Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Coffee and Cub Conversations at Zoo Atlanta

Event will feature chats with experts and an exclusive silent auction

As the only giant panda cub in the U.S. draws closer to his public debut this spring, his fans have an opportunity to spend an intimate morning discussing his progress with the experts who know him best.

Set for Saturday, January 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Coffee and Cub Conversations will feature a special roundtable discussion with curators, veterinarians keepers, moderated by Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Mark Davis. The program will be preceded by an exclusive silent auction of items and experiences that will only be available during Coffee and Cub Conversations. Although technically in absentia, the guest of honor and his mother, Lun Lun, will make appearances on camera during a rare Saturday PandaCam viewing for Coffee and Cub guests.

Space is limited, and advance reservations are encouraged. Discounted advance tickets are available online on $20 for Zoo Members; $25 for non-Members. Tickets purchased the day of the event may only be purchased at Zoo Atlanta Admissions and will be $25 for Members; $30 for non-Members.

Saturday, January 29, 2011
9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Conservation Action Resource Center (ARC)

Zoo Atlanta
800 Cherokee Avenue, S.E. Atlanta, GA 30315

The Labrador Retriever Reigns Supreme Once Again in Atlanta

/PRNewswire/ -- Once again, the Labrador Retriever took Atlanta's top spot in the American Kennel Club's (AKC®) 2010 ranking of the most popular AKC-registered dog breeds in U.S.

"Atlanta's love of large dogs may be changing," said AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson. "While Atlanta's top five breeds have remained constant over the past two years, the Yorkshire Terrier did manage to edge out the Boxer for Atlanta's forth spot in 2010."

Atlanta's top 5 breeds for 2010 compared to 2009:
Atlanta's Most Popular Breeds 2010
Atlanta's Most Popular Breeds 2009
1. Labrador Retriever
1. Labrador Retriever
2. Golden Retriever
2. Golden Retriever
3. German Shepherd Dog 
3. German Shepherd Dog 
4. Yorkshire Terrier
4. Boxer
5. Boxer
5. Yorkshire Terrier

* Registration data pulled from Atlanta's zip codes as specified by U.S. Postal Service

Among the Changes in Atlanta's Rankings:

* The French Bulldog looked like it was poised to enter Atlanta's top 10, being ranked 11th in 2009, but slipped nine spots, to 20th most popular breed this year.
* It was a three-way tie for ninth most popular breed, with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Dachshund and Rottweiler splitting the honor for Atlanta.
* Mirroring the national rankings, the Bulldog proved to be Atlanta's 6th most popular breed.

The AKC also announced its nationwide registration statistics today, revealing that for the 20th consecutive year the Labrador Retriever is the most popular purebred dog in America. However, this year's list includes some shakeups in the top 10 - the Beagle overtook the Golden Retriever for the 4th spot, and the Bulldog took 6th place away from the Boxer, who dropped to 7th in 2010.

The Bulldog has been steadily rising up the list over the past decade, going from 21st to 6th. While impressive, it is not the biggest mover – that distinction goes to the French Bulldog. The Frenchie jumped 50 spots (from 71st to 21st) over the past 10 years.

Most Popular Breeds Nationwide 2010
1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd Dog 
3. Yorkshire Terrier
4. Beagle
5. Golden Retriever
In addition, the AKC expanded its litter of registered breeds on January 1 to welcome the Norwegian Lundehund, the Xoloitzcuintli and the Entlebucher Mountain Dog - growing next year's list of Most Popular Breeds to 170 dogs.

Additional information on the AKC's ranking of the Most Popular Breeds in the U.S. can be found online at

Get social with the AKC! Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

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$1000 Reward Offered in Carroll County, GA in Dog Torture Case


The two chocolate labs who wandered away from their home on Raburn Road near the intersection of Pleasant Ridge Rd and Mandeville Rd were found on Saturday off of Hutcheson Rd, about a mile or so away from where they lived. They had been tortured and killed.

The owner of the dogs and CCHS are offering a $1000 REWARD for information leading to the individual(s) responsible for this heinous crime.

If you have any information, PLEASE contact the Carroll County Sheriff's office at 770-830-5888
and ask for Sgt. Marc Griffith.

If you live in this area, please take action to protect your pets from the same fate. They are not safe until this person(s) is caught.

Carroll County Humane Society
P.O. Box 1304
Carrollton, Georgia 30112

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Scientists Successfully Use Sedation to Help Disentangle North Atlantic Right Whale

Scientists from NOAA Fisheries Service and its state and nonprofit partners successfully used at-sea chemical sedation to help cut the remaining ropes from a young North Atlantic right whale on Jan. 15 off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Fla. The sedative given to the whale allowed the disentanglement team to safely approach the animal and remove 50 feet of rope which was wrapped through its mouth and around its flippers.

This is only the second time a free-swimming whale has been successfully sedated to enable disentanglement efforts. The first time a whale was successfully sedated and disentangled was in March 2009 off the coast of Florida.

“Our recent progress with chemical sedation is important because it’s less stressful for the animal and minimizes the amount of time spent working on these animals while maximizing the effectiveness of disentanglement operations,” said Jamison Smith, Atlantic Large Whale Disentanglement Coordinator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “This disentanglement was especially complex, but proved successful due to the detailed planning and collective expertise of the many response partners involved.”

The young female whale, born during the 2008-2009 calving season and estimated to be approximately 30 feet long, was originally observed entangled on Christmas Day by an aerial survey team. On Dec. 30, a disentanglement team of trained responders from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were able to remove 150 feet of rope from the whale, but additional rope remained. NOAA and its partners continued to track the animal via satellite tag to determine if it would shed the remaining gear on its own. Calm weather conditions were necessary before attempting further intervention on Jan. 15.

During this response, scientists used for the first time a special digital monitoring tag that recorded the whale’s behavior before, during and after sedation. Sedating large whales at sea is in its infancy and data collected from the digital archival tag will be used to inform future sedation attempts that may be necessary. After disentangling the whale, scientists administered a dose of antibiotics to treat entanglement wounds and a drug to reverse the sedation. The whale will be tracked up to 30-days via a temporary satellite tag.

The disentanglement and veterinarian team consisted of scientists from: NOAA Fisheries Service, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, University of Florida, EcoHealth Alliance, and Coastwise Consulting. The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies and the New England Aquarium also provided offsite support.

Fishing gear removed from this whale included ropes and wire mesh material, similar to what is found in the trap or pot fisheries for fish, crab and lobster along the mid-Atlantic, northeast U.S., and Canadian coasts. However, the specific fishery and its geographic origin are pending examination by experts at NOAA’s Fisheries Service.

With only 300-400 in existence, North Atlantic right whales are among the most endangered whales in the world. They are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Vessel strikes and entanglement in fixed fishing gear are the two greatest threats to their recovery.

NOAA Fisheries Service encourages people to report sightings of dead, injured, or entangled whales to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) or the Georgia Department of Natural Resources at 1-800-2-SAVE-ME (272-8366). All live right whale sightings should be reported to the USCG via Channel 16.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at or on Facebook at

Georgians can help conserve North Atlantic right whales and other nongame wildlife, native plants and natural habitats through buying a wildlife license plate featuring a bald eagle or a ruby-throated hummingbird. They can also donate to the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund through the state income tax checkoff and other ways. Contributions are vital to the Georgia DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section, which receives no state general funds for its mission to help conserve wildlife not legally hunted, fished for or trapped, as well as rare plants and natural habitats.

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100 day giant panda cub celebration

Only cub born in the U.S. will get a name on February 15

The only giant panda cub born in the U.S. in 2010 will soon reach a new milestone: receiving his name. The cub’s name will be revealed during the 100 Day Giant Panda Cub Celebration at Zoo Atlanta on February 15, 2011.

Like his older siblings before him, the cub will be named in keeping with Chinese tradition, which holds that newborns receive their names around their 100th day of life. Additional information on the event will be provided as details are available. Save the date, and stay tuned for exciting announcements.

Born to Lun Lun on November 3, 2010, the cub is expected to make his public debut this spring. In the meantime, fans can keep track of the cub’s progress on the world-famous PandaCam presented by EarthCam, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Scat-Sniffing Dogs Aid Wildlife Conservation

(ISNS) -- Maggie, a black Labrador retriever mix, is on the hunt. She zigzags through the deep meadow grasses, her nose sniffing the air. Finally, she homes in on her target: a pile of bobcat dung.

Maggie was trained as a scat-detection dog by Working Dogs for Conservation, a nonprofit organization that provides dogs for wildlife research and management.

Conservation canines are fast becoming indispensable tools for biologists according to Aimee Hurt, associate director and co-founder of Working Dogs for Conservation, based in Three Forks, Montana.

"It used to be that if anyone in the world was working with dogs in this way, I knew about it," Hurt said.

Over the last few years, though, so many new conservation dog projects have sprung up Hurt can no longer keep track of them all. Her organization's dogs and their handlers are fully booked to assist field researchers into 2012.

"Dogs have such a phenomenal sense of smell," explained Sam Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He has worked with scat-detection dogs since 1997.

Wasser said that scat contains a surprising wealth of genetic information. Scientists can identify an individual animal by extracting DNA from a dung sample. Researchers can use that information to track the health and range of every member of a population.

Animal droppings also contain hormones that reveal details of the animal's nutritional health, reproductive status, and even how well its immune system is working. In many cases, scat even contains traces of toxins the animal may have been exposed to in its environment.

"All this is from one [scat] sample," Wasser said. "The power of this method is absolutely phenomenal."

But in order to glean all that information, you first have to find a pile of dung. Dogs, with their powerful noses, are much better at locating scat than humans, who rely on their eyes, said Sarah Reed, a research fellow at Colorado State University and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Reed and Hurt published a study on wildlife detection dogs in the January issue of the Journal of Wildlife Management.

"Dogs are able to help us find these targets with much less searching," Reed said.

Scat-detection dogs can be trained to locate practically any kind of dung.

"We're now using [the technique] on such a wide variety of species," Wasser said, including pumas, jaguars, armadillos, foxes, and even whales.

For four years, Wasser has taken detection dogs aboard boats on Puget Sound to help him locate killer whale dung. Previously, he would follow a single whale at a time, tracking it closely in order to spot and snag the animal's waste before the dung sank into the ocean. But he said that shadowing whales so closely was stressful for the animals. With dogs, Wasser can simultaneously track multiple whales and detect scat samples from over a mile away.

"Often when we're out sampling we don't see the animal at all," Wasser added. "It's really minimizing the amount of stress you put on the animal."

Scat is not the only thing that wildlife detection dogs are employed to locate. Dogs have been trained to sniff out the pellets regurgitated by spotted owls after meals, for instance, as well as endangered and invasive plants and live animals. Canines from Working Dogs for Conservation recently traveled to Hawaii to help search for non-native land snails that conservationists are trying to eradicate, Hurt said.

Whether dogs are searching for scat, snails, or invasive weeds, the training process is the same. Wildlife detection dogs are usually rescued from shelters, but not just any dog will do. For her recent study, Reed met with about 300 shelter dogs, but only Maggie made the final cut. Hurt said that detection dogs must be focused, have high energy, and be eager to please. But above all, they must be obsessed with their favorite toys since after locating a sample the dog is rewarded with a chance to play.

The training process can take three or four months. Once the dogs are up to speed on the basics, they can be trained to locate specific odors for various projects.

"They learn to recognize the odor really quickly once they know the game," Hurt said.

And for the dogs, Reed said, "it really is a game." For researchers, though, conservation canines are serious -- and important -- business.

By Kirsten Weir, ISNS Contributor
Inside Science News Service 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Reward Offered in Whooping Crane Killing in South Georgia

The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for illegally killing three whooping cranes in Calhoun County, Ga. The HSUS offer is part of a total $12,500 offered for information that leads to a successful prosecution of the perpetrator(s).

The Case:

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on Dec. 30, hunters discovered three dead whooping cranes just west of Albany, Ga. According to a landowner in the area where the cranes were found, the birds had been in the area for several weeks before their death. The birds were sent to the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Ore. for necropsies and preliminary testing indicates that the birds had injuries consistent with gunshot wounds.

“This serious crime is an affront to the recovery of the species and we implore anyone with information to come forward,” said Jessica DuBois, Georgia senior state director for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States commends the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for their investigation.”

Whooping cranes are protected by state and federal law, including the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act.


Wildlife officials estimate that for every wild animal killed legally — tens of millions of animals per year — another is killed illegally.
Every year, thousands of poachers are arrested nationwide; however, it is estimated that only 1 percent to 5 percent of poached animals are discovered by law enforcement.
Poachers injure or kill wildlife anytime, anywhere and sometimes do so in particularly cruel ways. Wildlife officials report that poachers often commit other crimes as well.
The HSUS and HSWLT work with state and federal wildlife agencies to offer rewards of $2,500 for information leading to arrest and conviction of suspected poachers.
The Investigators:

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Terry Hasting at 404-763-7959 and/or the Georgia Department of Natural Resources 24 hour TIP Hotline at 1-800-241-4113.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

1.1 Million Homeless Animals Adopted in Just 96 Days Through 2010 IAMS Home 4 The Holidays Pet Adoption Drive

One of the world’s largest pet adoption campaigns, Iams Home 4 the Holidays (IH4TH) announced today that 1,125,667 animals were adopted between Oct. 1 and Jan. 4. Iams and longtime partner Helen Woodward Animal Center, along with more than 3,500 animal organizations from around the world once again joined forces to help reduce pet homelessness.

Forever homes were found for:
593,146 dogs
509,470 cats
23,051 other animals (including rabbits, reptiles, horses, birds and more)

“With all the hard work that animal organizations do every day, we’re thrilled to be able to support those efforts and shine an even brighter light on the issues and the importance of pet adoption each year with this program,” said Mike Arms, founder of Iams Home 4 the Holidays and president of Helen Woodward Animal Center. “We’re all very proud of the successes we’ve had over the years and will continue to work together in the hopes that one day every homeless pet will be in a loving home for all their holidays.”

Understanding that not everyone is in the position to adopt a pet, Iams wanted to make it easy for more people to get involved and help make a difference by creating the Bags 4 Bowls food drive. Consumers could either purchase specially-marked bags of pet food or interact on the Facebook page ( to help donate bowls of pet food to participating organizations. An incredible success, the food drive reached its goal and Iams is donating 5,000,000 meals to participating animal organizations.*

“We’re proud that we’ve been a part of this program since it began in 1999 and we’ve helped more than 5 million pets find loving homes," said Maria Beatriz Rodriguez, Iams general manager. "We’re dedicated to continuing our mission with our partner animal organizations to ensure more and more pets find their forever homes.”

The 2011 program will begin in October. To learn how to get involved and make a difference in the life of an orphaned pet, visit for ways to adopt, donate or volunteer.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Mass Animal Deaths - Google Map

Someone (Google?) has created a map of mass animal deaths. It was brought to my attention via a tweet and I'd love to give credit but by the time I pulled up the map and got back the tweet was lost in a haze of thousands.

If you've been listening to the news lately thousands of birds have dropped from the sky, fish in mass have gone belly up and strange things seem to be happening. I've only paid attention slightly until now. After looking over the Google Map I think I'm going to look into it a little more. Especially given my choice of fiction reading materials (Dean Koontz and similar...)

Here's a link to the map:,16.171875&spn=87.534022,210.585938&z=2&iwloc=0004991c2e41cf55affcb&source=embed

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Georgia's 2011 Fishing Regulations Now Available

The new 2011 Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations are now available. The Georgia Department of  Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division recently distributed printed versions of the regulations to all Division offices and facilities, a number of State Parks and fishing license retailers statewide. An online version of the new regulations already is available at

WRD advises new and experienced anglers alike to familiarize themselves with the Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations before casting a line.

“Georgia offers so many different fishing opportunities from the coast to the mountains and this booklet is designed to help anglers find great places to fish and to educate them on Georgia’s fishing regulations,” explains WRD Chief of Fisheries Management John Biagi. “It contains information that should answer all basic questions for anglers.”

The guide provides helpful information, including color fish identification charts for both freshwater and saltwater fish, license purchasing information, contact information for WRD fisheries management offices and WRD law enforcement offices, trout stream listings, public fishing area information, state record fish listings and complete fishing regulations for Georgia. 

The Board of Natural Resources sets Georgia’s fishing regulations based on recommendations made by the Department’s fisheries biologists and field personnel while the Georgia General Assembly sets the laws related to fishing.

For more information about Georgia’s fishing regulations or for information about where and when to go fishing, visit or contact the nearest WRD fisheries management office.

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Shark Conservation Act Signed into Law to Curb Cruel Shark Finning

The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and the Humane Society Legislative Fund applaud President Barack Obama for signing an important bipartisan bill that will increase protection for sharks from the cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning – cutting the fins off a shark and tossing the mutilated live animal back into the ocean to die.

The Shark Conservation Act – introduced by Reps. Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam, Eni Faleomavaega, D-American Samoa, and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. – requires that sharks be landed with their fins still naturally attached, the only sure way to enforce a ban on finning. H.R. 81 will strengthen the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000 that has been difficult to enforce, closing a loophole in that law that unintentionally allowed vessels to transport fins obtained illegally as long as the sharks were not finned aboard that vessel. Many fisheries target sharks for their valuable fins, which are sold for shark fin soup.

“Cutting off sharks’ fins and tossing their live bodies back into the sea is terribly cruel. It’s also a major factor in the severe decline of sharks worldwide and the associated devastating impact on other species in the ocean ecosystem,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “Up to 73 million sharks are killed this way each year, just for shark fin soup. The Shark Conservation Act will make the U.S. ban on shark finning more enforceable and strengthen our hand in international negotiations. We thank President Obama for taking this important step forward in conservation and animal protection.”

Along with praising President Obama and the legislation’s prime sponsors, the groups extend their thanks to Chairwoman Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Ranking Republican Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, whose leadership on the Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation were instrumental in guiding the bill to Senate passage. The groups also thank House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and Subcommittee Ranking Member Henry Brown, R-S.C., who worked with Subcommittee Chairwoman Bordallo to bring the bill forward in the House, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who helped ensure timely approval of this legislation before Congress adjourned, and other Senate cosponsors of the bill including Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

In July 2008, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration instituted regulations requiring that sharks be landed with their fins attached, but these regulations applied only to U.S. fisheries in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico, not the Pacific. The Shark Conservation Act will bring the Pacific fisheries into line with the rest of the country’s fins-attached policy, and strengthen the U.S. position in international shark conservation efforts.


H.R. 81, introduced by Rep. Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam, had the bipartisan support of 30 cosponsors and passed the House by voice vote with an amendment offered by Rep. Eni Faleomavaega, D-American Samoa, on March 2, 2009.
S. 850, introduced by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., had the bipartisan support of 33 cosponsors.
H.R. 81, with Senate amendments, passed the Senate by unanimous consent on December 20, 2010, and the House by voice vote on December 21, 2010, and was signed into law on January 4, 2011.
Up to 73 million sharks are killed each year in targeted fisheries and as bycatch. Shark finning is a major cause of massive declines in shark populations around the world, since retaining only the fins allows fishing operations to kill many more sharks at a time (filling their onboard freezers with just the fins while dumping the bodies overboard).
When sharks’ fins are cut off and their live bodies are thrown back into the water, the animals suffer a gruesome end, bleeding to death, suffocating because they can’t swim, or being eaten by other sharks.
As top predators, sharks play an important role in maintaining ecosystem balance. The killing of large numbers of sharks already appears to be affecting other marine species and commercial fisheries. When shark stocks are depleted, their natural prey proliferate and can have a devastating impact on the species they feed on – for example, fewer sharks mean more skates and rays, who in turn have taken a large bite out of scallop and other shellfish populations.
A national fins-attached policy will provide for improved conservation and management of steeply declining shark populations. It is often impossible to identify a shark species solely by looking at its fins, so landing sharks with fins attached is crucial for tracking which species are caught.
The Senate amendments include an exemption for smooth dogfish sharks, which are typically caught along the East Coast primarily for their meat. The exemption will put the onus on that fishery to ensure that no fins from any other species are included in smooth dogfish landings.

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