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Talkin' Pets News

December 16, 2023

Host - Jon Patch

Co-Host - Jillyn Sidlo - Celestial Custom Dog Services, Roan Mountain, TN

Producer - Devin Leech

Network Producer - Paul Campos

Social Media - Bob Page

Special Guests - Hour 1 at 530pm ET - Aaron Frazier, COO, VCA Animal Hospitals & Dr. Timbrala Marshall, Urgent Care Medical Operations Leader, VCA Animal Hospitals will join Talkin' Pets to dicuss Tips for a fun and safe holiday season for your precious pets.

Hour 2 - 630pm ET - Sukey Molloy - "Snow is Falling" - Songs for Christmas, Hanukkah & Kwanzaa will join Talkin' Pets to promote and give away her album

The AKC® Humane Fund is proud to announce the winners of the 24th annual AKC® Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE). These awards celebrate five loyal, hard-working dogs that have significantly improved the lives of their owners and communities. The five winners were carefully chosen from a pool of over 600 impressive nominations.

The winners in each category are featured in a special broadcast AKC HEROES: 2023 AWARDS FOR CANINE EXCELLENCE which premiered Sunday, December 10th on ESPN2. The special will re-air on Sunday, December 17th at 8pm ET and Sunday, December 31st at 11pm ET.

An award is presented in each of the following five categories: Exemplary Companion, Search and Rescue, Service Dog, Therapy Dog, and Uniformed Service K-9. This year’s winners range from a Labrador Retriever who is trained to sniff out hidden electronic devices to prove sex offenders and traffickers guilty to a Border Collie who’s a fan favorite on and off the football field at New Mexico State University.

“Our canine companions bring meaning to our lives in many ways. The stories we receive are remarkable,” said Doug Ljungren, President of the AKC Humane Fund.  “The Humane Fund is pleased to share these five inspiring stories that demonstrate the impact these extraordinary dogs have on our lives and communities.”   

Each ACE recipient is awarded a donation in their name to a pet-related charity of their choice.

This year’s ACE winners are:

Exemplary Companion Dog: “Wave,” a Border Collie owned by Steve Stochaj of Las Cruces, N.M.

 

Wave, known as “Wave the Wonder Dog” at New Mexico State University, is a campus celebrity. Owned by NMSU School of Electrical & Computer Engineering Department Chair, Steve Stochaj, Wave is tasked with retrieving the kicking tee during NMSU football games. He has grown into a campus and community celebrity and even has thousands of followers on social media. Stochaj also brings Wave to spring and summer practices so he can meet the players and the players can get accustomed to them being around. Wave is not only keeping busy on campus, but he has AKC titles in Agility, Rally, Obedience, Tracking, Trick Dog, Dock Diving, and Canine Good Citizen (CGC). He also is a member of the Mesilla Valley Search & Rescue Organization.

 

Search and Rescue Dog: “Pocket,” a Parson Russell Terrier owned by Jennifer Jordan Hall of Louisville, KY

 

Ten-year-old Pocket has been doing Search and Rescue work since she was a year old. Pocket’s skills not only include tracing missing people but she is also able to identify Native American burial sites. She is trained in Human Remains Detection and has certifications from the International Police Working Dog Association in Search and Rescue Trailing, Water Search, Crime Scene and Land. She has been able to help police officers obtain search warrants and has helped track down missing people from miles away. Pocket and her handler, Jennifer Jordan Hall, have worked with the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma to find 11 bodies buried that were never detected. Pocket also has her AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification.

Service Dog: “Hank,” a German Shepherd Dog owned by Megan Brimner of Aliquippa, PA.

 

Hank is a service dog for eight-year-old Harrison, who is autistic. Hank has been with Harrison and his family for over three years through the organization, K9’s for Kids. Before Hank, Harrison struggled with many activities like car rides and going to the grocery store. He often would escape the family yard. He simply could not tolerate any change in his routine. Due to him being nonverbal, he would often take out his frustrations physically. With the addition of Hank, he has tamed Harrison’s aggressiveness and now has given him more independence. He has helped Harrison tolerate change and has even helped grow Harrison’s desire to communicate. Additionally, with Hank, Harrison has a newfound love of the outdoors and enjoys hiking.

Therapy Dog: “Tuffie,” a St. Bernard owned by Amy McCarthy of Tulsa, OK.

 

Tuffie the St. Bernard has been a therapy dog for seven years through Alliance of Therapy Dogs. She’s provided support to several organizations across the greater Tulsa area, including assisted living centers and memory units, colleges during exam times, a facility for developmentally disabled children and young adults, the Tulsa City/County Library’s Paws for Reading program, Tulsa International Airport’s Welcome Waggin’ program, the Laura Dester Children’s Center in Tulsa and the Champs Foundation in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. She is also a Pink Paws member of the St. Francis Medical Center’s therapy dog group, where in June 2022, the hospital was affected by a mass shooting, killing four people. Tuffie was deployed for two days, spending time at the hospital providing hands-on grief counseling.

Uniformed Service K-9: “Queue,” a Labrador Retriever handled by Sgt. Michael Rainey of Greenville, S.C.

 

Queue, along with her handler, Sgt. Michael Rainey, are part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. Queue was donated to the department by Defenders for Children. Queue is an Electronic Detection K9, which means that she sniffs out micro-SD cards, thumb drives, hidden cameras, phones, and computers that might have child abuse and/or child pornography on them in hopes of finding sex offenders, traffickers, and/or child pornographers. Since her placement in 2019, Queue has sniffed out hundreds of electronic devices.

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A new article published in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution by Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers describes a simplified method to detect a deadly fungus killing European salamanders. The ability to rapidly find the fungus is significant as the disease, although not detected in the U.S., could impact the millions of amphibians and salamanders annually imported. 

The fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, or Bsal, threatens salamander diversity. Initially identified in northern Europe, evidence suggests it was introduced from Southeast Asia via the pet trade. 

“The impacts of Bsal in Europe have been idiosyncratic but include some of the most severe population declines we have witnessed,” said Jesse Brunner, the study’s principal investigator and Associate Professor at Washington State University. “A large, diverse group of researchers, government biologists, and amphibian lovers in the pet trade are working hard to avoid such devastating impacts.” 

Despite a temporary U.S. ban on importing about 200 salamander species, Brunner noted the researchers’ focus is on preparing for potential arrivals and safeguarding amphibians. To address that concern, the research team developed a noninvasive method to quickly detect Bsal in shipments and captive settings, surpassing the conventional individual animal infection determination — this new method tests environmental DNA for Bsal DNA to assess the pathogen’s prevalence. 

“Our approach instead focused on detecting Bsal in a batch of animals in an aquarium or similar habitat if at least one of those animals were infected,” he said. “This is the scale at which we can help inspectors at borders or workers in pet trade facilities establish, with some confidence, that Bsal is absent. It provides a way to make this essentially invisible pathogen visible.”

Brunner attributed this work, involving thousands of polymerase chain reaction tests and years of researcher time, to Morris Animal Foundation’s $61,816 grant, which has catalyzed multiple projects. 

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Police have recovered a double yellow sun conure that was stolen from a California pet store.

Police were notified Nov. 28 that the bird was taken from Burbank Scales N Tails.

“The officers were advised by the employee that a male suspect entered the store and expressed interest in a double yellow sun conure, who was approximately 11 months old,” according to a Facebook post from the Burbank Police Department. “The employee allowed the suspect to hold the bird and while the employee tended to another customer, the suspect exited the store, bird in hand.”

Detectives soon located the suspect and recovered the bird. They posed for photos with the store owner and the bird. “ImPECKable work done by everyone involved to help bring the bird back safe and sound!” the post noted.

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Two men were indicted by a federal grand jury in Montana on Friday on allegations they illegally killed 3,600 birds, including bald and golden eagles on the Flathead Indian Reservation, then illegally sold the eagles on the black market. Simon Paul and Travis John Branson were each indicted on one count of conspiracy, several counts of unlawful trafficking of bald and golden eagles, and one count of violating the Lacey Act, which prohibits trafficking of unlawfully taken wildlife, reports the Daily Montanan.

Investigators found messages from Branson in which he talked about killing eagles, saying he was “on a killing spree” to capture eagle feathers and at one point told someone he was “out [here] committing felonies,” according to the indictment. According to the indictment, the two men “and others” hunted and killed thousands of birds on Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes lands and other locations, and sold parts of several eagles on the black market “for significant sums of cash across the United States and elsewhere.”

The indictment says the alleged conspiracy between Paul and Branson to kill and traffic the birds happened between January 2015 and March 2021, centered near Ronan. It alleges the two killed several golden and bald eagles specifically between January 2019 and March 2021. The indictment accuses Paul of being the person who lived near Ronan who was tasked with shooting and shipping the eagles for Branson, whom the indictment said would travel to the Flathead reservation from Washington state.

“When Branson arrived on the Flathead Indian Reservation, Paul would meet and help kill, transport, and ship bald and golden eagles for future sales on the black market,” the indictment says. The indictment outlines two instances in which Paul and Branson allegedly killed golden eagles, communicated about trafficking them, and then moved the eagles. Once, between Dec. 17-21, 2020, when Branson texted a photo to a buyer of a golden eagle tail set, received a PayPal payment, had Paul mail the feathers from St. Ignatius to Texas, then received a message from the buyer saying they, “Got that thang from Simon. And the mirror feathers.”

The second instance happened March 13, 2021, when Branson set up at a deer carcass “to lure in eagles.” They shot a golden eagle that day, cleaned it, and put parts of the bird into their vehicle to transport, according to the indictment. Branson is accused of possessing and selling bald and golden eagle tails, wings, or other parts on seven different occasions between April 2020 and March 2021. And Paul is accused of doing the same on five occasions between December 2020 and March 2021, according to the indictment.

Initial violations of the eagle trafficking statute carry a year in prison upon conviction, but subsequent violations carry two-year prison penalties. The conspiracy and Lacey Act violation counts carry penalties of five years in prison for each and large fines. Paul and Branson were issued summons to appear in court in Missoula on January 8, 2024, for arraignments.

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act was enacted in 1940 to protect the bald eagle as the country’s national symbol, and Congress extended it in 1962 to protect golden eagles. The act prohibits anyone from killing, disturbing, or capturing bald or golden eagles, their feathers, nests, or eggs without a permit and includes criminal penalties for people who violate it. There are also several acts that prohibit any take of protected migratory bird species.

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Paddington, Michael Bond’s “very rare sort of bear”, is to star in a new stage musical. The production, announced on Tuesday, is being developed by Sonia Friedman’s company, whose hits include Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and will have music and lyrics by McFly’s Tom Fletcher. It is currently being workshopped with the title Paddington: The Musical and has a UK premiere planned for 2025.

The show is adapted from Bond’s bestselling children’s books – the first of which was published 65 years ago – and from the popular live-action film versions which feature Ben Whishaw as the voice of a CGI Paddington. How the marmalade-loving, accident-prone bear will be represented on stage has not yet been revealed.

Fletcher, who founded the group McFly as a guitarist and singer, has since co-written a series of picture books and his children’s theatre production There’s a Monster in Your Show is currently on tour. He is joined for Paddington by scriptwriter Jessica Swale, who won an Olivier award for Nell Gwynn, and director Luke Sheppard, who staged the jukebox musical & Juliet.

Friedman and Eliza Lumley, whose company is co-producing, said: “The magic of Paddington is that, through his wide-eyed innocence, he sees the very best in humanity, reminding us that love and kindness can triumph if we open our hearts and minds to one another … We hope to inspire audiences of all ages with fun, beauty, joy, and all that Paddington stands for.”

The books about Paddington, who arrives in London from Peru and is welcomed in by a kindly family at 32 Windsor Gardens, have sold more than 35m copies worldwide. StudioCanal and Heyday Films’ adaptations were released in 2014 and 2017. A third film, Paddington in Peru, will be released in November 2024. An interactive experience inspired by Paddington, originally due to open this year at London’s County Hall, is now set to open next year.

Casting and further details of the creative team for the musical are yet to be announced.

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The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Pet Partners today announced funding for a new study to evaluate how resident facility dogs in police stations, also known as “Station Dogs”, may impact officers’ job-related well-being and mental health. This funding was awarded to a team of researchers at the University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine led by Dr. Kerri Rodriguez.

“Pet Partners is proud to fund this research to evaluate the impacts of trained facility dogs within police stations,” said C. Annie Peters, President & CEO of Pet Partners. “Our nation’s hard-working first responders deserve every form of mental health support, and this research will show how the positive effects of the human-animal bond can be part of that equation.”

“Previous research has found that facility dogs can reduce stress and provide emotional support for both staff and clients in schools, hospitals, and courthouses- but their effectiveness in police stations has been minimally studied,” explained Dr. Kerri Rodriguez, principal investigator for the project. “Our research hopes to describe how facility dogs may be similarly beneficial for promoting wellness within law enforcement.”

This study proposes to evaluate the impact of facility dogs, a type of therapy dog trained to provide daily comfort and support in a facility setting, as a workplace intervention in law enforcement stations. Researchers will use a cross-sectional study design to measure self-reported outcomes among an estimated 300 law enforcement officers across stations currently placed with a facility dog or on the waitlist to receive one. “Station Dogs” will be trained and placed free of cost by the non-profit organization K9s For Warriors, which has already placed over 40 Station Dogs in police and fire stations across the US.

Researchers hypothesize that the presence of a facility dog will be significantly associated with better self-reported outcomes among first responders working in local law enforcement stations, including less burnout, higher job satisfaction, and better mental health outcomes. Further, researchers will also measure how the human-animal bond with the facility dog may relate to these outcomes.

“We are grateful for the support and expertise of Pet Partners, which has joined with HABRI to fund research with real-world impact,” said Steven Feldman, President of HABRI. “This research project will provide mental health professionals, human resource professionals and policymakers with important data and best practices to deploy therapy animals in support of our first responders.”

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Christmas came early for a Cape Cod shark researcher who helped tag a 14-foot, 2,800-pound white shark off the coast of South Carolina, the first white shark to receive a camera tag in the area.

Megan Winton, a research scientist at the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, stopped in South Carolina to join Chip Michalove, of Outcast Sport Fishing, for the first research trip of the winter season on her way to visit her parents in Florida.

To lure a shark, Michalove said he stops the boat and puts oil and blood in the water to “emulate a dead whale.”  When they watched the shadow of a giant shark approach, Michalove said he could “feel my heart beat in my fingertips.” “I’ve seen quite a few white sharks but when you see one of this size, you kick it up another notch,” he said.

They took genetic samples from the shark, which Michalove named LeeBeth, and applied four different camera tags, one of which took 10 hours of video before it fell off the shark and floated to the surface, where it sent a signal so researchers could retrieve it.

“You’re essentially riding on the back of a white shark and see everything it does for hours on end,” Winton said. “We’re essentially giving smartphones to white sharks.” Camera tags have a suite of different sensors that record data on sharks’ movements, behaviors, and environment, giving them millions of data points, Winton said.

Winton also attached a satellite tag to the shark so it can be tracked on the app Sharktivity until it detaches in about a year. Another satellite tag will collect data for eight months about where she goes, including the water temperature and the depth of the water.

The fourth tag is an “acoustic transmitter” that records whenever the shark swims within range of one of the underwater listening stations around the United States and Canada,

“They’re kind of like an E-ZPass system for sharks,” she said.

The shark was covered in scratches, most likely caused by seals she was trying to eat from Cape Cod or closer to Canada where she had likely spent her summers before heading south for the winter.

“I have so much respect for these animals and it really is an honor to have the opportunity to tag her and see where she goes learn more about her,” Winton said.

Based on her size, LeeBeth is estimated to be in her mid-20s; most white sharks don’t live past 7, Winton said.

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While dinosaurs ruled the land, the seas were long ago the territory of a mysterious aquatic monster more closely related to snakes and lizards.  

The prehistoric predator known as a pliosaur dominated the seas millions of years ago, using its massive size and its row of razor-sharp teeth to tear into the flesh of it its prey. 

Now, a team of fossil hunters say they recently unearthed the skull of one of these fearsome creatures that once terrorized the seas off the coast of Britain. The find was made in southwest England along part of the Jurassic coastline, a long stretch of the English Channel whose treacherous cliffs contain the fossilized remains of many ancient beasts, according to BBC.

The perilous mission to recover the pliosaur skull, which saw a team of climbers descend a cliff to excavate the fossil nearly 50 feet above the beach, will be documented in an upcoming BBC film hosted by David Attenborough.

Fossils indicate that pliosaurs were active about 200 million to 65.5 million years ago during the the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, according to Britannica.

Cousin to the long-necked plesiosaur, the carnivorous marine creatures were not dinosaurs, but reptiles with massive heads, powerful jaws and serrated teeth. Their tear-shaped bodies, which could grow up to 39 feet long, made them agile and quick as they tore through the water using their four flipper-like limbs.

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Titusville, FL – A Florida animal shelter is doing its utmost to find a home for a stressed cat who was surrendered by her family last year. The SPCA of Brevard Adoption Center explains that 7-year-old Thelma lost the only home she ever knew because changes in the household dynamics caused her extreme stress.

And now, a year later, Thelma is still waiting for someone to take a chance on her. The animal welfare agency writes:

My name is Thelma, I’m about 7 years old and what I want most for Christmas this year is a loving home.

Explaining that Thelma enjoyed a room of her own at the shelter, but she was still stressed:

I was lucky enough to have my own room, and cuddled with my favorite staff members. But I could still see and smell all the other cats which is super stressful, and I get stressed when strangers come in and out of my tiny room. Shelter life is NOT for me. 

Thelma has been moved to an experienced foster home, but that person has a mission to foster hospice/senior/special case cats on an ongoing basis, so Thelma cannot stay longterm.

The shelter is hopeful that SOMEONE will take a chance on Thelma and give her what she wants for Christmas this year:

So Santa, I’m asking for some help. I don’t make a great first impression at the shelter, but when I’m home with my hooman, I love to crawl in their lap, give kisses, sleep next to them, and LOVE playing with toys. I just get grumpy when other cats or small children are around, but I just KNOW there are so many homes out there that don’t have those things!
Please Santa, help me find someone to cuddle up with for Christmas this year!
Love Your Occasionally Problematic But Eternally Grateful,
Thelma ?

From the shelter:

Thelma is not at the shelter but is available for a Meet & Greet with her Foster Mom at anytime! If you’d like to meet her, you can apply online at https://www.spcabrevard.com/cats-available-for-adoption or call 321-567-3615

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Cantwell, AK – A devastating accident claimed the lives of multiple sled dogs who were hit by a snowmachine outside of Cantwell. Mike Parker, a musher, released details of the tragedy on the Denali Highway in a public Facebook post, writing:

I was driving the main race team from Jim’s Northern Whites Sled Dog Kennel. A few miles from the truck we were involved in a head-on collision with a snowmachine. This snowmachine was in a group of riders that had passed us going both ways many, many times over the weekend prior to the incident.

Parker said that one dog died on impact and another shortly thereafter. Another musher arrived to the scene of the accident and assisted in loading the dead and dying dogs into a sled for transport to a truck.

Another dog died in the truck and one dog made it to Tier 1 Vet Clinic in Wasilla; she suffered a fractured femur and other injuries but is stable and awaiting surgery.

Screen shot via Mike Parker Facebook post

Parker writes:

This was an unspeakable tragedy. Myself, Jim, our families and the mushing community are mourning the loss of these wonderful animals.

Adding:

Words cannot describe how important and meaningful these animals are to me and the Laniers. As companions they were sweet gentle and full of personality. They truly embodied the Alaskan spirit and will live on through their teammates and in my heart.

Rest in peace.

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Johnston County, NC – Last week, someone abandoned a dog locked in a cage that was left at the intersection of Highway 210 and Highway 50 in Johnston County. Whoever abandoned the pup left a note reading, “Free dog, free kennel.”

Fortunately, the dog was discovered and her plight was posted to social media: At the intersection of Hwy50 and Hwy NC 210 in Angier at the CVS where the food truck is, I drove by and noticed there is a dog sitting on the side of the road with a paper that says “free dog free kennel” if there is anyone in the area that knows where she can be taken or anyone that is willing to pick her up and take her in please let me know!! Thank you In advance!!

Madison Nygard saw the post and rushed to help. The pup, dubbed Nova, was not only taken off the street but she has been cleared for adoption through Pawfect Match Rescue and Rehabilitation.

Nygard updated worried Facebook followers who were aware of the situation: Little Miss Nova ? was taken to the vet today. She is around 2 years old, weighs 25lbs & is settling in just fine. Although Nova’s little body is covered with old scars, & has a chipped K9 tooth, the vet says she is healthy. She has had puppies recently as well. Nova will be ready for adoption soon. Please consider donating to Pawfect Match Rescue and Rehabilitation.

Visit www.animalvictory.org for more information

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Linwood, NJ – A young puppy was stolen during a rash of thefts in one New Jersey neighborhood. On Monday, the Linwood Police Department issued a release, noting that the crime spree resulted in the theft of a French Bulldog puppy who was stolen from inside a resident’s home.

The authorities write: During the early morning hours of Sunday, 12/10/2023, the City of Linwood along with numerous other neighboring communities experienced numerous motor vehicle thefts and car burglaries. During these incidents, a French Bulldog puppy was taken from inside of the victim’s residence.

According to the police, the thieves are taking garage door openers from vehicles and then using them to access residents’ homes. They emphasize the importance of keeping homes and cars secure: We must stress the importance of locking not only your vehicles but also your exterior doors to your home and removing the garage door openers if possible. All interior doors between your garage and home should be locked as well.

If anyone has any video or information to share with these investigations, please contact Det/Sgt. Timothy Devine at 609-927-7979 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In case of emergency, please call 9-1-1 right away.

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Newfoundland – A fearless cat jumped off of a towering utility pole moments before a kind worker was able to safely escort him down. The heart-stopping moment was captured on video by the cat’s owner, Alice Reid, who told CTV News:

“I never, in a million years, thought that he was going to jump on his own.”

Fear not cat lovers. The feline daredevil, Coco, made it to the ground unscathed. Reid described Coco’s behavior when he came home:

“He came up the step and went on in. Then he lied (sic) down on the floor and started washing himself like, you know, nothing ever happened.”

Reid thinks Coco was chased up the pole by a dog in the neighborhood. He sat on top of the pole for two hours, apparently too afraid to come down, before the utility worker made the trek up to save him.

The brave cat is currently under house arrest by his owner, who wants him to stay inside, and safe. Coco doesn’t seem to see what the fuss is about and has been begging to get back outside…

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A New York man employed at a doggy day care has been arrested after he was seen swinging dogs above his head using their leash and letting them fall to the ground, police said. 

Andrew Laurendi, 21, was arrested Sunday night on animal cruelty charges, the Nassau County Police Department said..

Laurendi worked at the Pawllywood dog day care in Massapequa and was seen on video allegedly swinging the dogs above his head by the leash attached to the animal's neck, police said. 

"Multiple times he smashed a dog’s face into a fence," a police statement said. 

One dog sustained a serious injury, police said. Laurendi has been charged with animal cruelty, torturing or injuring an animal, and failing to provide sustenance.

He was fired from the day care. He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 21. 

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This week, wildlife conservation groups sued Burlington Northern Railway Company (BNSF) for operating trains and authorizing use of its tracks by other companies that have killed many federally protected grizzly bears in or near the Northern Continental Divide and Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bear recovery zones in Montana and Idaho, respectively. Pending the completion of processes begun in 2004 to develop a habitat conservation plan (HCP) with mitigation measures and to obtain an incidental take permit, trains have continued to kill grizzly bears, including three more threatened grizzlies on the company’s tracks in 2023. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not yet issued a decision on BNSF’s request for an incidental take permit or its proposed HCP.

BNSF operates 206 miles of railway in key grizzly habitat known as the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE), crossing multiple national forests and along the southern border of Glacier National Park. Trains operated by BNSF or under its authority have killed or contributed to the deaths of approximately 52 grizzlies between 2008 and 2018. Trains on BNSF railways killed eight grizzly bears from the NCDE recovery zone in 2019 and three more in fall of 2023.

“We are extremely disappointed that, after all these years, BNSF has refused to change its business practices to prevent the unnecessary deaths of Montana’s iconic grizzlies, resulting in the tragic deaths of three bears just this fall,” said Sarah McMillan, Wildlife and Wildlands Program director at the Western Environmental Law Center in Missoula, Montana. “When a company chooses to operate in the epicenter of key habitat for a threatened species, it must take some responsibility to adapt practices to minimize its impacts on these animals.”

The company’s proposed, long-delayed HCP fails to include any measures to change train operating schedules or speeds, which could prevent the deaths of threatened grizzlies from trains, and would allow BNSF to continue its operations as usual.

“The Burlington Northern railway runs right alongside Glacier National Park, some of the most prime grizzly habitat in the world, so the railway should be expected to slow down and take precautions to ensure grizzly bears aren’t put at risk from train operations,” said Erik Molvar of Western Watersheds Project. “With the addition of Montana Rail Link, BNSF now has additional responsibilities to protect grizzly bears in the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem.”

“Burlington Northern Railway has been given carte blanche to run trains through core grizzly bear habitat for far too long,” said Lizzy Pennock, carnivore coexistence attorney at WildEarth Guardians. “Enough is enough. BNSF must be held responsible for the dozens of federally protected bears it has already killed, and for the dozens more it will predictably kill if the company refuses to change.”

“It is truly ludicrous for BNSF to kill at least 63 threatened grizzly bears with no tangible action from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency in charge of protecting endangered and threatened species,” said McMillan. “The draft incidental take permit allowing BNSF to kill even more bears annually than it has on average to date is appalling.”

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