What's Killing The Animals?

TheQuixote

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Dog poo blamed for river problem
By Bianca Wordley
January 17, 2005

DOG poo is being blamed for e-coli in Melbourne's waterway, the Yarra River.

The Victorian Government, which has come under fire for the dirty state of the river after 100 eels were found dead, said more people needed to be aware that not picking up after their dog could be contributing to the problem.

"There can be up to 90 tonnes of dog poo that's washed down into the river system and then into the bay, and that's the principal cause of e-coli into the river," Environment Minister John Thwaites said today.


"All of us need to do more to reduce litter.

"That's why we are talking about a major public education change so that people understand that whatever they drop in the street could end up in the river and that leads to pollution."

Mr Thwaites said while dog excrement was one of the major causes of e-coli in the river, decaying organic matter such as dead birds and trees also could add to the problem.

He said e-coli levels were higher in parts of the river that run through the city. In suburban areas, the bacteria levels were low enough for people to safely swim, he said.

Attention was drawn to the quality of the river's water after 100m-long eels were found dead in the Yarra last week.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) said it appeared the eels might have been killed by a virus, bacteria or toxicant several weeks ago and washed downstream to the Clifton Hill and Richmond area in inner Melbourne.

Mr Thwaites said it appeared the eels' death was not linked to water quality but further investigation was needed to be sure.

Nonetheless, the State Government would ask the EPA to look at the possibility of establishing an e-coli early warning system, similar to that already in place in Port Phillip Bay, in a bid to tackle the pollution problem.

"In the case of the (Yarra) river, I will seek advice from the EPA whether we should have a system for the river like we have for Port Phillip Bay which will warn people of high e-coli levels," he said.

He said the State Government had applied to the National Water Commission for extra federal funding for a range of water programs, including storm water management.

"Victoria's done what we can, but we are still waiting to hear from the federal government," he said.

At the weekend, state Opposition environment spokesman Phil Honeywood accused the Government of hiding the truth about the river's pollution levels.

"There's a cover-up going on," Mr Honeywood said, after the dead eels were discovered.

"Until we know what's going on with this river we need to have more regular (testing), ... regular updates on water quality testing and then we need to have the government putting in the funding to ensure we know where the problem is coming from."

E-coli infection is caused by one of the hundreds of strains of the Escherichia coli bacterium.

Although most strains are harmless and live in the intestines of healthy humans and animals, this strain produces a powerful toxin and can cause severe illness and death.

© The Australian

The Australian

-I'm fairly sure that the 100m-long eels is a typo error but there's still part of me praying to God that eels don't grow that long...
 

rynner2

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Attention was drawn to the quality of the river's water after 100m-long eels were found dead in the Yarra last week.

-I'm fairly sure that the 100m-long eels is a typo error but there's still part of me praying to God that eels don't grow that long...
Let's hope it was one hundred metre-long eels! :shock:
 

TheQuixote

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Wed 19 Jan 2005
Two birds of prey 'were poisoned'

JOHN ROSS

EXPERTS claim two birds of prey have been illegally poisoned on a Highland estate.

The RSPB says tests on a rare red kite and a buzzard found dead on the shooting estate near Cromdale in Strathspey have revealed that they were killed by the poison carbofuran.

The kite had been radio-tagged as a chick for research purposes and RSPB Scotland staff had constantly tracked its movements. When the bird stopped moving, officers were able to pinpoint its location and found it dead at the top of a fir tree in remote woodland.

Police and an RSPB investigations officer visited the scene and found three dead buzzards. Tests revealed that one of these birds had also been killed by the toxin.

Legislation due to come into effect this spring will make the possession of carbofuran an offence.

The Scotsman
 

TheQuixote

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Evil little b*stards...

Mystery of the killer dolphins

Paul Brown, environment correspondent
Wednesday January 19, 2005
The Guardian

Porpoises are being killed in increasing numbers by bottlenose dolphins around British coasts, apparently because of competition for food.
Lack of fish and hunger turn the playful dolphin into a killer, according to the scientists who monitor and carry out postmortem examinations on dead mammals washed up around the coasts.


The dolphins, which are more than three metres (10ft) long, attack the harbour porpoises, less than two-thirds their size, ramming them with their beaks and causing internal injuries, including broken ribs and even dislocating the spine. In some cases tooth marks are left on the skin.

In the past 10 years the number of stranded porpoises has risen by 300%, and their injuries show that up to three-quarters of them may have died as a result of dolphin attacks.

The additional deaths coincides with the successful introduction of measures to reduce the accidental deaths in fishing nets, and are a setback to the conservation programme.

The Natural History Museum, which coordinates the research, said the number of strandings had risen to 126 last year, from 40 in 1995.

Postmortem evidence of attacks by bottlenose dolphins had tripled in the past three years.

A number of theories have been put forward to explain why the dolphins are making so many attacks, ranging from honing their hunting skills to venting their frustration at being unable to find mates.

But Rod Penrose, spokesman for the museum's strandings coordination group, believes competition for food is the cause.

Analysis of the stomachs of the dead porpoises has shown that they had all eaten recently, and had taken some unusual fish species, indicating a difficulty finding their normal prey.

"There are a number of possible reasons for the deaths but I personally believe the cause is food," Mr Penrose said.

"There is an even number of males and females killed. Dolphins are attacking juveniles and adults and even pregnant porpoises. The only conclusion I can come up with is competition for food.

"It must be down to a decline in fish, but we don't have the data to back this up. Anecdotal evidence from fisherman suggest this but we have no proof.

"What we need to look at is the movement of fish, and to see if the catch has declined. This would help a great deal."

Most of the strandings have been on the Welsh coast. Of the 126 found last year, 48 were fit for postmortem examination, and 25 of them had been killed by dolphins.

Guardian Unlimited
 

TheQuixote

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National Zoo Still Struggling, Report Finds
Wed Jan 19, 2005 01:52 PM ET

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The National Zoo in Washington, plagued by a string of animal deaths including red pandas poisoned by rat bait, is improving but staff still needs basic animal care training, the National Research Council said on Wednesday.

The report was the last by the council, part of the National Academy of Sciences, requested last year by Congress to assess the institution following a series of high-profile animal deaths at the nation's flagship zoo.

Despite publicity surrounding the deaths of the pandas, a zebra killed though neglect and a lion that died after a minor operation, most of the animals are getting proper care, the report concluded.

The highly publicized deaths were blamed on bad management and zoo director Lucy Spelman announced her resignation last February, hours after the National Research Council's interim report faulting the park's handling of animals.

In this latest report, the council said staff needed to learn how to communicate better and to take responsibility. The council, an independent organization that advises the federal government on scientific issues, also said staff needed basic training in animal nutrition.

One Grevy's zebra died of starvation and hypothermia in February 2000, because trainers did not give it enough hay to eat and because no one reported problems with heat lamps, the report said.

The zoo now plans to hire a clinical nutritionist, the report said.

"Many solid first steps have been taken, but the turnaround is far from complete," said R. Michael Roberts, a professor of animal sciences, at the University of Missouri, who chaired the committee.

The zoo said it was continuing to work on improvements and would continue to report to Congress. The zoo is part of the nonprofit Smithsonian Institution, overseen by Congress, and got $28.4 million in federal funding in 2003.

With its designation as National Zoo and its location in downtown Washington, it comes under extra scrutiny.

Spelman's job of director has been open since Dec. 31 and Smithsonian Institution Undersecretary of Science David Evans is acting as director and leading the search for a replacement, a spokeswoman said.

"It's a big job and we not only need someone that is credible in zoology, biology and conservation, but also a good communicator," spokeswoman Peper Long said. "They need to be able to talk the public."
The report said staff clearly cared about the animals but it added: "It is apparent to the committee that the zoo's deterioration evident in the fall of 2003 was the result of long-standing, systemic problems at the highest levels of the zoo's operations."

It said, however, that after studying 48 animal deaths since 1999, it had found that "publicized deaths there were not indicative of wider, undiscovered problems with animal care."

The report did not examine the zoo's scientific program but praised it. The zoo has recently helped breed a litter of rare clouded leopards in Thailand and four endangered cheetah cubs were born in Washington in November although their father died soon afterward.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Reuters
 

TheQuixote

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Devil bites transmit cancer
By Andrew Darby
January 22, 2005

A disease devastating Tasmanian devils may be an extremely rare, transmissable cancer, spread when sick animals bite healthy ones and transmit tumour cells.

Scientists working to understand Devil Facial Tumour Disease have found evidence that it is being passed on, wholesale, in their quarrelsome socialising. Only one other such disease is known to exist in animals, among dogs.

First reported in 2003, it is thought to have cut the total population by as much as two-thirds and spread over more than 65 per cent of the island, according to a Tasmanian Government report released yesterday.

In some areas, it has reduced some devil numbers by more than 80 per cent. A wildlife specialist said monitoring the animals was becoming more distressing. "Even when we catch squeaky clean juveniles, we know they are going to be horribly diseased in a couple of years," said Nick Mooney, from the state's Nature Conservation Branch. "We are seeing less than half of 1 per cent. There are tens of thousands of badly diseased animals we'll never know about." The disease usually shows up on sexually mature devils as lesions on the face and neck, before forming tumours, then open abscesses. "At the end stage, they just seem to drop dead in mid-stride," he said.

Scientists working at the State Government's Mount Pleasant Laboratories and the Australian Animal Health Laboratories are close to ruling out a viral cause. A trial is about to examine whether natural or man-made toxins could be to blame. There was speculation last year that chemicals such as 1080 poison or herbicide sprays could be implicated.

But the scientists are closer to understanding why the cancer spreads so rapidly. The way the tumour rearranges chromosomes in individual animals is identical, regardless of sex. "This has led to the hypothesis that the tumour may be passed from animal to animal directly by implantation of the cell line during fighting and biting," the report said. "Tasmanian devils, by virtue of their behaviour, are possibly one of very few species where this mode of transmission would apply."

With the devil population reduced from an estimated 150,000 in the mid-1990s to as few as 50,000 now, the Government is considering whether to establish captive populations outside disease zones to maintain genetic diversity.

"Extinction of the devil is unlikely, but there is a big question mark at the moment over the long-term performance of this disease," Mr Mooney said.

The Age
Those with a very squeamish disposition would do well not to follow the link as it shows a Tasmanian Devil with said facial disease.
 

Number 6

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The cat killer of County Durham

I'm not sure if this qualifies as Fortean or not, but it's certainly a little odd.

Serial killer feared as cats are poisoned
By Ian Herbert, North of England Correspondent

03 February 2005

The cat-flaps of Coxhoe in Co Durham were firmly fastened yesterday and every feline inhabitant confined to quarters as police officers launched an investigation into crimes that have left the former mining village in a state of profound agitation.

Few care to articulate the rumours of a cat serial killer which have spread through the village in recent days but the words on the posters pinned to local telegraph poles say everything: "Poisoner" and "Be vigilant", they warn.

The rumours began circulating around the quiet village, near the cathedral city of Durham, on Sunday night, hours after Helen and David Murray-English, IT managers who live in one of the modern detached houses on Ashbourne Drive, discovered Lily, their four-year-old black cat, dead in the front garden.

The couple might have put it down to misfortune were it not for the calamity about to befall Andrew Keelty, 34, an engineer, and his wife, Amanda, 31, a digital artist, who live across the road. Returning later in the day from a weekend break in the Lake District, they were told by a neighbour that Sacha, their four-year-old cat, had also been found dead. By nightfall, a second Murray-English cat, nine-month-old Bluebell, had vanished from the cul-de-sac and the police were called in.

Coxhoe's amateur sleuths have discovered a number of coincidences. The dead cats were found within hours of each other, both in the street, both yards from the front doors of their homes and both with foam coming from their mouths.

Lost cats of every shape and size have been recalled in the past four days - such as the Ashbourne Drive casualty whose recent death was put down to a garden accident, and the tabby which mysteriously vanished from the same cul-de-sac only last month. At least five appear to have gone in just one year.

"I know some people have an aversion to cats but if Sacha was poisoned deliberately it was a cruel and heartless thing to do," said Mrs Murray-English, 34, who was going out for Sunday lunch when she found Lily, lying dead in their garden.

"We would have normally taken her to a cattery while we went away for the weekend, which was to celebrate my birthday. But our neighbour said he would pop in, feed her and let her out. She never strays far and had a gentle nature. It does make you wonder if there is somebody with a grudge against cats living in the street."

Coxhoe is not alone in nursing its suspicions. The east Lancashire village of Lumb is still no nearer an explanation of a baffling sequences of cat disappearances which happened within a few weeks. There is an abundance of theories and, in the words of PC Bill King, the neighbourhood officer, "none of them are pleasant".

The creatures have been taken for the fur trade, say some. A serial cat killer is on the loose, claim others. There is even a suggestion that the cats have been sold to research laboratories. Talk of catnapping is not always urban myth in these cases. Nigel Hibbs, a serial cat killer, was convicted of tempting pets to their deaths with cyanide-laced sardines and kippers four years ago.

But Durham Police played its cards close to its chest yesterday. "An officer attended the scene. At this stage it is not known what the cause of death was," said a spokesman. "The beat officer for the area has been informed and we have promised to give the area close attention in case this was a deliberate act."

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/crime/story.jsp?story=607238
 
A

Anonymous

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*utters a prayer to Ubasti, demanding vengeance*

Not really, but maan.. that is so vile. :x :(
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Tigers of Rajasthan 'disappear'

A massive search for tigers in a wildlife reserve in India's western state of Rajasthan has failed to find firm evidence any of them are alive.

Three hundred forestry workers spent two weeks looking for tiger paw prints in the Sariska reserve, set up in 1979 as part of a tiger conservation scheme.

Environmentalists say 15 tigers counted there last May have disappeared.

India is estimated to have more than 3,000 tigers, accounting for about half the world's tiger population.

Trapping

Forestry officials told the BBC they were hopeful they might still find tigers during a census planned for May.

Since last May's count, traps have been found in the forest.

The environmentalists say mining in the area is also destroying the tigers' habitat.

Prominent social worker Rajendar Singh said conservation measures had increased tiger numbers to 20 by 2001 but said officials had failed to react to the danger of trapping.

----------------
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/w ... 270845.stm

Published: 2005/02/16 13:25:20 GMT

© BBC MMV

I'm just hoping somewhere there is a note saying "so long and thanks for all the goas" (or even humans ;) ).
 

boynamedsue

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Bastards. What kind of person will take part in hunting an animal to extinction. I think I'd probably shoot the people responsible.
 

TheQuixote

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Mon. Feb. 21 2005 11:24 PM ET

14 more slaughtered eagles found in B.C.
Canadian Press

VANCOUVER — Fourteen more eagles believed slaughtered for their talons and tail feathers have been found in North Vancouver, prompting the B.C. government to add to the reward money already posted.

The discovery on the weekend comes less than a month after the remains of 26 other eagles were found.

In both cases, the birds' talons and tail feathers had been removed.

The Ministry of Land, Water and Air Protection said Monday it is posting a $5,000 reward, bringing to $10,000 the total reward money being offered.

In addition to the ministry's reward, the District of North Vancouver and the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation are offering a total of $4,000 and the Humane Society of Canada, $1,000.

The B.C. Wildlife Federation has a standing reward of $2,000 for information leading to the conviction of those found responsible for breaking wildlife laws.

Under the province's Wildlife Act, penalties for poaching or trafficking in eagle parts can be as high as $50,000 for a first offence.

Under federal legislation for illegal export, penalties can be as high as $150,000 and five years imprisonment.

The initial discovery Feb. 2 was made by a woman who stumbled across several shallow graves.

The eagle carcasses were found discarded in a ravine on native reserve land with their feet cut off and their back feathers hacked.

Officials said it was likely the birds' legs and feathers were sold on the black market, possibly illegally smuggled into the United States.

About half the world's 70,000 bald eagles live in Alaska while British Columbia is home to about 20,000.
© 2005 Bell Globemedia Inc.

CTV.ca
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Mystery of the silent woodlands: scientists are baffled as bird numbers plummet

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor

25 February 2005

It has hardly been noticed, but it is another sinister warning sign of a world going badly wrong. Populations of some of Britain's most attractive woodland birds are plummeting at a rate that threatens them with extinction, and nobody knows why.

Precipitous declines in the numbers of some species, of up to four-fifths, have been registered over the past 30 years, but scientists are just realising what is happening, and they have no simple explanation.

In its scale and its range, the phenomenon is one of the most ominous events in the natural history of Britain over the past half-century. Perversely, the decline comes at a time when Britain is planting more woodlands than ever, and forest management has never been more sympathetic to wildlife conservation.

About a dozen species of small birds that have flitted through our woodlands for thousands of years are suddenly in serious trouble. This may be associated with climate change, linked to the damage that excess deer numbers are doing to the undergrowth in woodlands, or in some cases, linked to trouble for birds on migration routes to and from Africa.

The endangered species are less familiar than common garden visitors such as robins and blackbirds, which is perhaps why their disappearance has taken longer to register. But now a study, appearing next month, makes the picture clear for the first time.

It shows that five of the species - the spotted flycatcher, the lesser spotted woodpecker, the lesser whitethroat, the lesser redpoll and the tree pipit - plunged by more than three-quarters between 1966 and 1999, and continues to decline.

The population of the spotted flycatcher fell by no less than 85 per cent, and that of the lesser spotted woodpecker by 81 per cent. Another five species - the willow tit, the marsh tit, the woodcock, the dunnock or hedge sparrow and the willow warbler - fell by between half and three-quarters, and two more species, the songthrush and the bullfinch, fell by nearly a half.

Yet another group, for which there are no reliable numerical figures, is nevertheless known to have fallen significantly in either numbers or in range, or in both. These include the long-eared owl, the hawfinch and the nightingale.

In southern England, where the situation is worst, some of these species have virtually disappeared. "These birds are falling off the radar in a quite catastrophic way and we have no real idea why," said Graham Appleton of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Britain's leading bird research organisation. Three of its researchers, Rob Fuller, David Noble and Des Vanhinsbergh, produced the study with Ken Smith, a researcher from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

The most puzzling and perhaps most worrying aspect of the woodland bird decline, apart from its remarkable scale, is that there is no obvious single cause, as there has been with the dramatic and well-known decline over the past 30 years of British birds on farmland.

Species of the fields such as the skylark, the grey partridge, the corn bunting and the turtle dove have also dropped enormously in numbers, but the reason is well-known, the range of new agricultural practices that came in with the intensive farming revolution.

Turning these declines around by more wildlife-friendly farming methods is now official government policy, and may well eventually succeed.

But the difficulty with addressing the woodland bird decline is that there is no obvious simple reason for it, and thus no obvious simple solution.

In their study, which will be published in the March edition of the journal British Birds, the researchers offer seven possible causes which may be behind the declines. They are:

* Pressures on migrant birds during migration, or on their wintering grounds in Africa;

* Climate change in Britain itself, especially changes in the timing of the emergence of insects used as food, and the drying-out of woodlands;

* Reduction in the actual numbers of insects and other invertebrates;

* Impacts of land use on woodland edges and on habitats outside woodland;

* Reduced management of lowland woodland;

* Intensified habitat modification by deer, which eat the woodland bushes, shrubs and grasses, and stop regeneration of trees, reducing nesting areas and insect populations;

* New pressure on nests and young birds from predators, such as grey squirrels, members of the crow family, and great spotted woodpeckers.

But at present, these possibilities are speculative, and the true causes of an enormous change in Britain's natural environment remain a mystery.

Source
 
A

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Dolphin Beaching Followed Sub's Exercises

Sat Mar 5, 7:02 PM ET

U.S. National - AP

KEY WEST, Fla. - The Navy and marine wildlife experts are investigating whether the beaching of dozens of dolphins in the Florida Keys followed the use of sonar by a submarine on a training exercise off the coast.

More than 20 rough-toothed dolphins have died since Wednesday's beaching by about 70 of the marine mammals, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary spokeswoman Cheva Heck said Saturday.

A day before the dolphins swam ashore, the USS Philadelphia had conducted exercises with Navy SEALs off Key West, about 45 miles from Marathon, where the dolphins became stranded.

Navy officials refused to say if the submarine, based at Groton, Conn., used its sonar during the exercise.

Some scientists surmise that loud bursts of sonar, which can be heard for miles in the water, may disorient or scare marine mammals, causing them to surface too quickly and suffer the equivalent of what divers know as the bends — when sudden decompression forms nitrogen bubbles in tissue.

"This is absolutely high priority," said Lt. Cdr. Jensin Sommer, spokeswoman for Norfolk, Va.-based Naval Submarine Forces. "We are looking into this. We want to be good stewards of the environment, and any time there are strandings of marine mammals, we look into the operations and locations of any ships that might have been operating in that area."

Experts are conducting necropsies on the dead dolphins, looking for signs of trauma that could have been inflicted by loud noises.

source
 

lopaka

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Despite the waving away of any possible effects on humans, previous articles, like this one http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewt ... 492#443492
say the jury's still out. Something that is quite strange, and also goes unmentioned, is that the disease had been confined entirely to the midwest and west and now jumps way out to the northeast (in a captive herd) without any outbreaks in-between.

New Case of Wasting Disease in N.Y. Deer

By MICHAEL HILL
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Chronic wasting disease was discovered in a second captive deer in central New York, days after the deadly malady was first detected in the state, agricultural officials said Saturday.

Both white-tailed deer had been part of captive herds in Oneida County, east of Syracuse. The second positive case was discovered in a small herd that had taken in animals from the herd that yielded the initial confirmed case earlier this week, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Chronic wasting disease - called CWD - is a degenerative neurological illness that is deadly to some deer and elk species. There is no evidence that CWD is harmful to humans or other domestic livestock.

The second confirmed case was discovered in a four- to five-year-old deer that died of pneumonia on its owner's property two weeks ago. The deer was tested under mandatory state screening program.

New York agricultural officials said Saturday they were trying to determine the source of the disease in both animals, but stressed it should not be considered a public health threat.

``This is an animal health issue first and foremost. There's no link to disease in humans,'' said state agricultural spokeswoman Jessica Chittenden. ``We're doing everything we can to control this.''

The herd that yielded the initial positive, as well as six other captive herds that potentially came into contact with that herd, have been quarantined. Animals in the two herds with confirmed positives will be killed and tested for CWD.

Meanwhile, state environmental officials were testing wild deer in the largely rural county to determine if the disease has spread beyond captive animals.

``We will be sampling a lot of deer in a limited area in a short period of time,'' said Gerry Barnhart, director of state Department of Environmental Conservation's Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources division.

State officials have not identified the herd owners. But they said Saturday that the owner of the first deer to test positive held game breeding and wildlife rehabilitation licenses, sold animals and donated meat from his herd. The owner of the second deer kept a small number for pleasure, according to agricultural and environmental officials.

The disease has been detected in wild and captive deer and elk populations in 12 states, including Wisconsin, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. It also has been found in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada.

Scientists don't know how the disease is transmitted among animals. Symptoms of the disease include weight loss, stumbling, tremors, lack of coordination and listlessness.


04/02/05 20:51

© Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SOURCE
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Now this is very weird!!!!

Last Update: Sunday, April 24, 2005. 9:26am (AEST)

Exploding toads baffle experts


Hundreds of toads have met an unexplained, explosive demise in Germany in recent days, it was reported on Saturday.

According to reports from animal welfare workers and veterinarians as many as a thousand of the amphibians have perished after their bodies swelled to bursting point and their entrails were propelled for up to a metre.

It is like "a science fiction film", according to Werner Smolnik of a nature protection society in the northern city of Hamburg, where the phenomenon of the exploding toad has been observed.

"You see the animals crawling on the ground, swelling and then exploding," he said.

He said the bodies of the toads expanded to three-and-a-half times their normal size.

"I have never seen such a thing," said veterinarian Otto Horst.

So bad has the death toll been that the lake in the Altona district of Hamburg has been dubbed "the pond of death".

Access to it has been sealed off and every night a biologist visits it between 2:00am and 3:00am, which appears to be peak time for batrachians to go bang.

Explanations include an unknown virus, a fungus that has infected the water, or crows, which in an echo of the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds, attack the toads, literally scaring them to death.

Source

:confused:
 

Mighty_Emperor

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fluffle said:
Exploding toads baffle experts

rat poison, maybe?

Pos. a fungus?

Some rather odd opinions here like suicide?

And possible transmission of whatever it is to people???

April 26, 2005

Mystery of toads that explode in the night

From Roger Boyes in Berlin

AN OUTBREAK of exploding toads is perplexing the residents of Hamburg. The affected creatures seem to behave quite normally, croaking and languidly snapping up flies. Suddenly, after nightfall, they start to balloon to more than three times their normal size and can barely crawl before popping. Their entrails are expelled distances of up to one metre.

Thousands of the green amphibians have died this way. “It is a deeply shocking sight,” said Werner Smolnik, a leading activist from the Nabu environmental protection group.

A meeting of wildlife experts has been summoned to explain the phenomenon, which has occurred near a lake in a fashionable part of the city. Tabloid newspapers have already called it the “Pond of Death.”

Dogs and children have been warned away. The force of the explosions is impressive. “It’s like hitting a slightly rotten orange with a golf iron,” one Green activist explained yesterday.

Heidi Mayerhofer, a biologist who has been called in to find an answer to the riddle, said: “The worst thing is that they’re not dead immediately. They have to fight for their lives for minutes on end despite the fact that their entrails have been shot across the park.”

The experts’ main concern is that the illness could spread. “We cannot exclude some possibility of humans being infected,” Herr Smolnik said. Water samples from the lake have been taken for analysis but no obvious bacteria or deadly pollution seems to be present in the water.

Other explanations are a virus or a new breed of aggressive crows. The birds have been seen attacking toads and one theory is that the toads swell up as a defence mechanism which then gets out of control. Alternatively, the toads could be committing suicide in order to protect the toad community as a whole. Attacks by crows have certainly diminished since the toads started to blow themselves up.

Germans are particularly attached to toads and they have become, in some respects, a symbol of the Green movement. The Government has allocated £153,000 for toad tunnels underneath roads to protect the animals from traffic.

Source

And if people are interested there is a slideshow here:

Exploding Toads Baffle Experts

POSTED: 9:34 am CDT April 24, 2005
UPDATED: 10:10 pm CDT April 24, 2005

Scientists in Hamburg, Germany, are baffled by the strange deaths of hundreds of toads after they apparently exploded in and around a pond, according to a Local 6 News report.

As many as 1,000 toads have died after their bodies swelled to bursting point and then exploded, according to reports from animal welfare workers and veterinarians.

The area around the pond in Hamburg has been cordoned off as experts investigate the dead toads.

Scientists are looking at a fungus that may have been spread by foreign race horses from a nearby track, Local 6 News reported Sunday.

Source
 

sunsplash1

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When we do find out how the toads are exploding, please let Australia know. Bit of a problem here with toads NOT exploding.. :D
 

Anome

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Maybe it's invisible school children with golf clubs?
 

sjwk0

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Exploding toads

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/04/28/exploding_german_toads/
German toad experts are baffled by an acute outbreak of exploding toad syndrome which has totalled hundreds of the amphibians since the beginning of the month. The former inhabitants of a Hamburg pond - now chillingly renamed the "pond of death" - spontaneously swelled to enormous proportions before going bang, in the process propelling their entrails for up to a metre.

Hamburg nature protection society spokesman, Werner Smolnik, told the Hamburger Abendblatt daily: "It looks like a scene from a science-fiction movie. The bloated animals suffer for several minutes before they finally die."

Janne Kloepper, a boffin at Hamburg-based Institute for Hygiene and the Environment, added: "It's absolutely strange. We have a really unique story here in Hamburg. This phenomenon really doesn't seem to have appeared anywhere before." She added that lab tests have ruled out a bacteriological or viral cause of the explosions, and have further shown the pond water to be normal. Tests for another possible agent - a fungus accidently introduced from South America* - have also proved negative.

The authorities have moved swiftly to protect the public from the exploding toad menace. The pond is now closed and a biologist is on station every night between 2 and 3am, when toad explosions reach a peak.

In Australia, meanwhile, we're certain that toadologists are awaiting with eager anticipation the identification of the cause of the exploding German toad. Oz currently hosts 100 million unwelcome cane toads and there's nothing the Aussies would like more than to see a landscape littered with the corpses of eviscerated, exploded toads.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Now this blames birds and pos. something close ot mass hysteria:

Why are Hamburg's toads exploding?

David Adam
Thursday April 28, 2005
The Guardian

Experts, once again, are baffled. The mutilated bodies of hundreds of toads were found littering a Hamburg pond last weekend, all with their internal organs exposed and their livers missing. Witnesses said they saw the unfortunate creatures "crawling on the ground, swelling and then exploding". The bodies seemingly grew to three and a half times their normal size. "I have never seen such a thing," said Werner Smolnik, of a nature protection society in the city. The lake, now nicknamed "the pond of death", was sealed off.

Possible explanations ranged from the bizarre - passing traffic lowering the air pressure - to the even more bizarre - similar tales are told of seagulls eating discarded carbide and exploding when it reacted with gut juices to release acetylene gas.

Janne Kloepper, of the Hamburg Institute for Hygiene and the Environment, says tests have revealed no suspicious bacteria, viruses or fungi in the water, carcasses or living toads to explain what happened.

His best guess is that a flock of seagulls or crows attacked the toads as they waddled en masse towards the water to lay their eggs. That could explain why so many toads had their tasty internal organs exposed.

"If people see toads that look like they've exploded it's almost certainly birds," agrees John Wilkinson, who runs thetoadsite.co.uk. "Crows especially are very good at eating the insides and leaving the skin."

And what of the witnesses, who saw the animals detonate? "I will not doubt what those people say," Kloepper says. Perhaps it was toads with damaged skin attempting to swell themselves in defence. "It's a mystery," he says. "But I hope not a ghost mystery."

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Mighty_Emperor

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But these suggest it may be the crows:

Last Update: Friday, April 29, 2005. 8:03am (AEST)

Hungry crows behind toad explosions

Toads have been exploding by the hundred in Germany because they are being attacked by crows, a veterinary surgeon has revealed.

Animal welfare workers and veterinarians had reported that as many as 1,000 toads had swelled to bursting point and exploded in recent days, propelling their entrails up to a metre into the air.

Veterinary surgeon Frank Mutschmann, who has examined the remains of the toads, says they have been pierced with a single peck by crows trying to eat their livers.

This in turn causes the toads to explode.

"The toads swell up as a form of self-defence," Dr Mutschmann said.

"But when their livers are taken away and their stomachs are punctured, their blood vessels explode, their lungs collapse and the other organs come out."

He says that between three and five crows could kill around 100 toads.

"Crows are intelligent animals. They learn very quickly how to eat the toads' livers," he said.

So many toads have died in a lake in the Altona district of Hamburg that it has been dubbed "the pond of death."

Source

Hungry crows may be behind exploding toads

More than 1,000 creatures have puffed up and popped


The Associated Press
Updated: 4:10 p.m. ET April 28, 2005

BERLIN - What’s making toads puff up and explode in northern Europe? More than 1,000 toad corpses have been found at a pond in an upscale neighborhood in Hamburg and over the border in Denmark after bloating and bursting.

It’s left onlookers baffled. The pond water in Hamburg has been tested, but its quality is no better or worse than elsewhere in the city. The toad remains have been checked for a virus or bacterium, but none has been found.

One German scientist studying the splattered amphibian remains has a theory: Hungry crows are pecking out their livers.

“The crows are clever,” said Frank Mutschmann, a Berlin veterinarian who collected and tested specimens at the Hamburg pond. “They learn quickly from watching other crows how to get the livers.”

Based on the wounds, Mutschmann said, it appears that a bird pecks into the toad with its beak between the amphibian’s chest and abdominal cavity, and the toad puffs itself up as a natural defense mechanism.

But, because the liver is missing and there’s a hole in the toad’s body, the blood vessels and lungs burst and the other organs ooze out, he said.

As gruesome as it sounds, it isn’t actually that unusual, he said.

“It’s not unique — it’s in a city area, and that makes it spectacular,” Mutschmann said. “Of course, it’s something very dramatic.”

There have also been reports of exploded toads in a pond near Laasby in central Jutland in Denmark.

Horror scene

Local environmental workers in Hamburg have described it as a scene out of a horror or science fiction movie, with the bloated frogs agonizing and twitching for several minutes, inflating like balloons before they suddenly burst.

“It’s horrible,” biologist Heidi Mayerhoefer was quoted as telling the daily Hamburger Morgenpost.

“The toads burst, the entrails slide out. But the animal isn’t immediately dead — they keep struggling for several minutes.”

Hamburg’s Institute for Hygiene and the Environment regularly tests water quality in the city and has found no evidence the toads were diseased. The institute also ruled out a fungus brought in from South America was infecting the toads.

Other theories have been that horses on a nearby track might have infected the amphibians with a virus, or even that the toads are committing suicide to save others from overpopulation.

Could hungry crows be a reasonable answer?

“We haven’t seen that. It might be, it might not be,” said institute spokeswoman Janne Kloepper. “It’s speculation,” until it’s observed, she added.

In the meantime, officials in Hamburg have advised residents to stay away from the pond, which German tabloids have dubbed “the death pool.”

-----------------------
© 2005 The Associated Press.

Source
 

Yithian

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[i:6i6s7jrd]The Grauniad[/i] said:
Why are Hamburg's toads exploding?


That's a fantastic headline. An understated parody of Daily Mail-esque "Why are our children turning to cake?" - type stories.

:D
 
A

Anonymous

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If toads explode when crows peck their livers, and crows are so clever, why aren't toads exploding all over the place?
 

fluffle9

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Wenna said:
If toads explode when crows peck their livers, and crows are so clever, why aren't toads exploding all over the place?

The crows still have to learn to do it - i guess probably one clever crow works it out and the rest in the area learn from it. maybe Australia should have a crow-teaching programme, to deal with their toad problem.

What i want to know is WHY the crows want to eat the liver, and only the liver, of the toads.
 
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Anonymous

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fluffle said:
The crows still have to learn to do it - i guess probably one clever crow works it out and the rest in the area learn from it. maybe Australia should have a crow-teaching programme, to deal with their toad problem.

What i want to know is WHY the crows want to eat the liver, and only the liver, of the toads.

That's a fair point. And Hamburg's crows do seem to be unusual.

Two years ago, the city's crows gained notoriety after they mysteriously attacked joggers, Hitchcock-style, in a Hamburg park without warning.

In the worst incident, about 20 crows "dive-bombed" passers-by, sending one woman screaming from the park with birds clinging to her hair, pecking at her face and ears. As with the toads, the cause remains a mystery.
 

uair01

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You can find a picture of one dead toad and the small Hamburg pond here:

This is the whole article, click the picture at left:
http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/erde/0,1518,353749,00.html

I hope these links lead directly to the large pictures:
http://www.spiegel.de/img/0,1020,465249,00.jpg
http://www.spiegel.de/img/0,1020,465245,00.jpg

The vet says that 3 to 5 crows are enough to kill hundreds of toads.

Berliner Tierarzt Frank Mutschmann: Schon drei bis fünf der Vögel könnten ausreichen, Hunderte Kröten zu öffnen. "Die lernen schnell, wie man in kurzer Zeit an viele leckere Lebern kommen kann."
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Chlamydia Outbreak Kills a Dozen Penguins

Fri May 6, 8:00 AM ET

SAN FRANCISCO - An outbreak of chlamydia at the San Francisco Zoo has left a dozen penguins dead, according to a spokesman.



The bacteria, which was most likely transmitted to the birds by an infected seagull, is spread through airborne saliva or other bodily fluids, said Bob Jenkins, the zoo's director of animal care and conservation. A similar disease is sexually transmitted in humans.

"One quick exposure and you're off and running," Jenkins said, adding that at its height, nearly 80 percent of the zoo's penguin colony was infected. "It required very aggressive treatment on our part."

Zoo workers first noticed several lethargic birds about two months ago. The penguins that died were mostly original members of the colony and about 20-years old, Jenkins said. Their weakened immune systems led to kidney failure and respiratory distress, which eventually killed them. The average penguin's life span is 15 to 20 years.

Precautions were taken to ensure no other animals or human visitors were infected. Only certain keepers wearing special clothing and masks took care of the penguins, the whole area was routinely disinfected and the birds were treated with antibiotics, Jenkins said. He added this was the first chlamydia outbreak among the penguins.

Some of the zoo's 55 remaining penguins are still recovering, he said.

"It's a strong colony, so it seems to be bouncing back well," Jenkins said.

Source
 

Anome

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So now the koalas are having sex with seagulls and/or penguins?

Kinky!

Chlamydia is an "equal opportunity" infection. It'll get into anything it comes across. It does worry me that it's considered an STD in humans, but jumps the species barrier with, dare I say it, gay abandon.
 

robbo616

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Berliner Tierarzt Frank Mutschmann: Schon drei bis fünf der Vögel könnten ausreichen, Hunderte Kröten zu öffnen. "Die lernen schnell, wie man in kurzer Zeit an viele leckere Lebern kommen kann."
:D How does this vet know that the livers are tasty,then?It's him isn't it?He's a trafficker in tasty toad livers!Sneaking around 'twixt dusk and dawn jumping on poor little toadies and stealing bits!
 
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