Wildlife/human conflict–U.S., Canada, France, Australia, Uganda

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2002:

Where did all the coyotes go?

A complaint to the Better Busi-ness Bureau filed in March
2002 by Laura Nirenberg, executive director of the Wildlife
Orphanage rehabilitation center in LaPorte, Indiana, alleges that
Guardian Pest Control, with offices in two Indiana cities plus
Illinois, defrauds customers by promising to relocate nuisance
animals and then kills them instead. According to the report forms
which all nuisance wildlife trappers are required to file with the
Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Guardian Pest Control in
2001 released 124 squirrels and 10 bats, but killed 80 chipmunks,
49 feral cats, 40 groundhogs, 126 moles, 10 muskrats, 43
opossums, 363 raccoons, and six skunks.

Guardian Pest Control president Vince Angotti told Gary
Post-Tribune correspondent Jeannine Athens-Virtue that his firm also
caught 50-60 coyotes in 2001 and released them all.
“The 2001 report did not list any captured coyotes,”
Athens-Virtue wrote. “When asked why, Angotti said his company
captured all the coyotes in Illinois last year.” Animal advocates
now wonder if the coyotes were actually “released” into chase pens.
Wildlife rehabilitator Kathleen Bauer and veterinarian
Rachael Jones described to Athens-Virtue some of the other ways that
nuisance wildlife trappers dispatch animals, commonly used by fur
trappers but not even close to meeting the standards for humane
killing established by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Roadkills increase in Canada

Animal/car collisions on Canadian roads rose from 25,000 in
1988 to more than 32,000 by 1999, even as the total number of
vehicular accidents fell 25%, says Transport Canada–and the data
includes only accidents in which people were hurt or vehicles were
damaged. According to the Transport Canada data, animal/car
collisions injure an average of about 2,000 people a year in Canada,
of whom about 24 die.
Fixing deer overpopulation

Lake County, Illinois, “has joined forces with the
University of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee County Zoo, hoping to
surgically sterilize 20 whitetailed does” by doing field surgeries
from a mobile unit, Chicago Tribune staff reporter Amanda Vogt
disclosed on March 26. Surgical sterilization of whitetailed deer
as a method of population control has rarely been attempted outside
of captive situations, because of the difficulty of catching the
deer and the cost of doing the operations–but hunting and
sharpshooting, the standard wildlife management responses, are also
impractical in suburban environments, as well as inhumane; deer who
have been shot at before tend to avoid sharpshooters anyway;
experiments with the use of injectible sterilants to control deer
populations indicate that the technology is still far from fully
reliable; and the Illinois legislature in 1994 passed a resolution
opposing the use of contraception to control deer numbers, at
request of pro-hunting lobbyists who saw deer population control as a
threat to the survival of sport hunting.
Fox rabies finished in France
Having detected no fox rabies in France since December 1998,
the French Ministry of Agriculture has announced that it “will now
use a defensive strategy based on preventive anti-rabies oral
vaccination campaigns along ‘at risk’ borders” to prevent rabies from
ever re-entering the country, and will keep an emergency supply of
oral vaccination pellets on hand. Commented the moderators of
ProMED-mail, a program of the International Society for Infectious
Disease, “This shows that it is possible to eradicate rabies, even
in a non-island country.”
Immunosterilizing koalas

The Department of Natural Res-ources and Environment in
Victoria state, Australia, is testing immunosterilization to
control the fecundity of koalas.
“The sterilization vaccine, given to 30 female koalas on
Snake Island, blocks fertility by stimulating the immune system,”
Melbourne Herald-Sun environment reporter Sarah Hudson explained.
Based on proteins from pigs and brush possums, the vaccine prevents
the sperm cells of a male animal from overriding the immune defenses
of the female, which it must do to achieve conception.
The experiment was announced one day after Nature
Conservation Society of South Australia president Robert Brandle
argued that attempts to control the koala population of Kangaroo
Island by surgery and relocation should be halted. Not native to the
island, the koalas are viewed by ecologists as a menace to the
native birds and flora.
Since 1996, when there were an estimated 5,000 koalas on
Kangaroo Island, about 3,700 koalas have been sterilized and 1,380
have been moved to the mainland– while the koala population has
grown to between 27,000 and 33,000. Brandle agreed with Adelaide
University ecologist David Paton that 65% of the koalas should be
Australian Koala Foundation executive director Deborah
Tabart, though opposed to culling the koalas, did not welcome word
of the immunosterilization experiment, however, apparently
confusing the genetic engineering involved in making the vaccine with
somehow genetically modifying the koalas themselves. “Once you put
pig and possum genes into koalas,” Tabart fumed to Hudson, “where
the hell does that go?”
Squirrels eating chickens?!
Uganda tourism, trade, and industry minister Edward
Rugumayo on April 2 appointed Uganda Wildlife Authority director of
field operations Arthur Mugisha acting director of the UWA,
succeeding South African expatriate Robbie Robinson, whose
non-renewable three-year contract expired on April 8. Mugisha moved
full speed ahead with a controversial plan proposed by Rugumayo to
fund the UWA by selling 250,000 wild animals through six Uganda-based
dealers. “We are getting complaints from all over the world saying
that we are destroying wildlife,” Mugisha told Charles Wendo of the
Kampala New Vision, “and yet these are geckos, these are squirrels
that are eating people’s chicken.”

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