Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for November, 2007

There’s absolutely no excuse for S.F. Bay oil spills

And there’s REALLY no excuse for a slow response, or for misjudging the size of oil spills that do somehow happen, even though they shouldn’t.
A crude oil spill is bad, but fuel oil is more refined than crude oil, and the more refined the oil, the more toxic it becomes.

The 58,000 gallons of fuel oil that spilled into the Bay on Wednesday is toxic to wildlife and this spill couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

The Bay Area is smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Flyway — the route migratory birds take on their winter and spring migrations. Many thousands of common murres and other migratory bird species that are arriving to feed in the Bay and Delta ecosystems, even as we speak, are in jeopardy of being contaminated by this noxious and deadly oil and killed.

And that includes the harbor seals and sea lions that already live in the Bay, and many kinds of fish. And if the oil escapes the confines of the Bay and leaks out into the ocean, it will also put other birds and marine-mammal species at risk.

And I don’t even want to think what will happen if the oil dares to reach the clusters of small islands that comprise our fragile Farallon National Wildlife Refuge.

These are modern times and with the present state of our technology, we should be able to establish foolproof procedures to protect Bay waters and beaches and wildlife. I thought we had procedures in place to deal with this kind of stuff, but apparently we don’t. Or maybe no one is following them. That’s scary.

Somebody REALLY screwed up on this one.

Heads should roll.

Unfortunately, that’s not going to keep a LOT of animals from dying. /Gary

(P.S.: Please explain to me again how a ship can run into that BIG OLD BAY BRIDGE??? Our Tony Hicks has a whole lot to say about that.)

Posted on Friday, November 9th, 2007
Under: Oil Spills | No Comments »

Dog lover? This is for you

Meet Claudia Kawczynska & Cameron Woo, editors of Berkeley’s own THE BARK Magazine.
They’ll read from “HOWL: A Collection of the Best Contemporary Dog Wit,” Sunday, Nov. 18, 4-5 p.m. at Cody’s Books, Inc., 1730 Fourth Street, Berkeley (510-559-9500).

I just received this press release:
“Dogs are celebrated members of our families thanks to their capacity for unconditional love, unfaltering loyalty, and now, in ‘HOWL: A Collection of the Best Contemporary Dog Wit’ (Crown; Oct. 23), for their comedic genius. With a follow-up to the New York Times bestseller ‘Dog Is My Co-Pilot,’ the editors of THE BARK have returned with more than seventy rollicking pieces — ranging from personal essays and parodies to satires and aphorisms — highlighting the hilarity of life with dogs.
“The editors of THE BARK have tapped into the dog-friendly literary world to capture the witty, sophisticated voice of today’s canine culture.
“With works from a variety of contemporary humorists, literary authors, and comedians — including Al Franken, Dave Barry, Margaret Cho, Kinky Friedman, Pam Houston, Haven Kimmel, Laurie Notaro, and Roy Blount Jr. — ‘HOWL’ presents a comical and insightful look at the behavior of dogs and their people.” (The press release goes on and on but I think you get the point.)

I’m curious. When editors do a reading from a book of contemporary dog wit … do they just stand up there in front of everybody and BARK and HOWL at the audience?

It’s probably worth going just to find that out. /Gary

Posted on Thursday, November 8th, 2007
Under: dogs | No Comments »

Beavers saved!

Congratulations to everyone who worked together to save the beaver family.

** Thanks to Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder who contacted Fish and Game Commissioner Jim Kellogg, a Contra Costa resident, and asked for help to save the beaver family.

** Thanks to Jim Kellogg and the California Department of Fish and Game for making a special (and compassionate) exception in this situation, and issuing Martinez a relocation permit for the beavers so they can be moved to a new area … instead of a depredation permit to kill them.

** Thanks to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek for stepping forward to volunteer their expert wildlife rescue and rehabilitation services to help the beavers. Plans, reportedly, are for them to carefully trap the beaver family and quarantine them and make sure they’re healthy before later releasing them in an area approved by the state.

** And a very special thanks to the huge number of Martinez residents and others from throughout the Bay Area and beyond for standing up for the beaver family and refusing to allow them to be killed.

This was a community problem and everyone has worked together to come up with a community solution that shows our children that we shouldn’t just kill creatures that get in our way.

Nice going, everyone. Go beavers!

Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2007
Under: Beavers | No Comments »

Meeting to save the beavers

If you care about the Martinez beaver family, please attend the Martinez City Council meeting.
The meeting is 7 p.m. Wednesday evening, Nov. 7, at the Martinez City Hall, 525 Henrietta Street, off Alhambra Ave.

The City Council is threatening to kill the beaver family because of concern that their dam will back up the water in Alhambra Creek and cause flooding to the downtown area.

There are other solutions besides killing these creatures.

Check out this video:

Posted on Tuesday, November 6th, 2007
Under: Beavers | No Comments »

Must the Martinez beaver family be killed?

Attend this week’s Martinez City Council meeting and tell them how you feel.
The meeting is this Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m. at the Martinez City Hall, 525 Henrietta Street, off Alhambra Ave., Martinez.

The City Council is threatening to have the beavers killed because they say their dam could potentially cause flooding in downtown Martinez.

Death doesn’t have to be the only solution. There are endless other possibilities.

Here are just a few:

If there’s a problem with the beaver dam across Alhambra Creek being too high and risking a flood, lower the height of the dam.

If the dam absolutely has to go, then remove the dam and leave the beavers alone. I’m sure there are enough Martinez residents who care about the beavers who would be willing to form a team to keep the beaver dam at safe levels.

If the beavers absolutely have to be removed from the creek, why is killing them the only answer? Surely there must be ONE slough in the Delta that doesn’t have beavers. Relocate them to that spot. Why does the Department of Fish and Game, an organization that should be protecting our native wildlife, only issue depredation permits to kill local wildlife?

Any zoos like to have some beavers for display? After allowing the beavers to exist for a year in the creek, until all the local children (and their families!) have come to love them and adopt them as their local beaver family, the City Council could at least form a committee of council members and local citizens, and beaver experts … to try and come up with a more humane way of dealing with this problem.

Not just … “OOPS, it’s that beaver family again. Time to kill them.

What kind of message is this sending to our children?

If all this bothers you, you should attend Wednesday’s City Council meeting and let them know how you feel.

Have a look at the beaver family:

Posted on Monday, November 5th, 2007
Under: Beavers | No Comments »

Will pigeon “birth control” drug affect other wild birds?

There’s a way to reduce the populations of troublesome pigeons that are pooping on city streets and buildings. OvoControl-P is a drug that makes avian eggs unhatchable. It is registered for “hatch control in pest birds such as Canada geese and feral pigeons.”

I Googled “OvoControl-P” and found a LOT of info on the subject. The drug is produced by a company called Innolytics LLC. OvoControl-P is advertised on the Web site “For the Safe and Humane Control of Pigeon Reproduction. You can check it out for yourself at:

As promoted on the Web site, the drug appears to be non-lethal and humane. But I’m a well-known cynic when it comes to using drugs to control wildlife. (I still remember 1080.)

Reading through the company’s on-line information, they appear to have done everything possible to make sure only the target species (pigeons) are affected by this drug, and not other wild birds. The bait they use is in large pieces suitable for big-mouthed pigeons, but not your average songbird. But large pieces of bird food can crumble into smaller pieces, can’t they?

The information also says the bait is fed sparingly and near the pigeons so it will be quickly consumed, “leaving little opportunity or time for non-target feeding.”

So why am I bothered by this line: “In summary, when used according to label directions, the risk to non-target birds and other animals is minimal”? How many people here ALWAYS follow the directions on a label … any label? How many people even read the labels?

Our native songbirds already have a lot of problems surviving in the urban and suburban wilderness. Loss of habitat … destruction of the rain forests where they winter … secondary affects of pesticide overuse … and more. Will OvoControl-P be yet another potential problem for songbirds?

There have been problems with another pigeon-control drug that is used to sicken the birds to try and make them leave an area. Death is sometimes an unfortunate side-effect of this drug.

Am I being too picky and just overreacting on this? Please go read about this stuff on their Web site:

I’m curious what you think about this. You can let me know under “Comments” below. Thanks. /Gary

Posted on Friday, November 2nd, 2007
Under: Birds | No Comments »

How do you keep neighborhood cats out of your yard?

Do you have a humane way of keeping neighborhood cats from defecating/urinating in your yard and garden? Please share this valuable information so I can pass it along to others. Thanks. /Gary

Posted on Thursday, November 1st, 2007
Under: Cats | No Comments »