Using Wolves as First Responders Against a Deadly Brain Disease

first_imgThe disease has infected many deer herds in Wyoming, and it spread to Montana in 2017. Both states are adjacent to Yellowstone, so experts are concerned that the deadly disease could soon makes its way into the park’s vast herds of elk and deer. The absence of wolves throughout much of the West may also have allowed the disease to take off. “Taking the sick and weak removes chronic wasting disease from the population, because any animal showing any signs of it will get killed and eaten by the wolves,” Dr. Dobson said. “The rest of the carcass gets cleaned up by the coyotes, the bald eagles, ravens and bears.”“Without predators and scavengers on the landscape, animal components last much longer, and that can definitely have an impact on the spread of disease,” Ms. Brandell said.Restoring the population of predators in national parks and wild lands would go a long way toward healthier ecosystems with less disease, Dr. Dobson said. Chronic wasting disease, a contagious neurological disease, is so unusual that some experts call it a “disease from outer space.” First discovered among wild deer in 1981, it leads to deterioration of brain tissue in cervids, mostly deer but also elk, moose and caribou, with symptoms such as listlessness, drooling, staggering, emaciation and death.- Advertisement – It is caused by an abnormal version of a cell protein called a prion, which functions very differently than bacteria or viruses. The disease has spread across wild cervid populations and is now found in 26 states and several Canadian provinces, as well as South Korea and Scandinavia.The disease is part of a group called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, the most famous of which is bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease. Mad cow in humans causes a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and there was an outbreak among people in the 1990s in Britain from eating tainted meat.Cooking does not kill the prions, and experts fear that chronic wasting disease could spread to humans who hunt and consume deer or other animals that are infected with it. The origin of the disease is unknown. Andrew P. Dobson, a professor of ecology and epidemiology at Princeton who has studied predator cleansing, believes the illness is largely the result of ecosystems with too few predators and scavengers.He speculates that the disease may have come from deer living in proximity to sheep in Colorado or Wyoming, where it was first identified. Sheep have carried scrapie — effectively mad cow disease for sheep — for centuries. Dr. Dobson has theorized that after a contaminated animal died, it may have lain on the ground for a while in the absence of predators and scavengers, which would usually clean up carcasses.Elk and deer must have calcium, he said, and they may have eaten the bones of a contaminated animal and spread the disease. – Advertisement – Unless, perhaps, the park’s 10 packs of wolves, which altogether contain about 100 individuals, preyed on and consumed diseased animals that were easier to pick off because of their illness (The disease does not appear to infect wolves).“Wolves have really been touted as the best type of animal to remove infected deer, because they are cursorial — they chase their prey and they look for the weak ones,” said Ms. Brandell. By this logic, diseased deer and other animals would the be most likely to be eliminated by wolves.Preliminary results in Yellowstone have shown that wolves can delay outbreaks of chronic wasting disease in their prey species and can decrease outbreak size, Ms. Brandell said. There is little published research on “predator cleansing,” and this study aims to add support for the use of predators to manage disease.A prime concern about the spread of chronic wasting disease in the Yellowstone region is the fact that Wyoming maintains 22 state-sponsored feeding grounds that concentrate large numbers of elk unnaturally in the Yellowstone region. And just south of Grand Teton National Park lies the National Elk Refuge, where thousands of animals, displaced by cattle ranches, are fed each winter to satisfy elk hunters and tourists. Many wildlife biologists say concentrating the animals in such small areas is a recipe for the rapid spread of chronic wasting disease.When cases of the disease among deer ranged from 5 to 50 percent in Wisconsin and Colorado, those states were considered hot spots. But if the disease gets into game farms like the ones in Wyoming, “prevalence rates skyrocket to 90 or 100 percent,” said Mark Zabel, associate director of the Prion Research Center at Colorado State University.Prions are especially deadly. Unlike bacteria and viruses, prions can persist in soil for 10 years or more and live on vegetation. Even if a herd dies out or is culled, new animals moving in can become infected. Ken McDonald, Chief of the Wildlife Division of Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks, expressed doubts that wolves would prevent chronic wasting disease.“Wolves help remove sick animals, but animals don’t get visibly ill for about 2 years,” he said. “So they are carriers and spreaders but don’t get the classic symptoms.”Mr. McDonald said that maintaining a large enough wolf population outside of Yellowstone to control chronic wasting disease would require so many wolves that it would be socially unacceptable, especially to ranchers and hunters.The state’s approach to controlling the disease, he said, is to increase the number of deer that can be killed in places where the disease is growing.Ms. Brandell, however, said that wolves may detect the disease long before it becomes apparent to people, through smell or a slight change in the movement of prey, which could be beneficial.“Wolves wouldn’t be a magic cure everywhere,” she said. “But in places where it was just starting and you have an active predator guild, they could keep it at bay and it might never get a foothold.” Are the wolves of Yellowstone National Park the first line of defense against a terrible disease that preys on herds of wildlife?That’s the question for a research project underway in the park, and preliminary results suggest that the answer is yes. Researchers are studying what is known as the predator cleansing effect, which occurs when a predator sustains the health of a prey population by killing the sickest animals. If the idea holds, it could mean that wolves have a role to play in limiting the spread of chronic wasting disease, which is infecting deer and similar animals across the country and around the world. Experts fear that it could one day jump to humans.- Advertisement – “There is no management tool that is effective” for controlling the disease, said Ellen Brandell, a doctoral student in wildlife ecology at Penn State University who is leading the project in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service. “There is no vaccine. Can predators potentially be the solution?”Many biologists and conservationists say that more research would strengthen the case that reintroducing more wolves in certain parts of the United States could help manage wildlife diseases, although the idea is sure to face pushback from hunters, ranchers and others concerned about competition from wolves. – Advertisement –last_img read more

Local baker turns Palu ‘choker’ crocodile into 60 cm bread

first_imgA wild crocodile in the Palu River of Central Sulawesi, its neck trapped for several years in a motorcycle tire, has been in the media spotlight in recent weeks, particularly after an Australian wildlife expert joined a local rescue team in an attempt to free it of the “choker”.Despite failing, the mission received wide coverage across the nation’s media to become the talk of the country, and gave at least one entrepreneurial baker an idea.Read also: ‘See you soon, mate’: Australian presenter Matt Wright returns home despite failing to rescue Palu crocodileAbraham, the 58-year-old owner of Master Bakery in Palu, decided to take the local reptilian “icon” as an opportunity for testing his creativity and boosting his business – by making bread shaped like the crocodile, complete with a tire around its neck.“At first, I made two 60-centimeter breads that resembled the crocodile. I left one [on display] in the store and took the other to a warkop [coffee stall] where I usually hang out to share it with my friends,” Abraham told kompas.com on Thursday.He said he had not realized that the crocodile bread had gone viral until the orders started coming in – to the point that he was overwhelmed by the high demand.“I did not expect this to go viral. My staff and I have been working overtime to make these crocodile breads,” Abraham said, adding that the breads were offered in various sizes and ranged from Rp 7,000 (50 US cents) to Rp 80,000 per piece.Crocodile-shaped bread has long been popular fare among Jakarta’s indigenous Betawi culture. Two pieces of sweetened bread shaped like a crocodile (sans tire) are a must at every traditional Betawi wedding, as the reptile symbolizes loyalty and long life.Meanwhile, the “Palu crocodile” breads at Master Bakery have received good reviews from culinary enthusiasts.Abraham said that he had come up with the idea of making crocodile-shaped bread in October 2012, and that he had simply not acted on it until the recent rescue attempt brought widespread attention to the crocodile and its plight.He added that he planned to make one life-sized bread that accurately resembled the 4-meter crocodile – or at least as closely as he could make it, including the texture and color of its skin.Jemmy, a Master Bakery customer, applauded Abraham’s creative innovation and said he was excited about trying the bread.“I’m curious about the bread that looks like the crocodile with the tire necklace. It went viral, and I want to buy one for my child, who I think will absolutely love it,” said the 30-year-old. (syk)Topics :last_img read more

Jawdropping waterfront estate goes from Frying Pan to $2m fire-sale

first_imgMore from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus23 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market23 hours agoBut construction was abandoned eight years ago. Picture: Lachie MilllardOver 160 people had inspected the property, with 30 making offers on it and five contracts offered ranging from $1.4m to $2m, according to real estate agent Peter Grainger of Rock Real Estate, who marketed the property for a year before it sold for $1.94m.“It was a very tough sell because it was incomplete and also it was left for eight years, (so) it looked like ruins although it’s very strong construction,” he told The Courier-Mail.The $4m paid in 2009 was in an inflated market, he said, “at least $1.5m over what it should have been”.“It’s what we call an out-of-line sale, which is when a property sells for an extraordinary amount of money over and above the market. During that time a lot of those properties were at least 30, 40, 50 per cent over the market price.”Mr Grainger said the new buyers had paid a “good price however there are risk factors involved in buying a property like that”. The structure seems surprisingly strong considering it’s been open to the elements. Picture: Lachie Milllard The block looks back towards the Noosa Parade area across the water. Passersby in a file shot inside the shell of the incomplete mansion. Picture: Lachie Milllard The large plot has its own beach. You just have to visualise the possibilities. Picture: Lachie Milllard“Buyers don’t want to take it on with unknown risk and unknown risk will only be found when they (re) start construction. They still will need another million to finish it off – in cash as banks don’t generally like lending on half-finished houses.”He said if the property had resold six months after building activity had stopped “it would have been a different story.”“The difference is when it’s finished it could be worth anything, it’s 1.61ha in a totally unique, beautiful position.”Mr Grainger said it was a “very complicated sale”.“No wonder it took them 12 months to finalise. I thought for sure would be $3m but ultimately the market does decide what the price should be and it was well and truly tested with 160 views over that time.” FOLLOW SOPHIE FOSTER ON FACEBOOK FREE: GET THE COURIER-MAIL’S REALESTATE NEWS DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX undefined Lot 2 Frying Pan Track Noosa North Shore Qld 4565A BEACHFRONT owner has gone from Noosa’s Frying Pan to a fire-sale, after selling off her prized 1.61ha estate at a bargain $2m discount.The Singapore-based seller had paid a boomtime price of $4m for the jawdropping Noosa North Shore estate in mid-2009, according to CoreLogic records, but was unable to then complete construction of the 1100sq m mansion proposed for the site. BRISBANE SUBURBS RESIDENTS DON’T WANT TO LEAVE LIVE LIKE CLIVE PALMER’S NEPHEW, CLIVE MENSINK THIS IS WHAT $12M CAN BUY last_img read more

Black Cats strike back for Stoke point

first_imgJohn O’Shea snatched a potentially priceless point for Sunderland as they held Stoke to a 1-1 draw despite seeing Craig Gardner sent off after only 34 minutes. Neither side had managed a shot on goal before Walters put the visitors in front in the ninth minute. Walters’ header from Adam’s corner was blocked by Danny Graham on the line but the Republic of Ireland international reacted quickest to power the loose ball home via the underside of the bar. Adam Johnson was Sunderland’s best attacking outlet but he was struggling for support. Sunderland’s task became even harder when Adam’s charge down the right flank was ended by a dangerous studs-up challenge from Gardner, but Stoke did not overdo attempts to punish their opponents’ numerical disadvantage. Johnson went close to producing an equaliser with a free-kick just prior to the break but it squirmed wide and O’Shea almost got on the scoresheet on the hour, prodding goalwards only to see Dean Whitehead block on the line. And the captain went one better two minutes later, popping up at the far post to side-foot Seb Larsson’s corner over the line after Whitehead failed to get a solid connection. Remarkably Sunderland’s 10 men did not appear to tire and Danny Rose was inches away from putting them ahead in the 80th minute with a skidding attempt that struck the the post. Steven Nzonzi went closest to winning it for the visitors, hooking a shot over with his back to goal. Defeat at the Stadium of Light would have left the Black Cats in a perilous situation just above the relegation zone but, having gone behind to Jonathan Walters’ early effort, they showed great heart in the second half and deserved to see O’Shea prod home a 63rd-minute corner. Gardner can take little credit for the result, though, and his red card for a dangerous challenge on Charlie Adam was fully warranted. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Richer Sounds and SSE support new campaign to tackle low pay

first_imgRetail organisation Richer Sounds, energy business SSE and investment firm Standard Life Aberdeen have been accredited as living hours employers as part of a new initiative by the Living Wage Foundation.The Living Hours campaign, which launched this week, has been designed to tackle insecurity around employee pay and hours, and to provide individuals with more control over all aspects of their lives.Organisations that support the campaign will be required to pay staff the voluntary living wage rate, currently set at £9.00 an hour for employees across the UK and £10.55 an hour for those in London. Employers will also need to provide staff with at least four weeks’ notice of shifts and a contract that accurately reflects the hours they work, as well as guaranteeing a minimum working pattern of 16 hours a week.Employers that commit to the Living Hours pledge will be accredited as a living hours employer, alongside their living wage accreditation.Katherine Chapman (pictured), director at the Living Wage Foundation, said: “The living wage has put almost £1 billion extra into the pockets of more than 200,000 [employees], but it’s increasingly clear that pay is not the only driver of in-work poverty. A lack of secure, stable hours is leaving millions of families struggling to keep their heads above water. This isn’t good for [employees] or businesses.“Constant uncertainty over the number of hours, timings of shifts or the amount of pay [staff will] get each week places people under enormous pressure. A shift cancelled at the last minute might sound small, but it can be the difference between being able to pay for [a] family’s dinner that night or going hungry, and being expected to work at short notice means [people] can’t plan around other costs and commitments.“We’ve consulted with hundreds of [employees], employers and trade unions in drawing up these measures to ensure they are ambitious but achievable. We believe Living Hours will provide an important new measure to fight in-work poverty and to provide [staff] and their families with stability and security.”Research conducted in line with the campaign’s launch found that 5.1 million employees learn less than the living wage rate of pay and are in a form of insecure work; 2 million of these individuals are also parents. A fifth (22%) of employees aged between 16 and 24 are employed in low-paid, insecure work, compared to 46% aged over 35.Furthermore, 15% of white employees experience low pay and unpredictable working patterns in comparison to 17% of staff from mixed or multiple ethnic groups, 17% of Asian or Asian British employees and 17% of those who are black, African, Caribbean or black British.The living wage is an independently set hourly rate of pay that is calculated according to the basic costs of living. Employers pay the living wage rate, which is updated annually, on a voluntary basis. The higher London living wage reflects the increased living costs associated with residing in the capital.The voluntary living wage is distinct from the statutory national living wage, which is paid to employees aged 25 and over. The national living wage rate is currently set at £7.83 an hour.Julian Richer, founder and managing director at Richer Sounds, said: “If [we] treat the people who work for [us] well, [we are] going to have happier, more motivated staff, and ones that stay with [the business] for years. That makes a huge difference, and that’s what I’ve found paying the living wage. We just need more businesses to realise this. Offering Living Hours is a great way to provide [staff] with security, but it’s also going to help businesses in the long-run.”John Stewart, director of HR at SSE, added: “The Living Wage campaign has made huge strides in ending in-work poverty. But there is another side of the coin; the number of hours worked and the security of those hours. This brand new campaign to create an employer culture of Living Hours has the potential to do so much more and as a business we are very proud to be a part of it.”last_img read more