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community weblog - [ Animals ]

Aggressive and messy, gulls are the new urban menace

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Like something out of a Hitchcock movie, they're lined up along the rooftops of buildings, on parking lots, on grassy plots, on the gravel wasteland left behind by demolition of the Park East Freeway spur. Gulls. They're everywhere, it seems - and so are their droppings.

Almost as numerous as the birds are the methods used to chase them away: wire mesh, noisemakers, firecrackers, fake owls, even border collies. Manitowoc has resorted to shooting. But such tactics can go only so far, experts say. Nudged out of one roosting area, the remarkably adaptable ring-billed gulls will most likely just move on to another.   more...

 



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ANGLERS COMPETING WITH CORMORANTS

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Slideshow imageAnglers around the Great Lakes are eager for a summer of fishing. Everyone wants to catch the big one, but they're getting some competition. It comes in the form of the double-crested cormorant. The big black birds with long necks are fish eaters. Cormorants were nearly wiped out by the now-banned pesticide, DDT, in the 1970's. But now cormorants are back in big numbers. Some anglers feel there are too many cormorants now, and they say the birds are eating too many fish.   more...

 

 

 



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3,199 cormorants killed in 10 days of shooting

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BRIGHTON—The double-crested cormorant is facing lethal force for the first time on the Great Lakes since it recovered from near-extinction 30 years ago.

On the Ontario side, parks officials are halfway through a cull of the birds that congregate on High Bluff Island, a bird sanctuary off Presqu'ile Point, while 175 kilometres to the east, New York State officials are shooting birds on Little Galloo Island.

Whether the cull will be effective in controlling the birds' expanding numbers is anyone's guess, says federal cormorant expert Chip Wiseloh of the Canadian Wildlife Services.

"I don't know if anybody knows the right way to deal with the population," he said in a telephone interview yesterday. "It's certainly one way and I don't have any problem with it."   more...

 



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Lots of rain means more mosquitoes

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For Michigan mosquitoes, soggy weather is like an all-inclusive package at a racy resort -- free food and drinks, luxurious waterfront lodging and fertile opportunities for procreation.

So, expect a skeeter baby boom next month.

"It's going to be horrible, a bumper crop," said Dr. Richard Merritt, a professor of entomology at Michigan State University. "There's standing-water habitat all over the place, and it's nice and cool, so nothing's drying out. Next month, the little buggers are going to come out."    more...

 



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Whoops: Cranes fly off-course

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crane.jpg

Part of an endangered flock lands in Michigan

Pity these poor lost birds.

A little lousy weather, a few inconsiderate humans and next thing they know, they're stuck in southwestern Michigan, wondering how the heck they can get across that big pond back to their summer home in Wisconsin.

We're talking about six whooping cranes, a bird that has come to symbolize international efforts to save endangered species.

Hatched in incubators, raised by humans wearing crane costumes and taught their migration route by following ultralight planes, these birds are among the progeny of a four-year effort to establish a whooping crane population east of the Mississippi River.   more...

 



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Trying to control the cormorant

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Larger viewAll over Minnesota, people are getting ready for the fishing opener. Everyone wants to catch the big one. But we've got competition. It comes in the form of the double-crested cormorant. The big black birds with long necks are fish-eaters. Just like bald eagles, they were nearly wiped out by DDT in the 1970s. But now cormorants are back. Some anglers say there are too many cormorants, and they're eating too many fish.   more...

 

 

 




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Canvasback makes a rare appearance

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Perhaps on its way back from San Francisco Bay to Whitefish Point in the Upper Peninsula, a male Canvasback duck was spotted last month paddling the waters of the AuSable River.

City Councilwoman Kim McClain alerted the Avalanche staff of the sighting behind the Crawford County Title Insurance Agency and attempts were made to get a good, clear photograph of the waterfowl, to no avail. The duck kept paddling away, turning its back to the camera as if to protect his privacy.   more...

 



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For many, bird watching is their favorite outdoor activity

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Humans, it seems, have always been birdwatchers. Our history is filled with accounts of the power and beauty of winged creatures.

The Greek, Egyptian and Arabian cultures tell often of the immortal phoenix that could rise from the ashes. And Native American mythology holds that the Thunderbird, able to make itself invisible and traverse the heavens, gave rise to all other birds each time it lost a feather. Eagles came from the largest quill feathers of the Thunderbird, partridges from smaller feathers, robins and pigeons from the down and hummingbirds and sparrows from the mere, fuzzy filaments on the down.

So it seems natural for us to look to the sky in awe at the skill and beauty of our feathered friends. For more and more humans, bird watching is their favorite outdoor activity.   more...


 



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Cranes' flight to Wisconsin stalled by Lake Michigan

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Bald eagles, hungry coyotes and buzzing power lines are the anticipated perils of young, eastern whooping cranes embarking on their maiden - non-human-assisted - spring migration.

But as researchers, volunteers and avid whooper watchers have discovered, there are a couple of new obstacles to add to the list: Lake Michigan and litter.

At the end of March, the whoopers started their 1,200-mile journey to Wisconsin.   more...

 



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Ohio exceeds milestone of 100 bald eagle nests

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COLUMBUS - A record-breaking 105 bald eagle nests have been verified by state wildlife officials so far this spring in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
"Reaching the milestone of 100 eagle nests is great news for Ohio, especially considering that only 25 years ago, eagles were nearly gone from our state," said Steven Gray, chief of the Division of Wildlife.
"The bald eagle's success is a good indicator of how habitat in Ohio has improved and of how eagles have adapted."
A decline. In 1979, there were only four bald eagle pairs nesting in the state.
Pesticides and loss of habitat were major contributors to the eagles' population decline.
To restore this national symbol in Ohio, the Division of Wildlife committed to a series of management actions, including habitat restoration, fostering young eagles, and extensive monitoring.   more...


 



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Orkin, Inc. Launches New Mosquito Treatment

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In response to customer demand and concern about mosquito-borne diseases, Atlanta-based Orkin, Inc. is now offering a new service to help homeowners control mosquito populations this summer. Orkin is the only national pest control provider offering mosquito control service.

Orkin's three-pronged mosquito treatment service is available in more than 80 cities to help reduce mosquito activity in residential and commercial settings. The treatment begins with an inspection of potential breeding sites. Following the inspection, larvicides may be used in standing water, such as ponds or other water features in the landscape, to stunt the growth of mosquitoes' offspring before they become biting adults.

Service is available in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, D.C., West Virginia and Wisconsin.   more...

 



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UW student to open cormorant diet study

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Fishermen have blamed double-crested cormorants for the decline of yellow perch in Green Bay for nearly a decade.

Beginning this year, they’ll find out whether there’s any truth to their suspicions.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has adopted rules to allow state fish and wildlife agencies, federally recognized tribes and U.S. Department of Agriculture wildlife services to kill cormorants when the birds are harming public resources.

“I know a lot of people want us to get out there and start blasting these birds, but we need to know for sure,” said state Department of Natural Resources Great Lakes specialist Bill Horns. “It’s controversial.”  more...

 



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Water snake project among those funded

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 A Lake Erie water snake recovery implementation plan is among the projects receiving grant funding from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.

The project, headed by Richard B. King of Northern Illinois University, was awarded $20,000.

The nonvenemous Lake Erie water snake was added to the federal threatened species list in August 1999, then became a state endangered species in May 2000. Its limited habitat encompasses nine Ohio islands -- particularly Kelleys Island and the Bass Islands -- and the Catawba Island-Marblehead shorelines.  more...

 



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Evidence mounts against cormorants

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BY ERIC SHARP
FREE PRESS OUTDOORS WRITER

Anglers have been complaining for years that a burgeoning cormorant population on the Great Lakes is destroying perch and smallmouth bass stocks. Now they have support from research scientists.

Preliminary analysis of a 20-year study on Lake Ontario shows the goose-sized diving birds are decimating inshore fish the size of perch and young bass and competing for food with salmonids and walleyes. Changing water conditions also have made cormorants more efficient Great Lakes predators than 20 years ago, and they have become a major predator in northern Lake Huron.   more...

 



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Native cormorants? Not in Great Lakes

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BY ERIC SHARP
FREE PRESS OUTDOORS WRITER

In co-evolution, living things develop strategies over hundreds or thousands of years that let them inhabit the same area, sometimes through mutual benefit, sometimes through a mutual standoff.

One of the most fascinating examples I've seen is New Zealand's lancewood tree. It grows ramrod straight to a height of about 12 feet, with no branches and only a few small, unappetizing leaves at the tip. Lancewood, named for its usefulness as a spear, makes a perfect spear shaft until it reaches that height. Then branches sprout from the top, the leaves become much bigger and succulent, and the trunk eventually grows as big as an oak.    more...

 



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