Saturday, 31 October 2020 15:43

Talkin' Pets News Featured

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Talkin' Pets News

October 31, 2020

Host - Jon Patch

Co-Host - Dr. Suzanne Topor - Livingston Animal & Avian Hospital

Producer - Kayla Cavanaugh

Network Producer - Darian Sims

Social Media - Bob Page

Happy Halloween please be safe and well

 

 

Florida wildlife officials say an “elaborate organized enterprise” was trapping flying squirrels in the state and smuggling them overseas. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced that there are seven suspects and that 25 felony charges have been filed “with additional arrests forthcoming.” Charges include racketeering, money laundering, and scheming to defraud.

In January 2019, the FWC received a complaint from a concerned citizen about individuals illegally trapping flying squirrels in a rural area of Marion County, according to a press release from the agency. Flying squirrels, a protected wild animal in Florida, are sold internationally in the pet trade. “Over the next 19 months, FWC Investigators pieced together an elaborate scheme in which flying squirrels were illegally captured by poachers in multiple counties throughout central Florida,” according to the release. “The flying squirrels were then sold to a wildlife dealer in Bushnell and were laundered through the licensed business of this dealer, who claimed they were captive bred.”

Authorities allege that poachers deployed as many as 10,000 squirrel traps throughout central Florida and that as many as 3,600 flying squirrels were captured in less than three years. In three years, the wildlife dealer allegedly received as much as $213,800 in gross illegal proceeds. The FWC estimates the international retail value of the poached wildlife will exceed $1 million. Investigators learned buyers from South Korea would travel to the U.S. and purchase the flying squirrels from the wildlife dealer in Bushnell, according to the release. The New York Times reports that in part of Asia, flying squirrels and certain other “cute” animals are “are popular and are featured in cafes where patrons can sip coffee and play with the creatures.”

The animals were allegedly driven in rental cars to Chicago, where their source was further concealed, and were exported to Asia by an unwitting international wildlife exporter. As the operation expanded, couriers from the state of Georgia would take over the transports, authorities say. One Georgia courier would fly to Orlando, rent a vehicle and drive the animals to Atlanta, according to the release. A second hired courier would then drive the animals to Chicago. Each of the new participants would not know the identity of the other suspects. As FWC Investigators monitored the operation, they learned the Florida suspects were dealing in multiple species of poached animals, according to the release. Authorities say protected freshwater turtles and alligators were illegally taken and laundered through other seemingly legitimate licensed businesses. Documents were allegedly falsified concealing the true source of the wildlife. “A State and Federal Task Force was created and was instrumental in accomplishing this operation,” said Maj. Grant Burton, FWC Investigation’s section leader.

“Wildlife conservation laws protect Florida’s precious natural resources from abuse. The concerned citizen who initially reported this activity started an investigation that uncovered a major smuggling operation. These poachers could have severely damaged Florida’s wildlife populations.” The Illinois Conservation Police, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Homeland Security Investigations worked closely together to collect evidence of the international smuggling operation. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife was also instrumental in intercepting wildlife shipments to California. The FWC Investigators detected illegally taken freshwater turtles were shipped from Tampa International Airport to Los Angeles. California agents were notified and intercepted the wildlife shipments.

Suspects and their charges: Rodney Crendell Knox, Bushnell, FL

  • Racketeering
  • Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering
  • Money Laundering
  • Scheme to Defraud
  • Grand Theft
  • Dealing in Stolen Property

Kenneth Lee Roebuck, Lake Panasoffkee, FL

  • Racketeering
  • Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering
  • Scheme to Defraud
  • Grand Theft
  • Dealing in Stolen Property

Donald Lee Harrod Jr., Bushnell, FL

  • Racketeering
  • Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering
  • Scheme to Defraud
  • Grand Theft
  • Dealing in Stolen Property

Vester Ray Taylor Jr., Webster, FL

  • Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering
  • Dealing in Stolen Property 

Jong Yun Baek, Marietta, GA

  • Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering

Ervin Woodyard Jr., Greenville, GA

  • Unlawful Possession of Wildlife (Georgia DNR)
  • Violation of Probation (Trafficking a Person for Sexual Servitude – Georgia)

Unnamed Fugitive

  • Racketeering
  • Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering
  • Scheme to Defraud
  • Grand Theft
  • Dealing in Stolen Property
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A new half-hour docuseries telling stories about dogs, and the people who rescue them, premiered on TV stations in 200 markets on Saturday, Oct. 17.

To the Rescue  follows stories that intertwine the work of animal rescue organizations, municipal animal shelters, transporters, behaviorists and foster families to reveal what it really takes to help the most at-risk dogs find their forever families.

Hosted by veteran TV producer-personality Tommy Habeeb, best known to television audiences as the original host of the long-running syndicated series Cheaters, To the Rescue is a passion project for Habeeb and has taken over two years to develop, produce and distribute.

“Thousands of people are working tirelessly every day to save dogs who need their help,” said Habeeb, “and our show lifts the veil on the world of dog rescue and the incredible work of these everyday heroes. It takes a team to save a dog’s life. So, while To the Rescue is ultimately a story about dogs, it’s also about all the amazing people who go to great lengths to rescue them,”

To the Rescue is partnering with Cathy Bissell’s Bissell Pet Foundation to support the dog rescue community and help reduce the overcrowded kill shelters throughout the U.S.

One of their joint fundraising projects is to have viewers virtually foster one of the puppies found abandoned and shown during the series.

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In the darkest and coldest parts of its polar regions, a team of scientists has directly observed definitive evidence of water ice on the Moon’s surface. These ice deposits are patchily distributed and could possibly be ancient. At the southern pole, most of the ice is concentrated at lunar craters, while the northern pole’s ice is more widely, but sparsely spread.

A team of scientists, led by Shuai Li of the University of Hawaii and Brown University and including Richard Elphic from NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, used data from NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument to identify three specific signatures that definitively prove there is water ice at the surface of the Moon.

M3, aboard the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, launched in 2008 by the Indian Space Research Organization, was uniquely equipped to confirm the presence of solid ice on the Moon. It collected data that not only picked up the reflective properties we’d expect from ice, but was able to directly measure the distinctive way its molecules absorb infrared light, so it can differentiate between liquid water or vapor and solid ice.

Most of the newfound water ice lies in the shadows of craters near the poles, where the warmest temperatures never reach above -250 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the very small tilt of the Moon’s rotation axis, sunlight never reaches these regions.

Previous observations indirectly found possible signs of surface ice at the lunar south pole, but these could have been explained by other phenomena, such as unusually reflective lunar soil.

With enough ice sitting at the surface – within the top few millimeters – water would possibly be accessible as a resource for future expeditions to explore and even stay on the Moon, and potentially easier to access than the water detected beneath the Moon’s surface.

Learning more about this ice, how it got there, and how it interacts with the larger lunar environment will be a key mission focus for NASA and commercial partners, as we endeavor to return to and explore our closest neighbor, the Moon.

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The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and other groups filed a lawsuit challenging decisions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that authorize leopard trophy imports from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia into the U.S -- a major global consumer of leopard trophies. On average the U.S. imports nearly 300 leopard trophies per year -- 52% of all leopard trophies in trade annually.

Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States just released her blog here stating:  “We strongly believe that the USFWS has a responsibility to ensure that this outsized contribution to leopard trophy hunting isn’t pushing these animals faster toward extinction. But instead of doing the right thing, the agency is rubber-stamping trophy imports without conducting a full analysis of the threats to the species, and without basic data such as how many leopards even exist in many of these African leopard range states. Without such reliable data, it should not be approving a single trophy import.”

Laura Smythe, staff attorney at the Humane Society of the United States states: “It seems inconceivable that the Fish and Wildlife Service allows U.S. trophy hunters to import hundreds of dead leopards every year, yet the agency does not even have basic information about number of animals left in the countries where they are being killed. Despite this glaring lack of data, and without even considering many of the other threats to the species, the agency is arbitrarily deciding that allowing these imports will not harm the species — it simply cannot scientifically or legally make those findings.”

In addition to the lawsuit, the organizations also gave the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service notice of their intent to sue over the agency’s failure to make a 12-month finding on their 2016 petition to list all leopards as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act.

Teresa Telecky, vice president of Humane Society International’s wildlife programs said: “It is high time that the Fish and Wildlife Service acted on our petition to extend full protections to these unique and beautiful creatures. Its decision is far overdue, and every day the agency does not act is another day that this species tumbles further down the path toward extinction.” 

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President Trump will open up more than half of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to logging and other forms of development, according to a notice posted Wednesday, stripping protections that had safeguarded one of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforests for nearly two decades.

As of Thursday, it will be legal for logging companies to build roads and cut and remove timber throughout more than 9.3 million acres of forest — featuring old-growth stands of red and yellow cedar, Sitka spruce and Western hemlock. The relatively pristine expanse is also home to plentiful salmon runs and imposing fjords. The decision, which will be published in the Federal Register, reverses protections President Bill Clinton put in place in 2001 and is one of the most sweeping public lands rollbacks Trump has enacted.

The new rule states that it will make “an additional 188,000 forested acres available for timber harvest,” mainly “old growth timber.”

For years, federal and academic scientists have identified Tongass as an ecological oasis that serves as a massive carbon sink while providing key habitat for wild Pacific salmon and trout, Sitka black-tailed deer and myriad other species. It boasts the highest density of brown bears in North America, and its trees — some of which are between 300 and 1,000 years old — absorb at least 8 percent of all the carbon stored in the entire Lower 48′s forests combined.

“While tropical rainforests are the lungs of the planet, the Tongass is the lungs of North America,” Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist with the Earth Island Institute’s Wild Heritage project, said in an interview. “It’s America’s last climate sanctuary.”

Throughout his first term, President Trump has often cast doubt on the gravity of and science behind climate change.

While Trump has repeatedly touted his commitment to planting trees through the One Trillion Tree initiative, invoking it as recently as last week, his administration has sought to expand logging in Alaska and in the Pacific Northwest throughout his presidency. Federal judges have blocked several of these plans as illegal: Last week, the administration abandoned its appeal of a ruling that struck down a 1.8 million-acre timber sale on the Tongass’s Prince of Wales Island.

Alaska Republicans — including Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Sen. Dan Sullivan, who is locked in a tight reelection race — lobbied the president to exempt the state from the roadless rule on the grounds that it could help the economy in Alaska’s southeast. Fishing and tourism account for 26 percent of regional employment, according to the Southeast Conference, a regional business group, compared with timber’s 1 percent.

When Sullivan briefed Trump on the Tongass earlier this year, according to an individual familiar with the conversation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment frankly, the president asked him, “How the hell do you have an economy without roads?”

Asked about the exchange, the White House declined to comment.

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As the old adage states, “Good things come in small packages.”

This was certainly the case for this year’s American Humane Hero Dog Awards, which saw the top prize of “most heroic canine” go to MacKenzie, a Chihuahua, weighing just 4 lbs. (1.8 kg).

The pooch bested 407 competitors across the U.S. to take the proverbial crown in a contest that garnered more than a million votes from the American public.

The New York-native first impressed a panel of celebrity judges—including Erik Estrada, Danielle Fishel, and Ariel Winter—and ultimately took the top title in her individual category, “Hero shelter dog of the year,” before moving on to the finals.

Born with a cleft palate, MacKenzie contracted aspiration pneumonia as a pup, which nearly took her life, American Humane says. These days, she works as a surrogate, offering comfort and security to baby rescue animals born with birth defects who have been separated from their birth mothers. MacKenzie also interacts with young children at schools to help teach open-mindedness toward animals and people with physical differences.

“The American Humane Hero Dog Awards were created to honor some of the world’s most extraordinary heroes,” says the group’s CEO, Robin Ganzert, PhD. “These heroic canines have gone above and beyond the call of duty, saving lives on the battlefield, comforting the ill and aged, and reminding us of the powerful, age-old bond between animals and people.”

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Prolonging the lives of cats diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD) by helping them maintain a healthy weight is the goal of a newly approved medication.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given the go-ahead for Elura, a proprietary capromorelin oral solution. The product is the first-ever drug to be approved specifically for the management of weight loss in cats with CKD, the agency says.

Capromorelin is a ghrelin receptor agonist known to increase appetite and weight gain, according to FDA. The agency previously approved a solution used for appetite stimulation in dogs containing the same receptor.

Elura’s sponsor, Elanco, conducted a 56-day field effectiveness study comparing the medication to a control group in client-owned cats. At the end of the testing, the animals that had been given the oral solution had gained weight, while those in the control group had lost weight.

Additional safety tests demonstrated “transient decreases” in both heart rate and direct blood pressure, and “transient increases” in blood glucose level. Overall, the most common adverse reactions observed were vomiting and hypersalivation, which were both seen more frequently in male cats.

The prescription-only solution is available in 15-ml bottles with an oral dosing syringe.

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The Animal Rescue League is caring for large, exotic birds found in this week in filthy conditions.

The Animal Rescue League says police found the birds in enclosures in a trash-filled Des Moines, Iowa home.

The A-R-L says one cockatoo's beak was severely overgrown. Other birds have a variety of issues and are getting veterinary care.

Spokesman Joe Stanton says the prognosis for the birds is guarded, but it may take weeks for some of the issues to be resolved.

The Animal Rescue League currently has more than 500-animals it's main location available for adoption. That includes nearly 400 cats and kittens, and more 70-dogs. The ARL also has a number of animals currently in the organization's foster pet care program.

Biologists recently made a "once-in-a-lifetime" discovery of a bird that's male on the right side and female on the left.

Researchers captured the bird, a rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus), at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History's Powdermill Nature Reserve, an environmental research center in Rector, Pennsylvania.

Plumage colors usually signal if a grosbeak is male or female, but this bird has both sexes' signature shades. Scientists who captured the bird saw male coloration — pink wing "pits," a red breast splash and black wing feathers — on the right side of its body. But the bird's left wing was browner and had yellow "pits," a color combination found in females, museum representatives said in a statement.

This condition, in which an animal possesses male and female traits divided down the middle of its body, is called bilateral gynandromorphism. In birds, gynandromorphy is thought to stem from an error during egg formation. Unfertilized eggs typically contain one sex chromosome: a Z or a W (male birds are ZZ, while females are ZW). But very rarely, an egg develops with two nuclei, one containing a Z chromosome and the other a W chromosome. If this egg is fertilized, it unites with sperm that carry the Z chromosome to produce an embryo with some cells that are ZZ, producing male traits, and some that are ZW, producing female traits, Natural History Magazine reported.

"We caught the bird during normal banding operations," said Annie Lindsay, Powdermill's Avian Research Center (ARC) bird banding program manager. "The bird received an individually numbered band just like all birds we catch," Lindsay told Live Science in an email. 

The scientists recorded the grosbeak's age, sex and body measurements. They then collected feathers for genetic analysis and took photos and video before releasing the bird.

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A bizarre little insect that looks like a walking toupée and squirts venomous pus from knifelike spines is terrorizing Virginia this year, according to the state's Department of Forestry (VDoF).

The venomous pus caterpillar is the larval form of the southern flannel moth (Megalopyge opercularis), and if you see one you should stay away from it. Its "hairs" are actually spines that make it among the most venomous caterpillars in the United States. A woman in New Kent County described the sensation of a "scorching hot knife passing through the outside of my calf" when she brushed against one on the door of her car, according to The Daily Progress

Pus caterpillars have appeared in Virginia before, according to the VDoF. And they've been found as far north as New Jersey. But they're much more common in Florida and at greatest abundance in west-central Texas, according to the University of Florida. Eric Day, manager of Virginia Tech's Insect Identification Lab, told The Daily Progress that this appears to be "an outbreak year."

"With changes in our climate, we're seeing some insects change their population," Theresa Dellinger, another researcher at the same lab, told CNN. "But it's too soon to tell. Caterpillars, moths and butterflies all have cyclical periods, it's all about the right time, and the right conditions." 

CNN reported that the caterpillar's venom is similar enough to bee stings that people who have bad allergic reactions to bees will likely have bad reactions to the pus caterpillar as well. 

Virginia Tech published a document on what to do if "stung" by a poisonous caterpillar. Key steps: Wash the area to get rid of any hairs or harmful substances left over. Place tape over the area then rip it off to pull out hairs embedded in the skin. (Do this a few times, but use a fresh piece of tape each time.) Ice packs and steroid creams will reduce swelling and make the sting less painful. And anyone who's had a bad reaction to insects in the past or who was stung near the eyes should contact a doctor immediately.

CNN reported that for now the plan is to let the caterpillars' natural predators shrink their population in the state, but if they continue to spread unchecked the state might begin an eradication program.

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The "penis bone," or the baculum, is one of the most mysterious structures in mammal biology. To this day, no one really knows what it does or why it's gone missing in humans, horses, elephants and a few other species. A 3D analysis of 82 penis bones from different animals has now found some of the most oddly-shaped bacula could very well prolong sex, induce ovulation in the female, or shovel out sperm from other romantic encounters.

The penis bone in the male honey badger, for instance, has one of the wackiest appearances. It's shaped almost like an ice-cream scoop, and this development might have evolved to fend off competition and ensure a male's offspring are actually his. In the study, complex shapes weren't related to the size of an animal's testes, but they were weakly correlated with longer bouts of copulation and induced ovulation, which suggests these bones help to reduce sexual competition.

While prior studies have shown the width of penis bones is somehow tied to more offspring in the house mouse, we still don't know why that is. The theory that these male penis bones somehow prolong intercourse and beat out competition has been brought up before, but the results have been mixed. Maybe because we've been overlooking one of the most important features. "The reason natural historians are so fascinated by bacula is because they have lots of unusual features: odd ridges and grooves, strange curvature and bizarre-shaped tips," lead author and biologist Charlotte Brassey from Manchester Metropolitan University said in 2018 about the team's previous study. "Our study is particularly novel in taking a 3D approach to understanding the evolution of the penis bone. However, all of the previous attempts to study the baculum have simplified the bone into very basic measurements of length and width, and have ignored all this important shape information."

While penis bones vary dramatically in size and shape depending on the species, the findings of Brassey and team's current analysis suggest the most 'complex' penis bones, including those with elaborate tips, hooks, scoops and urethral grooves, are commonly found among carnivores and, strangely enough, monogamous species. Unlike other penis bones that come to a blunt and abrupt end, it's thought that animals with more elaborate tips evolved under stronger sexual competition.  "Yet, contrary to our expectations, 'socially monogamous' species are found to possess high values for optimal baculum complexity," the authors write.

At first, this doesn't make sense; monogamous partners would surely face less sexual competition after copulation than those species who mate with multiple males. Still, the authors explain, social monogamy is not equivalent to genetic monogamy. The African wild dog, for instance, is classified as monogamous, but there's evidence of communal breeding happening on the sly anyway. While group-living carnivores appear to be evolving toward a more simplified, rod-like baculum, the authors found the penis bones of socially monogamous species are evolving toward a highly complex shape.

Polygamous seals and sea lions, on the other hand, face far less sexual competition because they live in harems where one male mates with multiple females. Interestingly, pinniped bacula end in a relatively simple tip, while the penis bone of wolves and dogs show deep urethral grooves and evidence of bulbus glans attachments. 

The current study, which was based on X-rays of modern museum samples, is one of the most rigorous analyses of penis bones among carnivores. Unfortunately, however, the three-dimensional nature of female genitals has been historically overlooked and is much less understood. As such, we can't say for sure how the penile bones actually work during sex, so in the future, the team hopes to analyze these structures from within the female's reproductive tract.

Such research could allow us to better understand the function of the baculum during sex, although we might be putting too much emphasis on the bone itself. After all, analyzing one single, ossified element says little about the complexity of the glands or the cartilage that sits on top.  "This element is currently absent from most museum specimens and hence from our analysis," the authors admit. "Likewise, our analysis implicitly assumes baculum complexity to be an accurate proxy for penile shape complexity."

Future research also needs to incorporate soft tissue from the penis, so we can better understand how and why the baculum evolved the way it did among different species - and why some species, like ourselves, are lacking one. "As mammals, and as apes more specifically, it is unusual that humans do not have a penis bone," says Brassey.

"By studying the role of the baculum during mating, we also hope to shine further light on why some mammals, including humans and hyenas, can be so successful at reproducing without a baculum." 

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Virus Hunters premieres November 1 at 9/8c on National Geographic

With deadly novel viruses happening more frequently and forever altering the world, researchers are racing to prevent the next global disaster. VIRUS HUNTERS reveals the raw and chilling stories of these heroic experts who are on the frontline leading the most critical scientific mission of a generation.

The one-hour special features National Geographic fellow, epidemiologist and ecologist Dr. Christopher Golden and ABC News foreign correspondent James Longman as they embark on an epic worldwide journey to speak with the brave scientists that are connecting the dots on culture, disease and the environment to discover the patterns that cause global health crises. Searching for vital answers to urgent questions, together they meet with Dr. Kendra Phelps, a bat scientist; Dr. Jim Desmond, a wildlife veterinarian who specializes in emerging infectious diseases; wildlife biologist Jess Carstens; and research veterinary medical officer specializing in swine viral pathogens Dr. Amy Vincent, to uncover how the world can head off the next pandemic…before it’s too late.

 
 
 

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