4 Endangered Animals That Are Making a Comeback



4 Endangered Animals That Are Making a Comeback

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is considered the global authority on all aspects of the natural world, including the conservation status of animal species. And with tens of thousands of animal species in its catalogue, there are plenty of animals to keep an eye on.

“Endangered” is a classification within this system. If an animal is endangered, it means they’re at “very high” risk of total extinction in the wild. (This is only one step away from the last category in the IUCN’s list—critically endangered—which mean the species is all but extinct.)

And while plenty of incredible species have gone extinct over the years, some come close to the edge and then bounce back. Local conservation efforts can help here, such as the U.S. Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966, and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, both of which have helped protect animals from extinction—here in the states and across the world.

1. Manatees

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Also known as “sea cows,” manatees come in three varieties: West Indian, West African, and Amazonian. And by 1967, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service had listed them all as endangered.

Did you know that manatees have no natural predators? It’s true! While we tend to view herbivores like these as prey for things like sharks or killer whales, manatees live in different waters than these predators, so they don’t really run across them too often.

But as shallow-water swimmers, what manatees do run across are plenty of humans. Like many animals on this list, the manatee’s struggle can be directly linked to human activity, such as commercial fishing accidents, pollution, climate change, and more factors that disrupt their ecosystem.

Things looked grim—but conservation efforts throughout the latter half of the 20th century would eventually pay off. Population numbers began to rise, and eventually, the IUCN downgraded the status of all three manatee species from endangered to merely vulnerable.

2. American Alligators

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If you live in the marshy wetlands of the American South, you’re probably well-acquainted with alligators. These large, hulking reptiles lived happily for millions of years in the wild—until, of course, humans came along and ruined things.

In the past, people didn’t really understand alligators or the vital role they played in the wetland ecosystem. They were hunted for sport and hunted out of fear. Combined with growing industrialization that destroyed their habitats slowly over time, the future of these majestic creatures was in doubt. Per the 1966 Endangered Species Preservation Act, American alligators were officially considered endangered.

Of course, American alligators are long past the endangered phase. Conservation efforts have been quite successful in restoring their populations, and as of today, the American alligator is listed as a species of “least concern” by conservation experts.

3. Northern Elephant Seals

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Much like manatees, the northern elephant seal is a seafaring giant, coated in a thick layer of blubber and weighing between 1,000 and 4,000 pounds. These are the largest seals in the northern hemisphere and can be seen migrating from the cold Alaskan shores to the warmer waters of the California coast.

But the northern elephant seal almost didn’t make it. As rich sources of fat, blubber, and hide, these seals were prime targets for hunters looking for fuel in the icy north. They were so aggressively hunted that they were thought to be extinct in the late 1800s until small, isolated colonies began to crop up. It was at this point that conservationists realized that they had a chance to bring this noble species back from the brink.

Thanks to a multi-national conservation effort to protect these seals (which involved cracking down on seal hunting), the northern elephant seal began to bounce back. Recent estimations put their total population in the wild at 100,000.

4. Bald Eagles

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The bald eagle is one of the most iconic animals in American history, being chosen as the country’s national symbol back in 1782. In those days, bald eagle populations were plentiful, and it was common to see them soaring majestically.

But everything changed after World War II. Shortly after the war, a new chemical called DDT became popular, with plenty of advocates pushing for it as a commercial and household pesticide. This push would have terrible, long-lasting effects on the environment—including our bald eagles. DDT caused defects in bald eagle eggs and prevented much of the population from growing. Eventually, there were fewer than 500 nesting pairs alive in the lower 48 states.

Thanks to the banning of DDT and rise of other environmental protections, bald eagles made a healthy comeback. Recent estimates say that there are now over 5,000 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states, not counting those living in Canada.

Preserving Natural Wildlife

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Research tells us that certain animals are “selected” for extinction by virtue of survival of the fittest. But others (including all on this list) face much bigger threats from human activity. And while we humans can’t protect every species out there from extinction, we need to do our part to protect the ones we’re directly harming with our day-to-day lives.

Alligator in Chicago’s Humboldt Park Lagoon caught overnight



Alligator in Chicago’s Humboldt Park Lagoon caught overnight

Alligator in Chicago’s Humboldt Park Lagoon caught overnight
Professional alligator trapper Frank Robb of Florida on July 16, 2019, displays the alligator that eluded capture for a week in the Humboldt Park Lagoon. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)
The alligator that eluded authorities for a week in the Humboldt Park Lagoon, exhausted after its week of celebrity, was caught overnight and made an appearance at a news conference Tuesday morning near the lagoon.

The male, 5-foot-3 alligator, weighing about 30 or 40 pounds, was captured around 1:30 a.m. at the northwest side of the lagoon, officials said. Alligator trapper Frank Robb, who was brought in over the weekend to replace a volunteer trapper, was walking along the shoreline when he heard the alligator and saw it in lily pads, its eyes shining.

When Robb spotted the alligator, the animal dipped down in the water. Robb was able to catch the alligator with one cast of hooks attached to a fishing rod.

He then reeled the alligator in, grabbed him and tied him up, he said.

“The second I put my hands on him, the hook fell out,” Robb said. The animal “put up a little fight” but was unharmed, he added, joking that when he’s asked how he catches alligators, he says “just barely.”

Robb said that he had little sleep overnight, and the alligator “was exhausted, too, I’m sure.”

The alligator that eluded capture for a week in the Humboldt Park Lagoon is displayed near the park's boathouse in Chicago on July 16, 2019.
The alligator that eluded capture for a week in the Humboldt Park Lagoon is displayed near the park’s boathouse in Chicago on July 16, 2019. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

At the news conference, the alligator was in a dark-colored box with a yellow lid until Robb took it out and showed it to members of the news media. The animal didn’t make any noises when shown off.

Kelley Gandurski, director of Chicago Animal Care and Control, said the alligator was in good health.

“Wherever he came from or however he got here, he’s a very healthy animal,” Robb said.

During the news conference, a large group of residents joined the flock of media present, hoping to see the creature.

Grant Farmer, of the Humboldt Park neighborhood, stood nearby, extending his arms over the television cameras to snap a picture of the alligator with his smartphone.

“I would walk around previously this week hoping to get a glimpse of him, but I wasn’t able to see him,” he said.

The capture was the culmination of a weeklong quest to capture the exotic animal, presumed to be a pet that someone had abandoned in the historic West Side lagoon. Officials started searching for it midday July 9 after people began sharing photos of it on social media and someone called the city about the animal.

“The Humboldt Park alligator has captured the imaginations of the entire city of Chicago and beyond and has united residents who have been following this story for the last week,” Chicago Animal Care and Control said in a release earlier Tuesday.

Video: Officials share details of alligator capture

Video: Alligator makes public debut

Robb said that even before he got the call to come to Chicago, he had been among those following the news about the alligator.

“Everybody’s got different blessings, this is mine,” Robb said. “This is what I’ve spent every day of my life doing for the last 24 years.”

Officials said they haven’t yet figured out where the alligator will go now that it’s been captured.

On Sunday, animal control officials closed the eastern half of the park and hired Robb, an alligator expert from Florida, as the search entered its second week. The closures, which included streets near the park, were done on Robb’s advice to make the area around the lagoon quiet and free from distractions, according to animal control.

Robb, who owns Crocodilian Specialist Services in Florida, “immediately began assessing the park and lagoon,” according to animal control officials.

At a news conference Monday afternoon, Chicago police asked people to stay away from the lagoon and keep noise to a minimum.

With the capture, joggers and dog walkers returned Tuesday morning to Humboldt Park despite a light rain.

Laura Shields, who was walking her 8-year-old Australian shepherd mix, said she was disappointed when she realized the park was closed Monday. “It was definitely a bummer,” she said. “I come to the park two or three times day.”

“Alligator Bob,” a volunteer with the Chicago Herpetological Society, initially led efforts to capture the alligator.

Check back for updates.

5 Best U.S. National Parks for Bird watching



5 Best U.S. National Parks for Bird watching

Even if you’re not a member of the Audubon Society, that doesn’t mean you can’t still appreciate the beautiful splendor of our feathered friends. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, more than 45 million Americans engaged in birdwatching in 2018. And if you’ve decided to go beyond your backyard to find new birds, then these five national parks are ideal havens for discovering birds in their natural habitat.

National Mall, Washington, D.C. — 260 species

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You might be surprised that a city-based park is home to so many birds. But the National Mall in the heart of the nation’s capital serves as a haven for 260 diverse species of birds, including numerous waterfowl. Its prime location next to the Potomac River attracts a variety of birds and acts as a seasonal home for migratory songbirds. While the National Mall doesn’t have the largest availability of diverse vegetation when compared to other National Parks, it does serve as a great option for spotting a large number of species in one day.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Gary, Indiana — 285 species

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Indiana Dunes National Park could serve as a two-in-one vacation. This park sits just at the southern base of Lake Michigan and is the location of numerous lakeside beaches. If you’ve had your fill of catching rays or opt to visit this national park during the off-season, birding is a very popular attraction.

In fact, this activity is so common that the park and nearby tour operators offer guided birding tours. If you time your trip to Indiana just right, you can stop by the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival in late May. This three-day event is hosted by the Indiana Audubon Society and focuses on conservation and education to preserve the area as a haven for local and migratory birds.

Death Valley National Park, California & Nevada — 375 species

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With a name like Death Valley, you probably imagine an inhospitable and barren wasteland. But the opposite is true. If you’re not familiar with this park, you might be surprised that it spans two states. Death Valley offers diverse habitats that include valleys, woodlands, and canyons. Because of this, this national park attracts a wide array of seasonal migratory and year-round bird species.

One of the most recognizable bird species is the Roadrunner. While it looks nothing like the purple and blue Looney Tunes cartoon version that outsmarts Wile E. Coyote, this bird is a year-round resident. Experts recommend that you traverse multiple habitats to increase your chances of spotting the largest variety of birds.

Gateway National Recreation Area, New York & New Jersey — 375 species

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Gateway National Recreation Area is yet another national park that straddles multiple states, this time New York and New Jersey. The park is a critical home for birds, many of which are on the threatened or endangered list like the piping plover. It is located within the Atlantic Flyway, a main north-south pathway that birds follow during seasonal migration patterns.

Gateway features three major units: Sandy Hook, Jamaica Bay, and Staten Island. Advanced birders will usually prefer Jamaica Bay because it serves as a refuge for more difficult-to-spot birds. The park even offers a special birding field guide that highlights 12 of the more popular species guests will see.

Everglades National Park, Florida — 280 species

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Most people know that the Everglades is an extremely diverse biosphere, and not just for birds. This watery reserve offers nine unique birding spots perfect for discovering feathered friends that can be divided into three main categories: wading birds, land birds, and birds of prey.

Some of the most common species include the white ibis and the wood stork, along with numerous species of egrets and herons. This park is a popular attraction for birders from around the world. Should you choose to go birdwatching at Everglades National Park, be sure to use their interactive checklist.

While bird watching is a popular pastime at pretty much every national park in the U.S., this is a great list of places to get you started. If there’s a particular bird that you have in mind and want to see in real life, be sure to use the Audubon Society’s interactive bird guide on their site for detailed information about specific species and maps of where to find them.

5 Fascinating Facts About Africa’s “Big Five”



5 Fascinating Facts About Africa’s “Big Five”

Africa is home to some of the most beautiful and iconic wildlife on the planet. Thoughts of the savannah almost naturally cue the sound of tribal African songs and the colorful coats of wild cats. Of the most iconic African mammals, none are more revered than the “Big Five”—lions, elephants, water buffalo, rhinos, and leopards. These are the five beasts that are most commonly sought after by photo-happy tourists on safaris (and among the animals most in need of our protection).

Most are highly social and exhibit fascinating relationships with one another, as well as plenty of other intriguing traits. Keep reading to find out what makes these majestic beasts African royalty.

Female Lions Bond for Life

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Lion prides are led by a single male who must ward off challengers for as long as he leads the pride. Male lions don’t have a reputation for getting along very well. Conflicts between male lions are vicious, with much at stake. In fact the impetus for the strength and size observed by the large cat is less an evolutionary adaptation for predation than it is a result of selective breeding from generations of fighting one another. Once male cubs have come of age, they are ousted from the pack by the pride male. Female lions, however, live among one another for the duration of their lives, even in the event that it is taken over by another male.

African Elephants Live in Matriarchal Hierarchies

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Elephants are social animals that live in herds, and every group needs a leader. From times of crisis to day-to-day squabbles, African elephants turn to the matriarch of their herd for leadership. This elephant is usually the oldest in the herd and often related to the previous matriarch. While being at the top certainly has its appeal, heavy is the head that wears the crown. Matriarch elephants average two hours of sleep per day across several naps and will sometimes go without sleep at all for several days at a time. Undoubtedly, the survival of the herd demands vigilance.

Water Buffalo Live in Democracies

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While African buffalo may be dragging their hooves to draft up their version of the Magna Carta, they do exhibit an egalitarian approach to decision-making. Throughout the day, the herd alternates between grazing and seeking water. When it comes time to decide which to pursue, individuals in the herd each turn in the direction of a food or water source – a meadow or a water hole.  One buffalo will serve as an initiator and choose a direction to walk in, but if the other members of the herd aren’t having it, they’ll stay put. Once an initiator moves in the direction preferred by most members, the entire group will mobilize towards their next destination.

Rhinos “Mwonk” When They’re Happy

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As with most of the animals on this list, rhinos are social creatures that live in groups. A rhino herd is called a “crash,” and the members of the crash interact with one another on a daily basis. In mammals, socialization almost always entails vocalizing, and rhinos make a variety of sounds to communicate with one another. Honks are signals of aggression preceding fights, bleats are signs of submission, and mothers communicate with their calves through moo-grunts. But one of the most surprising sounds to come out of the 2-ton horned land mammal is the sound it makes when it’s happy, which can only be described as a “mwonk.”

Leopards can Beat Your Bench Press, by a lot

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Two of the most distinctive characteristics of leopards are the rosettes (spots) on their fur and their climbing abilities. Though leopards spend the majority of their time on the ground, they will frequently climb trees to obtain a height advantage for pouncing on their prey, and they like to take their meals back up to the tree limbs to enjoy some privacy. As primates, humans are decent climbers as well, but we’re usually not lugging up the entire body mass of large prey. One leopard was observed in the wild hauling a young 125-kg giraffe into a tree for its meal.

Eastern Kentucky University Researchers Studying Copperhead Snakes In Their Area



EKU researchers studying copperheads in the Gorge


RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) — They’re a common snake found throughout the state. The copperhead snake is one that shows up quite often, especially across eastern Kentucky. Their habitat is best suited in these areas.

“The forest, the plateau, and mountains provide underground retreats. The forest has lots of organisms for them to eat and cover, and leaf litter that they blend in with,” said Dr. Stephen Richter, an EKU biology professor.

Richter is heading a research study in the Gorge area that’s aimed at learning more about copperhead snakes, their habitat, and how to minimize human-snake interaction. The group captures these snakes, insert a microchip, track their movements and collect data. Then, the snakes are recaptured.

“We learn about population size, body, growth-rates, sex ratios, just basic biology,” said Richter.

It’s this information that researchers can make areas of high human activity less attractive for copperheads. Richter says we just have to be more alert with our surroundings.

“Watch where you’re walking. If there is a downed tree over the trail which happens quite a bit, do not step directly over it, step on it. Look on the other side before you do. Just not putting your hands and feet where you cannot see and stepping too closely to an object where they might be hiding for cover,” said Richter.

Richter sais this is a joint research effort that involves EKU, the U.S. Forest Service, The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Louisville Zoo.

5 fascinating facts about bald eagles



5 fascinating facts about bald eagles

If you ask the average American to describe the perfect symbol for the United States, they would most likely reply with the bald eagle. This majestic creature has long served as a representation of the nation’s strength and majesty. But how much do you know about this iconic bird? Besides the fact that it was once on the endangered species list, most people don’t know very much about them. Well, we’ve got some interesting trivia for you with five eye-opening facts about this iconic American symbol.

The real sound of a bald eagle is actually hilarious

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Most of us have watched a movie with a bald eagle soaring in the air making a regal cry. But this is totally false and not at all what a real bald eagle sounds like. In 2012, NPR released a story that showcased what the bird’s actual cries sound like—and it isn’t pretty. Instead of that rich throaty shriek, it was more of a cute squeaky giggle. There’s nothing regal or impressive about that, nor would a sound that hysterical make you think of strength or might! So in Hollywood, they tend to dub over actual bald eagle sounds with the piercing cry of a red-tailed hawk instead.

The females are bigger than the males

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This is a reversal from most of what we know about the animal kingdom. Typically the male is bigger than the female, and in the case of birds, the male bird tends to be more ornately colored while the female is plain and smaller. But in the case of the bald eagle, both male and females look exactly the same. However, the female tends to be anywhere from 25 to 33 percent larger.

Some ornithologists speculate that this is because the female oversees the bulk of the nest building and egg incubation duties. So, a bigger body would be more useful when building structures or intimidating predators to prevent them from stealing eggs. Still, male bald eagles do their fair share of the heavy lifting when it comes to prepping for the arrival of their young and caring for them.

Birds of prey…or lazy scavengers?

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Bald eagles are birds of prey. They have bodies designed for effective hunting, catching, and killing their food. But this bird can be incredibly lazy when it comes to sourcing food. In fact, they’re known to stalk and intimidate other predatory animals after a successful hunt and then steal their food! More commonly, they’ll even get into tussles with other animals—especially birds—and steal the food right out of their claws. For the most part, bald eagles are bigger than other birds of prey, so they tend to have the upper hand in these mid-air dog fights.

In more populated areas, the patriotic symbol is really no more than a scavenger and in extreme cases a menace to locals. The birds have been known to hang around fishing docks and even behind grocery stores or meat packing plants waiting for scraps to be dumped. In one town in Alaska, the birds are so invasive and bold that they’ve been known to steal grocery bags right out of people’s hands. However, if you find yourself at the losing end of a food battle with a bald eagle, don’t get any ideas. They’re a protected species, and doing any harm to them can lead to federal penalties.

The bald eagle’s scavenging behavior made Founding Father Benjamin Franklinrecommend against making them a national symbol. He’s quoted as saying that the bald eagle “is a bird of bad moral character” because “He does not get his Living honestly.” Don’t let these qualities fool you. Bald eagles have successfully hunted prey as large as deer fawn, seal pups, and beavers.

Bald eagles mate for life

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File this under “awwww.” The bald eagle is a “one and done” kind of bird. Once they find their mate around the age of four or five, that’s their partner for life. And that can be a long time as many members of this species can live for decades. Recently in 2015, an elder bald eagle passed away at the age of 38 in upstate New York. It was the oldest recorded bald eagle in the wild and was part of the original conservation efforts from the ’70s through the ’90s to bring the species’ population back from the brink because of hunting and DDT.

They’re found only in North America, but they have a few international relatives

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The bald eagle truly is native to North America. While it might be the national symbol for the U.S., the quirky bird is also natively found in Canada and northern Mexico, although Mexico claims the golden eagle as their national symbol. The bald eagle is part of the Haliaeetus genus and has seven close relatives around the world. Its most popular relative is the African fish eagle, the national symbol of Zambia.

Australia Is Going To Try To Kill Two-Million Feral Cats



They’re cute, they’re fluffy, and they’re public enemy number one in Australia.

Australia is at war — with feral cats. By 2020, the government wants to kill two million free roaming cats, a large chunk of the total feral cat population, which is estimated to be between 2 and 6 million.
Some areas of Australia have gone even further. In the northeastern state of Queensland, there’s even a council offering a $10 ($7) bounty per feral cat scalp — a policy People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has lambasted as “cruel.”
Nor is the problem exclusive to Australia. In neighboring New Zealand, a prominent environmentalist has proposed a cat-free future, with both domestic and feral cats either controlled or culled.
So why do the Antipodes dislike cats so much?

Killer cats

The answer is simple: Cats, especially feral ones, are killers.
The first cat is thought to have arrived in Australia at some point in the 17th century. Since then, their number has ballooned, with the population today estimated to cover 99.8% of the country.
Although feral cats belong to the same species as domestic cats, feral cats live in the wild where they are forced to hunt for survival.
A rare burrowing bettong hides under a hollow log near Cygnet River on Kangaroo Island. Its species was driven to extinction on mainland Australia by foxes and feral cats.

Since they were first introduced by European settlers, feral cats have helped drive an estimated 20 mammal species to extinction, Gregory Andrews, national commissioner of threatened species told the Sydney Morning Herald. According to Andrews, that makes feral cats the single biggest threat to Australia’s native species.
And that’s significant in Australia, an island nation that was cut off from the rest of the world for thousands of years. Today, an estimated 80% of Australia’s mammals and 45% of its birds are found in the wild nowhere else on earth.
For cats, native species are easy prey. Cats are believed to kill more than 1 million native birds, and 1.7 million reptiles across Australia everyday, a spokesperson for Australia’s Department of the Environment and Energy told CNN, citing scientific research.
Some of the other species under threat from cats include the brush-tailed rabbit-rat, which the government classifies as vulnerable, and the rat-like golden bandicoot.
“We are not culling cats for the sake of it, we are not doing so because we hate cats,” said Andrews.
“We have got to make choices to save animals that we love, and who define us as a nation.”

Unlikely critics

The government, which announced its plan to initiate a cull in 2015, has pledged $5 million to support community groups who can target cats on the front line.
But the plan has come under fire — and surprisingly, conservationists are among the critics.
Tim Doherty, a conservation ecologist from Deakin University in Australia, agrees that feral cats take a “big toll” on Australia’s native species, but believes the cull is based on shaky science.
“At the time, when the target was set in 2015, we actually didn’t know how many feral cats there were in Australia,” he said, adding that some estimates at the time put the number at 18 million, which he called a “gross over estimate.”
“There’s not really a reliable way to estimate across an entire continent, and if you’re going to set a target, and if you want it to be meaningful, you need to be able to measure your progress towards it.”
Another, more pressing issue, is that merely killing a cat doesn’t necessarily save bird or mammal lives — the cat needs to have been living in an area that has threatened animals, he said.
A feral cat in a neighborhood in Washington, DC on April 4, 2014.

And bounties needed to be focused on a certain area, Doherty said. “It needs to be concentrated rather than a scatter gun approach,” he said.
While cats are a big problem, the government had focused heavily on them at the cost of other, more politically sensitive issues like habitat loss caused by urban expansion, logging and mining.
“There’s a possibility there that cats are being used as a distraction to some extent,” he said. “We also need to have a more holistic approach and address all threats to biodiversity.”
Other notable critics of the plan include British singer Morrissey and Brigitte Bardot.

‘Cats to go’

In New Zealand there have been calls to put a stop to domestic cats altogether.
The remote island nation, which was one of the last places on earth to be reached by humans, has already announced a bold goal of becoming completely predator free by 2050. According to the government, rats, possums and stoats kill 25 million native birds each year.
New Zealand has no native land mammals besides bats, meaning a large variety of birds — including the country’s flightless Kiwi — were able to thrive in a land without predators. Now, 37%of New Zealand’s bird species are threatened. What’s more, many of New Zealand’s native birds are ground-dwellers, making them susceptible to cats, according to the country’s Department of Conservation.
A keeper holds two kiwi chicks in his hands in Berlin on June 19, 2012.

In 2013, well-known New Zealand economist Gareth Morgan drew the ire of cat lovers — including the then-Prime Minister John Key, himself the owner of a cat named Moonbeam — when he launched a campaign called “Cats to Go,” encouraging cat lovers to avoid replacing their pet when it dies.
“Cats are the only true sadists of the animal world, serial killers who torture without mercy,” he said when add?
CNN has reached out to Morgan for comment.
Two years later, then-Conservation Minister Maggie Barry urged authorities to start putting downstray cats to save native bird populations, and called for pet cats, which number around 1.134 million according to the New Zealand Companion Animal Council, to be limited to one or two per household.
And last year, Omaui, a small coastal town in New Zealand’s South Island considered banning new domestic cats in the area — although it has since backtracked on its plan.
”We’re not cat haters, but we want our environment to be wildlife-rich,” Omaui Landcare Charitable Trust chairman John Collins said in August last year.

3-Year-Old Catches Monster Rainbow Trout with Spiderman Fishing Rod



3-Year-Old Catches Monster Rainbow Trout with Spiderman Fishing Rod

rainbow trout
Image courtesy of Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife

3-year-old Zach from Massachusetts hooked a monster of a rainbow trout in Boston’s Jamaica Pond while out on a fishing trip with his dad – using a Spiderman fishing rod!

The little angler used the “thumb button” mechanism on his child-sized spincast-reel fishing rod, and with the implicit power of the Marvel Comics superhero behind him, he reeled in his catch. Zach was super pumped, as you can imagine.

Zach’s dad, who took the little boy on his rewarding day out, is his son’s biggest champion, and no doubt sees a glittering future in the world of angling for his talented young protégé. Zach’s catch even caught the attention of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, who took and shared this celebratory picture on their Facebook page.

Governor Charlie Baker of the State of Massachusetts was the man who took the initiative to stock the Jamaica Pond with 1,000 trout for the sake of recreational fishing.

The Boston Globe reported on the annual “stocking of the pond,” which has become a community-led initiative. “More than 40 students from the John F. Kennedy Elementary School and Nativity Prep School, both in Jamaica Plain, and the Dorchester Youth Academy joined state and city officials to start the fishing season,” they reported, “by helping release several species of trout into Jamaica Pond.”

How much did Zach’s fish weight in at, after all? Judging by the photo—the fish is almost as long as little Zach is tall, and it took his dad to lift it—we’re thinking a fair amount. Care to venture a guess?

For full, original story, visit: www.theepochtimes.com

Woman finds two-headed viper in her flower bed



Woman finds two-headed viper in her flower bed, state hopes to display it in a zoo


A state agency has arranged for the care of a rare two-headed Copperhead snake found at a residence in Northern Virginia on Sunday night.

The venomous snake, a member of the viper family, is an “extremely rare” find in the wild, state herpetologist J.D. Kleopfer told USA TODAY. Kleopfer is a reptiles and amphibians specialist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

He said the snake is currently being cared for by an experienced viper keeper, with the hope that it will one day be put on display at a zoo.

Snakes with such a mutation find it difficult to survive in the wild, Kleopfer said. That’s in part because the two heads often want to do “two different things.”

This particular snake was young – about two weeks old, and small – about 6 inches long, according to Kleopfer.

Imaging provided some insight on the physical makeup of the snake: “Thanks to the Wildlife Center of Virginia we were able to determine that the left head has the dominant esophagus and the right head has the more developed throat for eating,” Kleopfer wrote in a Facebook post.

Copperheads often grow to 18-36 inches in length, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While they are not known for being aggressive, they do sometimes attack humans when disturbed.

Kleopfer said the “little guy” probably wasn’t much of a danger. At its age, he said the viper was mainly attacking insects.

The snake shouldn’t alarm anyone, Kleopfer said. It’s his goal to help the snake stay alive.

Stephanie Myers shared photos of the viper on Sunday evening. She said that the snake was found at her neighbor’s flowerbed in Woodbridge, Virginia.

“I wanted to look away but couldn’t stop looking at it. Plays trick on the eyes,” she told USA TODAY in a written message.

Among the hashtags in her Facebook post: #sohardnottolookatit, #nobodyhastimeforthat and #justlookingatthismakesmeswear.


(Alpha Wolf/Poem) Within My Gaze

Within My Gaze

Within My Gaze

I see my picture

Upon T-Shirts, paintings and plates

Displayed proudly upon your walls


You think me to be cuddly

Domesticated easily like a lap dog hound

Only to the giant bear

Have I ever backed down


You come to my home

To sleep, laugh, and play

When was the last time

You ever seen me walking down your streets


More ignorant than the lamb I had this morning

My belly is grumbling as the dark is setting in

Do you now think I am so cute and cuddly

As I back you down

Your eyes glued, within my gaze



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