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Archive for April, 2008

Nevada gold mines pollute Idaho lakes/streams/fish with mercury

My brother-in-law, Jim, sent me an e-mail about a serious problem affecting lakes, streams (and fish!) in Idaho, and possibly Utah and Montana.

Gary: We had a guest speaker from The Idaho Conservation League — VERY disturbing and depressing.

Idaho (as well as Utah and Montana to some degree) are “down-winders” of gold mines in Northern Nevada. A new gold extraction process (ore is heated to 1,000 degrees) started in the mid-1990’s causes the mercury in the ore to vaporize. The industry has known of this since 1990’s, but there has been no law — Nevada has had a “self policing” regulation and you can guess how well that has worked.
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Posted on Thursday, April 10th, 2008
Under: Fish, Idaho, Mercury poisoning, Pollution | No Comments »

In a divorce, who gets the dog?

The end of a relationship is always challenging, but for couples who share a dog it can be even more difficult.

The first book to offer expert advice, tips, case studies, worksheets and even some humor on this subject, “We Can’t Stay Together for the Dogs: Doing What’s best for Your Dog When Your Relationship Breaks Up,” by Jennifer Keene (T.F.H. Publications), hits the bookstores this month.
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Posted on Wednesday, April 9th, 2008
Under: dogs, Pets & divorce | 2 Comments »

Mallard duck shot in Countrywood Shopping Center

Dear Gary:
On Thursday night, March 27, I noticed at male Mallard duck unable to walk (scooting on his belly) in the middle of the driveway in front of the duck pond at Countrywood Shopping Center in Walnut Creek (California). Myself and three other people stopped to help the duck and get him into a box to go to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum on Friday morning — he had an obviously injured leg.

Monday afternoon, I called the Museum to check on the duck and they told me they were unable to save him due to his numerous injuries and problem. The most disturbing of these injuries was the discovery he had been shot numerous times with a BB gun.
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Posted on Tuesday, April 8th, 2008
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

U.S. Army attacks endangered desert tortoises

Army declares war on endangered reptiles to make room for war games

Scientists have begun moving the Mojave Desert’s flagship species, the desert tortoise, to make room for tank training at the Army’s Fort Irwin despite protests by conservationists.

The controversial project, billed as the largest desert tortoise move in California history, involves transferring 770 endangered reptiles from Army land to a dozen public plots overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The Army said it needs an extra 131,000 acres to accommodate faster tanks and longer-range weapons used each month to train some 4,000 troops.
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Posted on Friday, April 4th, 2008
Under: Desert Tortoises, Ecosystem | 5 Comments »

Dogs please note: some walnuts and fungi can be poisonous

San Francisco Bay Area dog owners please pay special attention. Wet husks from walnuts that fell from trees last fall can be poisonous to your dog.

Walnut poisoning seems to be a local phenomenon, occurring in Contra Costa County, parts of Alameda County and a few other areas around the San Francisco Bay Area.

If you or your neighbors have walnut trees — or there are fox squirrels around — carefully check out your yard and pick up any old walnuts you find. (If you don’t have walnut trees, squirrels can still bury nuts in your yard.)
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Posted on Thursday, April 3rd, 2008
Under: dogs, Fungi, Walnut poisoning | 8 Comments »

And now the Wyoming gray wolf slaughter begins

Three wolves are killed in Wyoming within days of federal protection removal

As I said here on March 25 — After many years of federal protection that cost millions of tax dollars, gray wolves will be fair game for hunters and ranchers in most of Wyoming when the animals are removed from the endangered species list on March 28.

Guess what? I was right.

The information below was on Tuesday’s (April 1) Associated Press wire. It comes from a story in the Casper (Wyoming) Star-tribune. You can read the whole story at

LANDER, Wyo. — Wyoming hunters and ranchers killed at least three gray wolves within the first three days of the animals’ removal from the federal endangered species list, local and state wildlife officials said.

Wyoming, Montana and Idaho took over management of wolves within their borders on Friday as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ended protection of the animals under the Endangered Species Act.

Scott Talbott, the Game and Fish official overseeing Wyoming’s new wolf management program, said one of the wolves was wearing a tracking collar.

All three wolves were killed in Wyoming’s predator zone, where people are now allowed to kill wolves at any time and for any reason as long as they report the time, location and sex of each kill to the state within 10 days.

Wyoming is home to 25 wolf packs living outside of Yellowstone National Park, and seven of those live in the predator area. Wildlife officials have said that most of the 30 to 35 wolves living outside the trophy game zone live in adjoining Sublette County.

Terry Pollard, co-owner of Bald Mountain Outfitters in Pinedale, said he heard reports of many locals going wolf hunting over the weekend, but most didn’t make any kills. “I think they’re finding just what we figured,” Pollard said. “These wolves are an extremely tough animal to hunt. There was a significant amount of hunters out this weekend, and very few of them were taken.”

Mike Leahy, Rocky Mountain regional director of Defenders of Wildlife, said it’s hard to know how many wolves were killed over the weekend because hunters have 10 days to report kills within the predator zone.

“In a shoot-on-sight zone, a large number of the wolves could be killed before Wyoming Game and Fish or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service even knows about it,” Leahy said. “There could be big impacts to the wolf population that go underreported until it’s too late.”

Defenders of Wildlife is one of several groups that has filed notice of their intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service to retain Endangered Species Act protections for the wolves. Leahy said it’s too early to know whether the group will seek an emergency injunction against the federal delisting decision.

So there you have it. Our tax dollars have been spent all these years so the federal government could keep the gray wolves from becoming extinct … just so Wyoming can sell hunting licenses to kill those very same  gray wolves at a very nice profit for the state.

Next … the wolf-killing fields of Idaho and Montana. Aren’t we clever? /Gary

Picture of gray wolf by Flickr user dobak under Creative Commons license

Posted on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008
Under: Endangered species, Hunting, Killing wolves, wild predators, Wolves | 10 Comments »

Top 10 Tips for Urban Pet Owners

An estimated one-third of all high-rise condominium dwellers have pets. With the increasing trend toward high-rise urban living, choosing the right pet for your home, or the right home for your pet, offers new challenges.

In conjunction with Axis, downtown San Jose’s luxury high-rise condos, the Humane Society of Silicon Valley has developed the following:


1. Pick the right companion for your lifestyle and work schedule.
If you work long hours or travel a lot, don’t get a high-energy dog that needs several hours of exercise every day.

2. Choose the right breed for your home.
Examples of dog breeds you should most likely avoid adopting if you live in a condo or apartment without a yard: large sporting breeds (vizsla, pointer, Lab), giant breeds (great Dane, St. Bernard) and young large breeds (shepherd) that need lots of exercise. That doesn’t mean you can’t make it work if you want to. Just think about it carefully first.

3. If you’re shopping for a new place to live, pay attention to pet-friendly amenities.
Look for nearby dog parks, pet-friendly cafes, vet offices, groomers, doggie daycare and pet stores.

4. Get involved locally.
Think about joining a dog group to keep your pooch healthy, happy and socialized (e.g. Find out what the two of you like to do best together, then sign up for a class together to learn something new and meet new friends, both canine and human.

5. Be a considerate neighbor, and build community.
Start talking to your closest neighbors, as they can become great resources for you. Offer to check in on their pets while they’re gone, if they can do the same for you. Offer to walk their dog with yours (assuming they get along), if they can return the favor.

6. Train your dog to show proper etiquette.
Make an effort to have your companion know how to greet new people and behave in public, especially if you use an elevator often. No one likes a dog that lunges, barks, or jumps on them. teach your pet to “sit,” “heel,” and “stay.” It will help you both to get along with your condo neighbors.

7. Keep your pet active and healthy.
Try to spend at least 30-60 minutes in physical activity with your pet twice a day. Physical exercise and the opportunity to socialize and play are all necessary daily requirements for an animal companion to stay well. Give your pet another reason to ride in the car that doesn’t result in a trip to the vet. Drive to the redwoods, go take a run along the beach.

And remember: Dogs are great at getting us outside, but cats and rabbits can play, too.

No matter what the breed, size, age, or type of animal, quality nutrition should always be a priority. The number one medical problem faced by today’s pets is obesity. Establishing healthy habits and finding a good diet are essential for a long and healthy life. (More at

8. Understand the signs of boredom or anxiety.
If your pet becomes destructive, or has “accidents,” these can be early signs of separation anxiety. To help your pets be alone, provide games, stimulation and appropriate toys to chew. Try offering a variety of games, toys, TV, radio, or breaks during the day. Leaving a TV or the radio on can help reduce low levels of anxiety when tuned to classical music. You might also consider hiring a dog walker or sitter to come in and play and provide a bathroom break. You can also take your pet to doggie daycare.

9. Purchase appropriate equipment for your living area.
Cat trees don’t take up a lot of floor space and are a great way to make sure your cat is exercised and entertained. Cat boxes have many options these days where they are easily camouflaged. Clean the cat box regularly and frequently to avoid bad odors in your condo. Dog or cat beds help keep hair off the furniture.

10. Friends are for life.
Our animal companions are social beings who need like-minded friends for support and learning. Everyone needs a true friend to laugh with, play with and just give you a hug when you need it most … and our pets need it too!

The above list is courtesy of the Humane Society of Silicon Valley (, modified for Axis luxury condos (, with a few little tweaks, twists and turns added by me ( Have fun!

Any other suggestions? Please add your comments below. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, April 1st, 2008
Under: Cats, dogs, Pets | No Comments »