding genes will compete with natural mosquitoes, sharply reducing the overall production of future generations. Male mosquitoes do not bite.

An international environmental group, Friends of the Earth, this month issued statements that urge a more skeptical view of what would be “the first-ever release of genetically engineered mosquitoes in the U.S.” Doyle said in an e-mail that the Friends of Earth campaign does not affect estimated time of release. The delay mostly can be blamed on uncertainty over which state and federal agencies should review the project. Permit approval “appeared imminent several months ago,” he said. “A regulatory decision has been delayed while both federal and state agencies discuss under which type of permit this new type of technique would be approved,” Doyle said. “The intended trial does not neatly fit into normal permit processes.”

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulates chemical and biological products but not insect releases, Doyle said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees “sterile-insect techniques” used to control agricultural pests “in fields, not cities,” he said. Wildlife agencies may have to be consulted. “It takes time to both find the proper regulatory venue and complete the process,” Doyle said.

Oxitec, an English company working with Mosquito Control, says it has released genetically altered mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands, Malaysia and Brazil with positive results on reducing insect population. “The genetic aspect adds some mystery to some,” Doyle said, “but to most entomologists, it’s just a new twist on an old technique.” Friends of the Earth staff said the planned mosquito release in Key West creates “health, environmental and ethical challenges” that should be carefully considered. “Who will regulate their release and who will be legally and financially liable if something goes wrong?” the group’s biotechnology specialist Eric Hoffman asked. “Will Oxitec be required to obtain the free and informed consent of Key West residents?”

Friends of the Earth disputes the claim that releasing more mosquitoes can reduce the occurrence of disease, and questions how Oxitec can assure no female mosquitoes will be released accidentally. Doyle said Friends of the Earth “brings up some very interesting concerns, many of which need to be addressed during the permit process.” Other issues raised by the group show a “misunderstanding of our local ecology,” he said. The dengue-carrying mosquito is a nonnative species not numerous enough to provide a food source for wildlife, he said. “Reducing its numbers to near zero would have a negligible effect on the Key West urban ecosystem and virtually none on wildlife as a whole.” Doyle said Mosquito Control staff has worked in Key West to publicize its altered-mosquito plan for “nearly two years.” “There has been almost no public interest to date,” he said. “I expect that most questions will be answered during the formal permitting process. My goal is to allay any concerns with the facts of the science behind this promising technique.”

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