Atlanta's Duck Pond cracking down on geese

One of the last places it was safe for families to feed ducks falls for the frenzy to eliminate Canada geese.

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Hummingbirds arrive a month--sometimes two--early this year; some never left

In the last week hummingbirds flew into IL, NY, PA, OH, MD and even Ontario, way ahead of schedule. Freakishly, many fragile hummingbirds spent all winter up north.

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3 Guys Vie for title of “Buffalo Whisperer” in Canada, US and S Africa

Bailey Rides

Canada’s Buffalo Whisperer takes Bailey for a ride in a convertible. The US and South Africa have their very own Buffalo Whisperers, too. Here are each of their cases to be the real Buffalo Whisperer.

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Manatees Not Showing Oil, But Dying a Lot

Manatee, by Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

So far no manatee has turned up oiled after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill earlier this year. But 656 of the goofy, endangered marine mammals have turned up dead, according to the latest statistics from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. That’s a devastating 13% of the population. The biggest problem was a cold spell last winter, but we may never know if or what role the oil had.

Cathy Beck, who manages the Manatee Individual Photo-identification System (MIPS),  says the oil spill was “extremely worrisome,” but so far no oiled manatees in the area where the oil spread. Their next concern is that the remaining oil will seep into the seagrass manatees eat. They’ll be on the lookout for any oil or dispersant residue this winter when they capture 10 or so (as they do each year) and give them a physical, including testing blood and tissue samples.

Defenders of Wildlife, Save the Manatees and other wildlife groups sued BP saying they violated the Endangered Species Act by harming the 27 threatened or  endangered species that live in the gulf.

Save the Manatees says that the big problem was the cold weather at the beginning of the year, which also lead to spectacular photos and record manatees counts (5,076) as the manatees crowded around natural springs and power plants to stay warm. “In total, more than 300 manatees are believed to have died from this lingering event, shattering the previous

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Feds Want to Disappear Half of Outer Banks’ Wild Horses for Birds That Don’t Live There

FWS wants to get rid of half the Outer Banks’ wild horses, claiming they hurt protected birds. But the species in question–eagles and piping plovers–don’t actually live there.

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Gruff Coyboy Now Herds 500 Cats in Wee Florida Town

Cat Guards Caboodle Ranch

Craig Grant, a gruff looking 62-year-old who wears a cowboy hat and flamboyant mustache, is an unlikely mayor of an adorable Florida cat city. Years ago one cat insinuated herself into his life in Jacksonville and now he runs the cutest cat sanctuary you’ve ever seen, Caboodle Ranch. More than 500 neutered cats roam a tiny village of wee houses, churches and stores, built specially to house the cat colony on a 25-acre tree farm.

Grant told PlanetGreen recently that he never liked cats till his son left him Pepper for a couple months. “I didn’t like cats, but I agreed to keep him. I wasn’t used to being alone and I guess Pepper wasn’t either. We slowly began to get along,” Craig says on his website. Then he took in more cats, got more complaints and bought land and a trailer 100 miles out of town.  It’s been expanding with abused and neglected cats and their buildings ever since.

“I moved the shed out to the property and made a little cabin out of it. I thought it would be for me, but many of my cats wanted to sleep next to me… so I moved back into the office trailer where we had more room,” Craig says. Now he wants to build a better medical office and has raised $2,500 of the $9,000 needed. His assistant Cyndi notes in the local paper that he’ll probably end up sleeping in there, too, to

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AL Gulf Water Safe Enough for Baby Turtles

Loggerhead Hatchling

Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings are swimming off into Alabama’s gulf coast again. After the BP oil spill, they were moved to FL. Now the water’s safe enough.

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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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Killer Whale Tilly Father to One-Quarter Captive Orcas

Shamu Rocks

Shamu Rocks, at Orlando SeaWorldcourtesy of Miss Quarel.

The horrific killing trainer Dawn Brancheau at Sea World by the orca Tilikum, or Tilly, prompted Sea World to indefinitely close its killer whale shows. But the Tilly problem is a long-term one. He fathered 10 of the current 42 other captive orcas around the world–nearly one-quarter of the stock.

Many blame the attack on the whole practice of holding these huge, sociable whales captive to entertain us. Jennifer Viegas at Discovery reports that Tilly, a stud whale, may have had high testosterone levels or swings. That’s what made him the most successful male killer whale captive breeder, siring a record 17 calves, 10 of which are still alive, Viegas says. His offspring include Unna, Sumar, Tuar, Tekoa, Nakai,, Kohana, Ikaika , Skyla,  Malia and Ky, who attacked a trainer in San Antonio in 2004. Plus, he has at least one grandchild.

That means nearly one-quarter of the killer whales held in captivity around the world and nearly half the 22 held by SeaWorld are related to a killer whale with high testosterone and high aggression. Even if he weren’t a flawed individual, that’s a terribly inbred population. But now that he’s been very publicly involved in three attacks on people, it highlights how misguided these breeding programs might be. Would you keep breeding the dog that attacks and kills people? 

But breeders probably had little choice but to rely on Tilly. No other male was anywhere near that

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South Enjoys Cold Spell’s Bird Bonanza; Northern Birders Screwed

Winter bird and wildlife watching leans heavily on cold pushing animals into places they can eat or just keep warm. Eagles fly south to find unfrozen rivers. Manatees (and sometimes turtles) huddle around hot springs and power plants. This super harsh weather, then, is especially bountiful for wildlife watchers–as long as you’re in an area just warm enough. That’s why the south, despite cold weather, is having a great season for wildlife watching while northerners have to bear trifling numbers of animals.

The eagle-watching festivals going on around the country illustrate the trend. Anthony Lawrence, director of recreation at Kentucky Dam State Resort Park says the trees are practically dripping eagles. “They’re landing two by two on the ice and basically ice fishing, which you never see,” he says. Same deal over in Alabama. Patti Donnelan, naturalist at Lake Guntersville, says all the known nests are active. “It seem to be a good year,” she says. Up north, it’s a bit slower. They’ve seen fewer birds this year in Keokuk, Iowa. (Though, as the midwest’s biggest concentration, they’ve got hundreds to spare.)

But it goes beyond eagles. Up in Canada the scarcity of birds showed up in the Christmas Bird Count. “”I had a total of 14 individual birds,” one biologist told the CBC. “Normally I’d have a couple of thousand of birds by that time.” Birders around Ottawa also blamed a cyclical lack of seeds.

So many factors go into how many birds are found in counts, it’s hard to just blame a cold spell. Anecdotally,

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