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community weblog - [ Animals ]

Huge gathering of monarchs an encouraging sign

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A phenomenal clustering of migrating monarch butterflies - up to several thousand a night - occurred over a succession of evenings recently in a grove of trees at a residence in Jerusalem Township.

Some 300 million monarchs across North America are on the move during September, most of them en route to select mountain forests in central Mexico for winter. Typically these familiar orange-and-black-winged insects will cluster in a tree, sometimes by the scores or hundreds, to rest overnight.

But Doris Stifel, Toledo's renowned Butterfly Lady and monarch authority, said the clustering at the Harold Shank residence on Seaman Road was beyond expectations.  more...

 



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Monarch butterflies to begin journey south

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Monarch butterflies began their journey to the south about a week ago. At first, there were a few stragglers drifting aimlessly, but close observation revealed they had a purpose. Foggy mornings do seem to confuse them a bit. That’s not surprising considering human reactions to fog. Each day’s migration continues to increase, and a few spend their nights resting in dangling branches of tall maples. Apparently, monarchs favor certain trees and will roost by the hundreds, but nothing like that occurs here. Two or three generations of this species grow each year to complete their annual cycle of life and migration.    more...

 



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Kodak falcon 'Skye' found dead in Canada

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(September 20, 2005) — Skye, a peregrine falcon born atop the Eastman Kodak Co. tower this spring, has been found dead in Canada.

The young bird's travels were being monitored after it was fitted with a solar-powered transmitter before taking flight.

According to the Migration Research Foundation's Web site, which was updating Skye's journeys, the bird was found in Lucknow, Ontario, near Lake Huron, in a cut cornfield near a pond. The Web site suggests that she may have been eating prey near the pond when she was attacked by a fox or coyote.   more...

 



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Migrating raptors take center stage in Michigan

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ROCKWOOD, Mich. - There's a whole lot of neck-straining going on here this weekend.

At the marshy Point Mouillee State Game Area yesterday, there were so many skyward-gazing people holding binoculars and huddled between tripods that, if you didn't know any better, you might have thought you were along Florida's Atlantic Coast waiting for a space shuttle launch.

But what has captivated people is the upward movement of something else: birds of prey.

This is the peak weekend for raptors of all kinds - mostly hawks, eagles, and falcons - to leave Canada. From early September through late November, they make their annual sojourn to southern climates as far away as Central and South America.  more...

 



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Cougar is culprit in horse's death

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When a man found his 1,200-pound Arabian horse dead in a Jackson County field last week, he thought it had been shot. There were two punctures in its neck like a vampire bite and gashes that looked like knife wounds.

County animal control officer Machele Dunlap showed up and did a careful examination of the horse. No bullets were inside it, and she realized that only one wild animal in Michigan could have done that kind of damage.

"It was a cougar," Dunlap said of the wild cat that weighs 100-200 pounds and is also called a mountain lion or puma. "We've had a number of people call in to report cougar sightings, and I have to admit that we were skeptical, because whenever we'd go out to investigate, we couldn't find anything. But there's really no question on this one."   more...

 



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Judge halts planned wolf kills in Michigan, Wisconsin

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A federal judge has blocked Michigan and Wisconsin, at least temporarily, from killing wolves that attack livestock or pets.

The Humane Society of the United States and 18 other environmental groups filed a lawsuit last month. It accused the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of issuing lethal control permits to the two states without giving the public an opportunity to comment, as required by the Endangered Species Act.

The permits authorized state officials to kill 20 wolves in Michigan and 34 in Wisconsin this year.

The suit demanded the agency withdraw the permits and go through the correct procedure for considering them. U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle voided the permits Tuesday during a hearing in Washington, D.C.   more...

 



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Bald eagle suffers mercury poisoning

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An ailing bald eagle found by an Indiana farmer tested positive for mercury poisoning, but state wildlife officials say it's unclear if the bird was poisoned by eating tainted fish it caught in Indiana waterways.

An environmental watchdog group says Indiana ranks fourth nationally in mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants that end up in the food chain.

''To me, this eagle is sending a very strong message that people should pay attention to,'' said Catherine Bowe of the National Wildlife Federation.  more...

 



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Clever whale uses fish to catch seagulls

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NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario — An enterprising young killer whale at Marineland has figured out how to use fish as bait to catch seagulls — and shared his strategy with his fellow whales.

Michael Noonan, a professor of animal behavior at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., made the discovery by accident while studying orca acoustics.

"One day I noticed one of the young whales appeared to have come up with a procedure for luring gulls down to the pool," the professor said. "I found it interesting so I noted it in my log."

First, the young whale spit regurgitated fish onto the surface of the water, then sank below the water and waited.  more...

 



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Peak season upon us for the fall migration of raptors

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The coming week to 10 days is all about hawks and other raptors or birds of prey, at least it is if you are tuned into the comings and goings of nature and the turning of the seasons.

For we are entering the peak season for the migratory passage of thousands of hawks, principally broad-winged hawks, around the northwest corner of Lake Erie.

On Sept. 17, 1998, a record of nearly 517,000 hawks soared past hawk-watch sites at Lake Erie Metropark and Pointe Mouillee State Game Area, both along the lake about 15 miles northeast of Monroe, Mich., near the Detroit River mouth. A year ago on Sept. 18, nearly 131,000 hawks and other raptors glided over the sites.

Such spectacular passages have put the region on the ornithological map of North America.   more...


 



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High lake temperatures raise fears of bird deaths

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Lake Erie became warmer earlier than usual this year, and water temperatures have continued to stay above normal, which makes Russ Biss wonder if thousands of dead migratory birds will litter area beaches again this fall.

"We just don't know what to expect," said Biss, natural resources supervisor for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. "We're expecting some (bird deaths), but we just don't know what levels we'll see."

The lake temperature at Buffalo has fluctuated between 76 and 77 degrees for the last three weeks, according to the National Weather Service. That's 3 to 4 degrees above average for this time of the summer, although not record-breaking, said meteorologist Tom Niziol.    more...

 



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Gearing up for geese

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f you just can't wait any longer for the hunting season to arrive there is hope on the horizon.

In just a few days, hunting season will arrive.

The early season for Canada Geese begins at dawn on Sept. 1 and it's becoming a yearly rite for a growing number of Michigan hunters.

The early goose season was started about a decade ago to combat the burgeoning population of "resident" geese that grow fat and sassy on southern Michigan's abundant croplands and waterholes.

Rather than head south for the winter, the geese simply stay here in Michigan and, well, create a number of problems for landowners.   more...

 



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Lawsuit says government erred in allowing wolf kills

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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - A federal agency didn't follow required procedures when giving Michigan and Wisconsin permission to kill wolves that attack livestock or pets, an animal protection group says.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued permits allowing the two states to use lethal control measures against problem wolves.

In a lawsuit filed last week, the Humane Society of the United States and 11 other organizations said the agency failed to notify the public and take comments before issuing the permits, steps required under the Endangered Species Act.   more...

 



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An osprey with a view

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The loss of habitat and pesticide aftereffects aside, the sight of osprey in Macomb County is a sign that native birds are making a comeback in Michigan.

Two osprey chicks raised at Stony Creek Metropark in Washington Township are part of an ongoing program to reintroduce the birds in southern Michigan. Osprey coordinator Kristin Martin said the program is in its third year as part of a 5-year reintroduction plan.

"Ospreys are native to the area; they nest here. But they also migrate to Central and South America in September," Martin said. "After two or three years they return to their nesting grounds, sometimes with a mate."   more...

 



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UNDERCOVER AGENTS CATCH WILDLIFE VIOLATORS

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The federal government and several states in the region have used undercover agents and other tactics to crack down on people who violate wildlife protection laws. An Ohio man is the latest person to be caught and convicted by the operation. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium's Bill Cohen has more:

Learn more about the Blandings turtle

Read a related story



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The spectre of extinction

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Lost amid the sweltering smog enveloping Ontario is a quiet crisis facing the province's wildlife, much of which teeters on the brink of extinction. When Premier Dalton McGuinty took office, he promised to help address years of neglect regarding endangered species.

And although he has made progress on cleaner air, safer drinking water, and Greenbelt protection, Ontario's endangered plants and animals still seem to be forgotten.

In the lead-up to the election in 2003, McGuinty made a written promise: "We will update and strengthen Ontario's Endangered Species Act. Our new act will put in place effective measures to protect species at risk, including a science-based process to list species and help them recover, and meaningful protection for habitats.   more...

 



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