BRITISH scientists say VIRUS responsible for rise in HONEY BEE deaths globally ~ MAINE campers watch as BLACK BEAR tries to crash in on hamburger dinner ~ MONTANA residents report MOUNTAIN LION sighting in Helena’s South Hills ~ WEST NILE VIRUS reports from CA, IL, & IN ~ RABIES reports from IL, KS, MD, NC (2), PA, & WI.

Honey bee. Courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Global 06/07/12 by Ben Hirschler – Bee populations have been falling rapidly in many countries, fuelled by a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. Its cause is unclear but the Varroa mite is a prime suspect, since it spreads viruses while feeding on hemolymph, or bee’s “blood”. To clarify the link between mites and viruses, a team led by Stephen Martin of Britain’s University of Sheffield studied the impact of Varroa in Hawaii, which the mites have only recently invaded. They found the arrival of Varroa increased the prevalence of a single type of virus, deformed wing virus (DWV), in honey bees from around 10 percent to 100 percent. At the same time the amount of DWV virus in the bees’ bodies rocketed by a millionfold and there was a huge reduction in virus diversity, with a single strain of DWV crowding out others. “It is that strain that is now dominant around the world and seems to be killing bees,” Martin said in a telephone interview. “My money would be on this virus as being key.”

Other factors – including fungi, pesticides and decreased plant diversity – are thought to play a role in colony collapse, but Ian Jones of the University of Reading said the latest findings pointed to the virus and mite combination as being the main culprit. “This data provides clear evidence that, of all the suggested mechanisms of honey bee loss, virus infection brought in by mite infestation is a major player in the decline,” he said. Jones, who was not involved the research, said the findings published in the journal Science reinforced the need for beekeepers to control Varroa infestation in colonies. The threat to bee populations extends across much of Europe and the United States to Asia, South America and the Middle East, experts say. Bees are important pollinators of flowering plants, including many fruit and vegetable crops. A 2011 United Nations report estimated that bees and other pollinators such as butterflies, beetles or birds do work worth 153 billion euros ($191 billion) a year for the human economy.

Maine 06/07/12 by Gail Geraghty – Bob and Lil Brusseau’s recent encounter with a hungry full-grown black bear at a Bridgton campground underscores the fact that the bear population is on the rise in the Lake Region. The Brusseaus, of Littleton, N.H., were sitting inside their motor home around 6 p.m. May 25 at the Bridgton Marina, a campground on Long Lake, just a mile’s drive from downtown. They’d just finished eating the hamburgers they’d cooked on their grill, when they heard a light noise against the side of the camper. “Then we heard an awful bump. My wife thought a tree was coming down,” said Bob, a retiree who’s spent the last 25 summers with his wife at the quiet, seasonal, 60-site campground off the Pond Road. Lil got up to investigate, but thankfully, she didn’t open the door. A hungry male bear was just outside — and he wanted in, in the worst way. Using his forepaws, he’d thumped the side of the motor home in frustration. “It was not a huge bear, but it was a good size,” said Bob. “I wouldn’t want to get in a fight with him.” The bear came sniffing onto the deck outside the door and ambled around to the front of the home. The  Brusseaus could only watch through the big windshield as the bear reared up on its hind legs, pawing at the glass. “He put his paws up as high as he could reach. He was trying to climb up the windshield,” said Bob. The bear’s claws left scratches on the vehicle’s fiberglass sides and damaged the windshield wipers. The Brusseaus could only stare, and be ever so thankful that the door to the motor home was closed. “If the door was open, I’m sure he would have come inside,” Bob said. – For complete article see

Montana 06/07/12 by Eve Byron – Residents have sighted a mountain lion in the South Hills of Helena, prompting wildlife officials to post signs reminding people recreating to be aware of the lion’s presence. Helena is in prime mountain lion habitat, so the fact that one was seen in the Lime Kiln area isn’t unusual, noted Game Warden Brenna White. However, after a mountain lion encounter earlier this week by a woman jogging on Lodgepole Drive, as well as reports of signs of a lion in the area, officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks believed it was a good idea to warn residents that a lion is active in the area. “It sounds like she sighted the lion and remained a safe distant from it,” Brenna recounted. “She slowly backed away and the lion tapered off, so there really wasn’t much of an incident. “But in talking to other residents, they haven’t seen the lion but have seen some signs, like bits and pieces of deer, some tracks and other general signs, so there is a lion out and about.” White said she believes only one lion is in the area, since the big cats are quite territorial. “This lion isn’t doing anything wrong; it’s just a lion living where we live. Unfortunately, where lions live is in our city limits,” White added. She notes that people don’t need to be hyper-vigilant, but they should practice safety measures. – For complete article see

California 06/07/12 Stanislaus County: Dead birds in Ceres and Modesto have tested positive for West Nile Virus. – See

Illinois 06/07/12 DeKalb, DeKalb County: A crow collected on May 22nd has tested positive for West Nile Virus. – See

Indiana 06/07/12 Orange County: Health officials confirm that West Nile Virus has been found in mosquitoes more than a month earlier than last year. – See

Illinois 06/07/12 Stark County: A bat discovered inside a residence has tested positive for rabies. – See

Kansas 06/07/12 Assaria, Saline County: A skunk that approached two young children and a dog in their yard earlier this week has tested positive for rabies. The children went inside, but the skunk attacked the dog, which was vaccinated. – See

Maryland 06/08/12 Ocean Pines, Worcester County: Local police report that three raccoons found within the community have tested positive for rabies. – See

North Carolina 06/06/12 by Chris Dyches – The Watauga Humane Society is searching for the owner of a kitten dropped off at its door, saying the kitten has rabies and the owner may be at risk. According to the Humane Society, the kitten was dropped off at the shelter on Monday, when the shelter was closed. The kitten was left injured, in a box, by the front door. The kitten is believed to be from Wilkes County, according to the Humane Society. It later tested positive for rabies. Workers believe the kitten was attacked by something because it had several wounds, but it wasn’t clear what it had been attacked by. The Humane Society says the owner has been exposed and hopes they seek medical treatment.

North Carolina 06/06/12 Greensboro, Guilford County: A raccoon found on North Church Street has tested positive for rabies. It’s the fifth confirmed case of the virus in the county this year. – See

Pennsylvania 06/07/12 Donegal, Westmoreland County: A raccoon that was chased from the basement of a home on White Rock Lane by the family dog has tested positive for rabies. The dog has been quarantined. – See

Wisconsin 06/07/12 Wausau, Marathon County: The Marathon County health department is looking for a dog that bit a man last Saturday at Riverside Park. They need to determine if the dog has its shots. If not, the man who was bitten may have to undergo rabies treatment. The dog was a cream and tan colored pit-bull. The animal was with a man in his late 20s, 6-feet tall, with tattoos on his arms and back. The dog’s owner was walking with a woman who also had a pit bull. Anyone with information should call the county health department at 715 261-1908.


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