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NEWSFILE: ATTACKS / ANOMOLOUS DEATHS (18b)

c. Aug-Oct 1998 (the news period covered by Animals & Men issue 18.)

PIT BULL BITES WOMAN; SHE BITES BACK

07/10/98 DETROIT (AP) _ Eight months pregnant, mail carrier Frankie Tortonesi didn’t have time to unleash her pepper spray when a pit bull came charging this week and attacked. So she saved herself by getting even.

‘I grabbed it by its neck and bit it,’ she told the Detroit Free Press for a story Friday. ‘It whimpered and let go. It could have backfired and got my face.‘

Her unborn child escaped unscathed; Ms. Tortonesi wasn't as lucky. On Thursday, she remained hospitalised in Detroit, relieved her baby was safe but worried about her chewed-up arms. ‘I let it have my arms instead of stomach,’ said Ms. Tortonesi, 33, of suburban Lincoln Park. ‘It had a powerful jaw.‘

And a sudden approach. As she stepped onto a porch of a Detroit house shortly before noon Wednesday, Ms. Tortonesi noticed the door was open - not closed as usual.

A white dog with brown spots charged, then sank its teeth into her arms and knocked her down before chomping her buttocks and the back of her right leg. It's then that the woman grabbed the dog and bit back.

‘I was screaming, `I'm pregnant. I'm pregnant. Somebody help me. Why won’t somebody help me?’' she recalled yelling while fearing she might bleed to death.

Two men rushed to her aid and bound her arms before emergency workers arrived. City animal control workers captured the dog and put it in quarantine. It could be destroyed later.

The baby, due Aug. 11, will be the first for Ms. Tortonesi and her husband, Joseph Tortonesi, 33. ‘When I deliver, I'll be in casts,’ she said sadly. ‘I want to hold my baby. ‘

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USA TODAY - Sept 24, 1998 PIT BULL ATTACKS

Michigan investigators are deciding whether to file charges after a 44-year-old Highland Park woman was, mauled to death by tow path bulls when she went to a neighbour’s house to borrow a cigarette. While standing on the porch as her friend searched inside for a cigarette, the dogs charged out the door, dragged the woman into a yard and mauled her, police Lt. Larry Beller said. Neighbors tried unsuccessfully to save the unidentified woman before police arrived. Both dogs were killed.

In Rochester, N.Y., a pit bull rushed into a neighbour’s house, grabbed a 4-year-old girl's head in its jaws and dragged her outside, letting go only after being struck repeatedly with a piece of wood. Shiasia Hill suffered severe cuts to the back of her head and was in satisfactory condition, after surgery - Animal control officials have the dog and are deciding what to do with it.

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POISONING PIGEONS IN THE PARK: Someone in New York City has a ‘very premeditated, conscious and sick desire to take out their ill feelings on the city's wildlife,’ says Chief Alex Brash of the Urban Park Rangers. Bird-seed laced with pesticide is being left around Manhattan. At least 60 dead birds, mostly pigeons, have been found near Times Square and the Upper East Side. ‘This is someone who had a bad time with pigeons at some point and is taking it out on them now,’ Brash theorises. (A.P.)

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PET PYTHON PUTS THE SQUEEZE ON HER OWNER 10/13/98 PUTNAM, Conn. (AP) _ A 260-pound Burmese python was shot three times with a shotgun and beheaded after ripping a toilet out of the floor and trying to swallow her owner.

When police arrived at Christopher Paquin's home Monday, Squeeze, his 19-foot pet snake, was coiled around the 27-year-old with her jaws locked around his forearm. ‘I was calm until I couldn't get her off me, ’ Paquin said. ‘Once she got down to the bone it really started hurting.‘

After unsuccessfully trying to use vise grips to pry the rowdy reptile away from Paquin, his girlfriend called 911.

Paquin's rescuers finally separated man from beast. Officials stunned the snake by spraying it with a fire extinguisher and then shot it three times with a shotgun. ‘The damn thing was still moving,’ said Paquin, who was treated and released at Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam. His hand, which now features 35 snake-tooth marks, is in a cast.

The snake was loose because Paquin was cleaning its cage. When he tried to put her back in the cage, she attacked. Paquin is keeping the snake carcass and has put its head in a bag for safekeeping. He doesn't want his incident to keep people from owning snakes, but says his days of dealing with them are over. ‘I'll never get another one,’ he said.

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Pack of sled dogs kills mother, son in Canada

August 18, 1998 ZACHARIAS ISLAND, Newfoundland (AP) — A pack of sled dogs has killed a woman and her 10-year-old son who were picking berries on an island off the Labrador coast, police said.

‘It would rank with some of the worst incidents I've ever had to deal with, ’ said Constable Richard Langille of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The pack of eight dogs attacked Betty Gauntlett and her son, Daniel Obed, on Sunday, Langille said. The woman's common-law husband and an 8-year-old boy were able to fend off the dogs with rocks and sticks before escaping to their boat.

Police and area residents destroyed the dogs, and their carcasses were handed over to wildlife officials to be tested for rabies.

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FRASER DINGOES ATTACK CHILD (from The Courier Mail p5, 14. 8. 98) A four-year-old boy has been rushed to the Hervey Bay Hospital after being attack by a dingo on Fraser Island.

Department of Environment and Heritage Great Sandy Region manager Lachlan Fullerton said yesterday that the boy suffered a puncture wound, lacerations and bruising but no severe injuries. He was treated at the hospital, given a tetanus injection, but not admitted after the incident on Tuesday afternoon.

The attack is the first reported major dingo incident on the island since a spate of five attacks on humans within a month in April-May 1998.

In one attack, a dingo grabbed a toddler by the shoulder and tried to drag her from her parents' Waddy Point campsite.

Mr Fullerton said Tuesday's attack happened after the dingo approached the boy and his sister as they played beside popular Eli Creek on the eastern beach of the island just north of Happy Valley.

The boy was bitten as he tried to run away from the dingo, he said. The boy's father drove his injured son to Happy Valley where he was flown to the hospital. Mr Fullerton said the family had been holidaying from outside the area, but had returned home after the incident. Island rangers have moved to identify the dingo and have it destroyed.

Mr Fullerton said dingo attacks were still common on the island, but irregular and unpredictable and urged visitors to heed the rules in the department's Dingo-Smart brochure to avoid conflicts.

A Fraser Island dingo management report drawn up by the Environment department following recommendations by consultant and dingo expert Laurie Corbett earlier this year is expected to be released next month.

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First Case of Rabid Beaver in Maine Confirmed

Portland (Maine) Press Herald Tuesday 25 August 1998

JEFFERSON - A 30-pound beaver that turned violent a few weeks ago has tested positive for rabies. It was Maine's first confirmed case of a rabid beaver.

The beaver was found dead beside Davis Stream on Aug. 17, nine days after it bit a golden retriever that was swimming in the water. Days earlier, the beaver was seen chasing several cars along a bridge and attacking a broom when a neighbour tried to shoo it off his lawn.

‘The virus is moving into the Jefferson area, ’ said Rose Wright, microbiologist with the Public Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory in Augusta.

Heather Winchenbach was watching her dog, Rusty, from a dock when she saw a beaver swimming under her feet. ‘I thought something was wrong. They usually don't get that close to humans, ’ she said.

She called Rusty to get out, but it was too late. The animals fought, and the beaver bit the dog. Rusty, who had been vaccinated against rabies, was placed under quarantine at the family's home until the end of Sept. Pets without rabies shots are either euthanized or quarantined for six months.

Winchenbach says she isn't worried about Rusty. ‘He's active and normal so far, ’ she said. ‘I'm hoping he's going to be OK. ‘

Officials believe the beaver was bitten by a raccoon or a skunk. A sick raccoon had been seen staggering in the water near by.

Maine's rabies epidemic is now in its fifth year. The number of cases has grown from 10 animals in 1994 to 244 last year. Thus far this year, 159 cases have been reported, officials said.

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USA TODAY - Friday, Sept 25 Alaska Ketchikan — An estimated 45,000 fish are believed to have died in the Klawock River on Prince of Wales Island, biologists say. The die-off was caused by drops in oxygen levels as river levels ebbed. Most of the dead fish were pink salmon.

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USA TODAY - Friday, Sept 25 California Santa Cruz Island — A tiny herd of wild horses — a remnant of the island’s ranching era — is being removed week. National Park Service rangers will ship the horses by boat to the mainland where they will be held in quarantine for 30 days and then taken to a horse sanctuary near Red Bluff.

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Authorities in Greece are seeking 1,000 chickens and 90,000 eggs that came from a farm in Athens. They've already found and destroyed 9,000 chickens from the hatchery.

The owners couldn't afford to feed their 35,000 birds, so they got a little hungry, and well. . . even chickens find chicken to be tasty. The owners sold 10K of the birds, which were sent to the slaughterhouse.

The local health officials are worried that , since the hungry birds didn't bother to cook their flock-mates before eating them, the public might be getting birds with unacceptable levels of salmonella and other wonderful bugs.

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ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. - NEWS - JULY 24, 1998

Bacteria-tainted oysters from Galveston Bay, Texas, have sickened 36 8 people, a state health official says. Of, the People made ill by the Vibrioparahaemolyticus bacteria, 6 cases have been confirmed by: laboratories, Doug McBride, a Texas Health Department spokesman, said Thursday. The rest are clinical cases that meet the definition for, the illness, he said. Last summer, the Pacific Northwest recorded 209 lab-confirmed cases caused by the same bacteria in oysters- lab-confirmed cases of illness caused by the same bacteria in oysters.

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USA TODAY - Aug 7, 1998 Washington Olympia

The state has closed some of the richest oyster beds in south Puget Sound to harvesting because of rising levels of a naturally occurring bacteria. The closure covers Totten and Skookum inlets and is the latest restriction because of rising levels of Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Vibrio is killed by thorough cooking but otherwise can cause nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and fever.

August 28 Milford — Two parasites that have attacked Connecticut oyster beds are spreading to new areas of Long Island Sound and are damaging the state's $34 million-a-year oyster industry. Oyster growers and state aquaculture biologists are working to develop oysters that are resistant to the parasites.

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Man charged after sex with cows

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A 50-year-old man from western Sweden has been charged with cruelty to animals after having sex with two cows, Swedish news agency TT said Friday. The man from Alingsas near Gothenburg, who has admitted the crimes, became excited after watching a pornographic film and setoff for a near by farm armed with a vibrator and other sex aids, as well as a camera, to abuse the cows.

A few weeks later he returned for a second visit, TT said, quoting the local Alingsas Tidningen newspaper.

But when he tried to get his films of the cows developed, the local photocompany alerted the police, who arrested the man and seized his sex aids. The county vet has examined the photographs of the cows and determined the animals suffered both physical and psychological damage, TT said.

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Monkeys Raid Malaysia Health Clinic

August 6 , 1998 KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - A. P. via News Edge Corporation : A pack of wild monkeys raided a health clinic in northeastern Malaysia, scaring patients and making off with medical equipment, a park official said Wednesday.

‘The monkeys dashed into the clinic despite the staff's attempts to keep them out, ’ said Ahmad Shamsuddin, director of the Terengganu Wildlife and National Park Department.

He said the monkeys ransacked the clinic in Kuala Terengganu, the capital of the coastal state of Terengganu, destroying some equipment.

There have been many complaints of monkey attacks in residential areas and on the state's beaches, he said. The monkey population has grown rapidly and there are plan to relocate some of the monkeys, he said.

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Jury awards couple $3, 500 for emotional stress in the mauling death of their dog

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH - , Sept 19, 1998 - A Schnauser belonging to Loren and Marilyn Rutledge died after being attacked by a pair of Rottweilers.

In a legal sense, how much is a dead dog worth? About $3, 500, says a jury in St. Louis County Circuit Court. that is the amount a jury awarded a Creve Coeur couple Thursday night for the emotional distress they suffered from their pet Schnauser's death. Their Schnauser, Casey, died after being mauled by a pair of Rottweilers that had escaped from a neighbour’s house. The couple, Loren and Marilyn Rutledge, sued. Last week their attorney, Robert H. Pedroli Jr. , asked the jury to award damages in the five-figure range. He said the couple had no children and so doted on Casey. Their life was shattered by the dog's death, said Pedroli. But Chris Goeke, the attorney for the Rottweilers' owner, Ruth Brown, said Missouri law treated a pet as nothing more than ‘a piece of property. ‘

Conceding that this argument could be considered cold-blooded, Goeke nonetheless told the jury that Casey was 10 years old, ’with not many years left. There is no reason to give a huge figure, because we are talking about a 10-year-old dog. ‘ Marilyn Rutledge testified that on March 8, she was walking Casey on a leash along a farm road near their home, on Cannes Drive in the Fern Ridge subdivision. Suddenly two Rottweilers attacked. Normally the Rottweilers stayed in a fenced-in back yard, but that day a child had opened a front door, letting the dogs out. The big dogs bit the small Schnauser numerous times, and they bit Rutledge on her ankle and arm, she said.

She ran home carrying her bleeding pet in her arms. Rutledge was treated at St. Luke's Hospital. Her husband took his bleeding pet to an emergency room at an animal hospital. He said Casey had bit him on the way. Casey died 36 hours later. Now Marilyn Rutledge is so fearful of dog attacks, she said, that she carries a metal pipe when she walks her new dog around the neighborhood. In addition to the $3, 500 for emotional distress, the jury awarded Marilyn Rutledge $4,000 for her injuries and Loren Rutledge $1, 500 for his. One of the Rottweilers was later put to death on the orders of a municipal judge in Creve Coeur.

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Man accidentally shot to death as dog jumped on him

Journal Sentinel, Oct 14, 1998 Milwaukee.

Police know who was responsible for the shooting death of John M. Hwilka. But the suspect will never face charges. That 's because it's a poodle named Benji.

Hwilka, 37, a manager at a local tire store, became the latest Milwaukeean to die this year after an accidental shooting Monday involving a handgun inside a home.

But his death was different from the rest. The shooting was caused by Hwilka’s dog.

Police Lt. Anna Ruzinski, public information officer, said the bizarre shooting occurred as Hwilka was showing his mother how to unload, load and use the safety on a . 45-calibre handgun that he kept for protection in the home they shared in the 3000 block of N. Fratney St.

‘The family poodle jumped on his chest, causing the gun to fire and killing him, ’ Ruzinski said.

For Hwilka's family, the unusual nature of the death only compounds the grief. ‘It was a freak accident, ’ said Rudy Gizewski, his uncle. ‘The dog jumped on him. The dog would always run to greet him. I think he just took his attention away from the gun. The dog always jumps right into his hands. ‘

Gizewski said his nephew collected movie videotapes, liked to play videogames and was a quiet person. ‘John was a good person, ’ he said. ‘If you needed a hand he would help you, no questions asked. ‘

Hwilka, who was single, had worked at a branch of Mr. P’s Tire Store for 10 years and also had spent time in the Marines. He was kneeling near a chair his mother was sitting in when the gun went off as he showed her the weapon.

The bullet struck Hwilka in the chest. He managed to reach the telephone and attempted to dial 911 but collapsed. His mother finished making the call. When police entered the residence, the poodle had been put in a cage.

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Journal Sentinel Online Inside News

Plague strikes Maine lobsters - BOSTON (Reuters)

Hundreds of lobsters valued at more than $2 million have been found sick or dead off the Maine coast, mystifying researchers and worrying fisherman, the Boston Globe reported on Wednesday. ‘We know that lobsters are dying but we don't know what’s going on precisely, ’ Robert Bayer, head of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, told the newspaper. The problem has been reported along the coast from York to Beals Island. ‘We were hoping it would go away, but instead, it seems to be getting worse, ’ Bayer said.

Lobstermen are worried because the problem is eating into the $130 million industry and they fear that the public will shun Maine lobsters, the newspaper said. ‘We're concerned. This is big money, ’ Robert Brown of the Maine Import/Export Lobster Dealers Association told The Globe. Maine brings in an estimated 25 percent of all lobsters harvested in the United States and Canada or more than 45 million pounds last year. Researchers speculated that the deaths are caused by bacteria attacking lobsters in traps or pounds, where they are stored in water so dealers can sell them fresh when prices are high.

Dead and sick lobsters are thrown out before ever reaching the market, the officials told the newspaper, adding that boiling lobsters during the cooking process kills all bacteria.

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Five boys were taken into custody by police on Tuesday for killing an endangered species of bat late last month in Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture. Aomori prefectural police took the five boys- four in middleschool and one in high school in Hachinohe- into custody for violating the Law Concerning Protection of Wildlife and Game. About 220 Oriental parti-colored bats- called hina-komori in Japanese- were found dead on July 31 on a bank of the Mabuchi River under the Shiriuchi Bridge in Hachinohe. The bat is designated as an endangered species by the Environment Agency.

According to police, the five students first launched fireworks at the bats, startling them and causing them to leave their nests before shooting at them with air rifles. Police said they had found the remains of expended fireworks on the riverbank. Police said the boys decided to go after the bats after becoming bored with shooting at cans. The site is known as one of the few remaining breeding areas in the country for the endangered species. After wintering in the southern part of Tohoku region, the bats fly to Aomori in summer to raise their offspring. Police said the bats had just returned last month to the site to start their breeding cycle.

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THE HARTFORD COURANT (Connecticut) 18 Sept 98

Scientists Find More Deformed Frogs (AP): In a deepening ecological mystery, state scientists have plucked four deformed frogs from a tiny wetland in Norfolk in north-western Connecticut - the opposite corner of the state from a pond where numerous frog deformities have been documented since last year. But despite the new findings, early indications from an ongoing survey of 15 randomly picked sampling locations around the state show that the problem is probably not widespread in Connecticut. The Connecticut survey is part of a nation-wide search by scientists for answers to a 3-year-old mystery. They are trying to find what's causing the deformities and are concerned about the implications for people. If the culprit is a manmade chemical or natural substance, they wonder whether it could someday cause harm in humans. Possible explanations for the deformities, according to scientists, include: chemicals such as pesticides or by-products of pesticides; natural parasites; increased ultraviolet radiation from the sun as a result of the thinning ozone layer, or heavy metals, such as mercury or cadmium, that could fall in the water after being carried in the atmosphere from the smokestacks of coal-burning power plants and garbage incinerators.

There were major deformities among four of 54 frogs [a high percentage for this type of study] caught and studied Monday at the small vernal pool in Norfolk, said Dawn McKay, a herpetologist with the Department of Environmental Protection who is leading the sampling survey. Adding to the scientific mystery, the deformities were different from those that have been observed at Porter Pond in south-eastern Connecticut. And the natural features of the two locations are strikingly dissimilar, McKay said. Of the four deformed frogs in Norfolk, a Bullfrog had two extra hind legs, a Pickerel frog and a Green frog each had a missing front leg, and a Green frog was missing yellow pigment, so it appeared to be blue. At Porter Pond, frogs have been found with one or both hind legs missing, but none has had extra hind legs, McKay said.

Porter Pond, an 8-acre body of water in the Pachaug State Forest in Sterling near the Rhode Island border, is in an open area at the bottom of a hill. A dairy farm is located up the hill. The unnamed wetland in Norfolk, a town in north-western Connecticut that borders Massachusetts, is in an upland area surrounded by heavy woods. There are no near by farms or industries. ‘This is different than anything from Porter Pond, ’ McKay said. ‘It's all so mysterious to have different land uses, and different parts of Connecticut, to have these deformities show up, ’ she said. ‘It's too early to say it's not widespread, but it doesn't appear to be in Connecticut, ’ McKay said, cautioning that she has not completed a survey of 15 randomly picked sites around the state and has yet to carefully study and compile her findings. She said the DEP plans to issue a press release on the findings of the surveys by early next month.

Until last Monday, the sampling at nearly a dozen locations other than Porter Pond had not revealed any significant problems, she said. A few more sites remain to be sampled. In contrast, sampling surveys in states such as Minnesota and Vermont have revealed deformities at numerous locations. In Minnesota, deformities have been found at more than 6 0 sites around the state. In Vermont, scientists found deformed frogs at virtually every site sampled, McKay said.

Biologists and zoologists in several states began looking for answers in the frog-deformity mystery in 1995, after children on a school outing in Minnesota caught many deformed frogs in a wetland. In Connecticut, scientists joined the hunt for clues after a young boy from Moosup caught frogs with missing legs at Porter Pond in August 1997. This year since July 1, almost weekly sampling surveys at the pond have shown that between 10 percent and 30 percent of frogs caught by volunteer teams had deformities. A sampling usually entails catching at least 50 frogs for observation.

The nation-wide search for answers is a loosely co-ordinated scientific effort. Scientists at state and federal agencies, universities, conservation groups and even some individuals report their findings to the North American Reporting Centre for Amphibian Malformations. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U. S. Geological Survey maintain a Web site (www.npwrc.usgs.gov/narcam/index.htm) as a clearing-house for the information.

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WASHINGTON - Pesticides drifting eastward from Central Valley farms may be the culprit in declining Sierra Nevada frog populations, some scientists are coming to believe.

‘It's dramatic that these (problems) happen in areas of high agricultural use, ’ University of California researcher David Gardiner said Wednesday. ‘Certainly, the data is compelling that these are dramatic declines on the windward side of the Sierra Nevada. ‘

The links between pesticide drift and the Sierra Nevada’s amphibian decline, though not yet conclusive, have researchers and government officials alike scrambling. While scientists splash through Sierra ponds seeking evidence, Clinton administration officials are mobilising for a concerted research campaign.

Everywhere, it seems, endangered frogs are hopping into the spotlight. Members of the president's Cabinet are getting evening briefings on frog population declines. The National Science Foundation is funding an estimated 200 research grants probing amphibian biology. The Interior Department, owner of 22 million acres in California, wants to establish 3,000 frog-monitoring sites on federal land nation-wide.

And, inevitably, a new federal task force is arising to coordinate the 14 different agencies with a stake in frog futures. Their target is the cause of frogs' vulnerability to environmental insult, whether ultraviolet rays, predators, strange viruses or pollution.

‘These creatures, ’ Chicago Zoological Park Director George Rabb said Wednesday, ’may be the proverbial canary in the global coal mine. The problem is, we don't have another coal mine to go to. ‘

Though frog problems have been noted from Minnesota ponds to Costa Rican rain forests, some of the loudest hiccups come from California. Of roughly 30 amphibian species found in the state, at least one-third have suffered serious population declines.

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt first became alarmed while hiking in the Sierra Nevada two years ago, when he heard about precipitous declines in the mountain yellow-legged frog population once common along west-facing slopes.

‘There are areas of the Sierra Nevada mountains where hundreds of square miles are devoid of frog species that once lived there, ’ Interior Department scientist Gary Fellers said this week.

By studying frogs at 4,000 sites throughout California, Fellers has slowly developed a theory about their disappearance from western slopes at Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon national parks. The frogs, he's noticed, have primarily disappeared from the areas into which the west-to-east winds blow Valley pesticides.

‘In the last couple of years, it's become increasingly likely that contaminants were involved, ’ Fellers said. ‘It’s probably pesticides and herbicides, but we haven't got it narrowed down yet. ‘

This being science, however, there are other theories afoot. Ozone pollution blown into the Sierra Nevada is likewise considered a problem. Trout, air-dropped into Sierra lakes for the sake of anglers, can chase out amphibians. Some scientists wonder about parasites.

To find answers, the Interior Department is hoping to rally volunteers who will help monitor the agency's 3,000 sites. Theother federal agencies that together own an additional 23 million acres in California will also be asked to help monitor frog populations, and military satellites may be recruited to help spy on amphibian habitats.

By next year, the Interior Department may seek additional funds to further the frog work. ‘The problem now is, we don't have the support for scientists to do all this, ’ Interior Department spokeswoman Stephanie Hanna said.

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Government Asks ‘Frog Force’ To find Frog Killers Sept 22, 1998

WASHINGTON — The federal government, an environmental group and a children's television show joined forces Tuesday to recruit children to help find out what is killing the nation's frogs.

They set up an Internet web site devoted to the search and hope to commission thousands of schoolchildren as a nation-wide ‘frog force’ to try to save the disappearing amphibians.

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt said numerous studies show that frogs are dying in alarming numbers. Others are turning up with gross deformities.

‘The real questions are why now and why is this happening in so many places around the world?’ Babbitt told an audience at the kick-off of the new programme.

Baboon’s department is also part of the Task Force on Amphibian Decline and Deformities (TADD), which includes other agencies such as the Agriculture, Education and Health and Human Services Departments, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Science Foundation and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

‘When we consider that these creatures are hardy enough to have been on Earth for 350 million years, it is shocking to think that there could be a world without frogs. We must act quickly, first to understand the problems and then to try to solve them, ’ Babbitt said.

Frogs are considered a ‘sentinel species, ’ succumbing early to threats that may later affect humans. Because of their permeable skin and because they live both on the land and in the water, chemicals and pathogens can affect them easily.

The new Internet site, www. frog web. gov, is meant to be an interactive site. It gives information about frogs and invites users to enter details about dead or deformed amphibians they might see while out-of-doors.

‘Clearly, the government and scientific community can't solve this problem alone, ’ Mark van Putten, president of the National Wildlife Federation, which joined in the project, said in a statement.

‘Our goal in this partnership is to educate citizen naturalists about the plight of amphibians and equip them to help find the answers, ’ he added. ‘By unlocking this secret, we are looking out for ourselves and the whole living community that we're part of. ‘

Chris Kratt, who hosts the public television series ‘Kratt's Creatures,’ has also joined in the initiative.

Experts say frogs are dying off from Minnesota to Australia and Costa Rica. They say a fungus normally found in the soil seems to be involved, and theories blame a range of toxins, from chemicals known as retinoids, to heavy metals and ultraviolet radiation.

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ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH - NEWS - JULY 20, 1998

Second giraffe in six months dies at Kansas City Zoo

For the second Time in less than six months, a Masai giraffe has died of a mystery illness at the Kansas City Zoo. The 6 -year-old female, named Jeanerry, collapsed Wednesday' More than 100 visitors watched as officials tried to treat her below the boardwalk between the lion and rhino exhibits. Kirk Suedmeyer, zoo Veterinarian, said he does not yet know whether Jeanerry’s ailment was the same one that killed her mother, Damita, in January. Cause of that death was a mystery syndrorne that has afflicted 28 giraffes in North America in the Past 20 years. Zoo officials said they are not concerned about contagion spreading to other animals. Five other Masai giraffes remain at the zoo, including Tsavo, a male offspring of Jeanerry.

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NUREMBERG, Germany (Reuters) - A 27-year-old German man was found mauled to death by lions at a Nuremberg zoo Friday in what police described as an apparent suicide. Workers entering the zoo in the southern German city in the morning said they saw a male lion sitting on top of the mutilated corpse while three female lions sat near by. Police said the man, who bled to death from his wounds, had stripped down to his undershirt outside the cage, crossed a water divide and then climbed over a fence to get into the enclosure, leading them to conclude he committed suicide. There were no further details. ###

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U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Cormorant Killers

HADLEY, MA - The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, expressing revulsion at the senseless slaughter of more than 800 double-crested cormorants in New York's Lake Ontario, is offering to pay for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals responsible for ‘a brazen act of environmental terrorism. ‘

According to Cathleen Short, deputy regional director, the Service has entered into an aggressive joint law enforcement investigation with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to determine just what happened on Little Galloo Island, about 12 miles west of Waterdown, N. Y. , where the dead cormorants were found on Wednesday.

‘We are appalled at this horrible act, ’ said Short. ‘But we intend to bring the perpetrators to justice for violation of federal criminal law. To facilitate that , we are offering to pay for information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of those involved. ‘

To report information about the killing of cormorants on Little Galloo, contact one of the following:

Bob Garabedian, the Service's law enforcement special agent in Albany, at 518-431-4341, or New York's Department of Environmental Conservation at 315-785-2231, or place a confidential call to 1-800-TIPPDEC.

Both the Service and New York DEC have sent a number of the dead birds to laboratories for forensic investigation.

Short explained that federal jurisdiction comes under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal law designed to protect all migrating birds whether waterfowl, eagles or songbirds. Short said she was especially disgusted by the nature of the Little Galloo killings. ‘The slaughter of adult birds at their nesting sites is particularly inhumane, as they leave young birds that are still flightless and dependant on their parents for care, ’ Short said.

‘The Service is working with states and the U. S. Department of Agriculture to manage fish-eating birds when they cause damage to private property, ’ Short said. ‘Studies to date on Lake Ontario and elsewhere have not shown that cormorants are having a significant impact on sport fish populations. ‘

‘The ignorance displayed by this killing is truly sad, but I hope that this will heighten people's awareness and understanding of the role and value of all wildlife, ’ Short said.


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