eBay - name the orphan otter

March 25, 2005 Clearwater, Florida - There were smiles all around when Marsha Posey came to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) to meet her newly named otter, "Mosh." Marsha and her companion, Ed Droste, owner of the Hooters Restaurant chain, bid for and won the honor of naming the otter at CMA's recent fund raiser, Art for the Animals. Marsha selected the name Mosh because it was her nickname as a child and she thought it would be cute for a baby otter.

Mosh came to CMA on March 3rd after being found abandoned and alone in St. Petersburg. The fate of his mother is unknown. Humane officers from the SPCA picked up the baby otter, estimated to be 2 1/2 months old, and brought him to CMA, the rescue and rehabilitation facility for sick and injured marine animals in Clearwater.

Three other recently rescued otters are also receiving care at the Aquarium. The otter pups are fed six times a day by animal care staff; their current diet consists of a milk-based nutritional formula, chopped fish, kitten food, and scrambled eggs.

Naming rights for another recently rescued otter pup, who was found at a gas station and brought to CMA on March 13, are now available by auction on eBay. If you would like to name this orphaned otter and help fund its care, log on to eBay, search by seller, Heavymetalsales to bid. Or, you can call Bev Kablinger at 727-638-6032 for more details. Your naming rights donation will be used to support the otter's food and medical care needs. You will also be entitled to a personal visit with the baby otter!
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photo courtesy: Allen Matheson

Article: "Vultures hold a critical position in the food chain and are renowned for their ceaseless scavenging. But their once-abundant numbers have been in decline for more than a decade."

Recent evidence links the use of the drug diclofenac to manage pain in agricultural livestock to the dramatic decline in the populations of 3 species of vultures in Asia. Diclofenic is from a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Diclofenac works by reducing hormones that cause inflammation and pain in the body.

Asian farmers began using the drug in livestock during the 90s and the resultant spread through the eco system has led researchers to conclude that it is the primary cause for the decline in vulture populations. Vultures fulfill their necessary role in the environment by scavenging dead animal carcasses and thereby over time accumulate toxic levels of dicofenac leading to kidney failure and ultimately, death.

"The decline of three raptor species of vulture across South Asia has been absolutely catastrophic," said Debbie Pain, head of international research at the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds RSPB).

In some areas the decline has reached an alarming 99% and puts the vulture at the top of the endangered species list. The resultant ripple effect through the system is the increase of other less desirable scavenger populations like feral dogs. An increase in the propagation of human diseases would follow.
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There are so few of us and just so many of them.

Raina Dodson-Eimer is an animal care activist who lives and works in the American Virgin Islands, she is a research specialist at the University of the Virgin Islands, St. Croix

This is her story; the story of 'Silent Slew' and 'Xavier Alexander', two horses you would most certainly want to meet, if you've a mind for and a sense of horse flesh.
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A tale of two species

Columbia is the first and last place the endangered yellow-eared parrot has ever existed, It's habitat restricted to the wax palm forests that carpet the misty flanks of the Andes mountains in Columbia, SA. The wax palm is itself endangered because it is venerated. For centuries the fronds of the wax palm have been used exclusively for Palm Sunday observance by the Roman Catholic Church. 300 million fronds are used annually in the United States alone.

This year's services mark the inaugural use of alternative palm fronds from sustainable resources. The initiative stems from an agreement between the Church and environmentalists. The effort in America was led by the Montreal-based Commission for Environmental Cooperation and the Rain Forest Alliance in New York. The aim is to promote the use of certified palm fronds harvested by farmers who practice sustainable forestry.

In recent years farmers harvested the palm fronds wholesale often stunting or killing the trees in the process. Using alternative methods and frond species will, it is hoped, avoid the destruction of the wax palm forest and in turn preserve the habitat of the endangered yellow-eared parrot, there are only 540 individuals left.
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Impact: oil wells in your back yard

Following the defeat earlier this week of an attempt to block North Slope drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge a reader writes us to say that it may not be entirely without a plus side, suggesting that because of the remote location "no one will see the damage done" by the drilling. "It will mean cheaper gas for us all...create new jobs" and so, we were prompted to do a little research. This is what we found.

There are approximately 7,300 residents residing permanently in the North Slope Borough, they aren't called counties in Alaska. The largest town is Barrow, population 4500. The primary industries are oil field production, government and tourism - the supposition is that perhaps some of those tourists will see the "damage done."

A map of the area shows clearly that Barrow exits central to the already established National Petroleum Preserve (outlined in orange) and approximately 230 miles northwest of the Wildlife Reserve's western boundary (marked in yellow) which has been at the heart of the issue to date. The far smaller wilderness reserve has been set aside since its establishment under the Eisenhower Administration for the preservation of pristine wilderness and as necessary to maintain the fragile ecosystem that thrives there.

The area supports among other species countless bird populations, arctic fox, bear including of course the polar bear who traditionally inhabits the north slop as a denning ground.

Regarding the economics of the debate, A review of oil industry and government studies suggest that the amount of oil to be found in the area would fill less than 2% of our current requirement over the next 20 years, - less as demand rises - and won't even be available for 5 years. In his New York Times OpEd piece this morning Thomas Friedman, writes that the oil taken from these fields will, more likely than not, be sold to China to offset American debt which now approaches $200-billion. It seems certain that the only ones to profit from this will be a half dozen American oil companies who will barter and sell the rights to drill, among themselves.

Finally, as the old saying goes whatever we do to the environment, is OK as long as you can't see it from my house. Well, I don't know where you live but Alaska seems a lot closer now than it ever did. Who wins then?
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Arctic Wildlife Refuge at risk once more

The future of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was put in jeopardy once again last week when Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, included a controversial provision to drill in the Refuge into the Senate version of the budget bill.

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)in an attempt to block the proposal has now introduced an amendment to remove the Arctic drilling provision from the budget which may be voted on as early as Wednesday.

The United States government set aside this wilderness for protection more than 40 years ago under the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower in order to protect its "unique wildlife, wilderness and recreation values." In 1980, President Carter signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, or ANILCA, which doubled the size of the Arctic Range and renamed it the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This law closed the 1.5 million acres of the refuge's coastal plain to gas and oil exploration unless specifically authorized by Congress.

For more information and a history of the region and its important roll as the "Serengeti" of North America go to the US Fish and Wildlife Service site and read Arctic Refuge: Wildlife.

Yesterday a letter was sent to the President by a committee of scientists expressing their concern that this intrusion into the pristine Arctic refuge would be disastrous to the wildlife, forever damaging the delicate eco system's ability to repair itself and urged a withdrawal from the proposed legislation. It was signed by more than 1000 scientists.
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South Africa considers elephant cull for the first time in ten years

For the first time since the mid 90's South African nations are considering an elephant cull to relieve the stress of over populated elephant herds on indigenous wildlife and man in the largest preserve in Africa. Kruger National Park is the size of Israel and has experienced a steady rise in the numbers of elephants from a low of 7000 in 1994 to an estimated 12000 individuals today.

Birth control has been suggested as an alternative to culling the herd, but the solution is a long shot because of the considerable expense. Funds need to come from a larger community of animal welfare concerns in a joint initiative including government and private sources if the community of nations involved wish to avoid a repeat of the past.
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The journey begins

The journey begins as Park Ranger Jan Freelander and her contingent of dedicated animal wardens accompanied by Nancy Swift's team of zoologists embark on a mission to protect the elephants during their dangerous return home to the plains of Aberdare.

Read Dr. Nancy Swift's previous episodes:

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GM misteps, a pig's tail

Although automaker General Motors is one of the world's few genuinely socially responsible coporations; they stand behind their commitment to an employee pension fund to the tune of a colossal $291 billion, in their zeal to market brand they occasionally step in it.

This week, GM's latest blunder aired with the unfortunate image of a crated pig in the bed of a GM something-or-other followed by scenes of a happy family riding in truck cabin luxury while the announcer proclaims, "Cargo doesn't have to be comfortable, family does."

GM executives might consider their choice with regard to ad agencies. After all, with the automaker's bond status being downgraded from triple B to 'junk' it would appear GM has less market future than the 'cargo' in their commercial.
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