Tag Archives: Black Panther

More Black Panther sightings in Tennessee; West Nile Virus reports from California, Connecticut, and Nebraska; and Rabies reports from Florida, Maryland, New Jersey (2), New York, and Texas. Canada: Coyote report from British Columbia. Travel Warnings for Republic of the Congo.

Black panther. Photo by Bruce McAdam. Wikimedia Commons.

Tennessee 07/01/11 naturalunseenhazards.wordpress.com: During the week of June 5, 2011, Buddy LaJuett of Tennessee, his family members, and their neighbors say they sighted two black panthers.  “These cats were within 50 feet of the house and the yard where the children play,” Buddy said. He described them as about 30 inches tall and 5 feet long with 3 foot long tails. “At night the eyes appear to glow yellow in the light of a flashlight.  One was actually seen by my wife during day light hours, just about dusk, and it was only about 50 foot away,” he said. “There has been no sign of the cats in a couple of weeks now.  They possibly came off the mountain due to a small fire and have moved on,” Buddy said, adding, “These cats DO EXIST!”

The sightings were in Tennessee in an area very close to Chilhowee Mountain. The Foothills Parkway of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park runs along the crest. The Six Mile area is along TN State Rte 336 between US 129 and Montvale Road, a section known as Six Mile Road, in an area where private homes are located on Mutton Hollow Road. The nearest town is Maryville, the county seat for Blount County.

California 07/01/11 ktvu.com: Mosquito and vector control inspectors have detected West Nile virus in a dead American crow found in Walnut Creek, marking Contra Costa County’s first confirmed incident of the virus this year, a district spokeswoman said. About four or five people in Contra Costa County have been diagnosed with West Nile virus every year since 2006, said Deborah Bass, a spokeswoman for the Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District.

Connecticut 07/01/11 ct.gov: Press Release – The State Mosquito Management Program today announced that mosquitoes trapped in Bridgeport on June 21, 2011 have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). These results represent the first positive mosquitoes identified in the state by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) this year. “The detection of infected mosquitoes in June suggests early amplification of virus activity. With warming temperatures, the isolation of West Nile virus in mosquitoes can be expected to increase and expand to other areas of the state throughout the summer,” said Theodore G. Andreadis, Ph.D., Chief Medical Entomologist, CAES. In 2010, WNV-positive mosquitoes were trapped in 24 municipalities; the first were trapped on June 14. In addition, last year eleven Connecticut residents were identified with WNV infections. For information on West Nile virus and what you can do to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes, visit the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program Web site at www.ct.gov/mosquito.

Florida 06/30/11 claytoday.biz: The Clay County Health Department has issued a rabies alert for the 32073 zip code in the Woodland Drive area of Orange Park after a confirmed case of rabies in a raccoon was reported. There are no reported human exposures to the raccoon but one pet was exposed, the Health Department said on Wednesday, June 29. For further information on rabies, go to the Florida Department of Health website: http://www.doh.state.fl.us/disease_ctrol/epi/disease.htm; or http://www.doh.state.fl.us/environment/community/rabies/rabies-index.html

Maryland 06/30/11 wbaltv.com: Health officials said Thursday afternoon that a rabid raccoon was found in Gwynn Oak. The Baltimore County Department of Health said the raccoon was recovered in the 6700 block of Townbrook Drive. The raccoon was not known to have had direct contact with any humans, according to the health department. Officials did say some youth were seen in proximity to the animal Wednesday morning. Anyone who needs more information should call the department at 410-887-2243 during normal business hours. More information about rabies can be found by clicking here.

Nebraska 07/01/11 washingtonexaminer.com: Mosquito pools in three Nebraska counties have tested positive for West Nile virus. The state Department of Health and Human Services says the positive results came from recent tests done in Madison, Dawson, and Douglas counties. Nebraska’s chief medical officer, Joann Schaefer, says it’s still early in the season so the virus will likely surface elsewhere in the state. She urges people to take precautions, such as wearing mosquito repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants outside when mosquitoes are active. West Nile virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Last year in Nebraska, there were 48 confirmed human cases and two deaths from West Nile.

New Jersey 06/30/11 northjersey.com: by Debra Winters – Mayor Chris Vergano recently announced that on June 16, the Wayne Health Department received notice that a 7 to 9 week old tabby kitten found in the vicinity of Runnymede Drive tested positive for the rabies virus. Residents that may have been bitten, scratched, or handled stray cats or kittens since May 31 are urged to contact the Wayne Health Department immediately at 973-694-9295 and their own physician as well. The sick kitten was initially discovered by a woman walking her dog. The resident returned with gloves and brought it to a veterinarian in Franklin Lakes. It bit a vet technician there but the employee was not harmed. The feline was exhibiting signs of neurological impairment and was quickly tested and euthanized following its positive result, explained Maryann Orapello, Wayne health officer. “The resident was very smart to use gloves before handling the animal,” Orapello said.

New Jersey 06/30/11 patch.com: by Davy James – A stray cat caught by Animal Control last week on Sturgis Road in Kendall Park tested positive for rabies.  The cat was captured on June 24 after displaying signs of neurological damage that included a wobbly gait, swaying, hissing and stumbling.  Residents who may have come in contact with a stray cat exhibiting signs of rabies are advised to contact the South Brunswick Health Department.  Residents are also being asked to not feed stray cats in their neighborhood. “These cats are becoming troublesome to the township and the Health Department is concerned,” said Mayor Frank Gambatese. “Residents mean well by feeding them but it’s not helping the situation.”

New York 06/30/11 wktv.com: Oneida County’s first confirmed case of animal rabies in 2011 has been reported to the Oneida County Health Department, an official announced Thursday. A family pet in the Clinton area was attacked and bitten several times by a raccoon that subsequently tested positive for the deadly virus, Bobbi Jo Girven, Rabies Treatment and Prevention Coordinator for the department said. “The small dog survived the attack, but was not up-to-date on its rabies immunizations and will, as a result, have to be euthanized,” Girven said. For more information on rabies or for a complete schedule of rabies clinics, contact the Oneida County Health Department at 315-798-5064 or visit the web site at www.ocgov.net.

Texas 06/30/11 newschannel10.com: by Ashley Paredez — Five cases of rabies in skunks have been reported in Potter County. The Texas Department of State Health Services says all the cases have been reported north or northwest of Amarillo. Last year there was only one reported case in the area. They remind residents to keep pets up to date on vaccinations and keep food put up. If you see wild animals around your home or pets call the sheriff’s office at 379-2900.


British Columbia 06/30/11 bclocalnews.com: by Monisha Martins – Don’t feel sorry for a pack of coyotes who’ve been displaced from their homes by logging on a piece of private property in south Pitt Meadows. The animals, including a mother with seven pups, have been spotted roaming around Osprey Village and crossing busy thoroughfares at Harris Road and Airport Way. “They are going crazy and being very protective about their pups,” said Coun. Tracy Miyashita, who asked council on Tuesday if the city could do something about the problem. However, the B.C. Conservation Service recommends doing nothing, other than making sure garbage, pets and pet food are secure so the coyotes can’t find an easy snack.

Denny Chrétien, a conservation officer, said coyotes are quick to migrate from dens. “In the wild, it’s a very natural thing to do,” he explains. “Most coyotes or canines already have multiple dens set up in their range that they move to immediately after a threat. When they lose their fear of humans, then that’s a problem.” The conservation service has received three calls reporting coyotes near Osprey Village since June 1. Since the beginning of the year, the Tri-City area, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows generated a total of 28 calls about coyotes. Of those, only two involved aggressive animals, while three were pet kills. Smaller than a wolf, and more adaptable, the coyote is one of the few mammals whose range is increasing, despite extensive persecution by people.

In Canada, the coyote still lives in its traditional habitats – the aspen parkland and grasslands in the three prairie provinces. However, it has spread north into the boreal forest, west into the mountains, and east into Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces. “You can’t straight out blame the bulldozers. Coyotes love being in the open air,” said Chrétien. “They like fields because they feed on mice. It’s all natural what people are observing. Those pups are now exploring their boundaries. Until a few of them either get hit by vehicles, shot or trapped, then their demeanour will change. It’s all part of natural selection.” It is not normal for coyotes to attack or pursue humans, especially adults. Problems between children and coyotes are usually the result of the coyote becoming conditioned or comfortable with people as a result of direct or indirect feeding. Children shouldn’t be left unsupervised if a coyote is in area.

Travel Warnings:

Republic of the Congo 07/01/11 irinnews.org: An epidemic of Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne viral disease, which began in early June in Congo’s capital Brazzaville, has spread to the neighbouring Pool region, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).Between 1 and 23 June, there were 7,014 cases in Brazzaville and 460 in Pool, but no deaths, according to WHO. In Pool, which endured a series of civil wars between 1998 and 2003, damaging the local health infrastructure, only the towns of Goma Tse Tse and Kinkala, the regional capital, are affected. In Brazzaville, the disease is concentrated in southern districts, including Makélékélé and Bacongo.


Beaver tests positive for Rabies in Pennsylvania. Some say Black Panther is after cattle and pets in Oklahoma. Maine study demonstrates Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis pathogens are more widespread in the state. A pack of Dogs attacks a walker in Arizona. Coyote reports from Arizona, & Connecticut. Rabies reports from Nebraska, North Carolina, & Virginia. Canada: Coyote reports from Newfoundland & Labrador, & Ontario. Travel Warnings for Sri Lanka.

Beaver. Courtesy National Park Service.

Pennsylvania 04/26/11 dailylocal.com: On April 21, the Chester County Health Department received confirmation that a beaver had tested positive for rabies. The beaver was found April 19 in the White Clay Creek in New Garden. The Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Laboratories reported the positive test result. Officials urge anyone with possible exposure to rabies to contact their primary care physician or the Chester County Health Department at 610-344-6452. Anyone with an injured pet should contact their veterinarian.

Oklahoma 04/26/11 kfor.com: by Joleen Chaney – Some Oklahomans are on the hunt for what they are calling a black panther or mountain lion that has been spotted near several homes. The creature has been reportedly seen near Pocasset in rural Grady County. “It was about half grown, had a tail about 4 feet long and it was solid black,” witness Russell Dahl said. It has become quite the talk of the town after a few recent run-ins with people, including Dahl’s neighbor who had an encounter while on an evening jog. “It liked to scare her to death,” he said. The animal is said to have been roaming the area for decades. Dahl said he questioned the creature’s existence when his son described his sighting, but he quickly became a believer. “I said, ‘You saw a coyote.’ Well, the next day I saw it and it wasn’t no coyote,” he said. Officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Wildlife say they’ve had a definite increase in the number of calls they’ve gotten from people who say they’ve seen big cats after a mountain lion was captured in Tulsa over the weekend. “Sometimes I think they might be seeing a bobcat, maybe even coyotes, once in a while dogs,” Game Warden Ron Comer said. “You can’t always believe what your eyes are telling you.” The latest sightings in this rural little town haven’t only given the locals a bit of a scare, but some say the cats have gone after their cattle and pets. Whatever it is, experts say it could be one of a number of different animals. “I never try to tell anybody that they didn’t see what they thought they saw, but the melanistic gene does not exist in the mountain lion or the pumas or panthers or whatever you want to call the north American big cat,” Comer said. The melanistic gene increases an animal’s dark pigmentation, turning the animal black. Within the past few years, new laws have allowed people to kill mountain lions or big cats if they feel threatened. However, now there is no open season to hunt the animals and it is illegal to do so. As for the cat caught in Tulsa, wildlife officials believe it was a caged pet that somehow escaped from someone who was not licensed to have it.

MaineMay 2011 cdc.gov: A recent study led by Dr. Peter W. Rand, co-director

Dr. Peter W. Rand

of the Maine Medical Center Research Institute Vector-borne Disease Laboratory and published in the May 2011 issue of CDC-EID demonstrates that the risk of contracting Lyme disease has reached northernmost Maine and that anaplasmosis (also known as human granulocytic anaplasmosis ) is now being transmitted to dogs throughout the lower half of the state. The study expands on nationwide data documenting B. burgdoferi and A. Phagocytophilium, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis, respectively, in the southern half of the state.  In southern coastal Maine, overabundant white-tail deer, appropriate habitat, and maritime climate all contribute to high densities of deer ticksand consequent transmission; thus,

Deer tick

the remarkably high level of A. phagocytophilium seroreactivity observed in the southern coastal towns of Cape Elizabeth and York calls for further work to understand the dynamics of the intense local emergency of this pathogen. The higher level of unexplained lameness in A. phagocytophilium-positive dogs than in B. burgdoferi-positive dogs is consistent with findings by Beall et al, of Minnesota. (For complete article published in CDC-Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vo. 17, No. 5-May 2011 go to http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/17/5/899.htm?source=govdelivery )

Arizona 04/26/11 yumasun.com: by Richard Romero – Yuma residents are being warned about a pack of dogs that may still be at large after attacking someone Sunday. According to Animal Control, five dogs approached a man walking along Avenue B between County 15th and County 16th on Sunday. Two dogs bit him several times on the leg, and he was taken to Yuma Regional Medical Center. The two attacking dogs were described as a small, white terrier mix and a large, brown shepherd mix. Animal Control Sgt. Aaron Acton said it is critical to impound or verify these dogs’ rabies vaccination status, not only to protect the public but also to determine whether the bite victim needs to undergo treatment for possible rabies exposure. Acton also warned the public about the dangers of stray dog packs. “Packs of stray dogs pose a much greater risk of an attack than a lone stray. Keep as far away from the pack as possible and report them immediately.” Any information on the whereabouts of the dogs can be reported to Animal Control at 782-1621, Ext. 106.

Arizona 04/26/11 myfoxphoenix.com: A coyote attacked a pair of poodles in a north Phoenix backyard, and one of them died. It didn’t happen at a park or on the edge of a mountain — it happened at 29th Ave and Greenway, right off the I-17. Even though the dog’s owner heard of coyote sightings nearby, she never thought the coyote would jump her 5-foot fence and kill her dog. Doni Donovan heard her dog growling and barking early Tuesday morning. She went outside and found the coyote in her fenced backyard.

Connecticut 04/26/11 wiltonvillager.com: by Tom Evans – A coyote that exhibited “aggressive behavior” toward a dog in a snarling encounter in a Buckingham Ridge Road yard has led Wilton police to issue a general warning to residents about protecting their pets, Lt. Donald Wakeman said Tuesday. Wakeman said in this recent case the coyote approached and chased a dog of undetermined breed in a snarling showdown, but the two animals did not make physical contact. “Residents are reminded that coyotes are now common throughout this area of Connecticut,” Wakeman said. If an incident is witnessed, or you believe there is a coyote that may present a danger to you or a pet, contact Wilton Animal Control at (203) 563-0150, or call the state DEP at (860) 424-3333, Wakeman said. In the event of an emergency, call 911.

Nebraska 04/27/11 kcautv.com: A rabid skunk in central Nebraska’s Custer County was the ninth case of rabies reported in Nebraska so far in 2011. State records say the skunk may have exposed a dog to the disease, but no humans. Of the nine reported cases so far this year, seven occurred in skunks. The records say 53 rabies cases were reported in Nebraska last year and 90 in 2009.

North Carolina 04/27/11 fayobserver.com: A raccoon with rabies was found on the 800 block of Ashboro Street, off Law Road in Fayetteville. The State Public Health Lab in Raleigh confirmed the animal had rabies on Tuesday, according to a county spokeswoman. For more information, call the Environmental Health Division of the Health Department at 433-3660 or Animal Services at 321-6852.

Virginia 04/27/11 wtkr.com: by Mike Holtzclaw & Austin Bogues – The Hampton Health Department and animal control have been unable to locate a dog they say bit a woman Tuesday morning. The dog, believed to be at least part mastiff, was being walked on Beach Road near Edgewater Road by two women believed to be in their late teens. If the health department is unable to locate the dog, the bite victim might have to undergo rabies shots. According to the health department, the woman was walking on Beach Road around 7:15 a.m. on Tuesday when she saw two young women – one blonde, the other with dark hair – walking the dog on a chain link leash. The woman tried to avoid the dog, but the dog lunged and bit her on the hip.


Newfoundland & Labrador 04/26/11 google.com: There has been a rash of coyote sightings in and around St. John’s, N.L. A professor at Memorial University says there have been 20 sightings, but that doesn’t mean there are 20 coyotes in the area. Dr. Yolanda Wiersma (Weer-smah) says it’s likely the same few animals being spotted by different people. The professor says the coyotes’ main source of food — the snowshoe hare — has experienced a population boom during the past fall and winter, which has helped the coyote population grow.

Ontario 04/26/11 cbc.ca: A coyote attack has claimed another small dog in Whitby, only weeks after another dog died in a similar attack in the same area. In a news release issued Tuesday, Durham Regional Police said coyotes entered a yard near Thickson Road and Burns Street area of Whitby, located east of Toronto, and attacked a small dog described as a Maltese-poodle cross. The dog was loose in an unfenced yard and was attacked by coyotes and killed. The dog’s owner witnessed the attack and was able to retrieve the dog’s carcass from a neighbouring property. The dog’s owner was not hurt. A similar attack occurred only one kilometre away on March 30, when a small dog, a shih-poo named Lilly, was snatched from a front lawn by coyotes while her owners were in the yard. The dog was found dead nearby.

Travel Warnings:

Sri Lanka 04/27/11 thesundayleader.lk: The prevalent rainy weather conditions in Sri Lanka has resulted in the Health Ministry issuing a warning of the high possibility of rat fever (Leptospirosis) and dengue spreading in the country. Reports have revealed that over 60 deaths have occurred due to both, dengue and rat fever. Health Ministry Spokesperson W.M.D. Wanninayake has told the media that the public should be cautious and take the necessary measures as there is a high possibility of the diseases spreading due to the rainy weather conditions. It has also been reported that a total number of 2,785 cases of rat fever and 3,778 cases of dengue have been recorded during the period between January and April.

Tennesseans report Black Panther sightings; former Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Exec Dir George Smith joins Coyote vs Deer debate; South Dakota pols seek federal funding for aerial Coyote hunting program; Hawaii reports several new suspected cases of Dengue Fever; and Rabies reports from Georgia, Missouri, and Texas.

National Animal Control Officer Appreciation Week!

April 10th through April 16th, 2011

Thank you!

 Tennessee 04/12/11 tennessean.com: by Josh Arntz – Excerpts – “Residents along Lock Hollow and Lecomte roads, in the hilly and heavily-wooded southwestern corner of the county, have reported hearing a wild cat scream or have seen a black panther with a very long tail. Samford Shirk, a retired law enforcement forensics specialist, saw a black panther with a long, swooping tail cross his property in September. The cat stalked into a recently cleared field about 500 feet in front of Shirk’s home.”

“ ‘Panther’ and ‘cougar’ are interchangeable names for the mountain lion or eastern cougar, of the Puma subfamily. There have been no documented cases of mountain lions or cougars in states east of Missouri for a very long time, with the exception of the Florida Panther in southern Florida. Tennessee is home to bobcats, but Richard Kirk, with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, explained that the recently-declared-extinct eastern cougar hasn’t been documented in the state for over a century.”

“Kirk added that TWRA hasn’t introduced a black panther into Tennessee’s wild, and no cougars have been documented as road kill on any Tennessee road. Dogs and coyotes are the likely suspects for missing or killed pets. It’s conceivable that bobcats live in Dickson County, but Kirk explained they are very secretive and seldom seen.” (For complete article go to http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110412/DICKSON01/110412080/-1/NEWS01/Panther-sightings-reported-southwest-Dickson-County )

Maine 04/13/11 onlinesentinel.com: by George Smith – A friend called the

Taylor Mitchell

other day to tell me his dog had been killed by coyotes, right in his yard. You have probably leaped to the conclusion that he lives in northern Maine. No. He lives on the ocean in Cumberland. Now that they’ve eaten most of the deer in northern Maine, coyotes are moving south in search of food.  People ask me if they should worry about their children. The only sensible answer is yes, of course. Do a Google search for “coyote attacks on children” and prepare to be shocked. Here’s a typical report: A mom rescues her 2-year-old daughter while a coyote is dragging her from their California yard — the third incident of coyotes threatening small children in five days. And 19-year-old singer Taylor Mitchell was killed by coyotes while she was jogging in Cape Breton Highlands National Park in 2009.

Wildlife biologist Gordon Batchelle in New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, reported that coyotes are adapting to our human environment with its abundant food and no threats. National Geographic reported that University of California wildlife specialist Robert Timm has documented about 160 coyote attacks and dangerous incidents over the past 30 years in California alone. “There is an increasing problem with coyotes losing their fear of humans and becoming aggressive,” said Timm.

National Geographic also presented a report from Cornell University wildlife biologist Paul Curtis, who described a progression of behavior by coyotes. First they are increasingly seen in daylight hours. Then pets begin vanishing from yards or are snatched off leashes. “That’s the last stage before a human attack,” said Curtis. “And we’re at that stage in New York now.” While these attacks are rare, they can’t be ignored or dismissed. In Maine, coyotes are feasting on sheep, dogs and cats.

My research found this suggestion: If “a coyote attacks you or someone near you, yell at the coyote to make it back off. Don’t run away since a coyote can outrun you — unless you can run faster than 30 mph!” Not very comforting. Yet the possibility that sportsmen might get serious about reducing Maine’s coyote population remains controversial. The new Maine Game Plan for Deer, created by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, calls for a significant program to reduce coyote predation on deer. The agency’s program calls for “targeted and focused coyote hunting” to encourage hunting where coyotes threaten deer in their wintering areas in eastern, northern and western Maine. The Legislature may go further, adding trappers to the program and even extending coyote controls statewide. Because, you see, coyotes like dogs as much as deer, and they are causing problems from Caribou to Cumberland, Fort Kent to Fryeburg.

Animal rights groups oppose this effort, preferring their imagined world of “nature at peace.” They don’t dwell on the image of a deer, dragged down and eaten alive by coyotes. Some wildlife biologists at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife don’t support coyote controls, either. Rich Bard, who works in Washington County, after an encounter with a coyote, wrote recently in his blog: “Funny, killing this handsome creature was the last thing on my mind. I don’t have a problem with hunting, especially for food, but a lust for blood and hatred of an entire species just makes no sense to me.” It will be Bard’s job to implement his agency’s new coyote control program. I don’t suppose he’ll have much enthusiasm for it.

For years, sportsmen and some members of DIF&W’s wildlife staff have been shouting at each other about coyotes, while the deer herd disappeared. “It’s coyotes,” shouted sportsmen. “No, it’s habitat,” wildlife biologists shouted back. Turns out, it’s both. Targeting coyotes near deer wintering areas where they do the most damage is sensible — and essential if we want deer to survive Maine’s tough winters. Targeting coyotes where they are eating dogs and cats: well, that’s going to be up to you. Sportsmen will be there for you, if you want us to be. Or maybe you can just yell at the coyotes when they show up in your yard. Just don’t try to outrun them.

George Smith is a writer and TV talk show host. He can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or georgesmith maine@gmail.com. Read more of Smith’s writings at http://www.georgesmithmaine.com.

South Dakota 04/12/11 rapidcityjournal.com: by Kevin Woster: Sen. Tim

US Sen. Tim Johnson, (D) SD

Johnson joined the war on coyotes Monday, urging U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to restore more than $500,000 in federal funds for killing the predators from the air. Johnson, D-S.D., lamented the loss of congressional earmarks, which Johnson supports and Republicans have slammed as part of the federal budget mess. A two-year moratorium on congressional earmarks, where money is directed to specific programs, is a mistake now showing itself in sheep and cattle country in lost funding for aerial hunting, Johnson said. “I’ve routinely secured funding for this program, which combines with efforts at the state level, to protect producers from livestock damage,” Johnson said in a prepared statement. But because of the ban on earmarks in this budget cycle, “I was prevented from securing funds dedicated solely to continuing this program in South Dakota,” he said.

Without earmarks, key budget decisions are made in federal agencies. And in this case, budget priorities of the U.S. Department of Agriculture threaten to cost the coyote war in South Dakota its federal air support. That worries Sen. John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem, who sought help from Vilsack last Friday. The two South Dakota Republicans sent a letter to the secretary urging him to see to it that the funding for aerial hunting was restored. The loss of funding is particularly unfair because programs in some contiguous states have been funded, they said. “We find this disparate treatment unfortunate and unacceptable and are respectfully requesting an immediate review and that funding be made available at a commensurate level among all applicable states,” they said in the letter.

Aerial hunting feral hogs

That doesn’t mean they lament the earmark ban. Thune has asked for and received many earmarks in the past, but he supported the earmark moratorium. Andi Fouberg, Thune’s communications director, said a memorandum of understanding – often referred to as MOU — between USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, wildlife services program and the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department was supposed to solidify the predator-control program and avoid ups and downs tied to earmarks. Thune was concerned when it became clear that USDA was treating South Dakota differently than some other states with similar agreements, Fouberg said. “This issue wasn’t created due to the earmark moratorium. It was created as a result of APHIS/USDA arbitrarily backing out of an MOU that was established with the state of South Dakota,” she said.

Noem communications director Josh Shields said nothing about the aerial hunting issue changed Noem’s position on earmarks. “Rep. Noem stands by her decision to ban earmarks because too many members of Congress were using the earmark process for wasteful spending,” Shields said. “She will continue fighting for South Dakota’s priorities through the regular legislative process.”

Hawaii 04/13/11 mauinews.com: Three new cases of dengue fever are suspected in Hana, along with a possible case in Haliimaile and an additional two or three Upcountry, according to health officials. Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang also said at least one of two cases previously suspected in Keanae has been confirmed by a laboratory in Hawaii, although he was still waiting for official verification from a Center for Disease Control lab in Puerto Rico. Residents should take steps to protect themselves by clearing standing water and brush from their yards, and using mosquito repellent when going outside, he said. Pang also said anyone with symptoms of dengue — including fever, headache, sunburn-like rash, and aching muscles or joints — should call a health care professional so they can be tested for the illness. Tracking active cases will help public health officials target their efforts to contain the spread of the illness, he said. A first infection with dengue fever typically results in painful symptoms for about five days. However, if a person who previously had dengue later contracts a different strain of the disease, they are at much higher risk of serious complications.

Georgia 04/12/11 gwinnettdailypost.com: by Josh Green – Officials have issued Gwinnett’s third rabies alert of 2011 after an infected raccoon turned up in Braselton, but an animal control leader says the threat is no greater than in other years. The raccoon, found April 4 on Northern Oak Drive, tested positive for rabies at a state laboratory, prompting the most recent alert. Similar warnings were sounded when a rabid cat turned up in February near Buford Highway in Suwanee; the second case involved a bat with rabies in Lawrenceville in March. Lt. Mary Lou Respess, Gwinnett Animal Shelter manager, said the heightened rabies awareness has resulted from alerts her agency now issues via Gwinnett County’s communication system. “I don’t believe that there are more rabid animals, merely a better system for alerting the public,” Respess said. Officials advise anyone who may have had contact with the raccoon — or any stray animals — to call the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Bite Office at 770-339-3200, ext. 5576.

Missouri 04/12/11 kansascity.com: Animal control officials in Blue Springs are looking for the owner of a large Rottweiler involved in a bite incident last week. The officials said they need to locate the animal’s owner to confirm rabies vaccination. The incident occurred at about 3 p.m. April 4 in the 200 block of S.E. Moreland School Road. The dog was being walked by its apparent owner, described as a blonde 5-foot-6 white female in her 40s. Animal control officials are urging the dog’s owner to come forward to prevent the victim from having to go through rabies post-exposure vaccination treatment. Anyone with information is being asked to contact the Blue Springs animal control department at 816-228-0149.

Texas 04/12/11 burnetbulletin.com: For the third time in two months, the

Spotted skunk

Burnet Police Department has received confirmation from the Texas Department of Zoonosis that a skunk was found to be infected with rabies in the City of Burnet. Burnet Police were called to a residence on Johnson Street on Friday regarding a skunk. They took custody of the animal and sent it to the state for testing, which resulted in a positive result for rabies. Two other skunks were also found to have recently, the first on March 1 and the second on April 4., both on the northwest side of Burnet. The Burnet Animal Control Officer, Kim Wilson, warns the public that anyone seeing an animal acting strangely, whether that animal is a wild animal or a pet, should immediately contact the Animal Control Officer (ACO) at 512.756.8080, the Burnet Police Department at 512.756.6404, or in the event of an aggressive animal, they should call 911.

Panther sighting reported in Louisiana; coyote sightings reported in Ohio; and a Correction to the Rabies Vaccine Bait program in Texas reported January 28, 2011.

Black Panther. Photo by Bruce McAdam. Wikipedia Commons.

Louisiana 02/02/11 beaumontenterprise.com: by Janet McConnaughey – Folks in the Plaquemines Parish hamlet of Phoenix are convinced there’s a black panther or cougar lurking in the woods and skulking up to snarf up dog food. A Plaquemines Parish deputy says he saw it. A state biologist thinks it’s most likely mistaken identity.  The Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office sent up a helicopter Tuesday to look for the critter, and Parish President Billy Nungesser e-mailed a message warning parish residents to watch out for a “large black undomesticated cat.”  “The cat may be aggressive and people are recommended to avoid it, keep pets indoors, and call 911 if you see it,” he wrote.

Whatever it is, it hasn’t attacked anyone in this community of about 250 people 30 miles south of New Orleans. People have told the sheriff’s office it has eaten food put out for their dogs.  It’s easy to mistake size at a quick glance, and details can get confused, said Maria Davidson, large carnivore program manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.  She said she often gets calls about possible cougar sightings. “People get very insulted when I suggest, ‘Do you think it could really be a domestic house cat?’ But I suggest that because it happens.”  The house cat-serval crossbreeds called Savannah cats can get up to 35 pounds and occasionally are black, said breeder Judith Miller of Kaymankatz in North Olmstead, Ohio.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Cullum said he got cell phone photographs Tuesday of a big cat’s footprints. Davidson, sent copies by the parish animal control officer, said, “They are distinctly textbook canid” — a dog or coyote.  Cullum said a big black cat leaped up from behind a log in front of him Saturday afternoon, when he went to check a report that dogs had treed such an animal.  He showed up with his own share of skepticism. “We had been having reports of the cat. We weren’t sure if people were overexaggerating a wildcat or what,” he said.  It wasn’t yet 3 p.m. when he went looking for it. “I walked through the woods and jumped it up from a dead tree. It was 12 feet in front of me. … I got a good look at it,” Cullum said.

He estimated Tuesday that it was about 4 feet from nose to rump, 6 feet long from nose to tailtip, 40 to 42 inches at the shoulder.  That’s about the size of a cougar — an animal whose scientific name, Felis concolor, means “cat of a single color.”  “Cougars don’t come in black,” said Davidson. “They are fawn, they are brown, they are tawny, whatever you want to call them. They are one color.”  Cougars once were common across Louisiana. But Davidson said the last verified sighting of a cougar in southeast Louisiana was about eight years ago in a state park near St. Martinville, about 120 miles west of Phoenix.  “When the calls begin with ‘it’s a black panther,’ then you automatically have to start deciphering things,” she said.  She said the world’s six big cats include only two — jaguars and the black leopards known as panthers — that are ever solid black. Those are so wildly expensive that people are unlikely to have them as pets, she said.

Local lore has it that a man in neighboring St. Bernard Parish had a pair of panthers that he released into the swamp either just before or after Hurricane Katrina, said Maj. John Marie, spokesman for the sheriff’s office. “We haven’t verified it. But that’s the story all over Plaquemines and St. Bernard,” he said.  He said bad weather interrupted Tuesday’s air and foot search, but it will resume once weather permits.

Ohio 02/02/11 mansfieldnewsjournal.com: by Dick Martin – [A recent article by Dick Martin published in the Mansfield News Journal] brought a disquieting e-mail from Ginnie Baker, who lives near Bellville.  “Our coyote population is way out of control,” she said. “During deer season, my neighbors saw more coyotes than deer on their farm when they were out hunting. To date, I believe they have killed approximately nine coyotes.  “We no longer see squirrels on our land. Several years ago, another neighbor lost several lambs to coyotes that dragged them under the fence. Approximately six weeks ago, the coyotes were very close to my home at night, howling. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.  “We know there is a den on the neighbors property … they walk up and down the lane, some as big as very large German Shepherds!  “We have an outdoor wood furnace and my partner cuts a lot of firewood. He was out a couple of months ago (broad daylight) and a coyote was very close, just watching him. He now carries a .22 with him when he cuts wood. Another neighbor had one sitting on their porch! Again, broad daylight.  “They are getting too numerous and too bold.”

Correction 02/02/11:  The image used with a January 28, 2011, post on this

Merial's Raboral V-RG Rabies Vaccine Bait.

blog was erroneous.  It was not an image of Merial’s Raboral V-RG Rabies Vaccine Bait, which is being distributed by the Brownsville Health Department and the Texas Department of State Health Services in selected rural areas of southern Cameron County.  The image posted on this blog entry has been corrected.