Wow!…Animal Die Offs…World Wide!

Thursday, September 12, 2013
By Paul Martin

Mysterious elk deaths plague New Mexico: 100 fall dead in 24-hour period

September 12, 2013 – NEW MEXICO – Officials with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish are puzzling over the mysterious deaths of more than 100 elk, apparently all within a 24-hour period, in rural New Mexico. The elk were found Aug. 27 on a 75,000-acre ranch north of the city of Las Vegas. Livestock deaths, by themselves, are not unusual — there are many things that can fell large animals, including predators, poachers, a natural or man-made toxin, disease, drought, heat, starvation, and even lightning. But so far wildlife officials have seemingly ruled out most of these possibilities: The elk weren’t shot (nor taken from the area), so it was not poachers. Tests have come back negative for anthrax, a bacteria that exists naturally in the region and can kill large animals. There seems to be no evidence of any heavy pesticide use in the area that might have played a role in the die-off. Though lightning strikes are not uncommon in the Southwest and in New Mexico specifically, killing over 100 animals at one time would be an incredibly rare event. It might be an as-yet unidentified disease, though killing so many at once — and so quickly — would be very unusual. Another possibility is some sort of contamination of the well or water tanks, but so far no toxins have been identified. Wildlife officials are hopeful that they will be able to identify the cause of death — if for no other reason that it would give peace of mind to ranchers and hunters.

Officials investigate the mysterious die-off 3,000 saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan

September 12, 2013 – KAZAKHSTAN – Mortality of 3 thousand saiga antelopes has been registered in Akmola and Karaganda oblasts in central Kazakhstan, Tengrinews.kz reports citing the press-service of the Ministry of Environment Protection of Kazakhstan. About 1.5 thousand carcases of betpakdalinski saiga antelopes were found at southern, western and northern shores of Tengiz Lake. This type of saiga antelopes also inhabits lowlands and steppes. All the involved national and local authorities were informed about the animals’ die-off. The Ministry’s subordinate Committee of Forestry and Hunting in cooperation with the Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems and Veterinary Service of Karaganda Oblast are investigating the die-off site. Measures to find out the scale and causes of the mortality are being taken. The Ministry held an emergency briefing and arranged a group that will investigate the causes of the occasion. The group includes representatives of Ecology Departments of Akmola and Karaganda Oblasts, Veterinary Services, Emergency Situation Department, Internal Affairs Department and Sanitary and Epidemiological Control Service. Saiga antelopes mortality was registered in Kostanay Oblast in May 2012. The approximate number of dead antelopes exceeded 600 that time. –Tengrin News

Fungus blamed for salamander die-off in the Netherlands: ‘complete mystery why we are seeing this outbreak now’

September 12, 2013 – NETHERLANDS – A newly discovered fungus that feasts on the skin of amphibians is threatening to decimate a species of salamander in the Netherlands, according to new research. Fire salamanders are one of the most recognizable salamander species in Europe, and are characterized by their distinct yellow- and black-patterned skin. Since 2010, fire salamanders have been mysteriously dying off in the forests of the Netherlands. Now, scientists have identified a deadly fungus, called Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (the second part of the name translates to “salamander-eating”), that they say is jeopardizing biodiversity and bringing fire salamanders close to the brink of regional extinction. Previously, a fungus species related to the salamander-eating variety was the culprit behind mass amphibian casualties around the globe. That fungus, named Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd, is thought to have devastated more than 200 amphibian species worldwide, the researchers said. The fungus Bd also causes the disease chytridiomycosis, which has been labeled the most devastating infectious disease in vertebrate animals by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The detection of a new fungus that rapidly kills fire salamanders is an alarming development, said An Martel, a professor in the department of pathology, bacteriology and poultry diseases at the Ghent University in Belgium, and lead author of the new study. “In several regions, including northern Europe, amphibians appeared to be able to co-exist with Bd,” Martel said in a statement. “It is, therefore, extremely worrying that a new fungus has emerged that causes mass mortalities in regions where amphibian populations were previously healthy.”

Massive starfish die-off near British Columbia baffles scientists…(My Guess…Fukashima!)

September 12, 2013 – CANADA – The waters off British Columbia, Canada, are littered with dead starfish, and researchers have no idea what’s causing the deaths. At the end of August, marine biologist and scuba enthusiast Jonathan Martin was out on his usual Saturday dive with some friends when he noticed something unusual. “We just started noticing dead starfish that looked like they had their arms chopped off,” Martin said. They were sunflower starfish (Pycnopodia helianthoides), a major marine predator in the area that feeds mostly on sea urchins and snails. Like most starfish, the sunflower starfish can regenerate lost limbs—it can have up to 20—and can grow to be up to three feet (a meter) across. Since Martin was diving in an area frequented by crabbers, at first he thought the sunflower starfish had gotten caught in some of the crab traps and had lost limbs escaping. But Martin kept seeing large numbers of dead starfish as he and his friends swam to a marine park where such crab fishing is illegal. Martin knew then it wasn’t the traps that were causing the starfish deaths. After returning from the dive, he visited friends at a local dive shop who were active in marine conservation. Without any definitive answer, he shared photos on Flickr and videos on YouTube—taken at Lion’s Bay and Whytecliff Park in Vancouver—to try to get ideas from others about what was going on.

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