Cats pass Toxoplasmosis to Wildlife

Here is a real threat-

Although anti-wolf people try to scare us with the seldom caught Hydatid disease which is almost entirely spread, by dogs, fox, and coyotes, here is the latest on a very important threat from scat — domestic cat scat — toxoplasmosis gondii.

I have mentioned T. gondii a number of times. The latest research (from the Journal of Wildlife Diseases) show cats sicken many kinds of small wildlife, as well as 25 per cent !! of the human race. Cats Pass Disease to Wildlife, Even in Remote Areas. Science Daily.

One of the most creepy things about T. gondii is that directs the brain of the host animal (what about people?) in some cases. For example, it makes rats and mice love the smell of cat. How excellent for the cat! How Different Strains of Parasite Infection Affect Behavior Differently. Science Daily. On the basis of sheer statistics, a number of folks reading this post are infected with this parasite.

Dangerous snow: Is foot rot taking hold at the National Elk Refuge?

Rot is caused by freeze-thaw cycles in unsanitary snow-

We just have to keep pointing out that persistant winter feeding of elk breeds disease. Now 23 elk have been put down for what is thought to be foot rot. No doubt more will die.

Foot rot suspected in elk deaths on refuge. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole Daily.

Deer prions could jump to humans, study says

Currently Chronic Wasting Disease does not infect humans, but . . .

Chronic wasting disease is spreading more and more widely.  Our anti-conservation friends in the Department of Livestock and the various anti-wolf groups worry about brucellosis and dog tapeworms, but here is something that would be truly terrifying. Prions jumped from sheep probably to cows to cause “mad cow disease.”  Then it jumped to humans.  Scientists worry the same could happen to the prions that destroy the brains of deer, elk, and moose and remain in the soil, infectious, for so long it might as well be forever.

Deer prions could jump, study says. Scientists fear chronic wasting disease protein could spawn new human illness. By John Fauber of the Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI)

Disease Jumps From Domestic to Wild Sheep

More reporting about the bighorn/domestic sheep disease study

Other than the study itself, this is the first time that I’ve heard Dr. Srikmaran talk about last year’s study which confirms that domestic sheep diseases kill bighorn sheep.

“I am not that happy about this finding. Some people’s livelihood depends on domestic sheep,” [But the] “organisms did not exist anywhere else. They could only come from one place, the domestic sheep.” – Dr. Subramaniam Srikmaran

Some people who support the sheep industry have made misrepresentations of what the study actually says. They say that “these data show that even extended fence line contact of 2 months didn’t lead to disease and death. Disease required co-mingling for a minimum of 48 hours and this was after transmission had already occurred in three of the bighorn sheep.”

I’ve had the chance to read the study and, in fact, it does not say that it took two days of commingling to produce disease. It says that one of the sheep died within two days of the beginning of commingling portion of the experiment. All four of the bighorn sheep, even the one which did not contract M. haemolytica during the fenceline portion of the study died within 9 days of the beginning of the commingling portion of the study. There is no evidence to support the claim that “disease required co-mingling for a minimum of 48 hours”.

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Western Washington’s bighorns slammed by disease

Another 2010-was-a-deadly-year-for-bighorn story-

The culprit is almost entirely pneumonia, and almost all of it, maybe all of it, comes from domestic sheep and goats.  The Western Watersheds Project, and closely related groups like Advocates for the West, are  just about the only organizations that are willing to step forward, tell the truth, and go after the offending herds of livestock.  I hope folks will consider and give WWP and Advocates a donation if the appalling death tool of bighorn sheep in the West bothers you. Ralph Maughan

Western Washington’s bighorns slammed by disease. Outdoors Blog. The Spokesman Review.

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Related Dec. 31. Bighorn sheep killed on Montana highway one. AP (in Great Falls Tribune).  I remember posting an almost identical story for the same place a couple years ago.  Some money needs to be spent at this location.    “a state wildlife biologist says between four to 15 of the animals are killed every year [at this location]*

Montana bighorn just keep dying of pneumonia

Twenty-one more dead bighorn-

Pneumonia persists in Anaconda bighorns. Montana Standard.

Seems to me like Western Watersheds Project is about the only private organization doing anything to stop the spread of this disease that is taking such an awful toll.

Comment on IDFG’s Bighorn Sheep Management Plan

Don’t color outside the lines

Bighorn Sheep © Ken Cole

Bighorn Sheep © Ken Cole

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has released its Draft Bighorn Sheep Management Plan which essentially draws lines around existing bighorn sheep populations and prevents recovery to historical habitat. This is a big problem because the bighorn population has been in steep decline due to diseases spread by domestic sheep.

A population that recovered from over hunting and disease in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s started to increase after hunting regulations and reintroductions took place but the recovery was short lived and now the native and reintroduced populations have suffered from repeated contact with diseased domestic sheep and goats. The population numbered around 5000 in the 1990’s but is now about 2900 and continuing to decline.

Two areas, the Pioneer Mountains west of Mackay, and the Palisades east of Idaho Falls, are areas where dispersing sheep are commonly seen. Under this plan these areas have been essentially written off due to the presence of Federal sheep grazing allotments. Another area that isn’t included as a priority area for sheep recovery is the Sawtooths and the Boise and Payette drainages. These areas contain very suitable habitat yet there are domestic sheep allotments there as well.

The Management Plan is not likely to curb the declines in bighorn sheep populations and the IDFG is afraid to advocate for bighorn sheep conservation. They hold the power to really make the Federal agencies pay attention and close sheep grazing allotments but the IDFG is a captured agency that depends on the good graces of the livestock industry dominated legislature.

Comment on the Bighorn Sheep Management Plan.

The Comment Period Ends September 30, 2010.

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