BLACK BEAR in WISCONSIN picks interesting place to hibernate ~ Deadly RANAVIRUS spreading in TURTLE, TADPOLE, and SALAMANDER populations could affect BIRDS, REPTILES, RACCOONS and others in the food chain ~ PET DOG in OREGON euthanized after COYOTE attack.

Hibernating Black Bear Sow with Cubs. Photo by Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources.

Wisconsin 02/13/12 fox4kc.com: by Michelle Pekarsky – A black bear was discovered in an unusual place on Friday in Wisconsin– inside a drainage tunnel. Neighbors driving by spotted the 300-pound hibernating bear and stopped to take a look from a safe distance, although they zoomed their camera in close. Much to their surprise, they saw through their camera lens that the bear’s eyes were open and shining in the dark. Click here for pictures of the hibernating bear.

“While they’re hibernating they are not truly asleep,” said Courtney Schaefer with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “They can easily be woken up.” Schaefer, a wildlife biologist, says black bears are generally submissive and that it’s very unusual for them to attack anyone. Black bears hibernate four months out of the year. DNR officials say man-made objects like a culvert are not uncommon places for bears to settle in. “A lot of dens are quite obvious to the visible eye,” Schaefer said.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, the bear population in Missouri has been on the rise since the 1960s. For more on the Missouri Black Bear Project, click here. What do you do if you come across a hibernating bear? “It’s okay to take a look but again, exercise caution,” Schaefer warned. “Don’t allow the bear to feel it’s threatened…the bear will probably stay where it is.”

 National 02/12/12 washingtonpost.com: by Katherine Shaver – Maryland biologists study­ing box turtles rescued from the bulldozers on the Intercounty Connector construction site have made a grisly find: An alarming number of the tiny turtles later died, and biologists say their demise appears to be unrelated to the highway. Worse yet, the cause of their death — an animal disease called ranavirus taking root across the United States — also is believed to have killed nearly every tadpole and young salamander in the study area in Montgomery County’s North Branch Stream Valley Park since spring 2010.

The discoveries have alarmed state wildlife officials and biologists, who worry about how far ranavirus has spread, how widely it has affected the ecosystem, and how it apparently jumped between turtles — which are reptiles — and amphibians. If the virus spreads or goes unchecked for long, wildlife experts say, it could devastate some local populations of box turtles, frogs and salamanders. That loss, biologists say, would ripple along the food chain to other animals.

In all, 31 adult turtles were found dead near the ICC construction site between 2008 and 2011. Three had been hit by cars or construction equipment. The rest, apparently dead from illness, amounted to about one-quarter of the turtles monitored by Towson University researchers via radio transponders glued atop the tiny shells. Twenty-six of the deaths resulted from suspected or confirmed cases of ranavirus, which left some turtles gasping for breath as they gradually suffocated in their own mucus, researchers said. “Finding even one dead turtle is unusual,” said Richard Seigel, the Towson biology professor who led the ICC study. “Finding over 27 dead turtles in a two-to-three-year period was bizarre.”

Box turtles can live 50 years or more in the wild. The ability of their hard shells to withstand predators usually affords them a 98 percent survival rate from one year to the next before they die of old age, usually alone and undetected beneath brush, Seigel said. “This is a major concern to see these emerging pathogens,” he said.

Ecological implications

Dr. Richard Seigel

Experts on animal diseases say ranavirus, whose origin is unknown, has never been detected in humans, livestock or common household pets because it cannot survive in mammals’ relatively warm bodies. Its long-term effects on local turtles, frogs and salamanders are not yet known and will depend on how long the virus lingers, how far it spreads and how quickly surviving animals build up immunity, biologists said. But several wildlife experts said the disease’s short-term effects are probably affecting the food chain in the ICC study area between Muncaster Mill Road and Emory Lane, just west of Georgia Avenue in northern Silver Spring. The birds, snakes and raccoons that dine on salamanders and tadpoles have less food at their disposal, experts say. Meanwhile, the loss of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of tadpoles and salamander larvae wiped out in two consecutive breeding seasons has probably left far more of the insects that young salamanders and frogs eat. – For complete article go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/commuting/2012/02/01/gIQA5O0Z9Q_story.html

Oregon 02/13/12 Gresham, Multnomah County: Coyote releases pet dog but injuries prove fatal. See http://www.kval.com/news/local/Dog-dies-after-coyote-attack-in-Gresham-139186519.html

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