How to Celebrate World Turtle Day

If you have the chance, help turtles cross roads. Otherwise, avoid certain shrimp caught overseas (or maybe in LA) til shrimpers start really using turtle exclusion devices

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Armadillo contact (hunting) linked to 1 in 3 US leprosy cases

Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)

About one-third of Americans who get leprosy can probably blame their contact with a coastal armadillo. Doctors linked their strain to the armadillo while other patients had overseas varieties. About half remembered armadillo contact, typically hunting and eating.

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Bolsa Chica: on the Wetlands – Wasteland Border

Great blue heron

For a seemingly desolate wasteland that is backed by oil fields, a couple busy roads and suburban sprawl, the Bolsa Chica Wetland has surprisingly a lot of wildlife.

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For Pelicans and Sea Lions in LA, Go to Marina Del Rey

Grooming Pelican, Marina Del Rey

Want to see sea lions in LA? Go to Marina Del Rey, just south of Venice Beach. By a fishing dock, you’ll see plenty of pelicans and a few sea lions trying to steal a meal.

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Texas Hunters Wanted Special Easy Punishment For Shooting Whooping Cranes

whooping crane poster

The federal and state wildlife officials announced plans to release four to eight juvenile whooping cranes in a huge pen at White Lake, then add up to 30 a year to create a non-migratory flock. There’s a strange line in the federal register about how Texas wanted the cranes to make it easier on hunting regulations.

That’s a little greedy since they already have the biggest and best flock, which winters in Arnasas. It’s also a little piggish because what they are in effect saying is that they wanted the flock so that if hunters shot a whooping crane they wouldn’t be charged with messing with an endangered species. Here’s how the Fish and Wildlife Service put it in their public document:

During that discussion, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department representative expressed interest in having two coastal counties in Texas included as part of the area for this proposed experimental population to avoid possible closures of waterfowl hunting if whooping cranes from the proposed experimental population were to wander into the area. This proposed regulation does not include those two counties as the Service believes that expansion of the endangered AWBP [Arnasas flock] into the two coastal counties is an essential aspect of achieving recovery of the species.

What they’re talking about is this: all populations of an endangered species are divided into those that are essential to the survival of the species and those that are called non-essential experimental. If you kill part of an essential

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Whooping Cranes May Move Back to LA Next Spring


The Louisiana flock is only the fourth in the country. The new locations effectively replaces Kissimmee, FL, where a non-migratory flock has failed.

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Valdez: A Comparison for Wildlife

How does the Deepwater Horizon oil spill compare to the historical monster of Exxon Valdez, by which we judge all oil disasters? How long will this go on?

We went back to the records of Valdez to look at its size and what we might lay ahead.

In the Valdez spill Scientific American reports that 2,000 sea otters, 302 harbor seals and about 250,000 seabirds died in the first few days. So far we have only 2 birds in care that I know of. Rescuers retrieved a total of 36,471 carcasses and captured 1,630 live birds, the IBRRC reports. The Valdez spill was March 24, 1989. The last wildlife rehab center closed September 6 of that year. The Deepwater Horizon spill was on April 22, 2009. By that measure, rehabbers will be on the scene until early October. By the 10th day of the Valdez oil spill, rescuers were finding 180 oiled birds per square mile, the Coast Guard reported. The oil spread so far in Prince William Sound that rescuers had to set up four wildlife care centers. They’ve already set up three down south. There are Oiled Bird Rescue Centers in Fort Jackson, Louisiana, Theodore, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida. How long will it take the wildlife to recover? Here’s the really scary part. They’re still digging up oil in Valdez and some species are still recovering. Where to Go to See Wildlife Where to Go See Wildlife Down South RESCUE GROUPS International Bird Rescue Research Center, based in

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Where Are All Those Oil-Soaked Birds We Were Expecting?


One peculiar thing about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill so far: hardly any wildlife covered in oil. The lack of  oiled birds has mystified rescuers and exasperated the media. TV networks are clamoring for images, showing clip files and giving the impression that tons of animals are showing up hurt. That’s not so–at least not yet.

Mike Ziccardi, a vet and director of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network,  says on the OWCN blog that he got into a spat with “a fairly irate reporter from a major national news outlet” who demanded video access to the necropsy (animal autopsy) of some sea turtles. The network were desperate for dead turtle images even though the turtles didn’t show initial signs of oiling and, as Ziccardi pointed out, were in found in a time and place typical of stranded turtles. (The other big threat to turtles is shrimp boats, Wallace Nichols from Grupo Tortuguero points out.)

Keith Olbmermann started a broadcast this week in ominous tone about “as dead jellyfish begin to wash up on the Mississippi coast.” Dead jellyfish might be the one bright spot of the oil spill, given that the Gulf Dead Zone has caused a plague of jellyfish in the gulf.

A brown pelican is only second bird to be treated. Photo by IBRRC

Apparently California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger so expected oiled wildlife images that he dreamed some up. He just announced that he was withdrawing support for drilling off California’s shores: “I see

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LA Rain So Polluted Pelicans Have to Be Treated Like Oil Spill Victims

Brown pelicans, just removed from the Endangered Species List three months ago, are getting slammed by California’s polluted storms. These swimming birds can cope with rain far more gracefully than whiny Los Angelenos have been. But the water is so polluted that they have to be treated like oil spill victims. The International Bird Rescue Research Center had 80 pelicans by 7 p.m. Friday and expects they’ll be treating 100 hypothermic birds this weekend.

There’s a bit of callous reaction to the brown pelican‘s plight. One comment on the Washington Post site said it was just the “circle of life.” But they aren’t dying because of storms; they’re freezing because the contaminants break down their natural waterproofing and insulation.

“Brown pelicans tend to feed and congregate near harbors and river mouths where nutrients from the runoff attract fish and other creatures. Pelicans can easily become dirty from pollution in these areas and can lose their waterproofing. The current massive runoff from the storms has brought even more grease, car oil sheen, fish oils and other forms of surface pollution into the coastal areas where these birds feed,” says executive director Jay Holcomb in a letter to supporters.

“We wash them just as if there had been an oil spill. We use dish-washing liquid,” spokesman Paul Kelway told the AP. It takes about a week and $500 of treatment for the birds to recover from hypothermia. The center has responded to 150 oil spills around the world and treated

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Five Questions Lesley Stahl Didn’t Ask the “Frozen Zoo”

Animal Tourism Blog Test Tube Wooly Mammoths

Last night on 60 Minutes Lesley Stahl went to see the Frozen Zoo, the Audubon Nature Institute’s Species Survival Center. The center is doing fascinating. historic, ground-breaking work storing the DNA of threatened species and even producing clones of endangered African wildcats. What was missing from the story, however, was a closer look at the context in which the center operates. If Stahl and 60 Minutes had asked the following questions, the piece might not have been as much of an inane exercise.

Who’s paying for all this?The nonprofit Audubon Nature Institute grew out of a once ailing, old New Orleans institution. They’re not related to the Audubon Club. ANI runs a zoo, insectarium and Imax theatre. So are they supporting the whole $43 million operation (including the $2.5 million it costs to save endangered species) by creeping out kids with bugs and selling zoo T-shirts? If so, that would be quite a feat and worth knowing. Too bad Stahl didn’t ask.

The issue is important because in 2007 the Washington Post’s Philip Kennicott pointed out ANI’s ties to big oil, raising the possibility it used Chevron money to make a lame Katrina Imax movie that doesn’t mention oil’s role in destroying wetlands. (No way, say the film-maker and Audubon: Chevron was just ordered by a court to funnel cash to an environmental cause and they chose this one.)

According to finances posted online, the operation just about breaks even (a loss of $187,000 in 2008, the latest

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