Animals need infrastructure, too

$350 million of Biden’s INVEST in America Act isn’t for people. It’s for wildlife that needs help crossing the road. By Ben Goldfarb  Nov 12, 2021, 10:00am EST

A bear walking across a mountain path.

Fifty miles east of Seattle, a bridge crosses a steep stretch of Interstate 90 known as Snoqualmie Pass. This is no ordinary bridge, meant for automobiles or pedestrians. Covered in topsoil, boulders, and seedlings, it is intended to convey wild animals from one side of the highway to the other — and it’s working.

Since 2018, when the bridge opened and the first animal, a coyote, scampered over the six lanes below, the structure has carried creatures as large as elk and as small as toads. And it should attract even more users as the seedlings grow into trees and animals acclimate to its presence.

“As we get more shade, it’s going to be different,” Patty Garvey-Darda, a Forest Service wildlife biologist, told Vox during a recent visit to Snoqualmie Pass. “Hopefully someday we’ll see the exact same species up here as we see in the forest.”

The Snoqualmie Pass bridge is one example in a broader category of infrastructure, known as wildlife crossings, that help animals circumvent busy roads like I-90. Crossings come in an array of shapes and sizes, from sweeping overpasses for grizzly bears to inconspicuous tunnels for salamanders. A body of research demonstrates that crossings can reconnect fragmented wildlife populations while protecting human drivers and animals alike from dangerous vehicle crashes. “This structure is paying for itself because of the accidents we haven’t had,” said Garvey-Darda, as trucks roared by 35 feet below.

The construction of such crossings has never been more urgent. Roadkill rates have risen over the past half-century; today, around 12 percent of North American wild mammals die on roads. And new satellite tracking and genetic technologies have revealed subtler harms. Busy interstates prevent herds of elk and mule deer from migrating to low-elevation meadows in winter, occasionally causing them to starve. In California, freeways have thwarted mountain lions from mating, leaving the cats so inbred that they’ve fallen into an “extinction vortex.” Wildlife crossings allow animals to find food and each other across sundered landscapes and help them access new habitats as climate change scrambles their ranges.

Read more here: https://www.vox.com/down-to-earth/2021/11/12/22774958/animals-wildlife-crossings-bridges-infrastructure

A rare two-headed turtle is alive and thriving, surprising scientists

Photo Credit: PopSci

A diamondback terrapin turtle hatched a couple weeks ago with two heads, a condition called bicephaly. The two-skulled, six-legged reptile was brought into a Massachusetts wildlife center, and while it currently seems healthy, veterinarians are continuing to closely monitor its health.

The hatchling looks like a pair of conjoined twins, with two independently moving heads poking out of its green shell. When the turtle splashes around in water, each skull comes up at different times to breathe, and each head controls its own set of three legs. X-rays also show that hidden inside the shell are two distinct gastrointestinal tracts—though they partially share a spine. The Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, MA, has a terrapin program, so the two-headed reptile was brought in on September 22, shortly after hatching at a protected terrapin nesting site in Barnstable.

The Center introduced the little guy in a recent Facebook post.

“When they came in, wow—it knocked us on our butts because we’ve never seen a bicephaly animal or turtle before,” Katrina Bergman, CEO of the New England Wildlife Centers, told The Washington Post.

Read more here PopSci

Lanternfly population continues to grow

At first glance, the adult lanternfly is a beautiful spectacle with spotted, bright red wings and a little bumble bee-esque body. But as the species continues its trek across the U.S., federal and state officials have a unified message: If you come across the insect, kill it. 

The lanternfly is an invasive species from China that wreaks havoc on agriculture. They aren’t physically harmful to humans, but they threaten everything from oak, walnut and poplar trees to grapes, almonds and fruit orchards. It was first detected in the U.S. in Pennsylvania in 2014, but it has now spread to at least nine states, primarily in the Northeast. Growing numbers have been spotted in New York City this summer.

Source CBSNews

Although we value all life here at Guardians Of Life. This specific insect is causing havoc with the ecosystem.

Therefore we urge people to follow the request officials have put forth. Otherwise, a majority of food source as well as habitat for animals and people will be diminished.

We also urge businesses who use overseas transports to examine their cargo before allowing their shipments to come through, in order to lessen the access of Lanternflys.

Precautions should be taken. No matter what.

Biologists Discover New Species of Glowing Pumpkin Toadlet | Science | Smithsonian Magazine

By Riley Black
SMITHSONIANMAG.COM
APRIL 28, 2021 2:00PM
Pumpkin toadlets look exactly like what their name suggests. Less than half an inch-long, these tiny, orange frogs hop around the sweltering forests along Brazil’s Atlantic coast. But how many species of these frogs are there? The question isn’t just important to biology, but for conservationists seeking to preserve unique rainforest amphibians.

To researchers, pumpkin toadlets belong to the genus Brachycephalus. Determining how many Brachycephalus species exist, however, isn’t easy. As many as 36 have been named, but researchers sometimes disagree on which species are valid or which species a particular population of frogs should be assigned to. Different populations of these frogs look very similar to each other, not to mention that their genetic makeup only varies slightly.
— Read on www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/biologists-discover-new-species-glowing-pumpkin-toadlet-180977610/

Humane Society president discusses the surge of pet ownership during the pandemic — and what animals can teach us – The Washington Post

Kitty Block, 56, is president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States and CEO of Humane Society International, an affiliate. Trained as a lawyer, Block has spent decades advocating on behalf of animal welfare, domestically and around the world.

During the pandemic, there’s been a huge surge in adopting pets. What do you think are the benefits of that trend, and also, maybe, the potential perils?
In a time of crisis, when people feel things are uncertain and people feel isolated or scared, to be able to bond with an animal is so important. For so many people, it wasn’t just: Oh, it’s convenient. I’m working from home. It’s: I need to have this kind of connection, this unconditional love. And [animals] provide that. That’s who they are. That’s what they do.
— Read on www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/humane-society-president-discusses-the-surge-of-pet-ownership-during-the-pandemic–and-what-animals-can-teach-us/2021/04/27/198f5bcc-9269-11eb-a74e-1f4cf89fd948_story.html

Glaciers are melting faster than they did 15 years ago, study shows | PBS NewsHour

Glaciers are melting faster, losing 31% more snow and ice per year than they did 15 years earlier, according to three-dimensional satellite measurements of all the world’s mountain glaciers.
Scientists blame human-caused climate change.

Using 20 years of recently declassified satellite data, scientists calculated that the world’s 220,000 mountain glaciers are losing more than 328 billion tons (298 billion metric tons) of ice and snow per year since 2015, according to a study in Wednesday’s journal Nature. That’s enough melt flowing into the world’s rising oceans to put Switzerland under almost 24 feet (7.2 meters) of water each year.

The annual melt rate from 2015 to 2019 is 78 billion more tons (71 billion metric tons) a year than it was from 2000 to 2004. Global thinning rates, different than volume of water lost, doubled in the last 20 years and “that’s enormous,” said Romain Hugonnet, a glaciologist at ETH Zurich and the University of Toulouse in France who led the study.
— Read on www.pbs.org/newshour/science/glaciers-are-melting-faster-than-they-did-15-years-ago-study-shows

Elephants Trample Suspected Poacher to Death

An alleged poacher died on Saturday after he was trampled by elephants.
He and two others — both of whom survived — are suspected of hunting for rhinos in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, according to CNN. The trio fled when park rangers started to pursue, unfortunately running into a breeding herd of elephants that weren’t keen on their uninvited company. The story is laced with schadenfreude: man killing vulnerable species gets comeuppance — but it also illustrates how prevalent poaching still remains today, and just how difficult it is to stop it.
Constant Threat
Kruger National Park currently hosts the largest rhino population in the world. Even then, the park is home to only 268 black rhinos and about 3,500 white rhinos. The dwindling numbers illustrate how fragile the species are, yet the concentration of rhinos in one place also makes the park a prime target for poaching — a problem that’s devastated the animals in recent years.
That makes fighting poachers in the park like a game of whack-a-mole, as more and more people attempt to hunt down the rhinos.
— Read on futurism.com/the-byte/elephants-trample-suspected-poacher-death

School Faces Backlash Over Fox Culling

Minet Junior School in Hayes has removed traps set for foxes on their grounds after a public backlash against the practice, which involves killing …

School Faces Backlash Over Fox Culling

Stop Pandemics at the Source – Ban Live Animal Markets and Factory Farms

By: Animal Place

COVID-19 has forever changed our world. In one year, 115 million global cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed. And sadly, 2.5 million people around the world have died. In the United States, over 28.7 million cases have been confirmed and over half a million people have died. 

Most infectious diseases can be traced back to animals, including COVID-19. Large live animal markets provide a perfect breeding ground for a pandemic. So do the livestock auctions and live animal markets of the United States.

But how different is a live animal market abroad or in the U.S. compared to an industrial chicken farm in the United States? The similarities are frightening. 99% of animals raised in the US come from large-scale operations where stressed and terrified animals are crammed into small spaces often living in their own feces and other bodily fluids. 

That’s why calling for an end to wild animal markets is not enough. It is time to make a change. To prevent pandemics like coronavirus we must end the demand for animal flesh and go vegan. 

Stop pandemics where they start. Sign our petition today and demand an end to live animal markets and industrial factory farms.

Petition: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/867/502/137/

Petition: Don’t Annihilate Entire Colony of Cliff Swallows – ForceChange

Target: Caroline Mulroney, Minister, Ministry of Transportation Ontario

Goal: Protect the colony of Cliff Swallows under the Argyle Bridge before it is demolished.

The Argyle Bridge in Ontario is home to the largest colony of Cliff Swallows in the area. Yet it is slated for demolition and reconstruction, posing a serious threat to the birds. The new bridge design does not allow the swallows to make nests as they cannot build on a metal structure, putting the 65 current nests and their residents in danger. Animal protection regulations are being blatantly ignored since any colony over eight nests must be protected.

The government is paying $2 million to protect the local mussel population in the water, but refuses to make any changes to help the Cliff Swallows. This is especially negligent since simple solutions, such as coating the metal beams, would allow the swallows to safely nest.

Sign this petition to urge the government to responsibly care for a protected migratory species, and safeguard the Cliff Swallows.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Honourable Mulroney,

The destruction of the Argyle Bridge also spells destruction for the Cliff Swallows that find homes under its arches. Simple measures can be taken to make the new bridge a suitable habitat for these animals, yet your government is failing to take adequate measures.

The 65 nests under the bridge make perhaps the largest colony in southern Ontario, and it is negligent to ignore the significance of a nest site of this magnitude.

The project is clearly concerned about its environmental impact, as indicated by the vigilance of the mussels in the water, and I urge you to safeguard all animals who are impacted by this construction.

Protect the vulnerable Cliff Swallows under Argyle Bridge.

Sincerely,

Photo Credit: Ingrid Taylar

https://forcechange.com/582036/stop-the-annihilation-of-an-entire-cliff-swallow-colony/