Saturday, November 29, 2008

Number of Unwanted, Abandoned Horses Rising

Problems with the economy, drought, rising costs of hay and increases in the cost of euthanasia and carcass disposal are leading to a nationwide rise in the number of unwanted, neglected or abandoned horses.

With the help of equine associations, veterinarians, breeders, horse owners and related groups, the problem of unwanted horses is being studied through a nationwide initiative by the Unwanted Horse Coalition. Everyone with an interest in the welfare of horses is asked to take a survey at http://survey.ictgroup.com/uhcsurvey/.

The survey is phase I of the study. It will collect information from people most affected by and involved with the issue. This will help researchers learn more about the problem and possible solutions.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners says unwanted horse are "horses which are no longer wanted by their current owner because they are old, injured, sick, unmanageable, fail to meet their owner's expectations, or the owner can no longer afford or is incapable of caring for them."

By Allie Byrd
University of Georgia

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Ancient Lake Sturgeon No Longer History in Georgia

The once eliminated, prehistoric-looking lake sturgeon is making a return to Georgia’s waters. Decades have passed since these fish, described by some as “shark-like” and “weird,” inhabited their native waters in the Coosa River Basin and Etowah River. Thanks to recent stocking efforts, the species now has a chance to reestablish a population and one day thrive again in these Georgia rivers.

This fall, Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division biologists from Calhoun are stocking 5,000 sturgeon in the Etowah River above Lake Allatoona for the first time. Lake sturgeon stocking efforts began in 2002 in the river system below Allatoona, and the small population has since spread throughout most of the native Coosa River Basin habitat.

“We are hoping eventually to hear reports of lake sturgeon sightings as our stocking efforts begin in the Etowah River,” explains Wayne Probst, Wildlife Resources Division regional fisheries supervisor for northwest Georgia. “We also hope for an increase in sightings throughout the Coosa River Basin as annual stocking efforts continue. Restoring the presence of these prehistoric fish is an important ongoing project for the division.”

Lake sturgeon are long and slender fish with five rows of bony-like plates known as scutes. They are cartilaginous and have dorsal fins similar to a shark, and their toothless tubular mouths are topped with four wiry whiskers. They can live up to 150 years and can weigh 100 or more pounds. In Georgia, they are more likely to reach 40 or 50 pounds.

The 4-6 inch fish biologists will use for stocking came from fertilized eggs received from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The eggs were hatched and raised at Summerville Fish Hatchery in Summerville, Ga. – the only division-operated hatchery in the state currently producing lake sturgeon.

Another hatchery assisting in the restoration effort is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Warm Springs Regional Fisheries Center in Warm Springs, Ga. Hatchery staff assist the division by producing fingerling-size lake sturgeon and helping transport the eggs received from the Wisconsin DNR.

Monitoring studies indicate that stocking efforts in the river system below Allatoona are succeeding. However, because lake sturgeon are long-lived and have a low reproductive capacity, restoration efforts for the species can take decades, and the division anticipates conducting annual sturgeon stocking efforts for the next 15-25 years.

“It is our hope that in time, Georgia’s river systems once again will have a thriving, self-sufficient population of lake sturgeon,” explains Gary Beisser, Wildlife Resources Division biologist. “Successfully re-establishing the species for harvest is the ultimate goal, and anglers can help with this effort by immediately releasing any caught sturgeon and by reporting sightings or catches to a local Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries office.”

For now and during the next decade or two as the species recovers, it is illegal to harvest lake sturgeon. If a sturgeon is accidentally hooked, anglers are advised to immediately release the fish and report the catch details to the division.

The demise of lake sturgeon populations is not limited to Georgia alone. In fact, the species is listed as either threatened or endangered by 19 of the 20 states within its original national range. The construction of dams, pollution and overfishing are blamed for the loss in North America. Division biologists specifically suspect pollution and overfishing as main contributors to Georgia’s loss.

The species truly is an ancient family of fishes. Sturgeon have been recognized since the Upper Cretaceous period (136 million years ago), a time when dinosaurs were at the height of their development. Worldwide there are 29 species or subspecies of sturgeon – nine species exist in North America.

For more information on lake sturgeon or to locate the nearest Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries office, visit www.gofishgeorgia.com or call (770) 918-6406.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

As Consumers Put a Leash on Spending, Experts Caution Against Being 'Penny Wise and Pound Foolish' with Their Pets

/PRNewswire/ -- With economic pressures on the rise, consumers are looking for ways to tighten their belts while maintaining the best level of care they can for their pets. In the midst of the downturn, veterinarians around the country have observed a decline in visits and spending for recommended procedures.

Pet health and quality of life don't have to become economic casualties. Through a not-for-profit pet health resource - The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health - Merck and Merial, leading global pharmaceutical and animal health companies, are teaming up to educate pet owners about the power of preventive measures as the cornerstone of a sound financial strategy for pet care. The book is an easy-to-read version of the manual veterinarians have been using for years, and it might be one of the most thoughtful and practical gifts you can give to the pet lover in your life this holiday season.

"We have known for a long time that early detection of ailments and proactive health maintenance can extend a pet's life by years, but it can also help your pocketbook as well," said Scott Line, DVM, associate editor, The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health. "In the long run, it is dramatically cheaper to prevent health problems than it is to treat them, and consumers need to keep this in mind when seeking ways to reduce costs in their pet care budget."

Cut Costs Without Cutting Out What's Important: Top Tips From Dr. Line

Note: The following tips do not replace consultation with a licensed veterinary practitioner.

1. Be a Grooming DIYer: Grooming is an important part of maintaining your pet's health and condition, but it is a skill anyone can perform with practice. An added incentive for taking an active role in your pet's grooming is that you can identify problems early (e.g., bumps, lumps, changes in coat quality, etc.) that a groomer may not think to tell you about. Doing the grooming yourself can save as much as $400 to $1,000 per year, but to avoid a costly mistake be sure to use products, such as shampoos, that are designed for pets and not people.

2. Bulk Up: Resist the urge to buy pet food, heartworm and other preventatives in smaller quantities to cut immediate costs at the cash register. The reality is, as long as you're mindful of expiration dates, buying in bulk is generally cheaper.

3. Don't Wait to Vaccinate or Medicate: Making sure your pet is current on all recommended vaccinations will save you a bundle in the long run because you'll help ward off preventable diseases. Vaccinations such as one that prevents rabies, for example, are particularly critical and may save your animal's life. Similarly, routine medications such as heartworm preventives should be given every month. Skipping doses can be expensive, as treating heartworm costs as much as $800 - $1,000. In addition, treating the disease is risky and can be painful for your pet.

4. Spay and Save: For the average pet owner, spaying or neutering is a must. If you have a limited income, you may be able to save by taking advantage of low-cost clinics for these services. Keep in mind that spaying or neutering your pet can prevent the immediate expense of new pets in your family and the societal expense of unwanted pets being turned in to shelters. It also reduces the occurrence of some common diseases, such as breast cancer in pets.

5. An Ounce of Prevention: Prevent an unplanned, emergency vet visit this holiday by doing your part around the house. Many items that are a routine part of holiday celebrations could be toxic or harmful to your pet. Examples include:

-- Mistletoe and even poinsettia, while beautiful, are highly toxic to dogs and cats

-- Chocolate and macadamia nuts are toxic as well, and yeast-based bread dough can actually be fatal to your pet as it causes intestinal bloat

-- Tinsel, if swallowed by a curious kitten or puppy, might cause intestinal blockage

Consult The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health for more in-depth guidance.

6. Brush Up: Proper dental care is an often-neglected component of the pet health regimen. Regular use of an inexpensive toothbrush and toothpaste designed for pets can delay or avoid a professional cleaning costing several hundred dollars. You also can purchase pet food designed to help eliminate tartar.

Best-Selling Resource Helps Owners Navigate Pet Health Decisions

The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health will guide owners in taking a sensible, preventive approach to their pets' health. This trusted resource is based on The Merck Veterinary Manual, the best-selling reference used by veterinarians for more than 50 years. Authored by more than 200 veterinary experts and written in simple, layman's terms, The Manual for Pet Health is the most comprehensive guide to health care for all common pets. It provides accurate and trustworthy information about animal health and lets owners communicate more effectively with their veterinarian.

The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health can be purchased online at www.merckbooks.com for $15 and wherever books are sold.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Caught Laying an Egg

Nature is so breathtakingly wonderful. Check out the video of a gopher tortoise laying its eggs.

Sometimes it's just enough to sit and watch nature during its finest moments. No words necessary.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Georgia Aquarium Welcomes New 'Toothy" Sharks

See the video.

/PRNewswire/ — Georgia Aquarium announced today that new sand tiger sharks have been added into the Ocean Voyager gallery, built by The Home Depot.

The sharks were introduced into the 6.3 million gallon habitat alongside the whale sharks, manta ray and many other species. The new sharks range from five to more than eight feet in length and weigh between 56 and 237 pounds.

"In keeping with the spirit of our New Every Ninety Program, we are very excited to introduce the new sand tiger sharks at Georgia Aquarium," said Gregory Bossart, Senior Vice President and Chief Veterinary Officer at Georgia Aquarium. "Through teaching guests about these scary-looking, yet docile species, the Aquarium will create awareness about their declining numbers."

The sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) is listed as "vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List. The sand tiger shark is caught for human consumption, as well as for fishmeal and liver oil, and the fins are used for leather production. The species has the lowest reproductive rate among sharks, giving birth every two years to one or two pups after a gestation period of 9 to 12 months.

According to an independent Harris Poll, 17% of men and 13% of women said that sharks were their favorite aquatic animal. The Georgia Aquarium currently houses whale sharks, zebra sharks, black-tip reef sharks, tasseled wobbegongs, great hammerhead, bonnethead sharks, bamboo sharks, brown-banded bamboo sharks, white-spotted bamboo sharks, epaulette sharks, swell sharks, horn sharks and now sand tiger sharks.

The sand tiger sharks are a part of the Aquarium's New Every Ninety Program, designed to bring a new animal, exhibit or program to the Aquarium every quarter. In August, the Aquarium introduced the Titanic Aquatic exhibit, which has seen 50,000 visitors, as well as Nandi, the first manta ray in a U.S. Aquarium, to kick-off the New Every Ninety Program.


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Despite Storms, Georgia Sea Turtle Nest Counts Top Record

Cooler weather has come to Georgia’s coast and with it the close of a record-breaking nesting season for loggerhead sea turtles. Due to storm impacts, however, a nest success rate slightly lower than normal is expected for the federally threatened species.

The good news is that 1,646 loggerhead nests were counted on barrier island beaches this summer. Cumberland and Blackbeard islands recorded the highest number of nests at 336 and 261, respectively. The season total represents a record year in Georgia, breaking the previous mark of 1,504 nests set in 2003. Last year’s total dipped to 688, the third lowest since daily monitoring effort began in 1989.

Federal criteria require at least 2,000 nests a year for a 25-year period for the species to be considered recovered.

In August, Tropical Storm Fay swept through the waters off coastal Georgia, creating a tidal surge that inundated and washed away some nests. The lack of a direct hit on the barrier islands tempered the storm’s effect. However, loggerhead nests still felt the impact.

Researchers and volunteers reported that high tides from Fay damaged approximately 8 percent of the nests. Probably another 25 percent were inundated multiple times, which can affect nest success.

“Generally we have about a 70 percent success rate,” said Mark Dodd, a senior wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section. “We expect that this year it will be a little lower than normal. Luckily, approximately 50 percent of the nests had already hatched at the time of the storm, so we expect to still have a pretty good year for hatchling production.”

Final nest success numbers are tallied from multiple databases and will be released by early 2009.

Loggerheads, the most common sea turtle on Georgia’s coast, are state-listed as endangered. The nesting season runs from May through September.

Georgians can help conserve sea turtles and other animals not legally hunted, fished for or trapped, as well as native plants and habitats, through buying wildlife license plates that feature a bald eagle or a ruby-throated hummingbird. They can also donate to the Give Wildlife a Chance state income tax checkoff. Both programs are vital to the Nongame Conservation Section, which receives no state funds.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Volunteers With Ear, Heart For Frogs Sought For Survey

The frogs are calling. The question is, will Georgians who know what they’re hearing answer?

The second year of a calling frog survey in Georgia starts Jan. 15. There are 78 survey routes but only about 30 volunteers lined up to cover them. John Jensen, a senior wildlife biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources, needs some 50 more listeners who can decipher the croaks, trills and peeps of Georgia’s 31 frog species.

It’s not as hard as it sounds. “They’re a lot easier to learn than birds,” Jensen said, explaining that the season, place and call patterns trim the list of frogs that might be sounding off.

The effort is important. The North American Amphibian Monitoring Program survey developed by the U.S. Geological Survey is aimed at tracking regional and national trends in frog distribution and abundance. Given the sensitivity of amphibians to air and water quality changes, those trends can signal environmental problems and shape conservation priorities.

But in Georgia, baseline data is needed first. “You’ve got to know what you’ve got before you know where it’s going,” Jensen said. Which means more survey volunteers with an ear and even a heart for frogs.

Before being assigned one of the pre-set routes scattered across the state, participants must pass an online quiz testing their ability to audibly identify frog species. Helpful resources include http://www.ugapress.org/AmphibsandReptiles.html, which features recordings and photographs as a supplement to the new reference “Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia.” The DNR Wildlife Resources Division also has available the compact disk "Calls of the Wild – Vocalizations of Georgia's Frogs.” The “public” quiz at http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/frogquiz/ allows would-be monitors to test drive their skills.

Volunteers are asked to commit to the survey for at least three years, underscoring the need for consistency in citizen-science projects. Routes are run three nights a year, once each in three call periods: Jan. 15-Feb. 28, March 15-April 30 and May 15-June 30.

To sign up or find out more, contact Jensen at Wildlife Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section in Forsyth, (478) 994-1438 or john.jensen@gadnr.org. Details on the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program are available at http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/naamp/.

Copies of “Calls of the Wild” are $15.36 each, including sales tax and shipping. Mail a check payable to Wildlife Conservation Fund to GA DNR/WRD, Nongame Conservation Section, 116 Rum Creek Drive, Forsyth, GA 31029, ATTN: Frogs of Georgia CD.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kids and Pets: CDC Advice for Staying Healthy and Happy

CDC experts caution parents, pediatricians, and veterinarians to be aware of the risks that exotic animals and pets can pose to children. A study released in Pediatrics' October issue outlined the diseases that can be transmitted to children when they come in contact with reptiles, rodents, mammals, birds, amphibians, non-human primates and fish. Many families own non-traditional pets, and children may encounter animals at petting zoos, farms and pet stores. Parents are urged to talk to the family veterinarian or pediatrician to learn how to ensure that their child's experience with animals is both safe and enjoyable.

Diseases and injuries associated with non-traditional pets and wildlife:

Reptiles (e.g., turtles, lizards, snakes, etc.) Salmonella infection
Rodents (e.g., hamsters, rates, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs, squirrels, etc.) Salmonella infection, plague, rabies
Fish Mycobacterium, Aeromonas, Vibrio, Salmonella, and Streptococcus infections
Cattle E. coli infection
Goats Cryptosporidium and E. coli infections, rabies
Baby poultry (e.g., chicks, ducklings, etc.) Salmonella infection
Ferrets Bite injuries

Pediatricians, veterinarians and parents play an important role in preventing animal-related illness.

* Children should wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching animals.
* Parents should supervise handwashing for children younger than five years of age.
* Never touch wild animals or bring them home as pets.
* Always supervise children, especially those younger than five, during interaction with animals.
* Children should not be allowed to kiss animals or put their hands or other objects in their mouth after handling animals.
* Pediatricians and veterinarians should advise parents about appropriate pet selection and how to avoid animal-transmitted illnesses.
* Family pets should be kept in good health and vaccinated appropriately.

To read the full text of the article, including expanded lists of animals, diseases, and prevention advice, click here (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/122/4/876).
More information on this subject can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/.
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Save Pets from Stress During the Holiday Season

(ARA) - ‘Tis the season for holiday cheer with Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching quite near. End-of-the-year festivities may bring friends and families closer, but with all of the season’s hustle and bustle, many pets may become overwhelmed and confused or exhibit negative behaviors resulting from unfamiliar sounds, smells and visitors that surround them before the New Year.

“Holidays can be a hectic time for everyone, including the family pet, which is why it’s important to make sure pets receive the attention and care they need amidst this busy time of year,” says certified veterinary technician and dog trainer, Gayle DiMenna. “Providing consistency for your pet by maintaining the same feeding and exercise schedule will lessen your pet’s stress and confusion.”

“During the holidays we always have friends and family over, which is difficult for our dog who is very shy and tentative around strangers,” says Jill Diffendaffer, pet parent to beagle-dachshund mix, Gracie. “We’ve found over the past couple of years that by planning ahead for guests and setting aside some play time for Gracie, the holidays are much more enjoyable for everyone.”

To ensure your pets have a happy, safe and low stress holiday, take extra care for your pet and plan ahead with these simple solutions:

* Try to maintain your pet’s usual routine, including consistent feeding, play and exercise schedules.

* If possible, try to exercise your pet, especially dogs, before guests come over to help decrease any hyperactivity and stress.

* Consider leashing your dog before opening the door for visitors to ensure greater control over your pet and to prevent escapes.

* Dogs tend to pant more when they become stressed. Be sure to keep water readily available to prevent dehydration.

* Prepare a quiet place for your pet to use as a retreat when holiday activities and guests become overwhelming.

* Try a pheromone-based product, such as Comfort Zone with D.A.P. for dogs and Comfort Zone with Feliway for cats, which can calm and soothe pets having trouble coping with holiday stress.

* Never leave your pet alone with unfamiliar children, regardless of how well behaved your pet is, to avoid potential incidents.

* Make sure your pet wears his tags at all times in case he escapes from the house or yard.

* Do not let guests feed your pet food from their plates, which can be hazardous to your pet’s health. Instead, leave treats out for your guests to give to your favorite furry friends as a reward for good behavior.

Pet parents looking for additional tips and advice can visit www.petcomfortzone.com for more information.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Time for a Renaissance in Wildlife Protection

Statement by John Kostyack
Executive Director of Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming
National Wildlife Federation

“It is time for a renaissance in wildlife protection in America. For too long, our threatened and endangered species have been allowed to slip further toward extinction. We must rollback the rollbacks, mend the holes in the safety net, and restore to health the array of plants, fish and wildlife that define our nation’s natural heritage.

“In addition to repairing the damage done to laws meant to prevent extinctions, we must get ahead of the extinction curve. We need to address the climate crisis, restore scientific integrity to our agencies, and invest in a new era of conservation for wildlife and ecosystems.

“For the last eight years, the Endangered Species Act has been a target for attack. Funding has been slashed, protections have been denied, science has been ignored, and responsibilities have been avoided. There is no time to spare in getting our conservation priorities back on track.

“Safeguarding wildlife must be a top priority for both the Obama administration and the new Congress. We need to start recovering species, not simply slowing their extinction. We should protect entire ecosystems, encourage partnerships, and give wildlife agencies the resources they need to succeed. What’s good for wildlife ultimately is good for our communities that depend on healthy forests, rivers, wetlands and other natural systems.

“The elephant in the room must not be ignored any longer. Global warming is already having an impact on wildlife. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and partners must quickly develop projections of how the future climate will affect critical habitats and integrate those projections into conservation plans and on-the-ground decisions. We need to update policies to ensure that state and federal agencies incorporate global warming science into their habitat conservation and management decisions. We can no longer assume that the climate of tomorrow will be the same as the climate of today.”

The National Wildlife Federation is America's largest conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Preventative Medical Care Is Important For Dogs

(SPM Wire) Keeping your dog healthy means taking good care of him or her before problems arise, much as you should with human members of the family.

Good veterinary care for your dog includes preventative care, according to Dr. Susan Nelson, a veterinarian and assistant professor of clinical sciences at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

Nelson recommends that dog owners take their adult dogs to the veterinarian twice a year for checkups. Dogs in their senior years may need to be brought in for checkups more frequently. Puppies should be brought in for booster shots between six weeks and eight weeks of age, and then checkups every three to four weeks until they reach 16 to 18 weeks of age.

"Frequent wellness screenings play an important part in preventive care," Nelson said. "Big disasters can often be avoided if we can catch a disease early. Often we can make it less severe or even reverse it."

Some problems can't wait for the next checkup, though. There are symptoms and behaviors to look for in your dog that may mean a visit to the veterinarian is needed.

"Most people know the normal routine of their pet," Nelson said. "If you see them lying around more than normal, being more reclusive or they have a diminished appetite, there is probably something wrong. Other signs of possible illness include -- but are not limited to -- vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, limping, scratching, coughing, unusual odors, discharge from the eyes and new or growing lumps in and on the skin."

Nelson said some of the common dog ailments that she treats on a regular basis are eye and ear infections, allergies, skin infections, fleas and ticks, intestinal parasites, lameness, vomiting, and diarrhea. If your dog is exhibiting any of these ailments, it is important that you bring the dog to the veterinarian for treatment, she said.

Owners can do a few treatments at home to care for minor dog injuries, Nelson said.

For small skin abrasions, owners can trim the hair around the wound, wash it with a mild soap and then apply a triple antibiotic skin ointment. However, for more severe abrasions and lacerations, the dog needs to see the veterinarian, she said.

If your adult dog has diarrhea, owners can try giving them a bland diet for a few days, as long as the pet is acting normally and there is no blood in their stool. Nelson said a bland diet is not recommended for young puppies or very old dogs as they can quickly dehydrate and develop a more severe illness than an otherwise healthy adult dog.

For minor limping, you might be able to monitor the dog for 24 hours. If the condition worsens or does not improve, then a trip to your veterinarian is warranted.

Whenever an owner is unsure about their dog's condition, it never hurts to call your veterinarian and ask for advice. But while a veterinarian may be able to give some advice over the phone, do not expect a diagnosis.

When the time comes to bring your dog to the veterinarian, there are ways to make the visit more comfortable for the dog. For larger, more severely injured dogs, lie them down on a towel or blanket and carry them inside. For smaller injured dogs, use a box or pet carrier for transport.

"If dogs are in extreme pain, owners need to be careful handling them because they might bite," Nelson said. "Even the best dogs who have never bitten before might bite when they are in pain. Sometimes it is best to put a muzzle on them if there are no breathing difficulties."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Eyes on Birds, Project FeederWatch Season is Now

Thousands of bird watchers in Georgia and across the nation will be keeping a close eye on their feeders this winter as part of Project FeederWatch. The 22nd season for this popular citizen-science project runs from Saturday, Nov. 8, through April 3.

FeederWatch participants help scientists monitor changes in bird populations by tracking birds at their feeders during the 21 weeks. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources encourages Georgians to join in, contributing to the science, conservation and enjoyment of North American feeder birds.

Todd Schneider, a wildlife biologist with the DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division, said a major benefit is that the effort spurs people’s interest in wildlife, in general. “It also tends to get them more interested in watching birds,” Schneider said.

Participants in the joint Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada project submitted more than 115,000 checklists during the 2007-2008 season, documenting unusual bird sightings, winter movements and shifting ranges, according to FeederWatch. Project leader David Bonter said in a statement that “being a FeederWatcher is easy and fun, and at the same time helps generate the world’s largest database on feeder-bird populations.”

Project FeederWatch surveys birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas and other sites. Participants periodically count the highest numbers of each species they see at their feeders for the period. The data help scientists track broad-scale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.

Watchers also benefit. More than 100 studies have shown that getting closer to nature reduces stress and promotes a feeling of well being, according to a Project FeederWatch news release.

Highlights from the most recent season include the largest southward movement of red-breasted nuthatches in the project’s history, part of an expected influx of northern birds flying farther south when their food supplies run short, according to FeederWatch. Among rare birds reported was a streak-backed oriole in Loveland, Col. – the state’s first report of this Mexico native – and a dovekie deposited by a December nor’easter in Newton, Mass., the first time this North Atlantic seabird has been recorded in Project FeederWatch.

Long-term data show some species increasing in number, such as the lesser goldfinch in the Southwest, and others declining, including the evening grosbeak throughout its range, an unexplained phenomenon, according to the organization.

The project is conducted by individuals and groups of all skill levels. While the season recently opened, participants are encouraged to join any time.

To learn more or sign up, visit www.feederwatch.org or call the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at (800) 843-2473. The fee is $15 ($12 for lab members). Participants receive the “FeederWatcher’s Handbook,” an identification poster of the most common feeder birds in their area, a calendar, instructions and the FeederWatch annual report, “Winter Bird Highlights.”

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Terrapin Project Reveals Strong Numbers, Cautious Outlook

On most summer mornings the last two years, a small boat motored into the Georgia marsh with researchers, nets and high hopes on board. In small tidal creeks, the researchers spent hours in the murky water, dragging seines and struggling through the soft mud. Often their work was rewarded with catches of small, colorful turtles – diamondback terrapins.

Now, University of Georgia graduate student Andrew Grosse is analyzing data from more than 1,500 turtles recorded in the State Wildlife Grant project aimed at assessing Georgia’s diamondback terrapin populations, the first such study. Early indications are that the species is abundant.

“Habitat loss due to increased urbanization is a leading cause of decline for this species, and Georgia has one of the most undeveloped coastlines within the range of the diamondback terrapin, so that’s good news for these turtles,” said Grosse, leader of the joint UGA and Georgia Department of Natural Resources project.

Mark Dodd, a senior wildlife biologist with the DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division, sees the project as “the beginning of a long-term monitoring program designed to assess the status of diamondback terrapins and the health of Georgia’s estuaries.”

Terrapins are the only North American turtle species that spend their lives in estuary or salt marsh habitat – the area between the mainland and barrier islands. Found along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts, they are an indicator species for the habitat and the ecosystem because they are at the top of the food chain.

Grosse said many people don’t even know the turtles are in Georgia. “Everyone, from tourists just visiting for the weekend to permanent residents, should first realize that there are turtles that live on the coast other than sea turtles, and that we all can potentially have both positive and negative impacts on this species.”

One negative is traffic: Many female terrapins are run over crossing roads to reach egg-laying sites. More than 300 turtles were killed on roadways last year. The study looked specifically at impacts from commercial crabbing and road-related mortality.

Grosse's team tracked the number of turtles caught and re-caught to estimate the population for each location. Researchers also recorded the weight, length, sex and age of each terrapin – they can live as long as 20 years. The analysis covered 26 randomly picked sites in creeks and other waterways along the Georgia coast, ensuring an accurate representation of the turtle’s habitat range. Each site was surveyed five times.

The study addressed two primary questions: How many terrapins are there in Georgia and what impact are people and development having on them? State Wildlife Grant projects focus on species in relation to their role within a habitat or ecosystem.

Diamondback terrapins were once harvested for food all along the eastern coast of the U.S. The Cloister on Sea Island was known for its terrapin soup. Turtles were heavily collected from the Hampton River area, with the terrapin industry peaking after the Civil War.

Harvesting the turtles for food has since gone out of style and is illegal under state law. Mortality is now more likely attributed to collisions on roads or entrapment in commercial crab pots.

But even though the project’s preliminary results point to abundant terrapin numbers, considering the outlook, Grosse urged awareness of these unique turtles.

“I would like people to realize that although this species may seem abundant in Georgia, it is in decline in many of the other regions throughout its range. As the Georgia coast continues to be developed, it is inevitable that diamondback terrapins … will be exposed to increased habitat loss and urbanization in the near future.”

Georgians who buy a wildlife license plate featuring a bald eagle or a ruby-throated hummingbird help conserve diamondback terrapins and other nongame wildlife, native plants and natural habitats. The license plate sales are vital to the Wildlife Resources Division’s Nongame Conservation Section. The section receives no state funds for its mission to help conserve wildlife not legally hunted, fished for or trapped, as well as rare plants and natural habitats in Georgia.

The plates are available for a one-time $25 fee at county tag offices, by checking the wildlife license plate box on mail-in registrations and through online renewals (http://mvd.dor.ga.gov/tags).

Visit www.georgiawildlife.com for more information, or call Nongame Conservation offices in Social Circle (770-761-3035), Forsyth (478-994-1438) or Brunswick (912-264-7218).

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Your Pet May Be Missing You

(NAPSI)-Veterinarians want dog owners to know that changes in routines and extended owner absences can sometimes bring on unwanted behavior. If your dog has soiled your new carpet, attacked the door molding or shredded your favorite pair of shoes, he could be suffering from canine separation anxiety. Fortunately, he can be helped.

Canine separation anxiety is an underdiagnosed and undertreated condition in which animals become so upset by their owner's departure that they resort to what is considered bad behavior to cope with the situation. It is estimated that separation anxiety may affect up to 10.7 million dogs, or 17 percent (Lilly Market Research) of all dogs in the U.S.

"Separation anxiety is triggered by the owner's absence," according to Barbara Sherman, DVM, a noted veterinary behaviorist at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. "It usually occurs when the owner leaves or immediately after. Because dogs are historically pack animals, the dog views the family as its pack and experiences distress when separated from that family." That stress leads to problem behaviors, including:

• Excessive barking, whining, howling;

• Destruction, chewing, clawing or digging;

• Urinary or bowel accidents indoors;

• Depression/inactivity;

• Constant pacing, circling;

• Excessive licking, drooling.

Separation anxiety is a treatable condition. Most veterinarians choose to use a combination of medication and behavior modification training. Medications have been introduced recently to help ease the pain of separation anxiety for dogs and their owners.

If your busy schedule leaves your dog home alone and triggers bad behavior, talk to your veterinarian about canine separation anxiety, diagnosis and treatment.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Zoo Atlanta's Lion Cubs are Named

Zoo Atlanta recently announced that after four months of being referred to by the descriptive names Small, Medium and Large, the three male African lion cubs have been officially
named Christos, Mikalos and Athanaisi.

The cubs were named through a generous donation from Zoo Atlanta Board of Directors member Merry Carlos and her husband Chris. The Carlos family is of Greek descent, and all three names are family names: Christos (translates to Chris); Mikalos (translates to Michael), named for Mr. Carlos’ father; and Athanaisi (translates to Thomas), named for his grandfather.

“We’re ecstatic and grateful for the generous donation from the Carlos family. This is another proud momentfor all of Atlanta. We are also excited about the entire pride living together, and mom Kiki, dad Kamau and cubs are doing great,” said Dennis Kelly, Zoo Atlanta President and CEO.

The African lion is classified as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species because of declining populations in the wild. Zoo Atlanta’s cubs are nearly 19 weeks old. The largest cub (Christos) is 23.5 kg, the middle cub (Mikalos) is 21.5 kg, and the smallest cub (Athanaisi) is 20.5 kg.

Kiki, mother, is one of three adult African lions at Zoo Atlanta. She was born on February 3, 2004, at Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens. She arrived at Zoo Atlanta in December of 2005. Kamau was born on September 2, 2004. He came to Zoo Atlanta from the Denver Zoological Garden in October of 2005.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Voting Now Open to Name Zoo Atlanta's Giant Panda Cub

Atlantans who did their civic duty on Election Day now have a second ballot to cast. Voting to name Zoo Atlanta’s new giant panda cub officially opened on Monday, November 3 on
zooatlanta.org. The only giant panda born in the U.S. in 2008, the 2-month-old cub had already garnered more than 2,400 ballots in the first day of voting.

Twelve final names represent the Zoo Atlanta family and extended family, with contenders from Zoo staff; Zoo Members; the Zoo Atlanta Board of Directors; Zoo Atlanta’s MySpace.com community; the residents of Chengdu, China; and five local media outlets:

Xiao Laoxiong “Little buddy” Giant panda keepers
Xiao Nan “Little man” Zoo Atlanta Staff
Hua Sheng “Peanut” Zoo Atlanta Members
Xi Lan “Atlanta’s joy” Zoo Atlanta Board of Directors
Wei Sheng “Greatness is born” Zoo Atlanta MySpace Community
Shu Shu “Kind and gentle” B98.5 FM
Wei Li “Large and strong” 92.9 Dave FM
Ling Li “Alert and quick” VIVA 105.7 FM
Shen Shi Lan “Atlanta’s gentleman” Star 94 FM
Li Lan “Atlanta’s strength” V103 FM
Fu Mei “Handsome and happy boy” Chengdu, China
Mei Chuan “Handsome Sichuan boy” Chengdu, China

Giant panda fans may vote online on zooatlanta.org or cast a ballot in person at the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center at Zoo Atlanta. Voting ends at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, December 3. The cub’s name will be unveiled during the cub’s 100 Day Naming Celebration on December 8.

The individual or organization responsible for submitting the winning name announced on December 8 wins a private reception for 50 at Zoo Atlanta and an exclusive viewing of the cub, who is expected to make his public debut in January 2009. Images, video and live PandaCam peeks at the new arrival are available on zooatlanta.org.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ga. Tech Facilitates Virtual Aquarium Visit at SC08

AAG Note: A virtual interaction with the Georgia Aquarium? Cool.

The Georgia Institute of Technology will command a significant presence at next week’s SC08, the international conference on high-performance computing, networking, storage and analysis scheduled for Nov. 15-21, 2008, at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

Georgia Tech will co-chair a workshop, participate in panel discussions, present technical papers and host 16 booth presentations and video interviews on emerging high-performance computing projects and application areas. A highlight of Tech’s interactive booth display will be a virtual field trip to the Georgia Aquarium. Utilizing a high bandwidth (1Gbps) channel connecting the Aquarium to the SC08 show floor, visitors to the Georgia Tech booth will be able to interact with researchers, fish and other marine creatures live.

“At Georgia Tech, we believe a strong and expansive high-performance computing research community drives the bigger scientific discoveries and better engineering capabilities at the heart of human progress,” said Dr. Mark Allen, senior vice provost for Research and Innovation at Georgia Tech. “Through this premier industry event, researchers, academics and industry professionals have the opportunity to discuss and demonstrate new innovations and breakthroughs in high-impact areas such as biomedicine, nanoscience, astrophysics and exascale computing.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Georgia Aquarium to Introduce New "Toothy" Sharks

Sand Tiger Sharks to Debut by Thanksgiving

Georgia Aquarium is excited to announce the arrival of six new sand tiger sharks. The sharks are currently located at the Aquarium’s offsite quarantine facility and will be introduced into the Ocean Voyager gallery built by The Home Depot before Thanksgiving.

The three male and three female sharks will go into the 6.3 million gallon habitat alongside the whale sharks and manta ray. The new sharks range from five to more than eight feet in length and weigh between 56 and 237 pounds.

“These sharks are big and display a mouthful of sharp teeth, so we know that they will become a new guest favorite,” said Mike Leven, CEO of Georgia Aquarium. “Even though they are scary looking to some, we are excited to introduce them to our guests as the docile species they are, and spread the word on their declining numbers due to overfishing.”

The sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) is listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. The sand tiger shark is caught for human consumption, as well as for fishmeal and liver oil, and the fins are used for leather production. The species has the lowest reproductive rate among sharks, giving birth every two years to one or two pups after a gestation period of 9 to 12 months.

According to an independent Harris Poll, 17% of men and 13% of women said that sharks were their favorite aquatic animal. The Georgia Aquarium currently houses whale sharks, zebra sharks, black-tip reef sharks, tasseled wobbegongs, great hammerhead, bonnethead sharks, bamboo sharks, brown-banded bamboo sharks, white-spotted bamboo sharks, epaulette sharks, swell sharks, horn sharks and now sand tiger sharks.

The sand tiger sharks are a part of the Aquarium’s New Every Ninety Program, designed to bring a new animal, exhibit or program to the Aquarium every quarter. In August, the Aquarium introduced the Titanic Aquatic exhibit, which has seen 50,000 visitors, as well as Nandi, the first manta ray in a U.S. Aquarium, to kick-off the New Every Ninety Program.
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Monday, November 10, 2008

AVMA's Top Ten List on Holiday Pet Health

PRNewswire/ -- Dr. James Cook, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), says he has a very unhappy holiday tradition -- treating pets that have become sick due to holiday excesses.

"From Thanksgiving through Christmas and into New Years, we'll see it every year at my practice, and, unfortunately, some of them can't be saved," Dr. Cook explains. "People want to involve their pets in the holiday celebrations, but people need to focus on keeping their pets healthy. That's the best gift."

Here are the AVMA's top ten holiday health tips:

-- Keep table scraps out of your pet's diet. "Salty, spicy and greasy" can be deadly for pets, Dr. Cook explains. Fatty foods can cause a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis in dogs, and bones can splinter in an animal's stomach. And make sure your dog can't get leftovers from the trash.

-- Chocolate should be out of reach of dogs because it's poisonous. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous -- with baker's chocolate being the most deadly.

-- Avoid sweets. A study reported in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2006 linked xylitol -- a common sweetener in baked goods, candy and chewing gum-with liver failure and death in dogs.

-- Give your pet healthy holiday snacks. Recipes are available on the Internet or visit a pet store/bakery. Ask your veterinarian about healthy treats.

-- Anchor your holiday tree. It's a temptation for pets, and, if it topples, it can cause severe injuries. And keep pets away from the tree water as tree preservatives and sap can cause gastrointestinal problems.

-- Never leave a pet alone with a lit candle or exposed flame, and be wary of exposed extension cords.

-- Don't let pets dine on holiday plants. Poinsettia, holly, cedar, balsam, pine and mistletoe are poisonous.

-- Be careful about ornaments. Cats sometimes consume tinsel and other small decorations, which can block intestines.

-- Don't go off to a holiday party and leave your pet with access to table scraps or anything that might be dangerous. If your dog gets sick while you're away ... it could be a tragic holiday.

-- Finally, don't give a pet as a holiday gift. Giving up a poorly-selected, new pet in January is heartbreaking.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Roll Over, Rover: Lady And Bear Are The Most Popular Names For Dogs

(NAPSI)-Forget Fido. The most popular male and female dogs' names in America are Lady and Bear.

And it all has to do with a dog's place in the family.

A survey of 2007 American Kennel Club (AKC) registration statistics showed that, in addition to Lady and Bear, Belle/Bell/Bella, Princess, Mae/May, Blue, Max/ Maximus/Maxwell, Rose, Daisy and Duke round out the top-10 dog names.

"It's not that choosing Bear means dog owners were more prescient about the stock market crash than Wall Street was," says AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. "It's that in the past, names based on a puppy's physical appearance or personality, such as Spot or Sassy, were popular. But as more people consider their dogs to be members of their family, we're seeing human names like Jack and Molly, and names that reflect a pet's stature in the home, like King."

So what name should you give your own dog? These AKC tips could help you decide:

• Short, easily recognizable names work best when it comes to getting a dog to be responsive. Consider a name such as Sadie or Rocky that's one or two syllables and ends in a vowel.

• Avoid names that sound like commands. For instance, Joe sounds like "Go" when it's called out.

• Pick a name that works regardless of age. Fuzzie may be a great name for a puppy, but not a good fit for an older dog.

• If you plan to name your dog after a friend or family member, get his or her permission first.

• Take a few days to test out the name you're considering for your dog to be sure it suits him.

• After you decide on a name for your dog, use it as often as possible to help him more quickly learn to respond to it.

• Don't raise your voice every time you call your dog's name. Instead, try to use his name in positive, playful settings as much as possible.

For more ideas and information, or a complete list of popular dog names, visit www.akc.org.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Giving An Adoptable Dog A Home

AAG Note: The staff of the Fayette Front Page encourage Fayette County residents to check out the local shelters for some really great pets. Our staff have adopted dogs from Georgia Heartland Humane Society and the Henry County Humane Society. It's a hard life for our staff member dogs to be loved so much.

(NAPSI)-If you are thinking of adding a pet to your family, adopting a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization may offer a number of benefits.

For instance, these dogs often bond quickly with new owners and can have fewer needs than a young puppy. Plus, you can often find perfectly good adult pets that have matured to the point where they aren't rambunctious or demanding for activity.

Many shelter and rescue dogs are already house-trained and may only need some reminders and a few days to adjust to a new routine.

Very often, these dogs already know some basic commands taught in their first home or by shelter volunteers.

When you adopt an older dog from a shelter, the dog should be current with all shots, already "fixed" and heartworm negative at the very least. Some shelters include microchip identification with every animal.

Shelters do extensive evaluating of both their dogs and their applicants to be sure that both dog and family will be happy with each other.

If you are thinking of adopting a shelter dog, here are some tips:

• You might want to plan on making at least a couple trips to the shelter so you can observe the pets before picking one to take home.

• Look for a dog with a good temperament who is friendly and gentle around children. Watch the dog's response to signal words, such as "Easy" or "Gentle," or commands that force him to calm down, such as "Sit."

• Get a good collar and leash with identification tags and get him involved with friends' or neighbors' dogs. Socialize him with different types of people and make sure he will accept being around children.

Once you have decided on a particular dog and tested how he reacts to your family, find out why the dog is up for adoption. Ask the shelter specific questions, such as:

• Is the dog healthy now?

• Any known or suspected health problems?

• Has he been checked for worms?

• What parasite treatment/prevention program is the dog on?

• Has he been exposed to any diseases?

• Any limping or other indications of bone or joint problems?

Although shelter dogs have been under the care of a veterinarian, you'll want to make an appointment with your regular veterinarian as soon as possible after bringing your new pet home. Your veterinarian can thoroughly examine your dog for any underlying medical conditions and prescribe a parasite prevention product to keep him healthy.

To learn more, visit www.growingupwithpets.com.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

World's Smoothest Riding Horse Comes to Jacksonville, FL, Nov. 7-9

/PRNewswire/ -- You can actually feel it before you see it because the ground almost trembles. Then, a moment later you can hear it. It is a rhythm unlike any you have ever heard. And when you finally see it, you get it. It is excitement and it is back. Today is a new day in the Paso world. It is the opportunity for all of us to remember why we were drawn to these magnificent equine athletes from the moment we first saw them. It is the opportunity to honor and celebrate the heritage of the breed. It is the opportunity to share the passion and emotion when the winner emerges above the rest.

It's the World's Smoothest Horse, and they are coming to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center (13611 Normandy Blvd, Jacksonville, FL) this weekend (November 7-9, 2008). Come experience a ride on the World's Smoothest Horse at the IPHF U.S. National Championships.

The International Paso Horse Federation (IPHF) is hosting the first-ever U.S. National Championships, and is inviting the public and the press to come out and experience the Paso Horse. Over 375 of the best horses in the country will be competing for the top honors of the breed during this three-day event.

The International Paso Horse Federation will be sponsoring a Ride a Paso Fino event during the show, and it will give anyone who would like to experience the World's Smoothest Ride an opportunity to ride one of these amazing horses. Come on out to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center this weekend, and experience the ride for yourself.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Black Bear Conservation Efforts Have Strong Support from Public

A new survey by the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources shows that Middle Georgia residents overwhelmingly support efforts to conserve black bears in their part of the state.

The results are a good indicator of how the public will react to efforts to manage the black bear population in four Middle Georgia counties, said Craig Miller, the assistant professor at the Warnell School who led a survey of 4,000 residents in Bleckley, Houston, Pulaski and Twiggs counties.

The survey will be used by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources as it develops a management program for black bears. A separate, similar study for the entire state of Florida was conducted, as well, and the final report is pending, Miller said.

Miller said researchers did not anticipate the answers they received. “We were surprised at the high level of support from people in both Georgia and Florida for black bears and black bear conservation,” he said.

Residents in other southern states have expressed more negative views of the animals, Miller said. “One thing we found in further analysis is that when people saw bears and had contact with bears, they had more support for black bear conservation,” he explained.

Miller and Warnell graduate student Joshua Agee conducted the survey over several months this year. Of the 4,000 surveys mailed to residents in those four counties, 1,227 sent back usable results. Findings include:

Sixty-one percent of the respondents support releasing black bears into a sustainable habitat currently void of bears.
Twenty-one percent had seen a black bear in their county between February 2007 and February 2008, with most of those sightings from the animal crossing the road.
Eight percent of respondents had received information about black bears, suggesting that residents have little knowledge about the animals. Researchers found in the study that the high awareness of black bears coupled with a lack of information shows the need for improving educational materials to the public.
More than half the respondents—60 percent—were not concerned about any property damage bears might cause, although 69 percent said they would want a bear trapped and relocated if it tried to enter their homes.
Most of the respondents—82 percent—said seeing wildlife during their daily routine is a positive experience.
According to Miller, bears are located in three distinct areas of Georgia: North Georgia, generally north of Interstate-85; those four counties in Middle Georgia; and in South Georgia around the lower part of the Flint River near the Florida border. Bear populations across the Eastern U.S. are up overall, Miller said. But that means that they are now showing up in areas from which they have been absent for decades, including urban areas.

That’s why it’s important to educate the public about bears and their behaviors, according to Miller. Miller also said “black bears are easily frightened. Slamming doors will easily scare them away from yards. People just shouldn’t feed them because they can get habituated. Changing human behavior is the easiest way to deal with problem bears.”

Bobby Bond, a senior wildlife biologist with the DNR, said his agency is waiting for results from other Warnell studies before devising a management strategy to be overseen by Michael Conroy, adjunct wildlife professor. The two-part research, conducted by two graduate students, involved putting radio collars on bears to track them and their habitats. The second part involved estimating the population size.

Bond said before the DNR can implement any management plan, it was important to not only learn about public perception of black bears, but also how many there are and whether they are a nuisance.

“This Middle Georgia bear population is the one that’s gone under the radar a bit,” Bond said. “The one in North Georgia has been managed, and the one in South Georgia has been managed.”

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Monday, November 3, 2008

The HSUS Launches 'End Dogfighting in Atlanta' Modeled After Successful Chicago Program

The Humane Society of the United States launched End Dogfighting in Atlanta, a program modeled after the successful End Dogfighting in Chicago pilot program. End Dogfighting in Atlanta will strike the core of urban dogfighting by using proven preventative methods such as youth anti-violence intervention, dog training classes, community outreach, humane education and law enforcement partnerships. As part of the program's community outreach component, a contingent of Atlanta religious leaders marked the occasion by denouncing the violence of dogfighting and signing a pledge to help combat the crime.

"Today is a good day for the innocent dogs and communities that are affected by the cruelty of dogfighting," said Tio Hardiman, special consultant to The Humane Society of the United States' national End Dogfighting campaign. "End Dogfighting in Atlanta is being launched at a time in which anti-dogfighting intervention is most needed in the city."

End Dogfighting in Atlanta will use the following innovative and proven community outreach methods to change attitudes and actions:

Anti-Dogfighting Advocates — The HSUS hires young men with roots in the community to combat dogfighting on a grassroots level. In neighborhoods most impacted by this crime, they mediate with men and boys at risk of getting involved in dogfighting, and intervene in dogfights.

Pit Bull Training Team — The HSUS holds free and accessible weekly pit bull training classes, which provide inspiring alternatives to dogfighting that showcase pit bulls as friends, not fighters.

Community Outreach — The HSUS holds events in the community to promote its anti-dogfighting message and develop trust in the community. Examples include vaccination clinics, dog house giveaways, rallies and religious leader outreach.

Law Enforcement Partnership — To fully eradicate street dogfighting, law enforcement officers need to know what to look for. In the Atlanta metro area, The HSUS has partnered with the DeKalb County Animal Control, offering them training on catching dogfighting and providing a reward of up to $5,000 for tips leading to convictions.

Humane Education — The HSUS developed a special eight-week curriculum for middle school children. This curriculum tackles the topic of dogfighting through games and hands-on activities.

Dogfighting B-roll and high-resolution images are available at video.hsus.org.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Goat's Milk Is Going To The Dogs

(NAPSI)-It doesn't matter whether you're a human or a dog, fresh goat's milk is good for you. So good, in fact, that one company has launched a line of all-natural goat's milk products for dogs of all ages-from puppies to seniors. The initial launch includes four dog-grooming and treat products.

For bath time, there's goat's milk shampoo with an appealing blue cedar fragrance. Marketed as Goat's Milk Shampoo and Goat's Milk Shampoo Bar, it includes the gentle moisturizing properties of goat's milk to clean dry coats and soothe sensitive itchy skin.

After standing still for a bath, every dog deserves a treat. Treats that include goat's milk protein concentrate and goat's milk mineral whey are designed for optimal nutrition and easy digestion.

The products, called Nature's Dog by Canus, are easily absorbed, gentle to digest and nonirritating to sensitive skin. To learn more, visit canusgoatsmilk.com. To purchase, go to walgreens.com.

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Additional Steps Needed to Avoid Deer Collisions on the Road

Most drivers know the basic strategies to avoid or at least reduce the chances of a collision – slow down; leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle ahead of you; look for eye shine at the edges of the road ahead; where there is one animal, expect others. But The Humane Society of the United States would like to remind drivers that there are additional steps that can be taken to make our roads safer for people and all wild animals.

"This country lags behind many nations in our regard for the need to protect both wildlife and drivers from collisions on the road," said Susan Hagood, wildlife issues specialist at The HSUS. "There are many relatively simple, cost-effective countermeasures to this serious issue."

As reliably as the turning of the leaves, each fall also is accompanied by public warnings about the dangers of driving in deer country, for fall combines both deer mating and hunting seasons, and deer are on the move more now than at any other time of year. There are also more vehicles on the road after dark as daylight savings time ends, with many driven at speeds at or above the speed limit.

The most obvious solution is fencing – but fencing alone confines wild animals in habitat patches that may not meet all of their needs, and can lead to problems like inbreeding. Fences are effective in protecting both highway users and wildlife only if they function to guide animals to overpasses, underpasses, or other structures that provide them safe passage over or under the road. Such fencing/passage systems can be expensive, but their cost is minor when compared to the total cost of highway construction or improvement projects.

Fencing/passage systems are a means of both saving invaluable human lives and contributing to health of wildlife populations, including the recovery of endangered species, such as the Florida panther and California's desert tortoise. Florida, Arizona, Washington State and Montana are leading the effort in the U.S. to reduce wildlife collisions with fencing/passage systems. Though their use in this country is just beginning, other collision avoidance systems rely on sophisticated infrared technologies that detect the presence of a large animal in the roadside and illuminate warning signs.

We must increasingly employ these and other strategies to reduce wildlife/vehicle collisions, but there will never be enough wildlife passages and collision avoidance systems to replace drivers who are aware of wildlife and willing to modify their driving in the interest of their own safety and that of wild animals. Therefore, it will always be important, in the fall and throughout the year, to drive with wildlife in mind.

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