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Archive for December, 2009

Your backyard: Grass, trees, and beautiful moving things

cat and squirrel by John Campolo, Pleasanton, CA
cat squirr campolo

Hello Gary:
Two years ago I became permanently disabled due to Multiple Sclerosis caused fatigue. Since then I have become the home cook and I get to spend time in my backyard making friends and photographing them. Most people look at a backyard and see grass and trees, I see all the moving things in them.
John Campolo, Pleasanton

Hi John:
And such wonderful, moving things they are! Turn the page, dear readers, and enjoy a yardfull of John’s beautiful moving things … /Gary
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Posted on Thursday, December 10th, 2009
Under: Birds, Cats, hummingbirds, Insects, Robins, Squirrels | 4 Comments »

The HSUS: Launches first national “Puppy Mill” tip line

How much is that puppy in the cage? Photo by Flickr user toolmantim used under a Creative Commons License
puppycage toolmantim

The Humane Society of the United States launches first national “Puppy Mill” tip line

To help end the misery associated with large-scale dog breeding operations known as “puppy mills,” The Humane Society of the United States has launched a national telephone tip line and encourages callers to report suspected cruelty or unlawful activities involving such breeding facilities.

The hotline, 1-877-MILL-TIP, is available to anyone with information of a possible crime involving puppy mills – but particularly welcomes information from those with “insider” knowledge, or from law enforcement officials who might be aware of such operations.
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Posted on Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
Under: Puppy Mills | 2 Comments »

Polar bears desperate on thin ice: Watch chilling footage

Polar bear. Photo by Flickr user mape_s used under a Creative Commons License
mape_s polarbear1

In my Dec. 3 copy of the weekly e-newsletter of the Center for Biological Diversity is a commentary on the plight of polar bears in the melting Arctic. Sad. You can see for yourself below. /Gary

Conditions for polar bears in the melting Arctic are worse than imagined.

Since sea ice hit a record low in 2007, scientists studying satellite images had hoped it was recovering. But two weeks ago, a survey revealed that ice shown by satellites to be relatively old and thick is actually thin and fragile — multiyear layers of ice once up to 33 feet thick now can’t even support a single bear, leaving the iconic animal with fewer and fewer places of refuge in the summer.
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Posted on Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
Under: Arctic Refuge, Polar bears | No Comments »

Copenhagen Climate Talks: Candlelight Vigil for Mother Earth

Blue Sky. Photo by Flickr user Lilith Delilah used under a Creative Commons License
blue sky by Lilith Delilah

Dear Gary:
I would like to invite your readers to conduct candlelight vigils on the evenings of December 11 and 12.

World leaders in Copenhagen will be discussing measures to reduce the carbon dioxide composition of the atmosphere, which currently exceeds 380 parts per million. On October 24 citizens in 181 countries led 5,200 demonstrations urging their leaders to adopt 350 parts per million as a goal for reducing the affects of CO2 on climate. Local teens and adults conducted their demonstration by forming a necklace of human “beads” around the top of Mount Diablo.
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Posted on Monday, December 7th, 2009
Under: Climate, Global warming | 2 Comments »

Got mysterious bites? Bed bugs? Rat mites? Bird mites? Scabies? Or … ?

Bed bugs? Photo by Flickr user Commodore Gandolf Cunningham used under a Creative Commons License
bedbugs comm gandalf cunningham

On Nov. 22, I received the letter below from Ruth Corbin, complaining about some mysterious something that was biting her. I printed her letter in my newspaper column and then took my annual Thanksgiving week off. When I got back into the office on Nov. 30, I had received 50 e-mails and letters in response to Ruth’s plea for help. It turns out Ruth is not alone. And if the 50 responses I received are any indicator, there are probably hundreds, even thousands of other people out there scratching their itching bites even as we speak, and wondering what the heck is biting them … and what can they do about it?

I can’t run all 50 responses to Ruth’s letter here, so I picked out a selection that covers most of the suggestions I received and you’ll find them below, after Ruth’s letter. If you suffer from similar problems … or have answers … please add your replies/comments at the end of this post. If we’re going to come up with some answers to help people with bite problems … the more, the merrier! /Gary
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Posted on Friday, December 4th, 2009
Under: Bed bugs, bird mites, rat mites | 38 Comments »

San Francisco Baykeeper fights to stop sewage spills in the Bay

Golden Gate Bridge. Photo by Flickr user Tim Pearce used under a Creative Commons License.
ggbridge1 tim pearce

A New Wave of Legal Action to Stop Sewage Spills to the Bay, Baykeeper Files Three New Lawsuits, Investigates Next Targets

(S.F. Bay Area, CA) — San Francisco Baykeeper filed three new lawsuits today (Dec. 2) to prevent sewage spills to San Francisco Bay from the City of Millbrae, the City of San Carlos and the West Bay Sanitation District.  Baykeeper’s lawsuits against the South Bay entities are the latest in a string of Clean Water Act enforcement cases designed to improve wastewater management throughout the Bay Area.
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Posted on Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
Under: Baykeeper, San Francisco Bay | 1 Comment »

Project Coyote is alive in the San Francisco Bay Area

Coyote by Camilla Fox, Larkspur, CA

Dear Project Coyote Friends & Supporters:
Tonight (Wednesday, Dec. 2) I’ll  be giving a presentation about coyotes in Marin County (San Rafael) and I wanted to let you know about it. You can read more about this here:
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Posted on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009
Under: coyotes, Project Coyote | No Comments »

California condor: The ongoing battle to save this great bird

Calif. condor cruising over Grand Canyon. Photo by Flickr user IvyMike used under a Creative Commons License.
condor1 IvyMike

The Nov. 20 issue of  Scientific American highlighted the endangered California condor’s extreme danger in the face of lead poisoning, and the work of the Center of Biological Diversity as the organization tries to do something about it.

Although numerous Arizona hunters — about 70 percent — are voluntarily using nonlead bullets to protect the birds (thanks to state incentives and education), lead bullets are still legal within the condor range. Any condor that scavenges carrion shot with just one of these lead bullets can die from lead poisoning — currently the number-one threat to the species, which was brought almost to extinction in the 1980s.
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Posted on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009
Under: California condors | No Comments »

Mt. Diablo State Park: Improved new trail map is now available

Mount Diablo photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA
more diablo

Dear Gary:
HOT OFF THE PRESS … is the new Mt. Diablo State Park Trail Map, in its sixth edition.

Mt. Diablo Interpretive Association volunteers, in cooperation with the state park staff, spent two years bringing the trail information up to date, with improvements such as full color printing on weather resistant plastic and for GPS users a new UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) grid is provided.
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Posted on Tuesday, December 1st, 2009
Under: Mount Diablo, Mt. Diablo Interpretive Association | No Comments »