Urgent call for grouse hunters in Minnesota
Grouse hunters in northern Minnesota were asked to collect samples for a West Nile virus research project with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The main objective of the mission was to determine the impact of West Nile virus on ruffed grouse populations.
Ruffed grouse is the most popular game bird in Minnesota, attracting as many as 92,000 hunters and an average annual harvest of more than 500,000 birds. Color phases range from gray to chestnut. In winter, ruffed grouse have comb-like fringes on their toes that, like snowshoes, allow for easy travel on snow. It is also noted for its muffled drumming sounds during the spring mating season. Unlike most other game bird species, which form coveys or flocks, ruffed grouse spend most of their adult life alone, except during the mating season.
West Nile virus has been present in Minnesota since the early 2000s, and cases have been found in wild birds, people and other mammals. There were concerns that the disease might be impacting grouse populations across the Upper Midwest. The virus is most commonly spread to animals and people by the bite of an infected mosquito. West Nile does not spread through coughing, sneezing, or touching live animals or handling live or dead infected birds.
Hunters will collect blood, hearts and few feathers. Private hunting guides and wildlife students at participating colleges will also contribute to reaching the desired sample size of 400 birds. DNR is also closely working with researchers in Wisconsin and Michigan.
Drug resistant Salmonella-contaminated beef and cheese warning
Researchers have documented decreased susceptibility of Salmonella Newport strain to commonly used antimicrobials. The deadly strain has already caused 255 illnesses in 32 states, 60 hospitalizations, and two deaths. Of the 252 isolates that were resistant to azithromycin and ciprofloxacin (often prescribed to treat Salmonella infections in humans), 90% had predictable resistance to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, and chloramphenicol. 57% of the isolates were additionally predicted to be resistant to ampicillin and streptomycin.
The Salmonella infections were linked to beef obtained in the United States and soft cheese obtained in Mexico, suggesting that this strain could be present in cattle in both countries. Eighty-nine of the people who contracted the infection had recently traveled to Mexico. The resistant strains that developed in animals could have subsequently been transmitted to humans.
CDC estimates that about 1.2 million Salmonella infections occur each year in the United States, including 450 deaths from the illness. Symptoms of salmonellosis include abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever between 12 and 72 hours of infection. Researchers recommend that the rational use of antimicrobials in farm animals and humans is necessary to curb further antibiotic-resistant bacteria from developing. CDC also advises cooking steaks at 145 degrees Fahrenheit followed by a three-minute rest time, cooking ground beef and hamburgers to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and avoiding unpasteurized cheese.
Staggering loss of forest-dwelling wildlife populations
Populations of forest-living birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have shrunk on average by more than half (53%) since 1970. Habitat loss and degradation, primarily caused by human activity, is the cause of 60% of the threats to forests and forest species. Declines were greatest in tropical forests, such as the Amazon rainforest. Forests, which are home to well over half of the world’s land-based species and one of our most important carbon sinks, are vital to the health of the planet. Forest wildlife provides vital functions to keep forests healthy and productive, such as pollinating and dispersing seeds and other crucial roles that affect natural regeneration and carbon storage.
The world's population has doubled since 1970, the global economy has grown four-fold, while international trade has increased 10 times over. To feed, clothe and give energy to this burgeoning world, forests have been cleared at astonishing rates, especially in tropical areas. Policy makers and conservationists report explain that the Earth has suffered from the actions of humans through history, over the past 50 years, and these scratches have become deep scars.
Not only are forests a treasure trove of life on earth, they are also our greatest natural ally in the fight against climate change. We lose them at our peril. Protecting wildlife and reversing the decline of nature requires urgent global action. Hence, it is time to critically address the multiple pressures on forest species, including deforestation, illegal wildlife trade, unsustainable hunting, invasive species, climate change and disease.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is calling world leaders to declare a planetary emergency and secure a New Deal for Nature and People by 2020 to stop climate breakdown, safeguard our planet’s remaining natural spaces, and make our consumption and production model more sustainable.
Questions, comments, feedback about today's Weekly Update? Please email Dr. Addis Hunde Bedada.
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