Conflicts with wildlife

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July 1996:

The fourth annual Dr. Splatt
roadkill survey, coordinated by
Brewster Bartlett of Pinkerton
Academy in Derry, New Hampshire,
found a marked decrease in roadkill
frequency, for the third year in a row,
but a sharp rise in roadkilled beavers
––especially in the Derry area. Forty
schools participated in the nine-week
roadkill count this year. The distribution
and participation level is sufficient
to produce credible roadkill estimates
for the northeast, with just
enough information from other
regions to make crude national projections
possible, which are nonetheless
the best supported by data of any
made to date. The northeast is
believed to have the greatest roadkill
frequency because it has the most
wildlife habitat in close proximity to
large human populations, with the
most heavily traveled roads and also
the most old, narrow, and winding
roads. The overall roadkill frequency
is probably down primarily because
the unusually long winter depressed
wildlife breeding populations, while
beaver kills were up, Bartlett
believes, in part because beavers had
a successful breeding season last year
in heavily surveyed parts of New
Hampshire where busy roads cut
through wetlands. Most of the dead
beavers in that area, Bartlett told
ANIMAL PEOPLE, appeared to be
young, apparently just setting out to
find their own territory.

Rat infestation on May 28
forced the temporary closure of the
Army Communications-Electronics
Command building, a branch of Fort
Monmouth, in Tinton Falls, New
Jersey, for which the Army pays
$15.5 million-a-year rent to Hallwood
Management, of Texas.
The Vermont legislature’s
administrative rules committee voted
on June 12 to support a proposal to let
landowners shoot moose who tear
down fences, damage maple sugaring
lines, or eat Christmas tree crops.
Almost a year to the day
after a pair of northern flicker woodpeckers
delayed a launch of the space
s h u t t l e Discovery by pecking more
than 200 holes in the fuel tank, a
seven-foot alligator on May 29 wandered
into the hangar of the shuttle
Columbia, being prepared for a June
20 flight by a crew including two of
the same astronauts, Tom Henricks
and Kevin Kregel. NASA has posted
decoy owls and balloons painted with
owl-like eyes to deter a revisit by the
woodpeckers. The alligator, one of
about 7,000 within the grounds of the
Kennedy Space Center, was relocated
to nearby Banana Creek.
After two weeks of watching
and protecting a bear who wandered
into Lunenburg, Massachusetts,
hoping he’d wander back to
wherever he came from, Lunenburg
animal control officer Kathy Comeau
lost jurisdiction on May 22 when he
meandered instead into nearby
Fitchburg. Pursued by up to 100
spectators, the bear the next afternoon
cornered himself between St.
Bernard’s School and Our Father’s
House, a shelter for the homeless.
The school was due to let out just an
hour later. “I was pacing up and
down in the house, praying to every
saint I could think of, trying to save
this bear’s life,” Our Father’s House
executive director Barbara Garneau
said. “Isn’t it ironic that a bear looking
for a home came to a homeless
shelter?” The bear was shot with
tranquilizer darts and relocated to a
western Massachusetts state forest.
Trying to reduce bear/
human conflicts, the San Isabel and
Pike National Forests in southern
Colorado have introduced regulations
making leaving food out where bears
can get it a misdemeanor, punishable
by a fine of up to $5,000 and/or six
months in jail. The state of Colorado
has meanwhile cut from two to one
the number of times a nuisance bear
will be relocated before being shot.


Galapagos National Park
director Eliecer Cruz on June 5
announced plans to purge the
Galapagos of feral animals, chiefly
hooved stock, including about
120,000 goats, deer, and donkeys on
Isabella Island alone. “The goal is
for these animals to be eradicated, or
at least to reduce their numbers considerably
so that they will not represent
a threat to the islands’ fragile
ecosystems,” Cruz said. If the
Ecuadoran air force and navy are
unwilling to haul the animals to the
mainland, Cruz said, “We will proceed
to hunt them.”
Authorities in the
Krasnoyarsk region of southern
Siberia on May 30 increased the
bounty on wolves from the equivalent
of one month’s wages to the equivalent
of 10 months’ wages.
Purportedly a decline in hunting pressure
since Soviet times has brought a
population explosion, but the claim
flies against other information that
hunting pressure on wildlife in the
former Soviet Union is more intense
now than ever.
The Department of
Natural Resources and Environment
in Victoria state, Australia,
warned in May that, “Landowners
should not abandon traditional rabbit
control measures such as poisoning
and burrow-ripping,” just because
the introduced disease calicivirus has
now overrun Victoria along with
three other states. Supposed to have
been deployed against Australia’s
estimated 200 million rabbits this
spring, calicivirus instead began ravaging
the rabbits last October, after
escaping via insects from a quarantined
testing area on Wardang Island.
Calicivirus is likely to be released in
New Zealand as well, later this year.
At least 40 residents of
the village of El Pozon, El
Salvador, were given post-exposure
rabies shots in April after being bitten
by vampire bats, apparently because
of a scarcity of cattle, their usual
prey. The attacks coincided with the
rise of a panic over a mythical nocturnal
blood-hungry monster in rural
Mexico and Puerto Rico, dubbed a
“goatsucker,” but authorities
ascribed the handful of reported
“goatsucker” attacks that could be
authenticated to feral dogs.
The demolition of the
Berlin Wall opened the greenbelt on
the western side to feral pigs, formerly
confined to the east. The city
is relying on recreational hunters, so
far, to control them.
Stafford Borough, Engl
a n d , announced May 15 that it
would release ferrets to combat rabbits
whose burroughs are undermining
Stafford Castle, a Norman fort
dating to 1070, four years after the
Norman conquest. “We have been
advised that ferrets would be the most
humane solution,” a spokesperson
said. “Gassing and shooting would
be difficult because the castle is open
to the public seven days a week. The
best time will be before the rabbits
have bred and there are no young in
the warrens.”
Bucharest, Romania,
called “the Paris of the East” before
World War II, today has 2.3 million
human residents, says the Romanian
environmental journal Terra 21, plus
ten rats, 100 mosquitoes, and 200
cockroaches per person, and one
stray dog for every 10 people. If the
latter estimate is correct, it would
exceed by tenfold the highest ratio of
stray dogs to people ever reliably
recorded in a major American city.

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