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message 1: by Kayla (last edited Aug 04, 2009 07:06AM) (new)

Kayla | 146 comments Mod
Mystery Bear of the Arctic

IQALUIT, Nunavut - Northern hunters, scientists and people with vivid imaginations have discussed the possibility for years.

But Roger Kuptana, a guide from Canada’s Sachs Harbor was the first to suspect it had actually happened when he proposed that a strange-looking bear shot last month by an American sports hunter might be half polar bear, half grizzly.

Officials seized the creature after noticing its white fur was scattered with brown patches and that it had the long claws and humped back of a grizzly. Now a DNA test has confirmed that it is indeed a hybrid — possibly the first documented in the wild.
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"We've known it's possible, but actually most of us never thought it would happen," said Ian Stirling, a polar bear biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service in Edmonton.

Polar bears and grizzlies have been successfully paired in zoos before — Stirling could not speculate why — and their offspring are fertile.

Breeding seasons for the two species overlap, though polar bear gets started slightly earlier.

Polar bear and grizzly territory also overlap in the Western Arctic around the Beaufort Sea, where the occasional grizzly is known to head onto the sea ice looking for food after emerging from hibernation.

Grizzlies hunting seals?
Some grizzly bears make it over the ice all the way to Banks Island and Victoria Island, where they have been spotted and shot before. These bears will scavenge seals left over by polar bears.

"And some hunters have told me that they think sometimes the grizzly bears actually hunt seals, which I'm quite sure they could do," Stirling said.

That might explain how a grizzly got to the region, but few can explain how it managed to get along with a polar bear mate long enough to produce offspring.

Colin Adjun, a wildlife officer in Nunavut, said he's heard stories before about an oddly colored bear cavorting with polar bears. "It was a light chocolate color along with a couple of polar bears," Adjun said.

And though people have talked about the possibility of a mix, "it hasn't happened in our area," he said.

While the latest find is a surprise, it is not necessarily another sign of climate change, said John England, a geologist who was with the team that spotted the earlier grizzly.

"If we want evidence for climate change, we don't have to go to an isolated occurrence of a grizzly bear somewhere," said England, who holds a northern research chair on environmental change in the Arctic.

"The satellite imagery showing sea ice reduction over the last 30 years is proof positive of very dramatic changes in the northern hemisphere."

No fine for hunter
The DNA results were good news for Martell, who had paid $50,000 for guides and a permit to hunt polar bear. Before the tests came back, the 65-year-old hunter was facing the possibility of a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail for shooting a bear for which he had no permit — as well as the disappointment of an expensive hunting trip with no trophy.

The local natural resources department now plans to return the bear to the hunter.

This is the link to the site were I found the information. Click Here

message 2: by Kayla (last edited Aug 13, 2009 09:07PM) (new)

Kayla | 146 comments Mod
Pink Flamingo Die-offs

Kenya's vast Lake Nakuru is dotted with noisy colonies of brilliant pink lesser flamingos, a sight mirrored at Lake Begoria and other lakes across the East African Rift Valley.

The region supports a population of about one million of the stately, stilt-legged creatures, the smallest of six flamingo species, along with 400 types of migratory birds. The splendid wildlife display draws international visitors to what ornithologists call "the most fabulous bird spectacle in the world."

But there's trouble in flamingo paradise. For nearly a decade, the birds have periodically perished in large numbers, leaving the shores of the lakes littered with mountains of pink bird carcasses.

The deaths have alarmed conservationists and triggered investigations, but the exact cause of the mysterious die-offs remains unknown. Recent bird counts suggest that African flamingo populations have declined by 20 percent over the past 20 years.

"Flamingos have been in existence for 50 million years, but if their numbers continue to decline by 20 percent every two decades, we may lose the entire African population within 100 years," said Ramesh Thampy, director of the World Wildlife Fund's Eastern Africa Regional Program in Nakuru.

Mass Die-Offs

The first mass die-off occurred in 1993, with an estimated 40,000 birds dying from August to November; two years later, some 20,000 perished. More mass deaths came in 1997, with smaller losses since. Apparently no other lake mammals or birds have been affected.

Pollution was a suspected cause, so researchers tested the dead birds for toxic substances. Analysis showed detectable levels of zinc, copper, lead, mercury, cadmium, selenium, chromium, iron, and arsenic in the birds' tissue.

"The presence of heavy metals in the bird tissues is alarming," said veterinary pathologist Gideon Motelin at Egerton University in Nakuru. The metals were found at levels that "threaten the very existence of the flamingos," he said.

A team of German and Scottish researchers identified an additional potential killer: a potent neurotoxin produced by a type of blue-green algae.

"We assume that this neurotoxin, anatoxin-a, is also contributing to the die-offs, as we found it in high concentrations," said Claudia Wiegand, an ecotoxicologist with the Leibniz-Institut of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin. "The bird's detoxification capacity may be exhausted by overexposure to pesticides and heavy metals, allowing less toxic outbreaks to be lethal."

Flamingos can live for 50 years, allowing a steady, potentially deadly accumulation of toxins.

The Leibniz-Institut team presented its findings at the recent International Conference on Harmful Algae in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Leibniz researchers visited Rift Valley lakes four times over the past year. "We saw a lot of dying birds," said biologist Andreas Ballot. "There were a few hundred, staggering around in slow motion, their necks bent backward. It took them about half an hour to die."

This is one of the first known incidents in which "filter-feeding" birds are being killed by contamination of their food source, Ballot added.

Because of how they feed, flamingos are particularly vulnerable to pollutants. Wading in the lake shallows, they stir up organic matter with their bills, including mollusks and crustaceans and the bird's favorite meal, spirulina, a type of nontoxic blue-green algae.

The birds hold their bills upside down, using their lower bills and tongues to pump water through fringes on the top bills, which filters out microscopic mouthfuls of food.

Val Beasley, a toxicologist with the Envirovet Program and a professor at the University of Illinois Urbana at Champaign, has also witnessed signs of neurological impairment in dying birds—behavior consistent with neurotoxic poisoning.

But only additional research can help scientists reach a definite conclusion. "It's possible that more than one thing is happening," Beasley said.

Heavy Pollution

Water levels in the Rift Valley lakes have fluctuated greatly over the past few years, alternately increasing the frequency of algal blooms or making food scarce.

Lake Nakuru nearly dried up several times during the 1990s. But in 1997, the region was inundated with El Niño rains, which lowered the salinity of lake waters. It decimated the flamingos' food supply, and their long flights to find nourishment caused further stress, said Motelin.

But human activity is also to blame.

Lake Nakuru has become highly polluted since 1975, when the nearby city of Nakuru began heavy industrialization; heavy metals and other toxic substances accumulated in the water and sediment. Fertilizer and pesticide runoff from the valley's increasing number of farms has added nutrients that contribute to the growth of algal blooms.

"This is a sensitive topic because it's not good for tourism," said ecotoxicologist Stephan Pflugmacher of the Leibniz-Institut. "It puts pressures on the government to look after their lakes."

A Kenyan environmental agency, the Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers, is now working with 16 industries to help them meet cleanup standards.

"We are concerned because this could be a catastrophe," said Motelin. "The combination of poisons could cause death, as they affect different sensitive organs of the body. If we are going to arrest the situation, pollution has to stop."

National Geographic Today, 7 p.m. ET/PT in the United States, is adaily news journal available only on the National Geographic Channel. Click Here to learn more about it.

message 3: by Kayla (new)

Kayla | 146 comments Mod
On the Mystery bear of the Arctic, it says, "The local natural resources department now plans to return the bear to the hunter." I think that is wrong. All that guy is going to do it hang the dead bear up on his wall.

message 4: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 79 comments And, possibly, encourage others to hunt and kill one for themselves....

Lexphie (The Animal Lover) | 63 comments That's terrible

message 6: by Kayla (last edited Oct 27, 2011 04:55PM) (new)

Kayla | 146 comments Mod
49 Exotic Animals Murdered

Terry Thompson and his wife had money problems dating to the 1990s, but their debt had escalated in recent years and they owed at least $68,000 in unpaid income and property taxes, according to the court records obtained Thursday.

Thompson, 62, unleashed them from his private Muskingum County Animal Farm near Zanesville, then shot himself. Authorities had to hunt down and kill or capture the animals as they roamed the rural area, and only one monkey is unaccounted for.

The man's body was found near the empty cages with a bite wound on the head that appeared to have come from a large cat, such as a Bengal tiger, county Sheriff Matt Lutz said Thursday. Investigators have refused to speculate on his motive.

Overall, authorities say Thompson released more than 50 animals from the Muskingum County Animal Farm before killing himself. Dozens of escaped tigers, lions and other beasts were shot by officers.

Just six animals — three leopards, a grizzly bear and two monkeys — were captured alive.

The last animal that had been unaccounted for, a monkey infected with herpes B virus, was believed to have been eaten by one of the large cats, Lutz told NBC station WCMH.

The survivors were taken to Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

The dead animals included 18 rare Bengal tigers and 17 lions. Six black bears, two grizzlies, a baboon, a wolf and three mountain lions were also killed. Authorities said the slain animals would be buried on Thompson's farm.

Most of the big cats and bears were declawed and had been bottle-fed by Thompson and his wife since the animals were babies, said Judy Hatfield, a family friend who visited the farm many times and said it wasn't unusual to have a monkey jump on your lap.

Officers were ordered to kill the animals instead of trying to bring them down with tranquilizers for fear that those hit with darts would escape in the darkness before they dropped and would later regain consciousness.

Ohio has some of the nation's weakest restrictions on exotic pets and among the highest number of injuries and deaths caused by them.

message 7: by Kayla (new)

Kayla | 146 comments Mod
Those animals should have been tranquilized. With the right amount of dosage those animals wouldn't have time to wander off into the dark. They're just using that as an excuse because they did not want to pay the money to rescue the animals.

Also, Bengal tigers are endangered animals. I can't believe they just shot 18 tigers. They could have put them in a wildlife sanctuary and harvested their DNA. There are so few Bengals left in the world that their DNA gene pool is running low. What's wrong with these people. Can't they think for themselves and see that killing these animals was not the appropriate solution to take? :( This really ticks me off...

Lexphie (The Animal Lover) | 63 comments I know! It is so sad that they had to do this to these animals. Also, I can't believe someone would do this to animals he raised and cared for.

message 9: by Kayla (new)

Kayla | 146 comments Mod
It's just horrible! :( I can't believe someone with a brain didn't step in. Nobody even question orders. People need to think for themselves and not just follow command. It's so frustrating! :(

Have you heard about the grey wolf hunting in in Wyoming and Idaho? Very upsetting. :(

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