Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for March, 2011

Stop importing frogs, turtles for live animal food markets

Bullfrog photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA

Dear Gary:
It is truly gratifying to see the overwhelming support for Assembly Bill 376, co-authored by Assemblymembers Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), which would ban the importation, possession and sale of shark fins for shark fin soup.

The bill has its first hearing on March 22 before the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, chaired by Mr. Huffman; Mr. Fong is also on that committee.

Support letters are needed now.  ALL STATE LEGISLATORS MAY BE WRITTEN C/O THE STATE CAPITOL, SACRAMENTO, CA  95814.  (There’s also a growing movement in Asia to ban this ugly and unsustainable commerce.)

Once the shark fin issue is resolved, I’m hoping that our legislators and the general public will take a hard look at the very similar problems found in the many live animal food markets throughout California.  We annually import some TWO MILLION American bullfrogs (commercially raised in Taiwan), plus an estimated 300,000-400,000 freshwater turtles (all taken from the wild in states east of the Rockies).
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Posted on Thursday, March 17th, 2011
Under: Food Animal Abuse, Frogs, Live Animal Markets, Turtles | No Comments »

Pets: Emergency preparedness in case of earthquake, fire, etc.

Do you have an emergency preparedness plan for your pets? (Karl Nielsen)
Kiki & Newman Xmas 4

I just received the NEWS RELEASE below — “9.0 Japanese Earthquake reminds Us Emergency Preparedness Is Critical” — from the City of Los Angeles Department of Animal Services. The information it contains is VERY important. It could help save the life of your pet(s) (and you!) during an emergency. /Gary


Emergency Preparedness for Pets
Safety Planning in Case of Fire, Heavy Rain or Earthquake

The recent 9.0 earthquake in Japan reminds us that natural disasters can strike at any time and without advance warning. During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, we learned that people will risk their lives and endanger their own safety to stay with their pets during natural disasters. “One of the big lessons after Katrina was that we must prepare all members of our family for possible disasters, including planning for our family pets,” said General Manager Brenda Barnette.

Here are a few simple tips that could save your life and the life of your pet, too:
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Posted on Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
Under: Birds, Cats, dogs, Earthquakes, Pets, Pets & Quakes, Pets in Danger | 2 Comments »

Wild turkeys, believe it or not, can fly

Wild turkey in flight. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
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Here are some photos of Bay Area wildlife taken in the last month or so. Some wild tom turkeys showing their display. Also caught one in flight. They are better fliers than I would have thought. Landings can be a challenge.
Dave Harper, Oakley, California

Or as the little kid said to his mom after seeing his first wild turkey landing … “Wild turkey go BOOM!” /Gary

Male wild turkeys strutting their stuff. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1turk dave harper oakley

Posted on Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
Under: wild turkeys | 1 Comment »

Webcam: Watch the Times’ rooftop Mother Goose nesting LIVE!

Mother Goose. Contra Costa Times photo
Mother Goose1

I wrote about the Contra Costa Times’ very own “Mother Goose” here on March 7. You can scroll down and read what I said. She is a Canada goose who started nesting on our rooftop six years ago and has returned every spring since then to raise a new family of goslings.

Watch our Mother Goose yourself during daylight hours via our Webcam:

Watch her preening as she sits on her nest of redwood tree duff and incubates her eggs. Watch her stand up every so often to turn the eggs carefully with her beak to make sure they are being properly incubated. NOTE: When Mother Goose takes a break, she covers her eggs with nest material to keep them insulated and warm until she returns, so don’t panic if you see an empty nest. She’ll be back soon.

Now click on our Webcam and sit back and enjoy! /Gary

Posted on Monday, March 14th, 2011
Under: Canada Goose, Mother Goose, Web Cam | No Comments »

Bay Area snakes starting to crawl around looking for spring

Rubber boa in garden. Photo by Ken Chainey, Richmond, CA
r boa2 ken chainey richmond

We were delighted (and surprised) to find a rubber boa stretched across our garden path yesterday.  Although we have had periods of warm weather, that day was rather cool.  He tolerated being photographed at close range, occasionally flicking his black tongue.  He either was more interested in being stealthy than inquisitive, or else he was too cold to take action.  Eventually he slid into the ivy.  Is this too early for it to be out?  Or is this species more active than other snakes in cool weather?
Enjoying Spring antics,
Marina Chainey, Richmond, California
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Posted on Friday, March 11th, 2011
Under: Rubber boa, Spring | 3 Comments »

Hummingbirds fill their little nests with fairytale fillings

Anna’s hummingbird feeding babies. Photo by John Keibel, Concord, CA
2humm john keibel concord

Your readers’ and your writings regarding hummingbirds came into sharp focus yesterday (Saturday, March 5) morning. My mother and I sauntered down the local stretch of the canal trail here in Concord to visit a momma hummingbird I’d spied on her nest a week ago.

Sure enough, there she sat in her incredible nest some 6 feet above us, unfazed by our presence and my camera.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough of a treat, we got to watch her zip out for a stretch (that little nest must feel a bit confining) and for some food, and then return to share her meal with the little ones.
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Posted on Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
Under: hummingbirds | 3 Comments »

She’s back! Mother Goose reality show. Watch her nest on our webcam!

Mother Goose nesting on Contra Costa Times rooftop in 2009. (Times photo)
cct goose

She’s back! A Canada goose we call Mother Goose has been nesting on the rooftop at the Contra Costa Times, Walnut Creek, CA, for the last six years.

She’s back again this year to raise a new family of goslings. We think she laid her 6-8 eggs around March 3, so, based on the approx. 28 days to takes to incubate those eggs, we’re guessing they should hatch sometime after March 31. April 1 would be great!

You can watch Mother Goose incubate, hatch and raise her babies yourself during daylight hours via our webcam at

Enjoy! /Gary

Posted on Monday, March 7th, 2011
Under: Canada Goose, Mother Goose, Web Cam | 1 Comment »

Poison prevention: Keeping your pets safe from common household items

Family pets by Karl Nielsen, Benicia, CA
Kiki & Newman Xmas 12

Just got the very important news release below this morning. Please read it carefully. It could save the life of your family pet(s). /Gary

National Poison Prevention Week March 20-26

Keeping Your Pets Safe from Common Household Items

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (March 7, 2011) – For 46 years, the third week in March has been designated as National Poison Prevention Week by U.S. Public Law 87-319. This year, it is observed March 20-26. According to the National Safety Council, thousands of lives have been saved due to physical barriers like child-resistant packaging and awareness campaigns. Likewise, in recent years, the veterinarians at have worked tirelessly to raise awareness about protecting our vulnerable and unknowing pets from common household items that are highly poisonous to them.

“Every year, we receive thousands of phone calls from pet owners, veterinarians and veterinary technicians about potentially poisoned pets,” said Justine Lee, DVM, DACVECC and associate director of Veterinary Services for Pet Poison Helpline. “Fifty percent of the calls are for pets that have been accidentally poisoned by something that is safe for humans, but toxic to pets. It only takes a few minutes to educate yourself on how to avoid these situations. Appropriate pet-proofing and awareness of what to do in the event of a pet poisoning situation could spare you and your pet trips to the veterinarian for expensive, but life-saving treatments.”
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Posted on Monday, March 7th, 2011
Under: Pets & Poisons, Poison, Poisonous plants | No Comments »

Bobcat: Ever wondered what a bobcat looks like? Check it out.

Bobcat with ground squirrel. Photo by Mary Anne Johnson, Oakley, CA
bobcat, mary anne johnson, oakley

From time-to-time when I collect enough photos from my readers, I like to give you a closer look at some of our shyer local wild creatures. The ones you don’t normally see, unless you’re lucky.

Today, let’s take a look at some bobcats.

The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is 30-50 inches long, stands about 20+ inches tall and weighs 15-30 pounds. It is the most wide ranging native wild cat in North America, and there are a LOT of them in the San Francisco Bay Area. They are also very secretive and most people are surprised to learn they’re even around.
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Posted on Friday, March 4th, 2011
Under: Bobcats | 2 Comments »

Rescued pet rabbits are available for adoption

Bunny available for adoption (Hayward Animal Shelter, Hayward, CA)
2bunny hayward


Three East Bay Regional Park rangers, using nets, caught 18 cold and wet pet rabbits that had been illegally dumped in a marshy shoreline area near the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge toll plaza early last Thursday (Feb. 24) morning. Rangers said some of the rabbits were so friendly they actually came up to them. All were taken to the Hayward Animal Shelter where they were cleaned up, fed and placed in warm cages.

** The Hayward Animal Shelter, 16 Barnes Court, Hayward, CA, will have 6 of these  bunnies available for adoption starting today, March 3, on a first-come, first-served basis.

** The rest of the bunnies will be available for adoption from Noon to 4 p.m. this Saturday, March 5, at a big Mardi Gras Bunny Adoption Event at the Tri-Valley SPCA, 4651 Gleason Drive, Dublin, CA.
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Posted on Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
Under: Rabbits | 7 Comments »