Feeding Deer Does Much Harm, Little Good | The Outside Story

“Watching deer forage for whatever bits of food they can find through the cold months of winter, I can understand why some people feel an urge to feed them. Only supplemental feeding isn’t helpful at all to deer. Instead, it’s detrimental to their digestive health, and it pulls them away from safer, more nutritious food sources.

“Supplemental feeding has little or no benefit to the overall health of deer,” said Nick Fortin, Deer Project Leader for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. “Interestingly, northern deer will lose weight in winter no matter what or how much they are fed, even in captivity.”

Like virtually all animals living in climates where winter is cold and snowy, deer use a variety of adaptations to adjust and survive. In the northern part of the Northeast, they often gather in deer yards, where softwood cover offers shelter from wind and cold as well as decreased snow depth. As deer move to and through their winter shelter, they pack down paths, allowing for easier travel to food and quicker escapes from predators.

In winter, deer reduce their energy expenditures by hunkering down during extended cold stretches; this way they can focus their activity during times when temperatures are warmer. Similar to animals that hibernate, deer store fat – it can constitute up to 20 percent of their body weight, said Fortin – and they can use that fat as a sort of energy savings account.

A deer’s digestive system also goes through changes to cope with less abundant – and different – food sources. Deer are ruminants, which means they have a four-chambered stomach, like cows and sheep. Each chamber contains microorganisms to help with digestion. These microbes become tuned in to a winter diet of twigs and buds, nuts, any fruits and berries that persist, and whatever grasses they can find. A sudden change in diet – say to supplemental corn or rich hay – can wreak havoc on this system.”

Source: Feeding Deer Does Much Harm, Little Good | The Outside Story

Feeding deer can be dangerous to their health

“According to this study, conducted by the DIF&W, supplemental feeding of deer has increased over the last two decades. It states that in many areas, supplemental feeding contributes to winter mortality of deer, and “there is good biological justification to ban feeding of deer.”

The DIF&W’s website features a section on feeding deer that begins with the admonition, “The best option is to not feed deer at all.” If you do, however, the department provides some useful tips.

• Locate deer feeding sites in or near deer wintering areas and at least a half-mile from plowed roads to minimize road-kill losses.

• Distribute feed in many locations every day to reduce competition among deer. Remember that concentrating deer in small areas can create a feeding ground for predators.

• Proper feed is natural browse items such as dogwood, birch or witch hobble. Oats or acorns can be given as diet supplements. In winter, the microorganisms within the deer stomach are different from the microorganisms the rest of the year. This change allows deer to ingest a diet of woody browse and turn the high-fiber diet into protein.

• Do not feed hay, corn, kitchen scraps, potatoes, lettuce trimmings or any animal proteins from animals rendered into feed. Deer may actually starve when fed supplemental foods during winter if they have a full belly of indigestible foods. Many deer have starved to death with stomachs packed full of hay.”

Source: Feeding deer can be dangerous to their health

Bald eagles attack loons, but that’s not why loons are struggling – Granite Geek

“Bald eagles, as I’m sure you know, are making quite the comeback in New Hampshire (along with much of North America). New Hampshire Audubon and the Loon Preservation Committee wondered what effect this large fish-eating predator was having on another iconic fish-eating bird, the loon.

The answer, they say, is “not much”.

The team looked for evidence of predation attempts by an increasing eagle population, and whether this was limiting how successful loons are at raising young or if eagles provoked changes in where loons nest. The scientists found that eagle nest proximity may be contributing to about 3% of observed loon nest failures, but that this pressure does not account for local declines in loon abundance. Loons face a wide range of other simultaneous threats, including mortality from lead tackle poisoning, avian malaria, and entanglement in monofilament fishing line.

“We confirmed that eagles have joined a wide range of stressors currently impacting loons in New Hampshire,” said Loon Preservation Committee Senior Biologist John Cooley. “This result is great motivation to keep reducing the impacts caused by humans, like lead tackle poisoning, so that eventually the primary challenge for nesting loons can once again be natural predators like eagles.”

Source: Bald eagles attack loons, but that’s not why loons are struggling – Granite Geek

Opinion | Why Are We Still Slaughtering the American Bison? – The New York Times

By Richard Conniff
Contributing Opinion Writer

March 30, 2019

Bison in Yellowstone National Park.CreditCreditJosh Haner/The New York Times

“In a 120-acre pasture on an Indian reservation in northeastern Montana, five prime examples of America’s national mammal rumble and snort. They shake their enormous heads and use them to plow aside the snow to get to their feed. In the night, I like to think, they put those shaggy heads together to ruminate on the weird politics of the American West and blast clouds of exhausted air out their shiny nostrils.

These five, all males, arrived last month from Yellowstone National Park, the last great refuge of the wild bison that once dominated the American landscape from Pennsylvania to Oregon. Their arrival marks the beginning of what will ostensibly become a pipeline sending surplus bison from Yellowstone out to repopulate portions of their old habitat.

Since 2000, it has been the custom to send 600 or 1,000 prize Yellowstone bison to slaughter every year at about this time to keep the park’s booming population at roughly 4,000 animals. The meat goes mainly to tribal nations. Even so, the culling is perverse and wasteful: Yellowstone is home to genetically pure wild bison, coveted by national parks, Native American tribes and conservation groups across the West.

But Yellowstone is also home to a notorious disease called brucellosis, dreaded by cattle ranchers everywhere. And while Congress in 2016 designated the American bison the national mammal, everyone knows that title comes with fine print reading “other than cattle.” And when it comes to cattle — a species that is not native to North America — the politics always gets weird.”

This Mutant Crayfish Clones Itself, and It’s Taking Over Europe – The New York Times

Matter

By Carl Zimmer  Feb. 5, 2018

“Frank Lyko, a biologist at the German Cancer Research Center, studies the six-inch-long marbled crayfish. Finding specimens is easy: Dr. Lyko can buy the crayfish at pet stores in Germany, or he can head with colleagues to a nearby lake.Wait till dark, switch on head lamps, and wander into the shallows. The marbled crayfish will emerge from hiding and begin swarming around your ankles.“It’s extremely impressive,” said Dr. Lyko. “Three of us once caught 150 animals within one hour, just with our hands.”Over the past five years, Dr. Lyko and his colleagues have sequenced the genomes of marbled crayfish. In a study published on Monday, the researchers demonstrate that the marble crayfish, while common, is one of the most remarkable species known to science.

Source: This Mutant Crayfish Clones Itself, and It’s Taking Over Europe – The New York Times

E.P.A. Chief- Rejecting Agency’s Science, Chooses Not to Ban Insecticide – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, moved late on Wednesday to reject the scientific conclusion of the agency’s own chemical safety experts who under the Obama administration recommended that one of the nation’s most widely used insecticides be permanently banned at farms nationwide because of the harm it potentially causes children and farm workers.

The ruling by Mr. Pruitt, in one of his first formal actions as the nation’s top environmental official, rejected a petition filed a decade ago by two environmental groups that had asked that the agency ban all uses of chlorpyrifos. The chemical was banned in 2000 for use in most household settings, but still today is used at about 40,000 farms on about 50 different types of crops, ranging from almonds to apples.”

Strawberries | EWG’s 2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

I love my beautiful, inexpensive strawberries on granola, but this research means I have to forgo the daily poisoning.

Pesticides + Poison Gases = Cheap, Year-Round StrawberriesBy Bill Walker, Investigations Editor, and Sonya Lunder, Senior Analyst

“Americans eat nearly eight pounds of fresh strawberries a year – and with them, dozens of pesticides, including chemicals that have been linked to cancer and reproductive damage, or that are banned in Europe.

Strawberries tested by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2014 and 2015 contained an average of 7.7 different pesticides per sample, compared to 2.3 pesticides per sample for all other produce, according to a new EWG analysis.What’s worse, strawberry growers use jaw-dropping volumes of poisonous gases – some developed for chemical warfare but now banned by the Geneva Conventions – to sterilize their fields before planting, killing every pest, weed and other living thing in the soil.

For these reasons, strawberries are again on the top of the Dirty Dozen™ list for 2017. USDA tests found that strawberries were the fresh produce items most likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues, even after they are picked, rinsed in the field and washed before eating.

If you want to avoid pesticides and don’t want strawberries grown in soil injected with nerve gases, EWG advises that you always buy organically grown berries. We make the same recommendation for other Dirty Dozen™ foods.”

Source: Strawberries | EWG’s 2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Surge In Mice Is A Harbinger For Lyme Disease : NPR

“”We’re anticipating 2017 to be a particularly risky year for Lyme,” Ostfeld says.Keesing and Ostfeld, who have studied Lyme for more than 20 years, have come up with an early warning system for the disease. They can predict how many cases there will be a year in advance by looking at one key measurement: Count the mice the year before.”

Source: Surge In Mice Is A Harbinger For Lyme Disease : Goats and Soda : NPR

Edward O. Wilson | American biologist | Britannica.com

“Edward O. Wilson, in full Edward Osborne Wilson (born June 10, 1929, Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.), American biologist recognized as the world’s leading authority on ants. He was also the foremost proponent of sociobiology, the study of the genetic basis of the social behaviour of all animals, including humans.”

“In On Human Nature (1978), for which he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1979, Wilson discussed the application of sociobiology to human aggression, sexuality, and ethics. His book The Ants (1990; with Bert Hölldobler), also a Pulitzer winner, was a monumental summary of contemporary knowledge of those insects. In The Diversity of Life (1992), Wilson sought to explain how the world’s living species became diverseand examined the massive species extinctions caused by human activities in the 20th century.”

Source: Edward O. Wilson | American biologist | Britannica.com