More Than 1000 Migratory Birds Found Dead at Rajasthan’s Sambhar Salt Lake

M

By TWC India Edit Team

2 days ago

TWC India

Representational image of migratory birds River Ganga

(IANS)

In a shocking episode, more than 1,000 migratory birds were found dead under mysterious circumstances at Rajasthan’s Sambhar Salt Lake on Monday, November 11.

Located near Phulera in Jaipur, Sambhar Lake witnesses a vast number of winged visitors during the winter season. Tourists and ornithologists from across the world regularly visit the region as it plays host to various migratory species of birds including the Northern Shoveler, Green Bee-Eater, Cinnamon Teal coming from Siberia, north Asia and other places. As the winter season progresses, the forest department is running against time to identify and address the cause of such mass deaths.

While the carcasses were immediately buried, officials have sent samples of the birds’ visceral remains to the forensic science laboratory in Bhopal. Experts say no signs of bird flu were observed till now, and the likely contamination of water could be the trigger. Further examination of birds’ internal organs could help pinpoint the cause of death.

Sambhar Salt Lake, Rajasthan

(Credits: Bhagirath/BCCL Jaipur)

While officials claim that the death toll is 1,500, the locals claim that the number of dead birds could be around 5,000. The dead bodies were found around a section of the Sambhar Salt Lake named Ratan Talab. Different species of waders and ducks, including the likes of pallas’ gull, ruddy shelduck, ruddy turnstone, gull-billed tern, redshanks, black-winged stilts, common coots, plovers, avocets, shovelers and sandpipers, were among the waterbirds whose dead bodies were found at the lake.

The officials buried the bird carcasses in a ditch. While a total of 669 dead birds were buried, many others were left unattended as it was difficult for the forest department personnel to go into the slippery muddy areas to retrieve their carcasses.

The incident of mysterious bird deaths is a second in Rajasthan within a week. Thirty-seven Demoiselle cranes were found dead in Vijay Sagar Lake in the Alwar district of Rajasthan on last Thursday. However, no link has been found in the two mass-death incidents, as the cranes supposedly died after eating poisoned grain. Officials have sent their viscera too for investigation.

The Sambhar Salt Lake is India’s largest inland saltwater lake. Located in Jaipur district of Rajasthan, it spreads across 190 to 230 square kilometres.

The lake has always attracted a host of migratory birds that travel tens of thousands of kilometres, typically to escape harsh winter conditions. However, the developmental activities around Sambhar in recent years, including the extension of salt pan operations, new settlements and changes in the weather, have reportedly decreased the number of birds flocking to the lake.

(with inputs from IANS)

Return of the wolves: How deer escape tactics help save their lives

February 27, 2019, University of Washington
Return of the wolves: How deer escape tactics help save their lives
Two white-tailed deer seen in 2015 on a wildlife camera in eastern Washington state. Credit: University of Washington

https://phys.org/news/2019-02-wolves-deer-tactics.html

As gray wolves continue to make a strong comeback in Washington state, their presence can’t help but impact other animals—particularly the ones these large carnivores target as prey.

White-tailed  and mule deer, two  common in Washington, are among ‘ favorite catch. Wolves will chase deer great distances—sometimes upwards of 6 miles (10 kilometers)—in search of a satisfying meal. How these two deer species respond to the threat of being pursued by wolves in the early years of this predator’s return could shed light on changes to their behavior and numbers.

To help answer this question, researchers from the University of Washington and other institutions monitored the behavior and activity of wolves and deer in Washington for three years. They found that mule deer exposed to wolves, in particular, are changing their behavior to spend more time away from roads, at  and in rockier landscapes.

“In any particular ecosystem, if you have a predator returning, prey are unlikely to all respond similarly,” said senior author Aaron Wirsing, an associate professor in the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. “We show that wolves don’t have a uniform effect on different deer species.”

Their results were published Dec. 11 in the journal Oecologia.

Return of the wolves: How deer escape tactics help save their lives
An adult gray wolf is caught on a wildlife camera in eastern Washington in 2015. Credit: University of Washington

Wolves were completely wiped out from Washington early last century, but began returning to the state from Idaho, Montana and Canada about a decade ago. The latest estimates now show about 200 wolves in packs across eastern Washington.

Both white-tailed and mule deer are important food for . While they might look similar to an untrained eye, white-tailed deer and mule deer are very different animals: Mule deer are bigger, with large, dark ears and a black-tipped tail. White-tailed deer are smaller animals, boasting an unmistakably  with a white underside that stands straight up when alarmed.

Aside from their physical characteristics, the two species differ in how they escape from predators. When chased, mule deer “stot,” a quick bound with all four legs touching the ground at the same time. This bounding gait helps them negotiate all types of terrain and can give them an agility advantage over predators in rocky, uneven areas where it might be hard to run.

By contrast, white-tailed deer sprint away from predators and rely on spotting them early enough to try to outrun them.

Keeping these known escape tactics in mind, the research team focused on the “flight behavior” of deer living in areas where wolves have returned and in areas without wolves. The researchers chose four distinct study areas, all near the small town of Republic, Washington. All four areas are home to both species of deer, but only two were occupied by known wolf packs at the time of the investigation.

Return of the wolves: How deer escape tactics help save their lives
A pair of wolves run across the landscape in eastern Washington in 2016. Credit: University of Washington

In partnership with the Colville Tribes and the U.S. Forest Service, researchers set up wildlife cameras, captured and put collars on wolves and deer, and monitored the data from all of the collars over three years, from 2013 to 2016. This endeavor involved complex coordination and a dedicated team of UW students who were always ready to respond should an animal enter one of the traps.

“That part of eastern Washington is really special,” said lead author Justin Dellinger, who completed the work as a UW doctoral student and now works at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “There is huge diversity of large mammals, including all of the native prey populations like big horn sheep, moose and deer. And now we’re starting to see a full complement of native predators, like wolves, here as well.”

Overall, the researchers found that mule deer in gray wolf areas changed their behavior to avoid wolves altogether—mainly by moving to higher, steeper elevations, away from roads and toward brushy, rocky terrain. Alternately, white-tailed deer that favor sprinting and early detection as ways to escape from predators were more likely to stick to their normal behavior in wolf areas, sprinting across open, gently rolling terrain with good visibility—including along roads.

“Mule deer faced with the threat of wolves are really changing their home ranges, on a large scale,” Wirsing said. “They appear to have shifted kilometers away from where they had been prior to the return of wolves, generally going up higher where the terrain is less smooth and where wolves are less likely to hunt successfully.”

These larger shifts among mule deer could affect hunting opportunities. Indeed, some hunters in eastern Washington have already reported seeing mule deer higher on ridges where they are less accessible than in past years, Wirsing said. Hunting for white-tailed deer likely won’t change to the same degree with the presence of wolves, the results suggest.

Long term, changes among  in wolf areas could affect other parts of the ecosystem, and perhaps reduce the number of deer-vehicle collisions. These possible impacts are tantalizing fodder for future studies, Wirsing added.

 Explore further: White-tailed deer shape acoustic properties of their forest habitat

A Great Migration is in Danger

Help Save the Sandhill Crane

 

Every year, sandhill cranes fly thousands of miles from their breeding grounds as far north as the Arctic down to their winter nesting grounds in the Southwest. This is one of the greatest migrations on Earth, and it happens in our own backyards across the American West.

But this ancient migration is in peril due to wasteful, inefficient, and unsustainable water use that is drying up our rivers. The crisis is growing on the Rio Grande and especially in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico, where the cranes could end their great migration on a depleted, dry river instead of the lush floodplain upon which they depend.

The Bosque del Apache Refuge was created to save wildlife like the iconic sandhill crane. However, as long as we continue living beyond our means, not even a refuge can save these birds if the lifeblood of the river runs dry.

The sandhill cranes depend on the Rio breathing life into the refuge, and the Rio depends on people like you to save it.

 

Can wildlife survive the Wall?

Some timely info about the Border Wall’s impact on wildlife from Defenders.org:

Donate Now

 

Trump’s wall would seal off critical migration corridors and slice through essential habitat – fragmenting populations and isolating animals from each other and from resources that are critically important to their survival. In addition,

  • At least 89 endangered or threatened species and 108 migratory bird species will come under immediate threat from wall construction;
  • Recovery of two critically endangered species that regularly cross the border – jaguars and Mexican gray wolves – will be in serious jeopardy;
  • Migratory bird habitat will be destroyed and some species like the ferruginous pygmy owl – will be unable to fly across what could be 30-foot barriers; and
  • Pristine wildlife refuges and conservation lands, including the Lower Rio Grande and Buenos Aires national wildlife refuges and the Otay Mountain Wilderness, will be permanently marred as whole sections are destroyed and walled off forever.

On top of it all, the Trump administration could exempt the border wall’s construction from ever having to comply with environmental protections like the Endangered Species Act.

Building a massive, impenetrable barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border would wreak havoc on wildlife, critical habitat and communities. For many species, it would be the end of the road.

Animal overpasses on I-90 will grant safe passage to Washington wildlife

http://www.kiro7.com/news/local/animal-overpasses-on-i-90-will-grant-safe-passage-to-washington-wildlife/703210866

By: Ashli Blow, KIRO 7 News Dig

 

From snow-covered mountains to northwest ocean waters, it’s no secret that Washington is passionate about protecting all the wildlife in between.

In an effort to keep animals out of harm’s way, the state has invested millions of dollars into creating animal overpasses that stretch over busy roadways. A bridge under construction, east of Snoqualmie Pass, will be the the first of its kind in Washington, but it’s just not for conservation.

>> Related: State breaks ground on new I-90 wildlife overpass

It’s about balancing human transportation needs with wildlife habitats, according to Washington State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Meagan Lott.

https://giphy.com/embed/NsEJG01gxYKg2x7Ust

“You’re improving safety, you’re relieving congestion and you’re also looking at the environmental aspects,” she told The Spokesman-Review.

Conservation Northwest has led efforts to get an overpass to connect two important habitats in the Price Creek area near mile marker 62 in eastern Washington.

>> Related: DNA tests confirm gray wolf is roaming NW Washington

As explained in a series of interviews in a Conservation Northwest documentary, animal crossings over I-90 — where 27,000 cars drive daily —  is a serious safety problem for wildlife and drivers.

https://giphy.com/embed/vN1UvWzFU7BmFZqkI3

Animal monitoring shows that it’s wildlife’s natural migration pattern to cross I-90 because of how they come down from the mountain. And their best solution is the 150-feet-wide, vegetated overpass because it gives animals the most natural path forward.

>> Related: New eastside residents could be attracting bears, biologist says

They decided to steer away from creating an underpass — much like a successful construction project near the Summit of Snoqualmie — because elk out don’t like traveling underground.

https://giphy.com/embed/4MXV2oNgsP7xdFpUDv

“If we’re blocking them from moving, we’re preventing them to find food, we’re blocking their ability to find places to live,”  Jen Watkins, Conservation Northwest’s I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition coordinator, said in a YouTube video.

>> Related: King County calls wildlife crossing ‘very successful’

“An overpass is a bridge over the highway … with native trees and shrubs from the surrounding forest, so they walk over the interstate and never realize they’ve left the forest on either side.”

While the overpass — totaling $6.2 million — near Spokane is now visible to drivers, it won’t be completed until 2019. It’s one of the 20 animal crossings planned in a billion-dollar upgrade project between Hyak and Easton.

https://giphy.com/embed/4QFAV1rvvQ5eDy0Tht

As some taxpayers find that price tag steep, transportation leaders and conservation activists say that reducing the hazards of collisions is worth it.

>> PHOTOS: Animals at wildlife crossing in Redmond

On a smaller scale, King County already has functioning animal crossing bridge over a roadway in Redmond.

KIRO 7 News spoke with Rick Brater, county road engineer for the King County Road Services Division, just a year after it opened  at Northeast Novelty Hill Road in 2015

“I think right now we can say it’s very successful,” Brater said. “We saw deer cross almost immediately as we opened it up.”

It usually takes about three to five years for animals to start using crossings. The area saw significantly fewer incidents with wildlife crossings just months into the city’s new bridge.

Animals are using Colorado’s wildlife crossings, reducing collisions, CDOT says

PUBLISHED:  | UPDATED: 
A herd of deer walk through a wildlife crossing in the snow.
Colorado Department of Transportation, supplied

A herd of deer walk through a wildlife crossing in the snow.

Wildlife bridges and underpasses led to a dramatic decline in animal-related car crashes, …

For full story, visit:

https://www.denverpost.com/2018/02/03/animal-wildlife-crossings/

 

Migratory Bird Treaty Act under threat

1/18/2018 | 0

The declining Golden-winged Warbler is one of many species protected by the
Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Photo by By Jayne Gulbrand/Shutterstock

In 1916, the United States and Canada reached a landmark agreement to
protect migratory birds, many of which were being hunted to the brink for
fashion or food. The Migratory Bird Treaty became U.S. federal law in 1918
as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, one of the nation’s earliest and most
influential pieces of environmental legislation. Passed in the nick of time,
the act saved herons, egrets, waterfowl, and other birds from going the
route of the Passenger Pigeon and other now-vanished species.

Now the act itself is under attack, facing proposed changes that would undo
the safeguards it provides for birds. The U.S. House of Representatives is
considering an amendment eliminating protection for migratory birds that
fall victim to oil spills, wind turbines, and other energy infrastructure.
The language is part of a bill called the SECURE Act, HR 4239. In addition,
the Department of the Interior has drafted a new legal interpretation of the
law, changing a long-standing policy that the act covers these deaths.

The act does not put too heavy a burden on industry. It encourages energy
companies to adopt best-management practices, like covering oil pits with
screens to keep birds from being trapped and killed. In practice,
enforcement of the act has only occurred when companies failed to adopt such
practices — and ignored government warnings.

In a remarkable show of support for keeping the act strong, a bipartisan
group of 17 high-ranking officials from previous administrations sent a
letter to the interior secretary opposing the change. The new interpretation
“needlessly undermines a history of great progress, undermines the
effectiveness of the migratory bird treaties, and diminishes U.S.
leadership,” they wrote.

Migratory birds have inherent value. They also drive economic growth.
Birders spend millions of dollars on wildlife-watching equipment, backyard
birding supplies, and birding tours. Birds also provide essential services
to people, from natural control of insect pests to crop pollination.

According to the 2016 State of the Birds Report, a third of North America’s
bird species are in decline. Now is the time to increase protections for
migratory birds, not undercut the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and other
bedrock laws that sustain them.

Sign the American Bird Conservancy’s petition opposing changes to the
Migratory Bird Treaty Act

A version of this article will appear in the April 2018 issue of
BirdWatching magazine.

This story was provided by American Bird Conservancy, a 501(c)(3),
not-for-profit organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and
their habitats throughout the Americas.

https://www.birdwatchingdaily.com/blog/2018/01/18/migratory-bird-treaty-act
threat/

Wildfires leave Okanogan Co. wildlife hungry

I remember back (not long ago) when wildfires were just a natural events that left the forest refreshed and renewed. Now, human manipulation and ultimately, anthropogenic climate change, have made fires more and more catastrophic for all–including the wildlife.

http://www.krem.com/news/local/okanogan-county/many-animals-left-hungry-after-okanogan-wildfires/45064888

Whitney Ward and KREM.com 6:14 PM. PST February 16, 2016

OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash. – Okanogan residents said today a bear that died last week in their area likely woke up from hibernation too early from a lack of food before winter.

2 On Your Side found it the same problem is affecting animals across Central Washington. It was all thanks to two years of historic wildfires that caused massive amounts of land damage.

“A lot of animals were killed in the fire itself last summer,” Okanogan resident Jon Wyss said. “And many more died shortly after from burns and other injuries. But now, 6 months later, there is plenty of wildlife still suffering.”

The fires destroyed many of the habitats for the animals which meant no food and little shelter. Thousands of deer were left without food after trees and grass were burned.

“When you burn 250,000 acres in 2014 and 500,000 acres in 2015, there’s not a lot of forage,” Wyss said.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials told 2 On Your Side it could take up to a decade for all the foliage to regrow. That could lead to many animal populations to struggle for years and farmers could carry the burden.

“There’s 11,000 deer without food,” Wyss said. “They’re struggling and they’re competing against our agriculturalists, eating limbs off the trees, the buds, the hay.

2 On Your Side learned that with so many deer going on to farmland for food, it can bring predators like wolves and cougars closer to homes.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials also said the harder it is for deer means it’s easier for predators. But officials also said that nature will correct itself and the wildlife population will rebound eventually.

Wildlife Service Eyes Migratory Canada geese Next

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/avian-flu-detected-at-two-more-farms-in-bc-as-outbreak-continues-to-spread/article22035682/

Avian flu detected at two more farms in B.C. as outbreak continues to spread

Birds at two more farms in southwestern British Columbia have tested positive for avian influenza, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Wednesday — underscoring the difficulty facing officials attempting to contain the virus.The outbreak began last week, when turkeys and chickens at two farms in the Fraser Valley tested positive for the H5N2 strain of the disease.

The virus has now been detected at eight locations on seven farms, leaving 155,000 birds either dead or set to be euthanized. The outbreak has prompted surveillance and control measures affecting half of the province, as well as a growing list of trade restrictions on B.C. or Canadian poultry.

Dr. Harpreet Kochhar, Canada’s chief veterinary officer, said the new infections did not come as a surprise and he suggested more could turn up in the coming days. Indeed, another farm was also being investigated as suspicious, he said.

“The identification of additional farms is not unexpected, given that avian influenza is highly contagious,” Kochhar said during a conference call with reporters.

“Our efforts are directed to controlling the avian influenza virus from spreading. In spite of those measures, there is a possibility that this could show up at other farms. This is something that is attributed to the highly virulent, highly pathogenic nature of the avian influenza virus.”

The affected farms are clustered within several kilometres of each other in Abbotsford and Chilliwack.

In each case, the farms were immediately placed under quarantine and plans were made to destroy any birds that had not already been killed by the virus.

Earlier this week, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced a control zone covering the southern half of B.C., where restrictions have been placed on the movement of poultry. Those restrictions are more strict in the area immediately around the affected farms.

It’s not yet clear what caused the outbreak, though two farms where the virus was detected had received chickens from a previously infected facility.

Officials are looking into the possibility that migrating wild birds introduced the virus into the region, though Kochhar said there’s nothing conclusive yet. He said there was no evidence the virus had been circulating among migrating birds and a wild bird monitoring program hadn’t found any unusual increases in animal deaths.

Avian influenza poses little danger to people as long as poultry meat is handled and cooked properly.

It can, however, put the poultry industry at risk.

Previous outbreaks in B.C. and elsewhere in Canada similarly led to the destruction of tens of thousands of birds. The most serious, a 2004 outbreak in the Fraser Valley, prompted federal officials to order the slaughter of about 17 million birds.

Since last week, eight countries have placed restrictions on poultry and poultry products. Singapore was added to that list on Wednesday, joining the United States, Mexico, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

Some of those restrictions, such as those put in place by Japan, apply to poultry from all of Canada.

Kochhar said he hoped to convince authorities in other countries to limit any trade restrictions to the region affected by the outbreak.

“We have sent our information to them in terms of our primary control zone, which is southern British Columbia, and have requested them to revisit their restrictions on poultry and poultry products from the rest of Canada,” he said.

Consumers are unlikely to notice the outbreak at the grocery store.

The marketing group the B.C. Turkey Farmers has said about 25,000 turkeys meant for the provincial Christmas market have been lost — a relatively small proportion of the 3.3 million kilograms of turkey typically produced for the holiday season.

Likewise, the number of chickens destroyed due to the outbreak pales in comparison with the 160 million kilograms of chicken produced in B.C. each year.

                                                  ………

Meanwhile, bird Fluis  rampant on B.C. chicken/turkey “farms” (read: concentration camp). Is there a scapegoat connection or is it just a coincidence?

http://www.dailyastorian.com/Local_News/20141212/geese-numbers-may-trigger-plan-revision

A new wildlife service report on the number of Canada geese wintering in the Lower Columbia River and Willamette Valley areas of Washington and Oregon shows the population surpasses the goal set for the migratory birds and may trigger a revision of management plans.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2014 report estimates 281,300 cacklers spend the winter in the two states, where they cause considerable agricultural damage, especially to grain and grass seed fields. The 2013 estimate was 312,200. Year-to-year population fluctuations are common; the wildlife service has set a population goal of 250,000 geese.

Crop damage from geese has been a concern for decades. Farmers argue they are essentially feeding the birds and absorbing damage for the sake of maintaining the population for hunters or nature lovers elsewhere. But the latest report hopefully will open the door to discussions of a longer hunting season or more opportunities to haze geese out of fields, said Roger Beyer, executive director of the Oregon Seed Council.

However, the situation is complicated by migratory bird treaties and compacts involving Native American tribes, the U.S., Canada and the states of Oregon, Washington, Alaska and California, Beyer said. “It’s a long slow process,” he said.

The Oregon Farm Bureau’s wildlife committee will be discussing geese — and wolves and Greater sage-grouse — at the bureau’s annual convention next week in Salishan. Wildlife officials have been invited to discuss the population report.

A 1997 report by the Oregon Department of Agriculture estimated annual crop and livestock damage by wildlife at $147 million, with more than $100 million attributed to deer and elk. Damage from geese was estimated at $14.9 million.

Tell Minnesota Vikings: Don’t Kill Birds

 [Sponsored by the National Audubon Society]‏

The Minnesota Vikings should focus on swatting down passes — NOT BIRDS!

Their new stadium could kill thousands of migratory birds unless the stadium’s builders take immediate action to incorporate bird safe measures.

At issue is the type of glass being used in the largely-glass exterior of the massive new stadium. Current plans call for a type of glass that birds are less likely to see, which will invite deadly collisions.

Over 50,000 people have joined with Audubon to pressure the Vikings to do the right thing. Join them and urge the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) to use safer glass.

The cost of using bird friendly glass is less than one tenth of one percent of the overall cost of the new billion dollar stadium. The site of the stadium is less than a mile from the Mississippi River, along which tens of millions of birds fly between their breeding and wintering grounds every year.

Unless the Vikings and the MSFA reverse course, the new stadium could become a serious threat to America’s birds.

Please act today to urge the stadium’s builders to make the right choice — use safer glass!

Change Glass, Save Birds

The Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium could kill thousands of migratory birds unless the stadium’s builders take immediate action to incorporate bird safe measures.

Please act today to urge the stadium’s builders to make the right choice—use safer glass! Send an email to the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority urging them to take a leadership position in building a stadium that is great for both football and birds. You can send the sample letter below, or edit the letter with your own words for even greater impact.

NOTE: Your name and address will automatically be added to the bottom of the letter.

Help us reach our new goal of 100,000 letters!

Please act today to urge the stadium’s builders to make the right choice — use safer glass!