NY Considers Capturing Bats to Save Them

little brown bat

“[New York state conservation officials] just held a summit and decided to pluck them out of the wild, but where to put them?” says Kasimoff, one of only a handful of people across the state that can care for bats, which require a special license because they can carry rabies. Kasimoff currently is minding 30 bats at the Bat World Big Apple, a shelter she runs out of her home on Long Island as part of Bat World International. New York state in particular wants to save the little brown bats–if any are left.

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Central Park Raccoons to Get Rabies Shots

Raccoon spectacle

Manhattan raccoons, faced with an epidemic of rabies, are going to get trapped, vaccinated and tagged (so they don’t have to go through the ordeal a second time.) There was a mild panic this winter in the city as rabies started showing up in the raccoons of Central Park and upper Manhattan.

People may have panicked more if they realized how many raccoons really live in this densely packed city. The New York City Health Department has found 49 rabid raccoons in Manhattan, mostly in the top 13 blocks of Central Park. (Oddly, the state isn’t keeping  up.) As a wildlife rehabber I get calls from people who just spot raccoons in the city. The raccoons are fine, but people assume something is terribly wrong if a raccoon is living here.

That’s a relief to animal lovers who feared they’d just be rounded up and euthanized–an animal control strategy that usually doesn’t work because new animals just move into the undefended territory.

If you go on an owl walk at dusk in summer in the North Woods of Central Park, you’ll be amazed at how many raccoons you’ll see. They’ll be sleepily climbing out of tree cavities and holes between boulders to start their day.

American pets don’t get rabies much anymore because they get vaccines. The northeast has a huge population of  rabid raccoons thanks to hunters who imported them from dealers, John Hadidian, head of the Humane Society of the United State‘s Urban Wildlife program. The

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Which Animal to Blame for Lyme Disease? Not Deer

I’m in my third week of antibiotics after returning from a trip from New Hampshire with a textbook bullseye surrounding a tick bite. Which animal should I blame?

The New York Times let five biologists and entomologists debate the issue. The first guy out, Thomas Mather, professor of public health entomology, gave the answer that has become commonly lore: deer. The premise: Deer populations have risen along with lyme disease cases.

But then other scientists basically cast some reasonable doubt on the case against the deer. Ixodes scapularis, commonly known as deer ticks, bear ticks or black-legged ticks, can pick up the bacteria that causes lyme disease from a whole range of animals, not just its namesake. The American Lyme Disease Foundation calls deer this species’ “preferred host” but notes that mice are the primary carriers of the disease, which can also be spread via birds, dogs, cats, horses, squirrels and other small mammals.

Richard S. Ostfeld, of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, notes that the incidence of lyme disease and deer don’t correspond, but that acorn crops (which feed white-footed mice) do. William L. Krinsky, entomologist at Yale’s Peabody Museum, says we don’t have enough data to understand how much blame rodents and deer should get.

Interestingly, two species come out as heroes. Bard biology professor Felicia Keesing cites the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) as the under appreciated fighter of lyme disease; these guys attract and kill ticks by the thousands. Ostfeld gives some credit to owl,

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Show Caves Take Show Precautions for Bats

The next time you visit Howe Caverns, you might be asked to wipe your feet to save the bats. The Fish and Wildlife Service recently asked people to stay out of caves, fearing they might spread white-nosed syndrome, which is devastating bats in the northeast. The precaution is two-fold: they also don’t want cavers disturbing hibernating bats because waking up costs them a lot of energy.The AP reports commercial caves, also known as show caves, are getting in on the act by asking people to wipe their feet on antifungal mats. Really I think is more of a show precaution for show caves. Throngs of tourists make these caves unappealing to bats. The tourists tend to stay on well-worn paths. And they’re more likely a family visiting a random cave on a roadtrip than a bunch of cave groupies who go cave to cave.

To see more animals go to animaltourism.com

To the Bat Cave–or Maybe Just Outside the Bat Cave’s Entrance

The federal government wants you to stay out of caves to help save bats. They fear white-nose syndrome, which has kill up to a million bats in the northeast is spreading. States as far away as Georgia are thinking about closing down caves, Mark Davis reports in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Now big caves around the country are debating the proposition of closing to save their big attraction.

A fungus is believed to be behind the mysterious illness that leaves bats starving at the end of hibernation. Scientists know that the sick bats wake up a lot more during hibernation, but are not sure if that’s a cause or effect. Either way, they don’t want anybody barging in on their caves and waking them up. Of course, that won’t be much of an issue over the summer.

There are a ton of great places to see bats around the country. People have finally caught on to the allure of seeing thousands of bats stream out of a dark hole at dusk. And we’ve finally realized that they aren’t going to deliberately fly into our hair or suck our blood. It would be a shame to lose all of our goodwill toward bats.

The Wildlife Service seems to be talking about cavers, that is people who actually go in the caves, not hang out outside waiting for the fly-out. They say caves visited by cavers have seen more of the disease and fear it might be spread on equipment. So

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