Saturday, June 27, 2009

Georgia Urban Deer Management Plan Complete

Georgia is fortunate to have a healthy white-tailed deer population that provides diverse recreational opportunities and generates significant economic vitality. For example, deer hunting in Georgia has an annual economic impact of greater than $600 million, supports more than 8,000 jobs and generates about $50 million in state and local taxes, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division. Properly managing this resource is critical.

Management of Georgia’s deer population is achieved primarily through regulated hunting. In fact, regulated hunting has successfully reduced the estimated statewide deer population from a high of 1.4 million deer in the 1990s to the current statewide estimate of 1 million deer. Despite this successful reduction, areas of overabundance exist in urban and suburban settings. Rapid human population growth and development has limited the efficacy of hunting in these areas, resulting in a variety of management challenges.

“The Urban Deer Plan resulted from a collaborative partnership that sought to identify barriers for addressing these challenges and developing specific strategies to facilitate the management of deer in urban and suburban areas,” says John Bowers, Assistant Chief of the Division’s Game Management Section.

DNR pooled the expertise of stakeholders in an 18-member Urban Deer Advisory Committee. This joint venture was tasked with developing an Urban Deer Plan for the Department to use as a guiding document. The Committee did just that.

The Plan recommends that regulated hunting be used as the primary method to manage deer in urban/suburban areas. This is not surprising as recent surveys indicate that Georgians overwhelmingly support the use of regulated hunting to manage deer populations. Additionally, regulated hunting is cost efficient and effective whereas other alternatives are expensive and ineffective. Nevertheless, the Plan acknowledged the need for integrated approaches and included recommendations for alternatives to hunting (e.g., habitat modification, exclusion, et al.). Options such as predator reintroduction, contraception, and others are not recommended, as they are neither feasible nor suitable for Georgia.

Several barriers, which may interfere with effective management of deer in urban areas, also are identified in the Plan. These include hunter access to undeveloped, wooded areas and greenspace; local ordinances; public perceptions; and landowner liability concerns. The Plan provides several recommendations to facilitate management of deer in urban and suburban areas that will require cooperation among state and local governments, citizens, and private organization.

“The Wildlife Resources Division looks forward to developing collaborative partnerships that result in successful management of deer in urban settings to meet the needs of our citizens while ensuring a sustainable resource,” says Bowers.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pew Will Push Shark Conservation at World Fisheries Meeting; New Report Indicates Half of Oceanic Shark and Ray Species Are Threatened With Extinction

/PRNewswire/ -- The Pew Environment Group today called for stronger shark conservation measures worldwide as a new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies 35 out of 64 known pelagic shark and related ray species around the world as threatened or near threatened with extinction.

The IUCN report was released just days before a joint meeting of the world's fishery managers in San Sebastian, Spain. The regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs), which mostly focus on managing tuna fisheries, agreed at their first joint meeting two years ago that the problem of declining shark populations urgently needed to be addressed. To date, however, none have set limits on the number of sharks that can be caught in their jurisdictions.

"Up to 70 million sharks are killed around the world every year for the shark fin market, virtually all of which are caught in areas where there is no management regime in place to ensure their sustainability," said Joshua Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group. "This is a staggering number. Unless this situation is soon reversed, large numbers of shark species will disappear altogether."

The shark fin trade is a driving force in the overfishing of sharks. Shark fins are highly valued for use in the Asian delicacy shark fin soup. Often, shark meat is worth much less and takes up more cargo space. As a result, the practice of shark finning has evolved: the shark is brought on board a fishing vessel, the fins are sliced off, and the body is dumped back into the ocean.

According to the IUCN report, overfishing is the primary reason why a number of sharks in U.S. waters are threatened, including two species of thresher sharks, basking sharks, great whites, shortfin and longfin makos, porbeagles, oceanic whitetip sharks, dusky sharks, sandbar sharks, and three species of hammerheads.

At the San Sebastian meeting of the world's fisheries managers, Pew is joining other conservation groups in calling for precautionary, science-based management plans for sharks, starting with the immediate adoption of binding measures to:

-- Prohibit retention of particularly vulnerable and/or depleted shark
species taken in tuna fisheries, including hammerheads, threshers,
porbeagles and oceanic whitetips;
-- Establish catch limits that significantly reduce fishing pressure on
globally vulnerable shortfin mako sharks;
-- Cap catches of near-threatened blue and silky sharks until safe catch
levels are determined;
-- Close off areas of high shark concentration to commercial fishing; and
-- Prohibit removal of shark fins at sea.


To improve enforcement of the U.S. finning ban and enhance understanding of dwindling shark populations, the Pew Environment Group supports the Shark Conservation Act of 2009 (S. 850/H.R. 81), introduced by Senator John Kerry (D-MA). The legislation, which passed the House unanimously in March, would require that all sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached, eliminate loopholes and strengthen enforcement in the current U.S. shark-finning law and promote the conservation of sharks internationally.

The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-governmental organization that applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improving public policy, informing the public and stimulating civic life.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wet n’ Wildlife: Pool Safety for Animals

Backyard swimming pools are synonymous with summer fun, but not for everyone. Swimming pools can be deadly for pets and wildlife.

According to the most recent statistics, there are more than 8 million swimming pools in the U.S., and an estimated 1 of every 1,027 pets drown in pools each year. Yet, this tragic figure doesn't account for the tens of thousands of wild animals that suffer the same fate.

"We hear about pool drownings through our wildlife hotline," says Laura Simon, field director for The HSUS' urban wildlife program, "and it is tragic, because these events are preventable." All types of animals, from skunks to mice, ducks, fledgling birds, lizards, chipmunks, frogs and snakes can find themselves in a pool with no lifeline or firm footing. Especially at risk are the wild animal babies who are curious and fall in.

The Humane Society of the United States recommends a few simple pool precautions that can help you dramatically lower the risk of pets and wildlife drowning in pools:

Don't leave your pets unsupervised in a yard with a pool.
When building a pool, design lounge ledges along the sides. These are usually just below the water's surface and allow animals shallow areas from which to drink and an easy escape route from the water.
Install a fence around the pool to keep out animals such as dogs.
Install one or more water-exit devices such as the Skamper-Ramp (skamper-ramp.com/home.asp?pid=1) or Frog Log (froglog.us). Both are buoyant devices that are placed in the water along the pool's edge and allow animals to get out on their own. Because of their white color they are highly visible to animals.
Disperse knotted nylon ropes at strategic locations along the sides. Make sure the knot is at the water's surface so the animal can more easily climb out. (This technique only works for climbing animals such as raccoons, mice and squirrels).

The HSUS Wild Neighbors Program promotes non-lethal means for resolving conflicts between people and wildlife and cultivates understanding and appreciation for wild animals commonly found in cities and towns. The program's book, Wild Neighbors: The Humane Approach to Living with Wildlife (December 2007, Humane Society Press) is a useful reference for individuals and communities faced with resolving encounters with wild animals who find their way into yards, gardens, houses, parks and playgrounds.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer pet protection from heat and fireworks

(ARA) - With summer upon us, warmer weather beckons everyone outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. When family and friends gather for backyard barbecues and outings in the park, it is natural to want to include the pets. It is wise, though, to consider the health and safety of pets before taking them out into the heat for prolonged periods.

Pets cannot tolerate heat the same way as people. One big reason is that dogs don't sweat, thereby lacking a natural way to cool down. To help ensure your pets don't suffer from the heat, veterinarian Tracy Chase-Thompson, department chair of the veterinary technology program at Brown Mackie College in Michigan City, Ind., offers advice. "Heat exhaustion is one of the big things that can occur," she says. "It happens more with dogs than cats, but it can occur with both."

Heat exhaustion is a dangerous condition in animals that occurs due to lack of protection from hot weather and humidity. "It doesn't take much time for heat exhaustion to develop," says Chase-Thompson. "A dog can overheat in a hot vehicle in just 10 minutes." Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy panting, drooling and labored breathing. "Gum color is another indicator. If gums appear red instead of pink, that's a sign of an animal in distress."

If it happens, Chase-Thompson recommends moving the animal to a cool spot immediately. "Give the dog water to drink, and wipe a cool washcloth over the fur. Don't just dump water over the animal. It helps to place the paws in cool water as well," she says. She does not recommend an ice bath. "If an animal cools too quickly, it can go into shock."

Normal body temperature for a dog is between 101 F and 102 F. "A temperature higher than 105 F signals heat exhaustion," says Chase-Thompson. In this case, the dog would require veterinarian care with IV fluids for hydration, and close monitoring of body temperature.

Pet owners can take a number of precautions to prevent heat stress and exhaustion in pets. If your dog will spend any amount of time outside, Chase-Thompson advises providing a shelter so that the dog can access shade at all times, and walking your dog before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. when sunlight and humidity are less powerful. "It is safer to leave your pet at home on hot or humid days rather than in the car, even with the windows cracked. If you must take your pet, park in the shade, open the window, and don't leave for more than 10 minutes," she adds.

Another concern among pet owners is how to protect a pet that is afraid of the noise from fireworks and thunderstorms. "Some pets have a fear of noise at a young age. Others are fine when they're young, yet become bothered by loud sounds as they grow older," says Chase-Thompson. "It's impossible to make the noise go away, but there are ways to minimize or disguise the noise.

"If you leave the dog alone, it could help to leave music playing. Turn on the radio or TV, or even a loud fan or air conditioner," she advises. "If the animal's reaction is really bad, I recommend staying with your pet to provide reassurance. There are anti-anxiety medications that a veterinarian can prescribe." Chase-Thompson advises discussing with your veterinarian whether your pet is a good candidate. "Medications can help, but they don't always work. It is important to lessen your pet's fear with other types of comfort," she says.

Try to give your pet a safe place where they won't hurt themselves. And forget about reprimanding behavior that results from fear of loud noises. "They can't simply change," Chase-Thompson says. "Some pets like an item of the owner's for comfort, like a T-shirt or old shoe." A little knowledge can go a long way in protecting your pet from the pitfalls that summer brings.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

International group to discuss tracking monarch butterfly populations

An international panel of butterfly experts is landing at the University of Georgia next week to discuss the status of monarch butterfly populations in North America, and find ways to integrate and improve population monitoring programs.

The four-day workshop hopes to merge data from a number of groups monitoring the monarch butterfly in an ongoing effort to track the continent-wide population status of this iconic insect.

The meeting is being organized by Andy Davis, a monarch researcher and Ph.D. candidate in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, and Sonia Altizer, who also studies monarchs and is an associate professor in the Odum School of Ecology. The workshop is being funded by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, which has been spearheading efforts to devise an international conservation plan for the monarch butterfly in part by fostering communication between the governments of the United States, Mexico and Canada.

There are many organizations in North America that collect data on the monarch butterfly, said Davis. The purpose of next week’s meeting, he explained, is to create a plan for integrating existing data, some of which spans the last three decades, into a larger framework. A unified data resource will allow scientists to better track monarch population size and investigate the biology of this fascinating insect, according to Davis.

“The monarch butterfly is one of the best-known insects in the world, and a flagship species for conservation,” he said. “Their spectacular migration in eastern North America—which spans more than 2,000 miles—is in danger, partially because of a loss of winter habitat in Mexico, as well as anthropogenic pressures in breeding areas. While the species itself is globally-distributed, there’s a fear that the monarch butterfly in North America will suffer population declines because of these dual pressures.”

The all-day meetings are scheduled from June 22 through June 25. Meeting space and resources are being provided by the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the Odum School of Ecology. About a dozen international butterfly experts are scheduled to attend the meetings, including Eduardo Rendon of WWF Mexico, Tara Crewe of Bird Studies Canada and Karen Oberhauser of the University of Minnesota. Warnell Professor Nate Nibbelink and Odum School postdoctoral student Becky Bartel also are on the panel.

“There have been several international meetings and reports targeted towards monarch conservation, but nothing quite like this before,” said Altizer. “To have all of the experts who collect long-term data on monarch abundance and migration in one room will be a big step forward in helping us predict the future status of monarch populations.”

“Improving access to monitoring data on the monarch will improve how we target research and conservation efforts for this species, and contribute to improving how we access and manage biodiversity data more broadly in North America,” said Thomas Hammond, who is with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. “Improving access and use of biodiversity data will also assist in advancing our understanding of ecosystem response to stresses such as climate change, and how best to adapt to these stresses.”

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Cutting Pets' Stress Naturally

(NAPSI)-The sounds of fireworks may remind us of celebrations, but for many pets, the explosions, along with thunderstorms and other common warm weather sounds, can be a significant source of anxiety.

Animals show stress in different ways. Dogs, for instance, might howl, run in circles or simply become lethargic. In rare instances, a stressed animal may even become aggressive.

Dr. Margo Roman, DVM, says pet owners can treat their animal's anxiety-whether it's caused by loud noises, separation, new surroundings, vet visits or other factors-naturally with Rescue Remedy Pet.

Rescue Remedy is a blend of five flower remedies formulated more than 70 years ago. Now available, alcohol-free Rescue Remedy Pet is suitable for all kinds of pets including reptiles, fish (add to water), birds, cats, dogs, horses and rabbits.

The remedy is available in dropper format, helping to make it easier to administer. You can find it at Whole Foods and anywhere natural products are sold and at www.rescueremedy.com/pets.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Zoo Atlanta Launches Campaign to Keep Giant Pandas in Atlanta

Zoo officials announced the launch of Give So They Stay, a major fundraising effort to keep giant pandas in Atlanta. President & CEO Dennis Kelly made the announcement this morning from inside an empty giant panda habitat in the Zoo’s Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center.

“Giant pandas have been an important part of Zoo Atlanta’s collection and a source of Atlanta pride for 10 years, and we are a national leader in the care and study of this species,” said Kelly. “Without significant support from our community, our giant panda family will have to return to China in the near future.”

Zoo Atlanta is one of only four zoos in the U.S. currently housing the critically endangered species, of which fewer than 1,600 are believed to remain in the wild. The Zoo’s adult giant pandas, Lun Lun and Yang Yang, arrived from China in November 1999 on a 10-year loan, achieving instant celebrity as two of Atlanta’s most recognized animal stars. The pair’s offspring, Mei Lan, 2, and Xi Lan, 9 months, were the only giant panda cubs born in the U.S. in 2006 and 2008.

The Give So They Stay campaign is focused on ensuring that Lun Lun, Yang Yang and Xi Lan continue to have a home in Atlanta, where they have become beloved by thousands of friends and fans around the world. Mei Lan, who turns 3 on September 6, has already been recommended to return China, where she will be a new and important contributor to the global captive population of giant pandas.

Friends of Zoo Atlanta’s giant pandas are encouraged to visit a new campaign website, www.givesotheystay.org, for program information, support vehicles and answers to frequently asked questions. The Give So They Stay effort will continue through December 31, 2009.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Online Database Helps Track Nesting Sea Turtles

Nesting numbers are rising and residents and sea turtle enthusiasts alike are anxious to know which of Georgia’s barrier islands will be in the lead this year. A new online database will now make this friendly competition simpler to follow.

The database housed at Seaturtle.org tracks nests in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Visitors to the site can see the number of nests by location as well as other information including nest losses and false crawls, where a female turtle comes ashore and then leaves without nesting. Information is updated in real-time as members of Georgia’s Sea Turtle Cooperative enter their findings.

2008 marked the 20th anniversary of the cooperative, a milestone for sea turtle conservation. Coordinated by the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the group of volunteers, researchers and biologists from various agencies monitor turtle nesting activities on Georgia beaches. The new database will make it easier for the cooperators to share their information.

“The new database management system is exciting because it allows us to monitor sea turtle nesting in real-time and make more timely management decisions,” said Mark Dodd, Senior wildlife biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, Nongame Conservation Section and Sea Turtle Coordinator. “ In addition, it allows cooperators who are often isolated on barrier islands to see what is happening on nearby beaches.”

Sea turtle nesting data is crucial in monitoring populations, formulating protective regulations, making management decisions, and maximizing reproduction for recovery.

To view the new database visit: http://www.seaturtle.org/nestdb/index.shtml?view=3&t=1243875719

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Does your housecat need a behavioral housecall? Help is here

(ARA) – Cats have earned the title of America’s favorite pet in part because they outnumber dogs in households across the country, but it could also be because their quirky personalities make life interesting.

More often than not, you’ll find that your cat’s entertaining antics leave you wondering, “What could she possibly be thinking?” You may never have all the answers, but one of the keys to living a more connected life with your cat starts with understanding.

“Cats can come across as complex because they can’t verbalize what they are feeling,” says Dr. Katrina Warren, host of “Housecat Housecall” presented by Purina Cat Chow. “That’s why it’s up to us to decode what’s going on in their minds, so we have a better idea of what they are trying to tell us through their actions.”

If you find yourself in a feline quandary, you’re not alone. Plenty of cat lovers – and there are at least 82 million housecats in the U.S., according to the American Veterinary Association – are looking for ways to bring harmony into their cat-owning households. Hence the success of shows like “Housecat Housecall,” a reality-based program featuring real cats, real people and real answers, returning to Animal Planet for its second season.

“Sometimes cats act out in response to changes happening in their homes that alter their daily routine,” Dr. Warren says. “Life-changing experiences like having a new baby or moving into a new home can have a huge impact on cat owners, but they can also mean big adjustments for their cats. The goal is to achieve a well-balanced life for both you and your cat, and sometimes that means getting advice from a professional.”

On the show, which airs Saturdays and Sundays, Dr. Warren and her team of cat experts equip cat owners with the tools and knowledge they need to work towards a lasting solution that ensures both the cat and owner are getting the most out of the life they share. Dr. Warren provides answers to some common cat care questions:

Preparing Your Cat for the Arrival of a New Baby

* Make changes to the cat’s routine in advance. If you are no longer going to allow your cat to enter certain rooms or sleep on your bed, start making those changes now.

* Allow your cat to smell the new smells associated with the baby such as powder and wipes well in advance.

* Make sure flea and worm control is up to date. A check up by your vet is a good idea while you have the time. Trim claws in advance of baby arriving.

* Obtain a recording of a baby crying and play this regularly at home so puss gets used to the new sounds prior to the arrival of the real thing.

Managing a Multi-cat Household

Cats generally prefer independent living, but not necessarily solitary living. Owners should respect the living arrangements that the cats establish and not force interactions.
It’s essential to supply each cat with her own “resources”, which include a feeding area, bowl, bed and scratching post. Have one litter box for each cat, plus one extra in the house.
Make sure you provide areas to climb, toys for play and safe places to hide or sit such as tunnels or high perches.

Find the time to give each cat some individual love and attention each day.

Keeping Cats Happy Indoors

Cats are much safer living indoors. They are not exposed to the dangers of infectious diseases, predators or motor vehicles. Most cats are happy indoors, but you must create an enriched environment.

* Provide a climbing tower and at least one scratching post. Cats love rooms with a view and a few high spots to survey their domains.

* Give them lots of cat toys – furry ones, colored ones, jingly ones and rolling ones as well as tunnels and boxes to play in.

* Bring the outdoors indoors with a pot of “cat grass” available at most nurseries.

Finally, Dr. Warren advises, look for help when tackling situations with your cat. Consult your veterinarian, talk to friends and gather information. Tune in to “Housecat Housecall” presented by Purina Cat Chow, to watch Dr. Warren and her team visit homes across the country helping cat owners address everything from a boisterous cat with lots of energy to more complex matters like helping a once outdoor cat adjust to an indoor lifestyle. The show airs on Animal Planet Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. EDT/PDT and 8 a.m. EDT/PDT on Sundays, starting June 6. For credible advice beyond the show, visit housecathousecall.com where you can pose your individual feline questions to a team of cat care specialists and view all of the webisodes from season one.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Georgia Tech Study Reveals How Snakes Slither on Flat Terrain

Snakes use both friction generated by their scales and redistribution of their weight to slither along flat surfaces, researchers at New York University (NYU) and the Georgia Institute of Technology have found. Their findings, which appear in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, run counter to previous studies that have shown snakes move by pushing laterally against rocks and branches.

“We found that snakes’ belly scales are oriented so that snakes resist sliding toward their tails and flanks,” said the paper’s lead author, David Hu, a former postdoctoral researcher at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and now an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. “These scales give the snakes a preferred direction of motion, which makes snake movement a lot like that of wheels, cross-country skis, or ice skates. In all these examples, sliding forwards takes less work than does sliding sideways.”

The study’s other co-authors were Jasmine Nirody and Terri Scott, both undergraduate researchers at NYU, and Michael Shelley, a professor of mathematics and neural science and the Lilian and George Lyttle Professor of Applied Mathematics at Courant.

The study centered on the frictional anisotropy—or resistance to sliding in certain directions—of a snake’s belly scales. While previous investigators had suggested that the frictional anisotropy of these scales might play a role in locomotion over flat surfaces, the details of this process had not been understood.

To explore this matter, the researchers first developed a theoretical model of a snake’s movement. The model determined the speed of a snake’s center of mass as a function of the speed and size of its body waves, taking into account the laws of friction and the scales’ frictional anisotropy. The model suggested that a snake’s motion arises by the interaction of surface friction and its internal body forces.

To confirm movement as predicted by the model, the researchers then measured the sliding resistance of snake scales and monitored the movement of snakes through a series of experiments on flat and inclined surfaces. They employed video and time-lapse photography to gauge their movements.

The results showed a close relationship between what the model predicted and the snakes’ actual movements. The theoretical predictions of the model were generally consistent with the snakes’ actual body speeds on both flat and inclined surfaces.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Top 10 Summer Pet Health Tips

(SPM Wire) It's time for your pets to enjoy summer fun with the family. But be sure to keep them safe from the pet perils that come with the season's heat, humidity, travel, fleas and ticks.

To help you enjoy the summer together, here are some helpful tips from PetMD.org, the 3-D digital magazine dedicated to pet health care:

* Water: keep it in multiple locations for your pet. Water bowls can turn over easily, get dirt in them or grow bacteria and your pet can be left without cool, fresh, clean water. When you travel (or hike), take water with you for your pet.

* Do not leave your pet in the car. It takes only a few minutes for the auto to get hot -- even with cracked windows. It also is against the law in many states.

* Know your pet's heat tolerance. Heat and humidity along with age, health, obesity and type of breed or type of pet factor into heat tolerance. Dogs and cats -- whose normal body temperature is between 100 and 102.5 -- don't do well in heat, especially if they get dehydrated. Cats sweat through their paws and will lick themselves to cool down, become inactive, as well as seek cool places; however, above 85 or 90 degrees they can get stressed. Dogs do not lose heat as fast as humans, so heat can become a health risk quickly.

* Throw away uneaten pet food. Bacteria grow faster when it is hot, so uneaten pet food should be thrown out. More frequent, smaller portions may be appropriate during the summer.

* Know what is toxic to your pet. Plants, household items and foods such as chocolate, onions, coffee, nicotine, alcoholic beverages, poultry bones, fatty foods and grapes/raisins can be harmful.

* Keep Pet ID and contact info on your pet. Pets are more active in the summer, chase other animals, can be with you traveling in an unfamiliar place -- and end up lost. The pet's name and your phone number (cell is usually the fastest way to reach you) on its collar can be a lifesaver.

* Check your pet for fleas, ticks, mites. Check and groom your pet daily (cats, dogs) to assure that they do not have fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm (from mosquitoes), bites, or other infections or rashes from being outdoors.

* Groom your pet daily. Grooming your pet daily in the summer will help it stay cooler, provide inspection for health problems and reduce hairballs in cats.

* Keep fish tanks away from sunlight. The temperature of fish is directly affected by water temperature. If the sun heats the water, it can harm fish.

* Walk pets in the early morning or evening. Try to walk or exercise your pet in the morning or early evening when it is cooler.

For more pet health tips, visit www.petmd.org.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Making Life Easier For Your Senior Pet

(NAPSI)-Arthritis can make it difficult for cats and dogs to get around, but there are many steps you can take to help ease your pet's suffering.

Here are a few tips to help you make life more comfortable for your pet:

• Keep your pet moving. Regular exercise is an important part in preventing arthritis flare-ups-whether it means taking your dog for regular short walks or giving your cat a toy to encourage play. Light exercise lubricates the joints.

• Watch their weight. Don't overfeed your pets or allow them to eat too many scraps as extra weight raises their chances of developing arthritis. Extra weight can strain a pet's joints and eventually cause cartilage to degenerate.

• Keep them comfortable. Arthritis can get worse if the pet sleeps in an awkward position, so make sure your senior pet has a comfortable bed to sleep in; an orthopedic bed, if possible. Some orthopedic beds even deliver heat to soothe affected joints.

• Make adjustments to their environment. For example, think about where you place a pet's food bowl. Raising the food bowl can reduce neck strain. A pet with advanced arthritis might find steps difficult. A ramp or special pet steps may help.

• Supplement their diet. You can also make your pet more comfortable by giving him a supplement such as Cosequin DS. The scientifically researched nutritional supplement is dispensed by thousands of veterinarians to help cats and dogs maintain healthy joints. It's the only over-the-counter supplement to help prevent and treat joint conditions that can be used on both cats and dogs.

Early action is best as the supplement works gradually and it may take a while to see results. If you notice limping, stiffness or a change in gait, ask your veterinarian to examine your pet and advise you on supplement use.

Your veterinarian may also suggest using the supplement as a protective measure to prevent arthritis from developing or flaring up.

For more information, visit Entirelypets.com.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Never Buy Your Best Friend Online

If Lisa Mullins knew more about puppy mills, she never would have purchased her English Bulldog online. Mullins didn't know she was purchasing a sick puppy bred at a puppy mill when she bought her bulldog, Otis, from Bulldog Ravine. The Internet seller promised registration papers, "champion" bloodlines, and a health guarantee.

It wasn't until after Otis became seriously ill that Lisa learned that Bulldog Ravine was actually a Pennsylvania puppy importer accused of selling unhealthy bulldogs from overseas puppy mills. Sadly, after suffering from many health issues that cost his family thousands of dollars in vet bills, Otis died at only 8 months of age.

If you buy a dog over the Internet, at a pet store or through a newspaper ad, your new pooch may very well be from a puppy mill—an abusive mass-production facility that churns out puppies under inhumane conditions.

Puppy mill producers often have slick, professional websites that convincingly advertise their puppies as "home raised" or "family raised". These claims are often false. A reputable breeder will never sell dogs through the Internet or other outlets that would not allow them to personally meet and interview prospective buyers.

The HSUS believes that Bulldog Ravine owner Brenda Moncrieff, like many Internet puppy sellers, has operated businesses under several names and used different Web sites to sell puppies, possibly including: B&E English Bulldogs, Heavenly French Bulldogs, APlusBulldogs.com, MNMBulldogs.com and GreenacresBulldogs.com. Mullins and dozens of other heartbroken Bulldog Ravine customers have contacted The Humane Society of the United States for help.

"Most of the puppy mills that The HSUS has raided in recent months have been Internet sellers that posed online as small reputable breeders," said Stephanie Shain, senior director of The HSUS' puppy mills campaign. "The HSUS encourages anyone who has purchased a Bulldog from Bulldog Ravine or one of these other online businesses to contact us as soon as possible."

If you are ready to share your home with a new pet and have the time, space and dedication to provide a lifetime of care and companionship, visit your local animal shelter. One in every four dogs in U.S. animal shelters is a purebred. Most dogs in shelters are there due to "people" reasons, such as cost, lack of time, lifestyle changes (new baby, divorce, moving, or marriage), or allergies, not because of something the dog has done.

Some shelters will keep a waiting list for people seeking a particular breed or species. In addition, private rescue groups exist for almost every breed of dog, as well as other kinds of pets. If you choose to buy your pet from a breeder instead, always visit the breeder's facility in person and see how and where all the dogs are living. Never buy a puppy without personally visiting where the puppies and their parents are raised and housed.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Georgia Aquarium Announces New Specialty License Plate

Launching online contest for guests and public to choose plate design

Georgia Aquarium announces a special interest license plate featuring dolphins approved by the Georgia Department of Revenue for immediate sale. The plate is offered in anticipation of opening the new dolphin expansion at the Aquarium in November 2010. Proceeds from the new plate will support the Aquarium’s efforts in conservation and animal research.

Beginning June 4, Georgia Aquarium will host a contest for guests and Web site visitors to choose from one of four possible designs in consideration for the new plate. Voters can visit www.georgiaaquarium.org to vote for their favorite. Voters are automatically entered to win one of three prizes. Three winners will be drawn, at random, from all contest entries collected.

The grand prize winner will receive a two night stay at Hammock Beach Resort, airfare for two provided by AirTran Airways and a trip to Marineland located in St. Augustine, Florida. The Marineland visit will include a day of dolphin programs and encounters. In addition, winners will participate in a guided behind-the-scenes tour of the facility by a dolphin trainer.

The second place winner will receive four tickets to swim or dive at the Georgia Aquarium through the Journey with Gentle Giants program. A third prize winner will receive four Annual Passes to the Georgia Aquarium along with four tickets for a Behind the Scenes Tour.

The contest will wrap June 22 and the final plate design will be announced shortly afterward during the Aquarium’s 10 millionth guest celebration.

Contest begins Thursday, June 4, 2009

Plates are available for purchase at www.georgiaaquarium.org or by phone at 404-581-4000 beginning June 4 for a $25 manufacturing fee.

Participants may place their votes by filling out an official contest ballot located throughout the Aquarium or by visiting online at www.georgiaaquarium.org/supportus/aquariumtag.aspx.
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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

FDA: First Drug to Treat Cancer in Dogs Approved

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced the approval of Palladia (toceranib phosphate), the first drug developed specifically for the treatment of cancer in dogs.

Palladia is approved to treat canine cutaneous (skin-based) mast cell tumors, a type of cancer responsible for about 1 out of 5 cases of canine skin tumors. The drug is approved to treat the tumors with or without regional lymph node involvement.

All cancer drugs now used in veterinary medicine originally were developed for use in humans and are not approved for use in animals. Cancer treatments used in animals are used in an “extra-label” manner as allowed by the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act of 1994.

"This cancer drug approval for dogs is an important step forward for veterinary medicine," said Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine. "Prior to this approval, veterinarians had to rely on human oncology drugs, without knowledge of how safe or effective they would be for dogs. Today's approval offers dog owners, in consultation with their veterinarian, an option for treatment of their dog's cancer."

While canine mast cell tumors often appear small and insignificant, they can be a very serious form of cancer in dogs. Some mast cell tumors are easily removed without the development of any further problems, while others can lead to life threatening disease.

Palladia is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor and works in two ways: by killing tumor cells and by cutting off the blood supply to the tumor. In a clinical trial, Palladia showed a statistically significant difference in tumor shrinkage when compared with an inactive substance (placebo).

The most common side effects associated with Palladia are diarrhea, decrease or loss of appetite, lameness, weight loss, and blood in the stool.

Palladia is manufactured by Pfizer Animal Health Inc., New York City.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Barring People, for the Sake of Rare Bats

If you build it, they won’t come. People, that is.

That’s the motive behind an extreme conservation method that will hopefully bring a maternity colony of federally endangered gray bats back to a northwest Georgia cave.

The site outside Ringgold on Chickamauga Creek has been used by Native Americans, early settlers, wildlife and now vandals. The most recent set of visitors has meant trouble for the sensitive bats. The cave, marked with spray paint and littered with beer bottles, has become a popular local hangout for trespassers. Frequent bon fires set at the cave’s mouth have sent smoke into the deeper reaches, disturbing the sensitive bats and possibly causing females to abandon the site.

The cave is Georgia’s only known maternity colony of gray bats (Myotis grisescens).

Enter the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which awarded a “partners” grant that made it possible for the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division to build the gate at the cave entrance, working with the landowner, who requested help. While considered a conservation method of last resort, the gate will bar people from entering the Catoosa County cave and disturbing the bats. The cave is not a site cavers commonly use.

“Generally we prefer to use signs or fence a cave, but this location was just too accessible for these to be of much use,” said project leader Trina Morris, a wildlife biologist with the division’s Nongame Conservation Section.

Before construction began, approximately 10,000 pounds – some 5 tons – of steel was wheeled down a steep four-wheel-drive trail of rocks and ruts to an embankment. It was then hauled by hand and pulley up the hill to the mouth of the cave. The work required extensive coordination and hundreds of volunteer hours of physical labor.

Overlooking the creek, the cave opening yawns 39½ feet wide and reaches as high as 8 feet.

Every gate is different, determined by the unique features of each cave. Kristin Bobo knows. Trained and certified by Bat Conservation International, a Texas-based organization dedicated to conserving bats and their ecosystems, Bobo has traveled around the country building cave gates for nine years. Newcomer Jason Collard helped her on this project.

The steel hauled to the mouth of the cave was quickly and expertly cut and welded into place by the team. After one section was finished, movement caught the eye of one of the workers. A small bat had flown through the bars and into the cave. Although not a gray bat, it was a hopeful sign the cave will once again become home for more of these furry fliers.

Bobo and the team of volunteers, many of them Wildlife Resources Division staff, finished the gate by mid-May. Morris will soon do checks to see if gray bats roosting elsewhere have returned, signaling that what was once a vibrant maternity colony is a possibility again, this time protected by bars of steel.

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Another First for the Season on Tybee

Tybee records first turtle nest of season

by Mary Landers

After dark on Saturday, a loggerhead sea turtle crawled out of the surf, dug her nest, and laid 140 eggs right next to a bright red Coke can on Tybee Island's Eighth Street beach. It was the first sea turtle nest recorded on the island this season. Volunteer Danny Carpenter found the nest while patrolling the beach Sunday morning.....http://savannahnow.com/node/732161


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Monday, June 1, 2009

Web Site Offers First Complete Look at Georgia's Freshwater Fishes

This is no fish tale: A new Georgia Museum of Natural History Web site offers the most complete look at Georgia fishes, what they are and where they’re found.

“There has never been anything this comprehensive,” said Brett Albanese, a senior aquatic zoologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Fishes of Georgia is the work of Albanese, Museum of Natural History Director Bud Freeman and Carrie Straight, a research professional with the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology. The Web site at http://fishesofgeorgia.uga.edu/ went online in March. Behind the lists, photographs and distribution maps are thousands of hours spent studying records, sampling streams and inspecting fish preserved in jars.

Results include a Fishes of Georgia Atlas database that features more than 159,000 fish records from 19,028 collections, and an easy-to-use Web site that documents the state’s deep lineup of freshwater fish. A 1997 publication reported 219 native freshwater fishes for Georgia. Through the atlas project, that total now stands at 265, placing Georgia among the top three U.S. states for freshwater fish diversity.

Environmental consultants, city planners, conservationists and elementary school teachers are all expected to use the site. Species are listed by scientific and common names. Maps show where each fish lives by basin. (Drainage systems often have different fishes.) A tab allows viewers to submit new records.

There are surprises. Twenty-one species listed have not been formally described – or recognized as new species – although many such as the sicklefin redhorse are well known to ichthyologists like Freeman and Albanese. These fish illustrate what is called cryptic, or hidden, diversity.

Factors contributing to a fish species being undiscovered vary, Freeman said. “They may be in hard to sample places. They may look exactly the same, at first glance. They may be different only genetically.”

Anglers who log in will find more bass than expected. The site lists Bartram’s bass, an undescribed species in the Savannah River basin, and splits redeye bass into a species in the Chattahoochee and Flint River basins and another in the Ocmulgee, Oconee and Ogeechee basins, based on research Freeman spearheaded.

The number of state or federally protected fish – 57 – will raise eyebrows. And at least six species are no longer found in Georgia. Conserving the remaining fishes will require watershed-level measures such as protecting streamside forests, preserving natural areas, and managing better the run-off from urban and rural land uses.

The hope is that Fishes of Georgia informs and educates. Straight modeled the site after the museum’s Georgia Wildlife Web, a popular guide to wildlife. She also avoided flashy features that bank on faster Internet connections. “We tried to accommodate as broad a spectrum of users as we could,” Straight said.

She is still adding maps and photographs. Plans include new search functions. Scientists’ comments also will likely change the information, which includes common coastal fishes and 23 non-native species.

The project was funded by the museum, which is part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at UGA, Georgia DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section and a State Wildlife Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Fishes of Georgia Atlas was a priority in Georgia’s Wildlife Action Plan, a comprehensive strategy that guides DNR efforts to conserve biological diversity.

The atlas is a significant component of a larger effort to publish a comprehensive book on the state’s fish fauna. Next steps include the development of taxonomic keys and species accounts, a challenge given the number of species involved. Keeping the atlas up-to-date as new information becomes available is also a high priority for the authors.

Each expects the database and Web site to spur more research and understanding of Georgia fishes.



FISHES OF GEORGIA by the numbers

** Web site features 337 species.

** 284 species occur primarily in freshwater or enter freshwater for feeding or breeding.

** 265 of the freshwater species are considered native to Georgia.

** 23 species are introduced or non-native to the state.

** At least six species are extirpated or extinct from Georgia waters.

** 57 are state protected; eight of these are also protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

** 21 have not been formally described by scientists, including some long-recognized species like the sicklefin redhorse and others like a separate species of redeye bass more recently discovered.

** Online: http://fishesofgeorgia.uga.edu/

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