Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tufts study focusing on how development and global warming affect wildlife medicine

Taken from a Worcester Telegram article, January 31, 2012, titled, "Outdoors: Rodent-control poisons killing local hawks, owls":

"Tufts is doing considerable research along with its renowned wildlife clinic work. One current study focuses on how development and global warming are significantly affecting wildlife medicine here.

"Annually receiving many wild animals in their clinic, Tufts is in a unique position to note significant patient-pattern changes. Both the species makeup and numbers of patients are changing. For example, the normal pattern of turtle patients at Tufts coincides with periods of their greatest movements across roads, where they’re all too frequently hit by vehicles.

"In spring, when they’re eagerly looking for females, male turtles are far more frequently injured. In recent years, they’ve been arriving for emergency treatment as early as April, about a month earlier than normal. From late May to July, most injured turtles are females, especially after rains, when they get hit while looking for soft soil to lay their eggs.

"In August and September, most injured turtles are males, again looking for females. Females are able to mate late and store sperm, which can fertilize their eggs even years later — in fact, up to a decade later. This last turtle movement and resultant injuries are now occurring as late as November.

"Tufts and other vet schools around the country are obliged to send their valuable wildlife treatment data to government authorities. Unfortunately, that treasure of information is just being stored with no one analyzing it. There’s neither money nor motivation for analysis. The turning in of that paperwork is a bureaucratic formality. There’s certainly enough stuff in there collectively around the country for a dissertation. Too much work and information that could benefit wildlife is currently being wasted. Dr. Pokras would like to see that changed."

Using technology
"Outdoorsmen and women should check our state’s new, entertaining and informative outdoors blog for communication with biologists, park rangers, agricultural and recreation experts about outdoor adventures. You can get their suggestions for hiking, hunting, birding, fishing, farm tours, boating, camping and more. Go to www.mass.gov/blog/environment to help make your outdoors experience both more fun and successful.

"EEA secretary Richard Sullivan announced the Get Outdoors Massachusetts Mobile Apps Contest inviting smart phone mobile application developers to create applications to help the public find outdoor recreation hot spots featuring natural resources in Massachusetts.

"The idea is for app developers to create a public connection to the commonwealth’s best outdoor activities and destinations. The submission deadline is March 30, and registration is free.

"Prizes include the opportunity for entrants to showcase their work to local technology executives, as well as a chance to join wildlife biologists on bald eagle banding expeditions or black bear surveys, a local farm bed-and-breakfast weekend stay, a year-long MBTA subway-bus LinkPass, and the opportunity to sell winning apps after offering them free to the public for a year. Winners will be announced on April 18.

"Many will appreciate the smart phone accessible service that will be developed at no cost to the taxpayer. For information, go to www.mass.gov/eea."

Further links:
Interesting case at Tufts: Snapping Turtle

Sunday, January 15, 2012

8 Endangered Sea Turtles Board Plane To Warmer Climate

Turtles Fly From Boston To South Carolina

BOSTON -- On the coldest day of the winter, eight rescued and endangered sea turtles from Massachusetts are headed south by private plane to warmer temperatures.
The recovering cold-stunned turtles are being cared for by the New England Aquarium and were transferred Sunday afternoon from Hanscom Field Airport in Bedford.

More than 40 young turtles had become trapped on the north side of Cape Cod this past fall and slowly became hypothermic as the waters cooled. They stranded in December and were rescued by staff from the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay.

With eight turtles now medically stable, officials at the South Carolina Aquarium approached North American Jets owner, Mason Holland, to see if the seven Kemp’s Ridleys and one hybrid sea turtle could hitch a ride south.

Holland agreed because he had an aircraft in the Boston area doing demonstration flights over the weekend.

Once the turtles arrive in South Carolina, they will head to the aquarium where they will finish their rehab and eventually be released in the late spring.

Kemp’s Ridleys are the world’s most endangered sea turtle species.

Copyright 2012 by TheBostonChannel.com. All rights reserved.
Source: http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/30217974/detail.html#ixzz1jYsJYH6Z

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Proposed scalloping regulations aim to protect sea turtles

The scallop industry has until Jan. 18 to weigh in on new regulations proposed by the National Marine Fisheries Service to help fishermen avoid encounters with sea turtles, which sometimes become entangled in their gear.

The measure would require scallop vessels with a dredge width of 10½ feet or larger to use a "turtle deflector dredge" in the waters along the mid-Atlantic coast, west of 71 degrees west longitude, from May through October. The fisheries service is seeking public comment on the proposal through Jan. 18.

Research has shown that loggerhead sea turtles are frequently found in the area and have been inadvertently caught by boats fishing there from June on. May was included in the proposal as a precautionary measure, based on satellite sightings of turtles in scalloping areas during that month.

In encounters with the scallop fleet, turtles usually don't fare well, said Ron Smolowitz of the nonprofit Coonamessett Farm Foundation in East Falmouth, which has led the research into the new gear with funding from the scallop industry and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Tests of the new dredge gear have shown the modifications to the traditional design will not compromise the structural integrity of the dredge nor reduce scallop yield, according to NMFS.

Dan Eilertsen of New Bedford owns six scallop boats and worked with Smolowitz on developing the gear. Eilertsen has already deployed the TDD gear on his boats and expressed general satisfaction with its performance.

"It fishes well but it takes a little more fuel," he said. "They're a little harder to pull around but they fish well. They're at least as good as the others and they may be better, if anything."

To give the industry time to develop TDDs for the scallop fishery, the proposed measure would go into effect one year after the ratification date if, as expected, the measure is approved. If Framework 23, as the rule is known in the industry, is adopted on March 1 the TDD regulations would become effective on March, 1, 2013, and the new dredges would become mandatory in these areas starting May 1 of next year.

The fisheries service is also proposing a revision to the schedule for the yellowtail flounder seasonal closure on Georges Bank and in Southern New England waters. If implemented, closures would be imposed during months with the highest catch rates rather than for consecutive months at the start of the fishing year as is now the case.

For questions or more information on these changes, contact Emily Gilbert, a fishery policy analyst at NMFS, at 978- 281-9244.