Tag Archives: good news

Monarch butterfly count bounces back from bad year

15 Feb
MEXICO CITY | Tue Feb 15, 2011

(Reuters) – Monarch butterfly colonies in Mexico more than doubled in size this winter after bad storms devastated their numbers a year ago, conservationists said on Monday although the migrating insect remains under threat.

Millions of butterflies make a 2,000-mile journey each year from Canada to winter in central Mexico’s warmer weather but the size of that migration can vary wildly.

Fewer of the orange and black insects arrived in Mexico last year than ever before, researchers said, but the butterfly colonies increased by 109 percent this year to cover roughly 10 acres of forest. Researchers estimate the size of the butterfly colonies based on the area they occupy in a forest.

“Certainly this is good news and indicates a recovering trend,” said Omar Vidal, director of the Mexico branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

But while the monarch colonies rebounded this winter, it is still the fourth-lowest year for the butterfly since researchers started census-taking in 1993.

Illegal loggers have picked away roughly 3 percent of a 138,000 acre reserve since it was created in 2000 but officials say they now have that illicit harvest under control.

Severe winter weather linked to climate change is more of a long-term threat, along with large-scale farming that crowds out the milkweed that the butterflies dine on during their cross-continental flight.

“The caterpillars feed on milkweed so changing soil use in the United States and Canada is definitely having an impact on the butterflies,” said Vidal, who helps manage the authoritative study on monarch populations in Mexico.

Michoacan state is home to the country’s monarch butterfly reserve as well as many violent drug gangs that have carved smuggling routes through the often-arid terrain.

While the government is confronting drug gangs on many fronts, smugglers are not inhibiting conservation work, one official said.

“We are being a bit more careful but have not had any security incident to date,” said Humberto Gabriel Reyes, who oversees the butterfly reserve for the federal commission for protected areas.

While the uptick in butterfly numbers is heartening, U.S. researcher Lincoln Brower said the insects are still susceptible to harsh conditions.

“The weather conditions we saw last year were among our worst-case scenario,” said Brower, 79, of Sweet Briar College in Virginia who has studied the monarch butterflies since the 1950s.

“If there were more harsh weather in Texas or more forest loss in the Mexican reserves, the butterflies could be tested even more severely,” said Brower who was one of the first researchers to see the Mexican overwinter sites after they were identified by scientists in 1975.

(Reporting by Patrick Rucker; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)



Woman makes it her life’s mission to feed stray dogs, cats — every day

14 Feb
BY WALLY SPIERS – News-Democrat
P.J. Hightower is so much of an animal lover that she drives every day through southwestern East St. Louis, feeding stray dogs and cats.

Last week, the St. Louis woman provided a look at one of her mornings. Bundled in coveralls and a stocking cap, she braved the cold and wind that whistled through her Honda Fit when she opened the back hatch to get to the bags of dog and cat food she carried.

Her car crunched along the rough streets which weren’t improved by the layers of ice and snow. She patrols neighborhoods where burned out, abandoned houses and open expanses bordered by ditches filled with brush often hide the dogs.

Jamie Case, executive director of Gateway Pet Guardians and a Belleville native, rides along on some days. Together, the two women look for tracks in the snow near places where they have found dogs before.

Last week, they spotted Sassy, who came running toward the car, dragging about 6 feet of a chain behind her.

“She had puppies three weeks ago,” Case said. “Even her owner can’t get close to her.”

Gateway Guardians rescued the litter, and the puppies were adopted.

One gray cat came to the road to be fed. Catlike, at first it retreated from the food, but that apparently was only because the cat was keeping a wary eye on Sassy, who had trailed along to check for more goodies.

Usually, Hightower sees her regulars, anywhere from 15 to 20 dogs. Sometimes, there are new ones. Last week, she never did find Humphrey, a dog which has an injured front foot which dangles uselessly. That worried Hightower, who has named many of the dogs. Despite repeated passes through several neighborhoods, he was a no-show. Probably not a good omen.

Some of the dogs were born wild, mongrel mixes. Some are dogs that people let run loose. Some are fed by people who live in the area, while others get food from people who drive through on their way to work every day, carrying food with them to put out, Case said.

One thing the dogs all share is a wariness toward humans.

“We’re the only people they’re exposed to. They are used to people throwing things at them and yelling,” Hightower said. “These dogs do not attack people. They do not attack other animals. They stay away from everyone if possible.”

Hightower was born in East St. Louis and grew up in Collinsville. She lives in St. Louis in the Lafayette Square area. She says she is a corporate dropout who is a professional dog walker.

She said her sister was building a house in Freeburg back around 1995 and she often drove to see it. On her way, she would see stray dogs. She started feeding a few of them and it took off from there.

“I haven’t missed a day in 10 years,” she said.

Many of the dogs run toward her car when they see it approach. The dogs stand warily nearby until Hightower pours piles of food on the ground for the animals.

After she retreats, the dogs eat. Sometimes, after the dogs retreat, the birds eat whatever is left.

Nigel watched from across the street as his sister Nigella and Mr. Pit ate their food. Hightower was thrilled when Mr. Pit came close enough to give her a high five.

But when it came time to feed Nigel, he was nowhere to be seen.

“Where is Nigel?” Hightower asked, looking all around.

Nigel was running alongside the car, looking for his food.

Hightower said she used to pay for her own animal food.

“Now I get donations from Gateway,” she said.

In the past, she has used donations to get surgical help for injured animals.

Some people support what she is doing. Others don’t think it is so great. Hightower said she spent about 45 minutes one day talking to a police officer about what she was doing.

“She seemed to think it was wrong,” Hightower said. “I think I changed her mind, but I don’t know.”

She said people think ignoring the dogs and letting them starve would end the problem, but that won’t work.

“They will find food,” Case said.

And they will give birth. Every six months, the strays produce a new generation. When a stray female goes into heat, males come from miles around for the chance to mate. That results in fights, injuries to the males and sometimes to the females.

Another result is puppies. Some people sell the puppies as a source of income, Case said. Others abandon them. Case said her group rescues from 120 to 150 dogs a year, mostly puppies, just from the area Hightower patrols.

“We rescue when we know they are no one’s dogs,” she said.

They can rescue adult dogs when they know they have a foster home.

“Not everyone can handle a feral dog,” she said.

Like Malcom, for instance. Malcom hangs out on a vacant lot near downtown. His lot has several feeding bowls sitting around. Workers in a nearby office building feed him as do some people from the Federal Courthouse. A woman wants to adopt him, but the group will have to catch him.

“It’s a tricky thing to rescue a feral dog,” Case said.

Proposed law

The problem spurred state Rep. Tom Holbrook, D-Belleville, to introduce legislation in the Illinois House to make it easier for people to take care of the stray animals. House Bill 240 will amend the state’s Humane Care of Animals Act to allow caretakers to pick up an animal, spay or neuter it and return it to its habitat.

“People are afraid that if they pick up an animal, spay or neuter it and return it to its habitat they could be charged with abandonment,” Holbrook said.

The proposed legislation will be amended to include inoculations and to specify only dogs and cats. It has been assigned to the Agriculture and Conservation Committee.

“This could help end some of the suffering and bring an end to overpopulation. It’s a good starting point,” Holbrook said.

Gateway Pet Guardians is solidly behind the legislation. The group also is attempting to buy a piece of property in East St. Louis and raise money to build a spay and neuter clinic.

“We need to stop the reproduction,” Case said.


For more information on how to donate or to view a documentary about the group, you can visit its website, gatewaypets.com.

Read more: http://www.bnd.com/2011/02/13/1589824/friend-to-the-friendless-metro.html#ixzz1DzZQAhBM

Cat recovers after being shot with 2-foot arrow

11 Feb

Leila the catBy Stephanie Coueignoux, Reporter


After being shot through the body with an arrow, an Orange County cat is now recovering and deputies are investigating.

Leila’s owners live near University of Central Florida. They said she likes to walk around the neighborhood and is very friendly with everyone.

Two weeks ago, Leila started scratching on the patio door after being outside. That’s when the owners discovered the arrow.

Dr. Steve Wiseman treated Leila and said the arrow was about 2 feet long. Amazingly enough, Leila is expected to recover.

Wiseman said the cat is lucky to be alive.

“It may have hit an artery. It could have hit the lungs. The spinal cord is right there too and a cat isn’t a big animal and this arrow is pretty large so it could have severed the spinal cord also,” Wiseman said.

Wiseman said Leila should make a full recovery.

So far, deputies don’t have any suspects. If caught, the person who shot the arrow could face animal cruelty charges.


Owner cannot reclaim puppy she put in mail

10 Feb

Hearing officer said the actions of Stacey Champion, 39, of Minneapolis, were “disgraceful.” The dog may be put up for adoption as early as next week.

By MATT McKINNEY and PAUL WALSH, Star Tribune staff writers

Last update: February 7, 2011 – 9:14 PM



The puppy that almost ended up in the U.S. mail will stay at an animal shelter for at least another week after an administrative hearing officer ruled Monday that it should not be returned to its owner.

On Monday, city administrative hearing officer Fabian Hoffner ruled against returning the dog to owner Stacey Champion, 39, of Minneapolis, calling what she did “disgraceful.”

The 4-month-old Schnauzer-poodle mix was nearly sent in a cardboard box to Georgia last month before it was intercepted by alarmed postal workers. Postal authorities said it almost certainly would have suffocated or died of exposure in the unpressurized belly of a cargo plane.

Champion admitted at the hearing that she put Guess in a box without food on Jan. 25, saying it was supposed to be a birthday gift for her son in Atlanta.

Because delivery was halted, Champion said, “I was deprived of my son not receiving his gift for his birthday. I felt really, really bad as a mom.”

The case was so unusual that Postal Service employees weren’t sure at first if the shipment was illegal, according to Postal Inspector Jesse Swanson. He said at Monday’s hearing that on the day the dog was discovered, he got a call from the Loring Post Office station manager asking if Postal Service rules prohibited the mailing of puppies. He had to check the rules himself before learning that it was not permissible.

“This was somewhat uncharted territory for us,” he said.

Suspicions about the shipment first arose when employees at the Loring Station post office in downtown Minneapolis saw the box move on its own and heard breathing inside. Champion had told clerks that the box contained a toy robot, according to Swanson.

Postal clerks then called Swanson and held a phone up to the box. “I could hear panting,” he recalled. Concerned that the panting was getting “slower and less frequent,” Swanson allowed the box to be opened.

The Postal Service will ship some live animals such as bees, certain small and harmless cold-blooded animals, chicks and ducklings. But sending live dogs and cats through the mail is not allowed.

During Monday’s hearing, Champion told Hoffner, “I did my best with the procedures and everything,” adding that she didn’t see any signs at the post office indicating what could or could not be shipped. She said the box had air holes and held water bottles.

Postal officials said that the box’s air holes were covered by packing tape and that it did not contain water bottles.

At the end of Monday’s hearing, Hoffner zeroed in on Champion as she gave halting, partial answers to his questions.

“Why did you say it was a toy robot?” he asked.

“Because the lady, she just kept throwing the box around, kept throwing the box around, so I just told her it was a toy robot,” Champion said.

“The fact that you didn’t tell her the truth must have meant that you didn’t want her to know,” Hoffner said.

“Yes, I didn’t want her to know,” Champion said.

Many want to adopt puppy

Surrounded by news cameras and reporters, Champion left City Hall and declined to comment on her defeat.

The dog, which has been housed at the Minneapolis Animal Care and Control shelter since its discovery, is still owned by Champion but now moves closer to adoption, perhaps as soon as next week.

Animal control manager Daniel Niziolek said Champion will be asked to post a bond to pay for Guess’ care at the shelter from now until Feb. 28, the date of Champion’s Hennepin County District Court hearing on two misdemeanor animal cruelty charges the city filed against her for her attempt to mail Guess.

If she doesn’t post the bond within five days of it being requested, she’ll lose ownership of the puppy, making it available for adoption.

If she posts the bond, Guess’ ultimate ownership will hinge on the result of the animal cruelty charges.

In the meantime, “Guess is doing well,” Sgt. Angela Dodge, who has been handling the case for the Police Department, said Monday afternoon. “Despite the trauma he endured, he appears to be a healthy and happy puppy who likes to play and receive attention from staff.”

Dodge said the city has been receiving “several inquiries each day” from citizens interested in adopting the puppy.

Anyone wishing to adopt from the city shelter must appear there in person. If more than one person wants an animal, shelter staff hold a lottery. If Guess does go up for adoption, Niziolek said, he will notify the media first to give interested people time to plan accordingly.


Oregon Humane Society rescues dying cat found in storage locker

10 Feb

By Monique Balas

A cat found abandoned inside a storage container is recovering at the Oregon Humane Society after being rescued by an OHS humane investigator.

The adult male tabby was nearly dead when he was rescued by OHS Humane Investigator Austin Wallace.

The cat was entangled in what seemed to be a makeshift leash tied to a shopping cart. It was found inside a rented storage locker at the Money Saver Mini Storage on Molalla Avenue in Oregon City.
The humane society’s medical team estimate the animal had gone without food or water for between two and four weeks. He also had a variety of head wounds, probably from trying to escape from the tangled rope trapping him beneath the cart.

The owner is currently unknown, but he or she will likely be charged with first- and second-degree animal neglect if found. The humane society is searching for the person who rented the storage locker.

The storage facility manager found the cat this morning after hearing what sounded like an animal in distress and called the humane society. The OHS medical team is carefully monitoring the cat and hoping he will make a full recovery.


Michael Vick’s Property Could Become Animal Sanctuary

9 Feb

by Jake Richardson Feb 9, 2011

A group called Dogs Deserve Better is trying to raise $600,000 by March 20 to purchase Michael Vick’s old Surry County home.  If they successfully purchase Vick’s former property, they will acquire multiple acres of land with sheds and kennels.
Dogs Deserve Better is a national non-profit focused on taking care of abandoned and abused dogs, and freeing them from chains. They say chaining dogs can result in attacks on children and adults because such dogs are often unsocialized and act territorial. The organization’s founder spent 52 days chained to a doghouse to raise awareness about the cruelty of chaining.
On their website, the group states how they wish to use Michael Vick’s property: “There are 15 acres where we will build a state of the art dog caretaking facility and train these neglected, unsocialized dogs to live inside as part of the family.”
For about six years Vick financed a dogfighting ring and was involved in torturing and killing dogs. Eventually he was convicted of being involved in an interstate dogfighting conspiracy. For this felony he was sentenced to 23 months in prison. After being released from jail he returned to pro football and was chosen for the Pro Bowl. Since his imprisonment, he has volunteered his time to warn others about becoming involved in such bad behavior.
Some people think Vick’s talent in football makes his behavior acceptable. An article in Time magazine stated, “Vick exited prison and worked harder than ever, transforming himself into a better quarterback than he was before his punishment. No matter what you think of Vick personally, that’s an act of atonement.” Achievements in sports, however, are not an atonement for personal transgression.
One thing Mr. Vick could do to keep moving himself in the right direction is to make a large donation to the Dogs Deserve Better project and help convert his previous residency into a sanctuary for animals. Mr. Vick and his associates invested very large sums of money and effort in committing violence against animals, so making a large donation to take care of animals would help make up for the harm he has done in the past.


Kitten saved from trash compactor

8 Feb

By: Dan Ivers

MERIDEN – A 4-month-old kitten rescued from a trash compactor last week was recuperating at the Humane Society Monday.
The kitten, which is almost totally blind, was found by Dainty Rubbish Service employees during regular pickup in Middletown Thursday morning. Mike Armetta, a manager at the firm, said he and a mechanic were shoveling trash from a truck and loading it into the compactor when they spotted the kitten inside a small box among the garbage.
“It was behind the blade. It’s a miracle that the animal didn’t end up in there,” he said.
Armetta, a self-described animal lover, said animals often seek a bit of warmth in the company’s trucks during the winter, although most discoveries involve raccoons or skunks. When he spotted the kitten, however, he scooped it out, cleaned it and contacted the local humane society in Meriden.
Humane Society Director Marlena DiBianco said the cat, which has been named Pacman due to his close encounter with the trash compactor, is recovering well and “eating like a horse,” although it will likely require major surgery to save one of its eyes.
Despite the cost the no-kill shelter will incur to help Pacman retain some of his vision, DiBianco said she couldn’t be more thankful to Armetta and the other employees who helped save his life.
“They saved it … I was really happy that they did that,” she said Monday.
Neither Armetta nor DiBianco could be sure if the cat was a stray that climbed into the garbage or if it had been intentionally placed in a dumpster. However, it is being cared for both at DiBianco’s home and at the Humane Society, on Murdock Avenue, where regular volunteer Ann Trinkaus has been watching over him since he arrived.
Once his health has been restored the organization will begin searching for a suitable home, although one candidate has already emerged – Armetta said he would like to eventually bring the kitten home himself.
“This animal would have been crushed” if not for Armetta, said Trinkaus. “It would have been a terrible death … it would be a wonderful ending.”
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