Wildlife & People

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1995:

A hungry hippopotamus,
rampaging through rice fields and
upsetting canoes in the Selingue dam
district of Mali, was said to have
magical powers in January after elud-
ing vigilantes for more than a month.
Alaska Department of
Fish and Game officers shot a
mama moose because of “ill disposi-
tion” on January 14 at the University
of Alaska campus in Anchorage, after
she tried to kick professor Bruce
Kappes as he sprinted to class. A few
days earlier the moose fatally stomped
Myung Chin Ra, 71, when he tried to
pass her to enter a building.

Witnesses said both attacks occurred
because the moose was protecting her
calf. The moose and calf had been
repeatedly harassed by snowball-
throwing students.
A moose used one hoof to
pin down cross-country skier Kari
Haugen, 33, of Vardal, Norway, on
January 27, and stomped her with the
other. Haugen punched, kicked, and
tried to spear the moose with her ski
poles to no avail––but the moose ran
away when she tweaked his nose.
Biologist Hugh Spencer of
the Cape Tribulation Tropical
Research Station in Queensland,
Australia, has invented a batter-coat-
ed bomb that explodes in feral pigs’
mouths to deliver a lethal dose of
potassium cyanide. He calls it a
“humane” alternative to hunting, trap-
ping, and poison baits. “Dr. Spencer
believes his bomb could be modified
to control pigs without killing them,”
reports the Australian magazine
Animals Today, “by delivering steri-
lants. It could also deliver vaccines to
help control disease.”
Australian inventor
Anthea Nicholls is promoting “modu-
lar cat parks” made from interlocking
cages, to give cats outdoor time with-
out risk to wildlife. The system
works, says Nicholls, because “cats
do not use large areas very efficient-
ly,” and a maze of wire tunnels and
cages that provides opportunity to
climb can actually give them more
stimulation than an open yard.
Taiwanese citizens used $2
million worth of government-issued
poison to kill 12 million mice in a
biennial mouse purge held during the
third week of January. Similar purges
were held in Quemoy and Shanghai
during November. Commonly living
in ricepaper and bamboo houses with
thatched roofs, Asian villagers fear
rodents for more than just the diseases
they may carry and the crop damage
they do: on February 1, a mouse
upset an oil lamp on an ancestral
shrine in a home in Binh Thuan
province, Vietnam, sparking a fire
that within minutes killed a 13-month-
old child, razed 193 houses, and left
880 people homeless and destitute.
Billed as “the first living
museum dedicated to the conserva-
tion of North American bats,” t h e
National Bat Center, a project of the
American Bat Conservation Society,
recently opened at 5721 Randolph
Road in Rockville, Maryland. The
center provides emergency advice
about bats at 301-984-ABCS.
Sanitation chief Robert
S t e i n, of Lake George, New York,
set up 69 birdhouses and 18 bat boxes
at the town sewage treatment plant in
1990. Bluebirds, purple martins, and
bats now control flies there, saving 55
gallons of pesticide per year.
About 250 north Floridans
have signed a petition d e m a n d i n g
that wildlife officials remove the nine
Texas cougars left in the area from a
group of 19 released in 1993 to test
the ability of closely related Florida
panthers to survive there. Six were
removed earlier and four were killed
for allegedly menacing humans or
livestock. Of seven Texas cougars
released in the same area in 1988,
five were removed; three were killed.
New Indiana captive
wildlife regulations take effect in
March. Of the 1,000-odd wildlife pos-
session permits issued to date, says
state Department of Natural Resources
chief of administrative services Greg
McCollam, 62% are for raccoons and
14% are for skunks. The new regula-
tions are good for the most part, ass-
eses Tanya Tuell of the Animal and
Environmental Defense Assocation,
but at the last minute three DNR com-
missioners reversed their votes to
adopt USDA minimum cage sizes,
rather than the much larger minimums
prescribed in California. The USDA
minimums are based on practicality
within laboratory conditions, not opti-
mums for lifelong confinement.
Springfield animal control
specialist Tom Magro detonates six
propane-fired noise cannons 15 to 20
times an hour from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m.
every day to keep pigeons and star-
lings away from the Illinois State
Capitol. Since the shooting began in
November, the building’s bird popu-
lation has fallen from 500 to 200,
says Magro, producing a 30% reduc-
tion in guano deposits. Statistics on
hearing loss by building staff and
neighbors are unavailable.
The Salmon River Electric
C o O p, of Challis, Idaho, blames
federally protected pileated wood-
peckers for doing $200,000 in damage
to power poles in 1994–– $350 worth
per customer. The real problem, says
Idaho Fish and Game Dept. biologist
Chuck Harris, is that droughts have
killed trees, bringing insects who eat
dead wood, including the poles, and
attract the woodpeckers.
The Goosepond Colony
Golf Course, near Atlanta, on
January 6 yielded to public opinion
and cancelled a scheduled “hunt” for
500 to 1,000 resident Canada geese
who poop on the greens. Instead the
course will try to roust the geese with
a chemical repellent.
Jefferson Parish, Louis-
iana, on January 6 delayed until
mid-February the awarding of a con-
tract to kill nutria. A beaver-like
rodent brought from South America
by fur farmers about 70 years ago,
nutria are accused of undermining
canal banks and roadways. The Parish
has received two bids to poison the
nutria with zinc phosphide-laden
sweet potatoes, at cost of up to
$510,000 for the first year; parish
sheriff Harry Lee says his SWAT
team could do the same job with $50
worth of ammunition. Pinckney
Wood, a leading critic of the pro-
posed killing, argues that there are
under 1,000 nutria in the parish, not
the 10,000 or more claimed by offi-
cials; the poisoning plans are risky to
children, and, “Routine canal mainte-
nance, barriers in the few places
where they are needed, and modifica-
tion of the canal plantings” should be
sufficient to control nutria, who them-
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