Friday, March 23, 2018

Australia's Feral Cats Need Killing

Australia’s native wildlife has been decimated by introduced species, including feral cats which can get HUGE. The Weekend Australian notes that wild cat hunts by the native Pintubi people around Alice Springs are being encouraged

The Pintubi hunters have asked the Barnett government to help them make cat hunting a week-long event every month, over an even wider area of their traditional lands. They have applied for $50,000 for a four-month trial that would cover the monitoring of native species and employ someone to co-ordinate and document cat hunts. The Central Desert Native Title Service is already supporting the push with a $100 bounty per cat, considered a gesture to ­reimburse groups for the petrol used over the course of a day in the desert.

“We realise that traditional tracking is only ever going to be applicable to the management of relatively small-scale conservation sites, such as a 15km radius around a community, but we believe that if cat hunting can be regular, ongoing and strategically focused it can continue to be an important tool in the recovery of threatened species in the western deserts,” said Dr Paltridge.

“We see this approach to threatened species conservation as an important alternative to relying on predator-proof fencing to protect rare wildlife”.

A Red Fox Pokes Onto the New Bamboo Path

I cut a short path through a small bamboo grove in the back yard. The aim is to get decent deer pictures, but a red fox was the first visitor.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Invasive Red Fox Extermination in Australia

Red fox up and out a hollow tree bolts past the waiting lurchers.  This and the following photos are from The Daily Mail.

Theses pictures are from NSW Australia where introduced rabbits feed introduced fox, and both destroy native wildlife.

This is not hunting for control: it’s extermination for eradication.

A Wedge-tail Eagle carries off a young fox.

Humane Society Loses Charity Accreditation

With CEO Wayne Pacelle and Vice President Paul Shapiro gone under the weight of sexual harassment charges, the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) has now lost its accreditation with the Better Business Bureau’s charity-accreditation arm, the Wise Giving Alliance.

Charity Navigator has previously downgraded the Humane Society of the U.S. to just 2 stars out of 4, including just 1 star for financial metrics, an indication that the nonprofit wastes a great deal of money on nonproductive costs (such as direct mail).

Losing accreditation from the Better Business Bureau is remarkable in that the the BBB has very weak standards for charities and is itself funded by fees paid by the the charities it accredits -- a clear conflict of interest.

And did you know that the Humane Society of the U.S. paid millions to settle a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act lawsuit (RICO)? Read all about that here.

Deep Thinking On a Snow Day

The First and Last Snow of 2018?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Coffee and Provocation

Training Dogs to Find Ancient Loot
Canines may soon be deployed in the fight against terrorists and criminals who loot precious artifacts from war zones.

They Need a Terrier to Find That Gold
In June 1863, a Union shipment of 52 bars of gold now worth $54 million was said to be lost near Dents Run, Pennsylvania. Now the FBI and state conservation officers are digging for it near the Quehanna Wild Area. Sadly, they are not using all the tools at their disposal. A special breed of dog, the Bactrian Terrier, specializes in finding gold deposits.

Rickshaws Were Invented in New Jersey
General Tso's Chicken was invented in New York and Rickshaws were invented in New Jersey.

Chinese Communists to Write U.S. Laws?
Alibaba, which operates as an arm of the communist Chinese state, has joined the American Legislative Exchange Council, a private right-wing group set up by corporations to ghostwrite legislation sponsored by legislators in state capitols around the country.  If Russia can control the President and the NRA, the Chinese figure they can write state law.

Leeches as Wildlife DNA Bank
Scientists have identified mammals present at sites in Asia by examining the DNA in the blood sucked by leeches.

Japan Invents a Raccoon Trap
Non-native American raccoons in Japan have become a nuisance, and the Japanese have invented a live cage trap that is species-specific.

National Geographic Self-Examines Its Own Racism
National Geographic asked a preeminent historian to investigate the magazine’s coverage of people of color in the U.S. and abroad, and what the historian found was not pretty. "What Mason found in short was that until the 1970s National Geographic all but ignored people of color who lived in the United States, rarely acknowledging them beyond laborers or domestic workers. Meanwhile it pictured “natives” elsewhere as exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages—every type of cliché. Unlike magazines such as Life, Mason said, National Geographic did little to push its readers beyond the stereotypes ingrained in white American culture."

Why Do Some White Men Stockpile Guns and Ammo?
From Scientific American: "Since the 2008 election of President Obama, the number of firearms manufactured in the U.S. has tripled, while imports have doubled. This doesn’t mean more households have guns than ever before—that percentage has stayed fairly steady for decades. Rather, more guns are being stockpiled by a small number of individuals. Three percent of the population now owns half of the country’s firearms, says a recent, definitive study from the Injury Control Research Center at Harvard University."  What's going on?  Basically these folks are terrified, weak, and insecure individuals beset by racial and economic fear who are undergoing a crisis in meaning and purpose in their lives.

Drones to Count Birds and Other Wildlife 
It turns out that a drone in the sky is better than two PhDs in the bush.

Funding American Wildlife Management

A new survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows that only about 5 percent of Americans, age 16 years and older, hunt, which is about half of the 10 percent of Americans in the same age bracket that hunted 50 years ago.

The actual number of hunters has declined somewhat less thanks to a nearly 60 percent increase in population since 1970.

Image result for graph US hunting license sales

For wildlife a decline in hunting matters, as wildlife conservation system are heavily dependent on sportsmen for funding. Money generated from license fees and excise taxes on guns, ammunition and angling equipment provide about 60 percent of the funding for state wildlife agencies.

So what's the answer? It's pretty simple: add dedicated Pittman-Robertson taxes to equipment used by Americans that enjoy other wildlife-centered activities such as birdwatching, hiking, camping, mountain biking, and photography.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

In the Ground

Dog in the hole, and waiting for the baying to settle down to a location.

The Evolution of Animal Genitalia

Genitals are the fastest-evolving organs in the animal kingdom, and something we have reported on before here and here and here and here and here and here.


IMAGINE that the children and grandchildren of bulldog breeders were all born with the human equivalent of what they inflict on dogs -- brachycephalia and achondroplastic dwarfism.

IMAGINE that the children and grandchildren of hairless Chinese Crested breeders were born with ectodermal dysplasia and the dental, skin and eye problems that come with that genetic load.

IMAGINE that the children and grandchildren of German Shepherd breeders were born with twisted and dysplastic hips.

IMAGINE that the male children and grandchildren of the Dalmatian breeders who reject back-cross dogs were born with uric acid stones so severe they have to suffer a urethrostemy, in which their scrotum is removed, and their urinary tract is permanently relocated to the base of their penis so they can urinate like a female.

IMAGINE that if it was deemed good enough for the dog, it would be good enough for their owners and their families.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Live Bald Eagle Cam Over DC Police Academy

The pair of Bald Eagles nesting 110 feet over the DC Police Academy are named "Liberty" and "Justice" and their second chick hatched on Sunday, so I suspect "my" Bald Eagles will see pipping soon too.

Liberty and Justice had one hatchling that survived last year -- a bird that was named "Spirit' by the folks on the Interwebs.

Bert Gripton in America

Jack Batzer sent me this picture of Bert Gripton in the U.S. judging a 1985 JRTCA trial in Maryland.  Thanks Jack!

Digging on the Dogs: Two Reds in the Forest

Nice day out today. Bolted two red fox out of a forest den. Moxie weighs just 9 pounds and busted the first one out of a 30-foot pipe running straight under a tree.

Stephanie L’s woolly dog Hunter “saw the elephant” today, spending a couple of hours “staying and baying” a second red fox. He’s pretty tired now. Hunter’s a rescue, and represented well.

This was the shallow dig to Hunter, who sounded like he was in the kettle under the tree (a big space) but he was actually in a small tight pipe under my left leg. The box said he was there, but it was Misto who confirmed it. Hunter had shoved dirt behind himself while digging on, and I think he had boxed himself  in.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Spanning the Big Boy

Spanning my big boy. Complete finger overlap.

Misto is 12 pounds and built like a truck (only 10 inches tall), while Moxie is 9 pounds and 10.5 inches tall, and is built more like a bird.

You don't want to be on the teeth side of Misto when he's biting, while few things are small enough that Moxie cannot reach them.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Saint Patrick Was a Dog Whisperer

Saint Patrick is not a saint
, and he did not drive the snakes out of Ireland, because there were no snakes.

But was he a dog man?

Absolutely.  Read all about it over on Cesar Millan's new web site.

Cheese and Choke Chains

If you do less sooner, you don't have to do more later.

Their Vote is Equal to Yours

The one on the right is my psychiatrist. The one on the left is my financial planner.

Bald Eagle Nests on the Potomac

I took this picture of a Bald Eagle nest
about a half mile from my house yesterday. 

As you can see from the pictures, below, the nest is actually between a split highway (George Washington Parkway) next to the Potomac River, and directly across from Georgetown University.  I used to row crew and fish this stretch of the river when I was in high school, and now I live a short walk to it.  The shad will be running thick up the river just these fish eagle chicks begin to pip out of the shell.

We now have about 1,200 nesting bald eagles in Virginia, a sum that is not likely to have been seen since early colonial days.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Naturalist Terrierman Bert Gripton

Bert Gripton is one of the few legendary terriermen who was not principally known for breeding dogs, but for working them. He had a small pack of working terriers and whippets, and was terrierman to the Albrighton Foxhounds. His father was a gamekeeper on the Aqualate estate in Staffordshire near the Shropshire border.

Gripton was a die-hard digger who specialized in badger, but he also hunted otter (he took the last legal otter in the UK), and fox. Phil Drabble, author Of Pedigree Unknown, said that Gripton "could, and did, catch Fox with greater certainty than the hounds."

Bert Gripton kept a pack of small dogs. This is not surprising -- the more people dig, the more they seem to value a small dog able to get up to the quarry and to maneuver around and with it. Brian Nuttal notes of Gripton's terriers: "No one called them Jack Russells in those days, just white hunt terriers."

Phil Drabble explained Gripton's technique for removing a fox:

"Quite often it was the fox's grinning mask which came into view, in which case there is an effective trick that requires supreme confidence and dexterity approaching sleight of hand. Hold a bit of stick, as thick as your thumb, and about a foot long, and wave it rapidly across the fox's mask, within reach of his jaws. The reaction is reflex and certain. He bites the stick in a vice-like grip. That is the exact split second when it is safe to shoot out the other hand to grab him by the scruff of the neck. It takes more cool nerve that I possess, but it was one of Bert Gripton's star performances."

This post recycled from November 2004, with video addition.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Joar Leifseth Ulsom Wins Iditarod

I was wrong. Nic Petit got nailed by a massive snow storm on Monday, and Norwegian musher Joar Leifseth Ulsom pulled ahead to win the 2018 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday.

What Lesson Was Learned?

An Idaho middle school science teacher fed a puppy to snapping turtle in front of three of his students.

Science teacher Robert Crosland, who teaches at Preston Junior High School some 300 miles east of Boise, is now under police investigation. The incident occurred 45 minutes after school was dismissed. Some local parents told the station that the puppy was deformed and going to die soon anyway, with one adding that Crosland's actions were “very much circle of life.” Crosland and the three students who were present claim the puppy was drowned just before it was fed to the turtle, and was not alive as some early accounts reported.

Stewardess Forces Dog Into Overhead Bin

A family's French bulldog suffocated to death in the overhead compartment on a United Airlines flight after a flight attendant forced the dog's owner to place the dog there for the entire three-hour-long flight from Houston to New York. The dog was in a standard soft sided pet carrier, and the family had paid an airline fee to carry the dog with them in the cabin.

Ms. Catalina Castano was traveling with her 11-year-old daughter and 2-month-old son along with her 10-month-old French bulldog. Ms Castano repeatedly asked the flight attendant to let her keep the dog by her feet, but the flight attendant insisted she stow the dog in the overhead bin. United Airlines has apologized and accepted full responsibility, whatever that means.

A reminder that United Airlines was the airline whose guards came on an airplane and beat a man unconscious and knocked out his teeth in order to get him off the flight after they had over booked it.  The airline's motto: "Fly the friendly skies".

Kentucky's Thomas Walker: Right on the Money

Dr. Thomas Walker and Cumberland Gap, Kentucky were commemorated on  a 2016 U.S. quarter that was released into general circulation on April 4, 2016. 

A ceremony to unveil the coin was held by the U.S. Mint at the C.V. Whitney Convention Center at  Pine Mountain State Park in Pineville, Kentucky.

My father, who was from Pineville, wrote a book on Thomas Walker who is a descendant of ours. It was Thomas Walker who brought the second fox hound pack to the United States.

As for Pineville, it is the poorest town in the poorest section of the nation -- Eastern Kentucky.

For comparison, the infamously poor town of Harlan, Kentucky has a median household income of $17,270, while the median household income of Pineville is just $12,435.

In Pineville, my father was the son of the town drunk, and no family was poorer.

My father ran away from home at 14, never graduated from high school, enrolled in the Air Force, got his GED, attended Princeton University, married my mom (and stayed married!), joined the U.S. foreign service, taught himself two languages (French and Arabic) and several instruments (trombone, piano, and bass), and traveled the world, living at various times in Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Mali, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. He built a custom house and several apartments on Dupont Circle, taught himself to sail, and owned and drove a 1937 Bentley through Europe and North Africa. He ran the American Association for the Advancement of Science's climate project back when no one was talking about global warming.

My father and mother also bought and gave a square mile of Pine Mountain to the state to help preserve Blanton Forest  one of the largest old growth forests on the East Coast.

The Penis Museum is Hard to Find

Did you know there is an Icelandic penis museum?

'Tis true. It's called the Icelandic Phallological Museum.

The museum has over 261
other non-playing organs in its collection, from whale to elephant, and from hamster to fox.

That's an elephant penis in the picture with the gentleman from the museum. Various pickled members are displayed below.

It's That Time of Year

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Everything Is Connected to Everything

I once got stoked up on way too much coffee and explained to someone, with a sharpie and four place mats from the coffee shop, that everyone in rock was only three degrees or less separated from John Mayall.  Now I realize I could have just shown him this picture. From left to right: Eric Burdon (The Animals), John Mayall (Bluesbreakers), Jimi Hendrix, Steve Winwood (Traffic), and Carl Wayne (The Move).

America Hates Bullies

High Crimes in Texas

A true story from Texas.

A guard dog at a Fort Worth tire shop did little to deter overnight thieves; they simply stole the dog, too.

Owner Nayer Younis said thieves have hit his shop five times, despite his security measures, which included adding barbed wire.

The dog was taken two weeks ago.

“It makes me sick, but life goes on," Younis said. "I have two dogs now, so I hope they do [help]."

This Dog Has Found His Thing

Monday, March 12, 2018

They Haven't a Clue

This is a performance event at Crufts, the top Kennel Club show in the UK.

This is where the world is supposed to see the “best of the best” of what the British can do with dogs.

This year Crufts was celebrating the 40th anniversary of agility at the show.

Right.  Some performance!

To be clear, this is the same Kennel Club that wants to take away dog training tools like e-collars.

In that quest, they are joined in those effort by clueless pet people who cannot teach their own dogs to sit, and who depend on “campaigns” for direct mail income and to sell magazine subscriptions.

After watching this shambles at Crufts, Channel 4 commentator Peter Purvis, said
"He hasn't a clue what he's doing, does he?"
Nope. Not at all.

And that includes quite a lot of people selling dependency model dog training, magazine subscriptions, direct mail outrage, and diseased dogs. 

The good news is that there actually are competent dog trainers in the world. Not all of them use e-collars, but no competent dog trainer demonizes any tool that is provably working for millions, whether that is a flat collar, a slip collar, a prong collar, food treats, a clicker, an e-collar, a head harness, or a flexi-lead.

Stevia to Fight Lyme Disease?

A reputable scientific journal suggests that a common, natural, no-calorie coffee sweetener may be a potential cure for Lyme disease:

In this study, we evaluated the effectiveness of whole leaf Stevia extract against B. burgdorferi spirochetes, persisters, and biofilm forms in vitro. The susceptibility of the different forms was evaluated by various quantitative techniques in addition to different microscopy methods. The effectiveness of Stevia was compared to doxycycline, cefoperazone, daptomycin, and their combinations. Our results demonstrated that Stevia had significant effect in eliminating B. burgdorferi spirochetes and persisters. Subculture experiments with Stevia and antibiotics treated cells were established for 7 and 14 days yielding, no and 10% viable cells, respectively compared to the above-mentioned antibiotics and antibiotic combination. When Stevia and the three antibiotics were tested against attached biofilms, Stevia significantly reduced B. burgdorferi forms. Results from this study suggest that a natural product such as Stevia leaf extract could be considered as an effective agent against B. burgdorfer.

But wait. Before you start dumping Stevia packets you have lifted from Starbucks into your dog's food, be aware that Stevia does NOT cure Lyme.

For one thing, those Starbucks Stevia packets are a highly refined product, and what you will be wanting is whole leaf Stevia, preferably stalks from plants you have grown in your own garden and not stuff imported from China.

Even then it will not work. 

Read the indented paragraph above very carefully.  Do you see the words IN VITRO?  That means this stuff only works in a test tube or petri dish. 

Why won't it work in your dog (or you)?

Simple: to treat Lyme disease, the chemical compounds in Stevia must be absorbed through the intestines, but Stevia is mostly NOT absorbed in the intestines, which is why it works so well as a sweetener.

In short, the Stevia story is interesting and may yield a new product in time, but for now the best way to treat a dog with Lyme is with antibiotics.

For more information on that, see here and here and here and here.  These links advise using doxycline to treat Lyme, but the same results can be achieved with amoxicillin at 10 mg per pound of dog, dosed twice a day.

Your Expired Antibiotics are Still Good

Expiration dates on antibiotic pills, capsules and caplets are, essentially, a scam.

All you have to do is Google "expiration dates antibiotics" and the first citation given is from a Harvard heath letter entitled "Drug Expiration Dates - Do They Mean Anything?"

That post summarizes a 20-year study done by the FDA for the U.S. military:

"It turns out that the expiration date on a drug does stand for something, but probably not what you think it does. Since a law was passed in 1979, drug manufacturers are required to stamp an expiration date on their products. This is the date at which the manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug.

"Most of what is known about drug expiration dates comes from a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration at the request of the military. With a large and expensive stockpile of drugs, the military faced tossing out and replacing its drugs every few years. What they found from the study is 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.... So the expiration date doesn't really indicate a point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use.... Is the expiration date a marketing ploy by drug manufacturers, to keep you restocking your medicine cabinet and their pockets regularly? You can look at it that way."

The Wall Street Journal put this story on their front page a few years back.

But don't take my word for it: You can read the article, in its entirety, right here.

"Do drugs really stop working after the date stamped on the bottle? Fifteen years ago, the U.S. military decided to find out. Sitting on a $1 billion stockpile of drugs and facing the daunting process of destroying and replacing its supply every two to three years, the military began a testing program to see if it could extend the life of its inventory. The testing, conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, ultimately covered more than 100 drugs, prescription and over-the-counter. The results, never before reported, show that about 90% of them were safe and effective far past their original expiration date, at least one for 15 years past it.

"In light of these results, a former director of the testing program, Francis Flaherty, says he has concluded that expiration dates put on by manufacturers typically have no bearing on whether a drug is usable for longer. Mr. Flaherty notes that a drug maker is required to prove only that a drug is still good on whatever expiration date the company chooses to set. The expiration date doesn't mean, or even suggest, that the drug will stop being effective after that, nor that it will become harmful."

How can your doctor or vet not know this?

Well, to start with, on some important issues, veterinarians are often taught very little. The entire "course" given on canine nutrition, for example, may be a single lecture from a dog food salesman. The lecture on flea and tick remedies may be a lecture from a Merial salesperson who will detail "the spread" to be made from selling non-prescription Frontline as if it were a prescription drug (hint: it's not).

As for antibiotics, vets will learn by heart the branded and generic names of variouus drugs, and what they treat, but they may not learn other essential information.

And, as alarming as it may sound, that's true for many human doctors too.

Pharmacist and U.S. Army Colonel George Crawford, who used to be in charge of the Department of Defense's pharmaceutical Shelf Life Extension Program (SLEP) notes :

"Nobody tells you in pharmacy school that shelf life is about marketing, turnover and profits."

You might think veterinarians and doctors would learn about this stuff in a Continuing Medical Education (CME) course, right?

Except there is a little joker in the deck.

You see, those CME courses are heavily subsidized by drug and vaccine makers, who help pay the speaker fees and travel costs for many of the lecturers.

Drug and vaccine makers make money when people throw good medicine down the drain, and they make money when dogs are over-vaccinated.

The business of canine health care is business, and good health and integrity often take the hind post.

Everyone in the system -- vets, pharmacies, and manufacturers -- profit when dogs are over-vaccinated and non-expired medicines are thrown down the drain.

Billions of dollars are wasted every year as a consequence.  But do you have to be part of that? 

No, you do not.

Meanwhile, at the Crufts Dog Show

Sunday, March 11, 2018

On This Day We Began to Save the World... Again

On this day in 1941, FDR signed the Lend-Lease Act, the first overt step to save Britain and the rest of Europe from the Nazis.

Look for Nicholas Petit to Win Iditarod

Anything can happen
(and it frequently does), but it looks like Nicholas Petit, 39, has a good chance of winning the Iditorod. This is Petit's eighth Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race