Category Archives: Endangered Species

USBLM study finds energy development and WEST NILE VIRUS pushing SAGE GROUSE to brink of extinction ~ CALIFORNIA confirms HANTAVIRUS in nine RODENTS captured in San Timoteo Canyon ~ RABIES reports from CA, IL, MN, NC, & VA ~ FOLLOW-UP REPORTS: Did a BLACK BEAR really rescue an elderly hiker from an attacking MOUNTAIN LION?

Sage Grouse. Courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Wyoming 04/03/12 by Jeremy Fugleberg – Sage grouse in northeastern Wyoming are on the verge of extinction, hammered hard by a one-two punch from energy development and outbreaks of West Nile virus, according to a recently released U.S. Bureau of Land Management study. The species, whose health is a barometer for the sagebrush-covered high plains where they live, are one virus outbreak or severe weather event from being killed off in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and southeastern Montana, the researchers said. “Our results suggest that if development continues, future viability of the already small sage grouse populations in northeast Wyoming will be compromised,” said the three University of Montana wildlife biologists who authored the study. They recommended a range of actions for the BLM, which manages most of the land in the area that has seen intensive energy development in the past decade, particularly as coalbed methane development ramped up in the early 2000s.

Coal mining in Wyoming.

According to an earlier study, the sage grouse population in the coalbed methane fields dropped by 82 percent between 2001 and 2005. The BLM should focus restoration efforts on areas around plugged and abandoned wells, removal of roads and open water from energy development, and additional monitoring and counting, the researchers said. The study and its recommendations were lauded by the Powder River Basin Resource Council, a landowners group that has long called for more protection of the sage grouse and more careful energy development in the area.

Sage Grouse. Photo by Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife.

In a statement, PRBRC board member Bob LeResche said the BLM ignored a “more measured and holistic approach” to development supported by the resource council at the start of the coalbed methane boom, and “now we are paying the price.” “We must not allow the oil and gas industry’s political muscle to continue to overwhelm science and the need for careful planning,” he said. “We must balance oil and gas development with other resources.” A BLM representative referred questions to a question-and-answer page released by the bureau alongside the report. According to the page, the BLM will move forward with the suggestions of the study’s authors, and consider the information as it mulls changes to the bureau’s Buffalo field office resource management plan, which covers the area.

The bureau will continue working with operators and landowners and federal and state agencies to restore sage grouse habitat in the area and work on mosquito control measures to reduce the risk of a West Nile virus outbreak, the BLM said. Will the BLM halt oil and gas development? No, the bureau said, answering its own question. The “BLM will continue to work with leaseholders and operators to address impacts to sage grouse and other resources,” the bureau said.- For complete article see

Deer mouse.

California 04/04/12 Hantavirus is making a return appearance. Riverside County health officials tested nine rodents captured in San Timoteo Canyon and found they were infected. There has never been a documented human case of hantavirus syndrome in Riverside County. But, 56 human cases were identified elsewhere in California since 1980. Thirty-seven were fatal. Droppings and urine from deer mice infected with the virus create tiny droplets that can be inhaled by people. As the disease progresses, the lungs fill with fluid creating respiratory failure.

California 04/03/12 Monterey County: Late in March a dog and a skunk both tested positive for rabies in separate incidents. See

Illinois 04/03/12 Moultrie County: Two people who were exposed to a bat that has tested positive for rabies are receiving post-exposure prophylaxis treatment. See

Minnesota 04/01/12 Minneapolis, Hennepin County: Health officials have issued a rabies alert after a bat found in the vicinity of 26th and 27th streets near Lake of the Isles tested positive for the virus. There is concern that people in the area, especially children, may have touched the bat. Parents are urged to discuss this with their children and seek medical advice if necessary. See

North Carolina 04/03/12 Ahoskie, Hertford County: Authorities are looking for a pack of wild dogs that has killed several pets in the vicinity of N.C. Rt. 42, and there is concern that one or more of the dogs might be infected with rabies. See

Virginia 04/02/12 Callands, Pittsylvania County: A raccoon captured in the vicinity of Maple Road has tested positive for rabies and  officials are concerned that it may have had direct contact with other animals in the area, including pets. See–ar-1812785/

Follow-Up Reports:

(March 30, 2012: CALIFORNIA man claims BEAR rescued him when MOUNTAIN LION attacked)

Author’s Note: Some officials, including several from California Fish & Game, dispute the veracity of Robert Biggs report that he was attacked by a mountain lion and rescued by a black bear. As no one other than Mr. Biggs is taking a firm position on whether or not this actually happened,  this blog is taking no position on the matter.

IDAHO Fish & Game kills BIGHORN RAM for being too close to DOMESTIC SHEEP ~ CALIFORNIA authorities report PACK OF PIT BULLS killed 42 GOATS ~ OREGON court extends stay on killing of two WOLVES that attacked LIVESTOCK ~ CALIFORNIANs in Woodside report MOUNTAIN LION sighting ~ NEVADAN in Carson City chased by MOUNTAIN LION while jogging ~ NEW YORK’s Rockland County collects MOSQUITOES carrying WEST NILE VIRUS ~ and RABIES reports from FLORIDA, GEORGIA, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, & WISCONSIN ~ CANADA: BC officials quarantine CATS at animal shelter to stop spread of VS-FCV, a deadly FELINE VIRUS.

Bighorn Ram. Courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey.

Idaho 11/14/11 News Release – Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists Wednesday, November 9, killed a 4 1/2 year old bighorn ram that had wandered too close to domestic sheep on private property. Healthy domestic sheep can carry bacteria that cause pneumonia and death in bighorn sheep. The ram was first reported west of Castleford on November 8. When it was reported again on November 9, the ram was mingling with cattle in the pens of a dairy located within a few miles of several domestic sheep bands. The ram’s proximity to domestic sheep made contact highly likely, particularly during the fall breeding season. At this time of year, bighorn rams may travel to find ewes and later return to the main population. To protect the population, Idaho Fish and Game policy is to remove bighorn sheep that have or are likely to contact domestic sheep. Samples were taken immediately after the sheep was killed, and the samples and carcass have been transported to the Idaho Fish and Game Wildlife Health Lab in Caldwell for analysis. For more information, please contact the Idaho Fish and Game’s Magic Valley Region at 208-324-4359.

California 11/15/11 Three of four pit bulls that killed 42 goats have been captured, and the fourth dog remained at large today, authorities said. The attack occurred in a corral near 164th Street and Avenue Q, in the 16300 block of Chuka Avenue near Lake Los Angeles occurred about 8 p.m. Monday, Danny Ubario of the Lancaster Animal Care Center said. About 50 goats were in the pen at the time, and the dogs were running free. “This is a tragic incident and completely avoidable,” said Marcia Mayeda, director of the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control. “When dogs run at large, particularly in packs, they tend to act up, feeding into each other’s mischievous behavior,” Mayeda said. “Sometimes that mentality results in tragedy, such as what happened in this case.” The owners of the dogs are being sought, according to Ubario, who said the dogs had no identifying microchips or tags. “We have little information on the owner,” he said. Three of dogs were still in the pen when an animal control officer arrived. The owner of the goats brought the carcasses to the Lancaster animal shelter to dispose of them. Ubario described the attack as a “tragic deed.” The owner of the dogs could be criminally charged, “that is not to mention civil suit,” he said. The pit bulls that were caught were unlicensed, he said. “We don’t know if they have rabies vaccinations,” Ubario said.

Oregon 11/16/11 The Oregon Court of Appeals on Tuesday extended a stay on the state’s planned killing of two wolves in Eastern Oregon.  The stay will last until the court determines whether the killing of wolves in response to their attacks on livestock is warranted under the state Endangered Species Act, according to the Oregon Court of Appeals.  The court issued a temporary ban Oct. 5, about two weeks after state wildlife managers announced they planned to kill two wolves from the Imnaha pack, including the lead male. Three conservation groups — Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity and Oregon Wild — appealed the state’s plan, triggering the stay and subsequent extension. Josh Laughlin, wolf campaign coordinator for Cascadia Wildlands in Eugene, said the court may issue a ruling in the next couple of months.

California 11/15/11 Woodside, San Mateo County: A mountain lion was sighted near Tripp Road and Tripp Court on Nov 15. See

Nevada 11/16/11 Carson City: Officials warn residents on city’s west side to keep pets and children inside after a mountain lion chased a jogger Nov 15 along King Street near Ormsby Boulevard. See

New York 11/16/11 Rockland County: The first mosquito samples in the county to test positive for West Nile Virus this year were collected in Ramapo, Haverstraw, and Clarkstown. See

Florida 11/14/11 Middleburg, Clay County: Health officials issue a rabies alert after identifying three people exposed to a family dog that tested positive for the virus. See

Georgia 11/15/11 Floyd County: A dog that recently tested positive for rabies raised the total number of animal rabies cases in the county to 14 so far this year. See–animal-cases-now-total-14-for-the-year?instance=home_news

Pennsylvania 11/15/11 East Marlborough, Chester County: A fox that attacked a dog in its owner’s yard and was shot by police has tested positive for rabies. Chester County has reported 27 rabies cases so far this year. See

Virginia 11/15/11 Henrico County: The remains of a skunk likely killed by a dog and found in its pen has tested positive for rabies. See

Wisconsin 11/15/11 Manitowoc, Manitowoc County: Local police are looking for the owner of three dogs, one of which bit a 30-year-old woman with special needs today while she was riding her bicycle on Hamilton Street. If the owner is not located, the woman will have to receive rabies shots. See


British Columbia 11/16/11 Queensborough, New Westminster: Cats at the New Westminster Animal Shelter are under quarantine due to an outbreak of calicivirus. The feline disease is highly infectious. Six cats have been euthanized so far because of the virus. All but two or three of the cats at the shelter have VS-FCV a particularly virulent strain of the virus that has a mortality rate of about 70 %. See

Author’s Note: From Winn Feline Foundation – Feline calicivirus is a highly contagious pathogen responsible for about 45% of upper respiratory tract disease in cats. However, there are strains of calicivirus that appear to produce widely varying clinical signs, including arthritis, gingivitis, skin disease and lower urinary tract disease. In recent years, sporadic outbreaks of hypervirulent strains of feline calicivirus in the United States and the UK have caused alarm and triggered a new wave of research into this old feline infectious disease. This new disease has caused high mortality in the affected animals and has been termed virulent systemic feline calicivirus (VS-FCV) disease. Results of research have confirmed that each virulent calicivirus outbreak has been caused by a new strain that has arisen independently. See

Canada: Open-water SALMON farms may be source of VIRUS thought to be reducing WILD SALMON numbers by millions ~ Arizona’s endangered MOUNT GRAHAM RED SQUIRREL numbers increase ~ Montana HUNTER injured by hit-and-run BEAR ~ RABIES reports from New York, & North Carolina.

Sockeye Salmon. Courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.


Salmon farm on coast of British Columbia.

British Columbia 11/05/11 A virus that has hit fish farms hard in eastern Canada, Norway and Chile may be present in wild salmon that spawn in British Columbia, a biologist says. Bruce Cohen, a justice on the provincial supreme court, has scheduled a two-day special hearing on evidence that the infectious salmon anemia virus could have hit the region, Postmedia News reported.

Salmon eggs

Cohen is leading an inquiry into the sharp drop in numbers of Fraser River salmon. Alexandra Morton, a biologist who submitted samples of coho and sockeye salmon for testing, blames open-water salmon farms. She said ISA could have arrived in British Columbia with imported salmon eggs.  “It’s a complete wild card. We just don’t know and that’s what has everyone so afraid,” she said.

Fraser River Sockeye Salmon Run

The number of salmon returning to the Fraser to spawn in 2009 dropped to about 1 million, when 10 million had been expected, but bounced back in 2010. The fish-farming industry says 2009 was an anomaly caused by unusual conditions in Queen Charlotte Sound in 2007 when the salmon went to sea. Wild salmon managers argue the 2009 catastrophe followed years of lower numbers and 2010 was the anomaly.

Arizona 11/04/11 ArizonaGame&FishDeptWildlifeNews: As part of a conservation program for the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Forest Service conducted an annual survey and estimated approximately 240 animals in the Pinaleño Mountains in southeastern Arizona.

Mt. Graham Red Squirrel

The latest survey count is an increase of 26 squirrels over the 2010 estimate. Small mammal species like the Mount Graham red squirrel typically have cyclical populations that depend on the conifer cone crop, their primary food resource. While this year’s surveys show an increase in the minimum population, biologists remain concerned about the species’ status and are exploring new ways to conserve it, including habitat improvements, squirrel research, and consideration of a pilot captive breeding program. The red squirrel survey is conducted annually in the fall by visiting a random sample of known middens (areas where red squirrels store or cache their cones).The Mount Graham red squirrel population spiked to around 550 animals in the late 1990s, but typically ranges between 200 and 300 individuals. Habitat losses caused by fire and insect infestations and poor cone crops caused by drought are considered primary factors in the species’ recent trends.“ Squirrel numbers are closely tied to available habitat and food resources,” says Tim Snow, nongame specialist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Improving forest health and preventing catastrophic wildfire events will help ensure the continued existence of these squirrels.” Mount Graham red squirrels live only in the upper elevation conifer forests of the Pinaleño Mountains and feed primarily on conifer seeds. Females produce two to seven young annually. The species was added to the endangered species list in 1987. The multi-agency Mount Graham Red Squirrel Recovery Team, including the Coronado National Forest, Arizona Game and Fish, University of Arizona, Native American tribes and others, oversees conservation of the species.

Montana 11/05/11 Madison County: A Billings hunter was knocked down by a bear on November 4 in the Gravelly Range near Cascade Mountain. Fortunately, the bear then ran off without biting or clawing the hunter, who has been released from the hospital. The man was hunting with a partner who was uninjured. Officials aren’t certain what type of bear was involved in the incident. See

New York 11/04/11 Niagara Falls, Niagara County: The dead and mutilated body of a fox found under the Lockport Road Bridge is presumed positive for rabies. It has been reported by residents that many children possibly had contact, but the lab was unable to test for rabies due to the body’s state of deterioration. See

North Carolina 11/04/11 Davidson County: A rabid raccoon killed by three dogs earlier in the week is the 16th rabies case reported in the county this year. See,0,4379520.story