A blog for the conservationists, environmentalists, and animal rights activists. It would be great if we kept the wild in wild animals. // Corrine // beestheword@gmail.com // flickr.com/corhenn

Wolf hunt law approved by Michigan House after heated debate, Capitol protest

"Critics say the wolf population does not justify a hunt so soon after government protections were lifted. They note that existing laws already allow farmers to kill nuisance wolves on their property and that wolves, unlike deer, are not shot for food.

“This isn’t about guns or hunting,” Kathy Karaba of Battle Creek said before the morning rally. “This is about a species of animal that needs to be protected. There is no rhyme or reason for killing these animals.”

Sherri Weigman of Lansing, carrying a “do not silence my vote” sign, said she helped collect signatures for both anti-wolf hunt petition drives and said she was frustrated to see her work go to waste.

“What is being proposed, and what’s being voted on today, is a real slap in the face to democracy,” Weigman said. “I don’t care how you feel about this issue, if the shoe were on the other foot, I’m sure those people wouldn’t like it if all there work was for nil.”

Twenty-two wolves were legally killed in three regions of the UP last year during Michigan’s first-ever wolf hunt, about half the number the state had hoped for.

An MLive.com investigation found government half-truths, falsehoods and livestock numbers skewed by a single farmer distorted some arguments for the inaugural hunt.”

Wolves Vulnerable to Contagious Yawning

"Until now, contagious yawning was thought to be something only humans and other primates like chimpanzees do. Scientists who had looked for evidence of yawn contagion among domestic dogs had gotten mixed results—some studies seemed to show that one dog yawning triggered another dog to yawn, whereas other studies didn’t find any association.

University of Tokyo biologist Teresa Romero was especially interested in how dogs and wolves thought differently, so she figured that investigating contagious yawning among wolves might help provide a better understanding of the two species’ differences. 

Romero wanted the latest study to be in as realistic a setting as possible, so she and her colleagues spent 524 hours over five months observing a pack of 12 wolves at the Tama Zoological Park, which is known for its naturalistic enclosures. They noted every time a wolf yawned spontaneously, then recorded the responses of any wolves nearby that had seen the yawn. The researchers also measured how frequently the wolves yawned without seeing their packmates also doing so.

The researchers found that the wolves were significantly more likely to yawn after seeing another wolf do so than at other times. In 50 percent of their observations, a wolf yawned after seeing another do so; wolves yawned only 12 percent of the time when they didn’t see another wolf do so.

Yawns were also more likely to be contagious among wolves with close social bonds, the researchers report Wednesday in PLOS ONE.

Canine behavior expert Monique Udell of Oregon State University in Corvallis, who was not involved with the study, says some “previous studies concluded that contagious yawning was unique to dogs due to their domestication. This new study shows that might not be the case.”

Washington: Wolf Hunt | Tri-City Herald

"SPOKANE, WASH. — State officials approved the killing of a portion of a wolf pack in northeast Washington, sending hunters aboard a helicopter during the weekend to take aim at the wolves.

Officials from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife approved the killings for the Huckleberry Pack in Stevens County after 22 sheep were killed this month. But a conservation group argues the state did not exhaust non-lethal methods before ordering the hunt.

The hunt’s announcement comes after the state authorized a rancher to shoot the same wolves approaching his flock of 1,800 sheep. The state Fish and Wildlife Department said efforts to deter the pack have failed, The Spokesman-Review reported (http://bit.ly/1tFwf4P).

In an effort to break the predation cycle, agency Director Phil Anderson said he authorized on Saturday the killing of four wolves from the pack, which is estimated at up to 12 members. Officials will later evaluate whether that is enough lethal force to end the sheep attacks.

Gunners in a helicopter began flying over the area near Hunters on Saturday. A wolf was spotted, but officials said no wolves were killed Saturday. A male wolf is wearing a radio collar that researchers attached to monitor the pack.

"As of Friday, we had confirmed that 17 sheep had been killed by wolves in five separate incidents, and we continue to find more dead and wounded sheep from the flock," said Bruce Botka, agency spokesman.

Botka said the situation meets the state’s conditions for lethal removal of wolves, which are protected in eastern Washington by state endangered species laws. The pack is one of about a dozen wolf packs confirmed in eastern Washington.”

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

"CLEARWATER — In a dramatic shift in tone, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Friday unveiled updated plans for its new aquarium in downtown Clearwater.

The new design has a much heavier focus on the aquarium’s longtime mission of rescuing and rehabilitating marine mammals, and ultimately releasing them back into the wild.

Gone from the plans is a proposed stadium with 2,000 seats for tourists to take in dolphin shows. The updated plans feature dolphin habitats, mock turtle rescues and behind-the-scenes tours of animal operating rooms.

CMA also says its new facility will cost $68 million to build, a steep drop from the previous sticker price of $160 million.

This comes at a crucial time for the aquarium, with the Dolphin Tale movie sequel coming out in weeks, an upcoming bid for Pinellas County bed tax dollars, and a massive fundraising effort that’s just now getting off the ground.

Friday’s announcement came at the current aquarium, which has outgrown its location in a former sewage treatment plant in the Island Estates community near Clearwater Beach. Clearwater’s mayor and two previous mayors were in attendance, as well as a crowd of business and tourism officials.

Although no one in the room said so, the new aquarium’s shift in focus could help blunt any animal-rights criticism that gets aimed its way.

Orlando’s SeaWorld theme park is facing plunging stock prices and controversy over its killer whale shows in the wake of the 2013 documentary film Blackfish, which takes a highly critical look at the treatment of marine animals in parks like SeaWorld.”

SeaWorld's Larger Killer Whale Habitats Fail to Appease Animal Rights Advocates

"David Perle, spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had a "Free Willy" take on SeaWorld’s announcement last week: "A bigger prison is still a prison," he said in a statement. PETA is pushing for seaside sanctuaries for the whales so the whales can "feel and experience the ocean again, hear their families and one day be reunited with them."

SeaWorld’s big-dollar counter punch is based on a conservation brand message that downplays the circus-like atmosphere of whale shows.

The public will able to “walk alongside the whales as if they were at the beach, watch them interact at ocean depths or from a birds-eye viewing gallery nearly four stories high,” according to SeaWorld Entertainment president and CEO Jim Atchison. He told Travel Weekly: “Our vision for our new killer whale homes and research initiatives is to advance global understanding of these animals, to educate and to inspire conservation efforts to protect killer whales in the wild.”

Exotic animal abuse nets man, 18, a $700 fine

"An 18-year-old man has been fined $700 and banned from owning pets for a decade after Calgary Humane Society officers discovered nine distressed exotic animals in his care.

The man had been operating an animal rescue called Calgary Critter Care for about a year and soliciting animals online when it came to the society’s attention in March, officials said.

“The message here is to know your limits, whether as a pet owner or as a rescue group,” said Brad Nichols, manager of cruelty investigations.

“Calgary is saturated with animal rescues of varying legitimacy and it is crucial they be aware that the animal care duties and offences outlined in the Animal Protection Act pertain to them, just as they would a pet owner.”

How the Wildlife Trade Relates to Other Illicit Trades

"In the famous words of Mahatma Gandhi, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Orlando Sentinel: SeaWorld to expand killer whale habitat

Do those that classify themselves as “animal activists” not also make up members of the public?

"The project is "not a concession" to SeaWorld’s critics, SeaWorld Orlando president Terry Prather said. "We’re not doing this for animal activists. We’re doing this for the public, we’re doing it for our partners, our scientists and researchers. We’re doing it for us because this is what we do."