Showing posts with the label Wildlife

New research reveals incredible hunting secrets of the Great Grey Owl

by Larry Powell   The Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa). Photo by Drsarahgrace, public domain. A new study in Manitoba shows how the “Great Gray Owl,” a common site, either soaring over the plains and perching and nesting in the forests of the eastern Canadian prairies, overcomes many obstacles to find its prey.   The prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster) - Photo by Soebe, public domain The bird is able to "punch" through as much as 50cm (20”) of hard, crusty snow - enough to hold a person’s weight - to catch a vole hiding beneath. (The vole is a small rodent which frequently serves as a meal for the winged predator.)                         But the snow presents the owl with other problems way before the “moment of capture,” too. Not only does it hide its prey from site, forcing the bird to rely on its hearing only, it deadens, or attenuates any sound the vole is making, and even "bends" or refracts it, creating an “acoustic mirage,” or false impression of its location

Scientists Find Oil Rig Noise Pollution Affects Birds

The Manitoban The bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) A PinP photo We need to rethink the way we regulate noise pollution from oil rigs as the noise from oil drilling can be harmful to prairie songbirds, including species that are at risk. These findings come from a new study authored by Nicola Koper and Patricia Rosa. Koper is a professor at the natural resources institute at the University of Manitoba and Rosa is an assistant professor at St. George’s University. They both study how human activity can interfere with songbird behaviour.  Story here.

U.N. blueprint on climate emergencies reminds us of man's legacy of deadly pollution and destruction of wildlife.

EcoWatch Ducks swim through an "algal soup" - a stream in Manitoba Canada probably  over-fertilized  by livestock and human waste. A PinP photo. The head of the world body sounds the alarm on what he calls humanity's "senseless and suicidal war on nature." Details here.

Tough Times for Animal Travellers

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. (COSEWIC) The Blackmouth ( Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) a type of Chinook.  Image by Animal Diversity Web. After maturing at sea, Chinook Salmon on Canada's West Coast swim back to their natal streams to spawn. Twenty-eight populations of Chinook Salmon live in Southern British Columbia, each with different habitats and survival strategies. Chinook Salmon face many threats in both fresh and saltwater, including climate change and detrimental effects from hatchery fish. At the current meeting, COSEWIC considered the 12 populations of Chinook Salmon most impacted by hatcheries: four were designated Endangered, three Threatened, and one Special Concern, while one was deemed Not at Risk. Three remote populations were determined to be Data Deficient, and will require additional research before being re-assessed.   Details here.

Snarl for the camera! An international team of scientists and software developers use facial recognition technology to identify individual grizzlies in the wild.

 By Larry Powell An adult female grizzly  (Ursus arctos). "BearID," as the program  is called,  captures a bear’s face in a  photo image,  rotates,  extracts and embeds it in order to classify the individual.   Facial recognition techniques have long been used to identify primates, including humans. But, up 'til now, there's really been no effective way of identifying wild species like the grizzly (brown) bear who, unlike the zebra or giraffe, lacks unique and consistent body markings.       In co-operation with two US software developers, four scientists from the University of Victoria bought their idea to reality. They tested their system on grizzlies at two locations - Knight Inlet, BC, and Katmai National Park, Alaska. After taking thousands of pictures, they were able to positively identify 132 individuals with almost eighty-four percent accuracy.  An adult female in another colour phase. Both images by Melanie Clapham, U of Victoria, Canada.  The technology en

Animal behaviour: Leading the young: older male elephants prove they are "up to the tusk!"

Journal: Scientific Reports Male elephants socialising along the Boteti River. Credit: Connie Allen. Older male elephants may have important roles to play as experienced leaders to younger males when navigating unknown or risky environments, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.  In long-lived species, such as elephants and whales, older individuals often respond more appropriately to complex, changing environments, which may benefit younger group members. However, research in this area has tended to focus on females. Connie Allen and colleagues investigated grouping behaviour and patterns of leadership in 1,264 male African savannah elephants travelling on elephant pathways to and from the Boteti River in the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park (MPNP), Botswana.  Male African elephants congregate along hotspots of social activity on the Boteti River. Credit: Connie Allen. The authors found that lone elephants accounted for 20.8% (263 elephants) of sightings

New research suggests, zoos and aquariums in Canada do little to protect endangered creatures in the wild.

by Larry Powell A Bengal, the commonest tiger species (but still endangered) paces in its cage at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park zoo.  A PinP photo. A study just published in the journal,   Facets ,   begins positively enough. It acknowledges that members of Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA - the private, non-profit charity representing thirty such institutions), do try to be leaders in researching this field and, that they do take part in programs aimed at species survival by breeding animals in captivity, then re-introducing them into the wild. And on its own  website,   CAZA claims, "We are behind some of the most remarkable conservation success stories. This includes, bringing species such as the Black Footed Ferret and the Vancouver Island Marmot back from the brink of extinction,” for example.  However, in some key areas, the researchers (a team of two biologists from Laurentian University in Sudbury) suggest, CAZA and its members are falli

The hand of man shows through once again in a major weather catastrophe.

 by Larry Powell The Green Wattle Creek bushfire moves  toward the Southern Highlands township of  Yanderra, Australia as police evacuate. Dec. 2019. Photo by Helitak 430. A new study finds,  manmade climate change did, indeed, worsen the bushfires which ravaged much of southeastern Australia late last year and early this year. An international team of seventeen scientists has just concluded, the probability of conditions developing like the ones which kindled the catastrophic blazes “has increased by at least 30% since 1900 as a result of anthropogenic climate change.”   And that figure could be much higher considering that extreme heat, one of the main factors behind this increase, is underestimated in the models used.  The heating of the planet, largely due to human extraction and burning of fossil fuels, has, for some time been shown to be the main factor behind the development of storms that are more intense and frequent than before. Looking to the future, t

Canada’s reindeer ‘at risk of extinction’

T he Narwhal As governments drag their feet on caribou habitat protections, the iconic species engraved on the Canadian quarter is winking out across the country. The year 2019 saw alarming declines and local extinctions of a species Indigenous peoples hold sacred. Story here. "Santa's reindeer" flee a logging truck, somewhere in the boreal forests of Canada.  Please read my own, related story and watch my video, below... Larry Powell. Even our national bird - the Canada jay - is not immune from the ravages of manmade climate change. Save the Wilderness. A music video by Eric Bogle and Larry Powell.

Brazil’s Atlantic forest: putting the pieces back together

BirdLife INTERNATIONAL Surrounded by a sea of cattle ranches and sugarcane plantations, a few ‘islands’ of Atlantic Forest remain. By establishing a private reserve and working with local people to connect forest fragments, SAVE Brasil is showing that it is possible to turn the tide on extinction. Story here.

The more we carve up natural landscapes with roads and fields, the closer we’re pushing large predators like lions and wolves, toward extinction.

by Larry Powell While the consequences of habitat loss have been known for some time, new research just published, underlines just how grave the situation has become.  While this latest research is German, animals like the grey wolf face similar disruption in North America.  It’s called “habitat fragmentation.” And, it’s been happening on such a large scale, it’s been hard to tell what aspects are the most destructive. That's because ecologists - at least 'til now - ha ven't been able to properly keep track of all wildlife within an entire eco-system when human developments confine them to smaller and more isolated patches of livable space.  -30-

The Trump Administration Has Thrown Out Protections for Migratory Birds

truthout A great egret . One of the many birds that migrate between Canada and the U.S. A PinP photo. Under Republican and Democratic presidents from Nixon through Obama, killing migratory birds, even inadvertently, was a crime, with fines for violations ranging from $250 to $100 million. The power to prosecute created a deterrent that protected birds and enabled government to hold companies to account for environmental disasters.  But in part due to President Donald Trump’s interior secretary nominee… more here. RELATED:   New Studies Show Farm Chemicals Are Affecting More Than Bees. Bird Populations are Declining, Too. Is modern agriculture's hold on nature becoming a death grip?

The Insect Apocalypse Is Coming: Here are Five Lessons we Must Learn

truthout A PinP photo. In a new report, scientists warn of a precipitous drop in the world’s insect population. We need to pay close attention, as over time, this could be just as catastrophic to humans as it is to insects. Special attention must be paid to the principal drivers of this insect decline, because while climate change is adding to the problem, food production is a much larger contributor. Story here.

A Professor at the University of Saskatchewan (Canada) is calling for the killing of Canada's entire population of wild pigs - by Larry Powell

Dr. Ryan Brook, Associate Professor in the College Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan . Dr. Ryan Brook says such a drastic and aggressive move would be justified because the animals can carry deadly disease such as African Swine Fever. ASF entered China, the world's largest hog producer, some time ago, forcing major culls of domestic animals there. It is feared the disease could spread to North America and that wild pigs could prove to be carriers and infect commercial swine herds in the US and Canada. It is believed such an eventuality would devastate the pork industry on this continent. Dr. Brook suggests the wild animals could be captured in nets dropped from helicopters, then killed with bolt guns. He claims big ground traps and human ground crews could effectively catch and kill entire groups. Wild pigs in winter. A Pexels photo. He adds, while he respects sports hunters, their methods are not effective at controlling wild hog numbers.

Mexico’s monarch population booms

Science Magazine IN SECTION: NEWS IN BRIEF Edited by Jeffrey Brainard Opens in modal lightbox Monarch butterflies clustered at a reserve in  Mexico. PHOTO: BIOSPHOTO/ALAMY STOCK   PHOTO Viewable Image - mexicos monarch population booms Image Caption Monarch butterflies clustered at a reserve in Angangueo, Mexico.   PHOTO: BIOSPHOTO/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO Every winter, monarch butterflies in Canada and the northeastern and midwestern United States flock to the pine and fir forests of central Mexico to hibernate, covering trees and turning hectares of forest orange and black. This year, the butterfly population overwintering in Mexico more than doubled, according to World Wildlife Fund Mexico, which helps lead the annual count. The butterflies covered 6.05 hectares of forest, up from 2.48 last year. It’s the largest wintering area since the winter of 2006–07. This famous group of migrating monarchs has been struggling in recent years, with an all-time low arriving

Canadian scientists discover Neonics are being ingested by free-ranging animals

Science News. A pair of wild turkeys in Manitoba. A PinP photo. Researchers at the University of Guelph, Ontario have found residues of the insecticides in the livers of wild turkeys, providing evidence that this common agrochemical is being ingested by free-ranging animals. More here.

The terrifying phenomenon that is pushing species towards extinction

The Guardian Scientists are alarmed by a rise in mass mortality events – when species die in their thousands. Is it all down to climate change? More here.

Europe's key animals 'making a comeback'

BBC News Some of Europe's key animals have made a comeback over the past 50 years, a report suggests. More here.

Humans take up too much space -- and it's affecting how mammals move

ScienceDaily Study found that human-modified landscapes shrink mammal movements by up to half. Story here. Moose in Riding Mountain National Park,  Manitoba, Canada. PinP photo.

Warming ocean water is turning 99 percent of these sea turtles female

ScienceNews Rising temperatures are skewing population ratios toward extreme imbalance. Story here. Photo by Karla