Archive | February 13, 2017

700+ bats dead ‘due to heat’ in New South Wales, Australia

Some of the bats were found lifeless hanging from the trees, while others littered the grounds of the town's central park. (Supplied)13-02-17-bats-killed-in-australia
Some of the bats were found lifeless hanging from the trees, while others littered the grounds of the town’s central park. (Supplied)
More than 700 flying foxes have died during a heatwave in the New South Wales Hunter region town of Singleton, with many of their corpses still hanging from trees.
The mass death at the Burdekin Park colony began Friday and peaked as temperatures hit 47C over the weekend, Wildlife Aid Inc bat coordinator Jaala Presland told
Video shows the native animals’ lifeless bodies hanging upside down from trees and littering the ground of the town’s central park.
“We had half a dozen [live bats brought in] on Friday evening. Saturday we knew the temperatures were looking high again and we had 80 come in, and the death was sort of starting to tally,” Ms Presland said.
“The death toll is currently sitting around 700 that’s just from the park currently and very close surrounding areas.”
Wildlife Aid Inc had put a team on alert in response to the extreme heat forecast, and other care groups have since travelled to Singleton to help out.
The carers must now treat dozens of affected bats, and collect and dispose of hundreds of bodies over the next couple of weeks.
“They come in and we need to rehydrate as quickly as possible, their bodies need to be cooled down relatively slowly so they don’t go into shock and then we transfer them out to different care groups,” Ms Presland said.
She said there was generally a “small heat stress drop” most summers of about 50 animals, and some deaths during winter and hail storms.
The weekend’s toll was the highest since 2500 flying foxes died at the colony in 2004, Ms Presland said. About 2000 bats were counted at the colony before the weekend, and the population now stands at 600.
Most of the dead were grey-headed flying foxes, with some black and little red flying foxes also succumbing to the heat.
The deaths of little reds was unusual because “generally they cope with higher temperatures”, Ms Presland said.
“To a certain degree it is a natural event, however they’re not in a natural environment due to human disturbance,” she said.
“In a normal camp you’d have canopies and they’d be able to get down low.”
During heatwaves, the flying foxes are faced with staying in the colony and effectively cooking in their roosts or contending with predators if they try to fly away, she said.
Ms Presland said the weekend temperatures were some of Singleton’s hottest on record.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s nearby Cessnock Airport weather station recorded 46.2C Saturday afternoon, and 45.1C yesterday afternoon.
The flying fox colony was established in the town’s central park in 2000, and some trees have been removed since that time. Its population varies greatly as bats frequently come and go.
Grey-headed flying foxes conservation status is listed as vulnerable in New South Wales and across the country. They are the largest Australian bats and are found from Queensland to South Australia.
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130,000 birds killed due to birds flu in Taiwan

 Bird Flu
Taiwan has culled nearly 130,000 poultry since the start of this year as authorities on Tuesday reported a fresh strain of bird flu cases on the island.
The highly pathogenic H5N6 avian flu has been confirmed in three cities and counties, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine said.
“We are very concerned with H5N6, not of the bird-to-human transmission, but that it will become like South Korea where they had to cull around 33 million birds within three months resulting in significant damage to their industry,” Huang Tze-chung, the bureau’s director general, told a news briefing.
Taiwan can meet about 80 percent of its poultry needs on its own. It imports poultry meat mainly from the United States and exports very little poultry.
According to the bureau, most of the birds culled this year so far were afflicted with the H5N2 and H5N8 strains of the bird flu. A total of 13 poultry farms have been affected this year so far, it said.
But in recent days, confirmed cases of H5N6 bird flu were found on poultry farms in Chiayi and Tainan near the western coast and Hualien on the eastern coast, Huang said.
Earlier this month, Taiwan reported its first imported human case of bird flu in a 69-year-old Taiwanese man, who was diagnosed with the H7N9 bird flu virus after returning from travel to southern China.
The man remains under care in the hospital, said Chou Jih-haw, director general of the Centers for Disease Control under the island’s health ministry.
The global spread of bird flu and the number of viral strains currently circulating and causing infections have reached unprecedented levels, raising the risk of a potential human outbreak, according to disease experts.

Update: 350 whales dead after 650 stranded in Farewell Spit, New Zealand

Volunteers look after a pod of stranded pilot whales as they prepare to refloat them after one of the country’s largest recorded mass whale strandings.
Volunteers look after a pod of stranded pilot whales as they prepare to refloat them after one of the country’s largest recorded mass whale strandings. Photograph: Anthony Phelps/Reuters
Rescuers working to save hundreds of beached whales in New Zealand finally had some good news when more than 200 swam back out to sea on Sunday.
More than 650 pilot whales had beached themselves along Farewell Spit at top of South Island in two separate mass strandings. About 350 whales died, including 20 that were euthanised. Another 100 were refloated by volunteers and, on Sunday, more than 200 were able to swim away unassisted, said conservation workers.
Hundreds of volunteers from farmers to tourists have spent days at the beach dousing the whales with buckets of water to keep them cool and trying to refloat them.
Department of Conservation spokesman Herb Christophers said on Sunday that everyone was hoping the strandings were finally over although it was possible some would return to the beach.
The first group of more than 400 beached whales was found early on Friday, with many of them already dead.
“You could hear the sounds of splashing, of blowholes being cleared, of sighing,” said Cheree Morrison, a magazine writer and editor who first stumbled upon the whales. “The young ones were the worst. Crying is the only way to describe it.”
Volunteers managed to refloat the survivors on Saturday, only to hear of a second mass stranding hours later.
Department of Conservation spokesman Andrew Lamason said they were sure they were dealing with a separate pod because they had tagged all the refloated whales from the first group and none of the new group had tags.
Volunteers formed human chains in the water to try to keep the whales away. The helpers were warned that one of the whales had been found with marks that looked like a shark bite.
Officials will soon need to turn to the task of disposing of hundreds of carcasses, possibly by tethering them in shallow waters to decompose.
Farewell Spit, a sliver of sand that arches like a hook into the Tasman Sea, has been the site of previous mass strandings. Sometimes described as a whale trap, the spit’s long coastline and gently sloping beaches seem to make it difficult for whales to navigate away from once they get close.
There are different theories as to why whales strand themselves, from chasing prey too far inshore to trying to protect a sick member of the group or escaping a predator.
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of whale strandings in the world and Friday’s event was the nation’s third-biggest in recorded history. The largest was in 1918 when about 1,000 pilot whales came ashore on the Chatham Islands. In 1985 about 450 whales stranded at Auckland.
Pilot whales grow to about 7.5m (25ft) and are common around New Zealand’s waters.
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2,500 Saiga Antelopes have died due to disease in Mongolia

Saiga antelopes
Saiga antelope in Mongolia have been killed by a livestock virusBuuveibaatar Bayabaatar)
Around 2,500 Saiga antelopes have died in Mongolia since December 2016, struck by a deadly virus. This is the first time an infectious disease outbreak has led to the death of Mongolian Saiga antelopes.
The Saiga antelope is a critically endangered species. Recognisable by its unique bulbous nose, its global population has been dramatically reduced in recent years, due to disease, just like during the massive die-off that happened in Kazakhstan in 2015. The animals are also threatened by poaching and habitat loss. They are hunted down for their horns, which are used in traditional medicine. It is estimated that Saiga antelopes’ numbers have gone down by 90% in the last decade.
Mongolia is home to a unique subspecies of Saiga antelope known as Saiga tatarica mongolica. Only 10,000 antelopes were thought to roam in the Great Lakes Depression of Western Mongolia, so a loss of 2,500 animals in the space of two months – 25 per cent of the population – deeply worries conservationists. Although the outbreak shows signs of decreasing, it is not yet over and may continue well into the spring.
The cause of this new epidemic is the livestock virus PPR – or “Peste des Petits Ruminants”. It was first diagnosed in sheep and goats in September of 2016, and is thought to have spilled over to Saiga antelopes a few months later.
“This is the first deadly infectious disease outbreak known to have occurred in the Mongolian saiga,” said Dr Amanda Fine, a veterinarian and associate director of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Wildlife Health Program in Asia. “In the past, pasteurellosis was recorded as a cause of mortality in some saiga but never with such rapid spread and deadly results. The situation is tragic and widespread.”
Other species may be affected by the death of Saiga antelopes. Snow leopards, which are already rare, may struggle as a result of a depleted prey base.
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20,000 ducks killed due to bird flu in Southern Czech Republic

Bird Flu
Czech authorities ordered a cull of up to 20,000 ducks and other poultry at a producer in the south of the country on Monday in the biggest single case of this year’s bird flu outbreak.
The affected producer, Blatenska Ryba, 100 km (60 miles) south of Prague, has already had to cull 6,500 ducks at another location last month.
“We have a case, first estimates see some 20,000 (ducks) there,” regional director of the State Veterinary Administration (SVS) Frantisek Kouba told Reuters.
Kouba said there were many commercial poultry farms in the region, which meant the disease could spread.
As of last Friday, one month from the first bird flu case, 37,000 poultry had been culled in 20 locations in the central European country.
Two cases were at commercial farms and the rest in small flocks, according to SVS data.
Various strains of the bird flu virus have been found in recent months in Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Greece and Portugal, as well as elsewhere around the world.
Hungary’s chief veterinarian issued an order last Friday that all poultry must be kept inside after the bird flu virus spread to 11 counties and more than 3 million birds had to be culled.
The H5N8 bird flu strain is deadly for poultry but has never been found in humans and cannot be transmitted through food.
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Hundreds of dead fish found washed up on beach in Piura, Peru

Piura: hundreds of dead fish appear on Sechura beach
To the Parachique beach of Piura came dozens of people with deposits, which they filled with fish. (Photo: Municipality of Sechura)
Hundreds of fish were found dead this morning in Parachique, Sechura, Piura , by warming sea temperatures, local officials said.
Among the species the presence of lisa, cachema, tramboyo and lids are noteworthy. The head of the Fisheries Office of the municipality of Sechura, Alfo Ipanaqué Panta, reported that Imarpe’s staff is in the area and has reported that this mortality is due to sea warming.
“Imarpe has told us that the sea has been warmed, it has raised the temperature from 25 degrees to 28. That would have caused the stranding and death of the fish.” In addition to Parachique has been reported stranding in Bayóvar, “said Ipanaqué.
To the area came dozens of people with deposits, which they filled with fish. Ipanaqué asked the population not to consume the beached fish until the respective analyzes are carried out to determine the causes of their death.
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200+ dead sea birds found washed up on the coast of Huanchaco, Peru

Trujillo: Más de 200 aves muertas en el litoral de Huanchaco
More than 200 dead birds on the coast of Huanchaco
As already announced, Peru is facing a phenomenon of El Niño Coastal. This not only has caused massive rains and overflows in the north of the country but, in addition, the animals would be suffering the ravages of the high temperatures.
Fishing biologist at the National University of Trujillo , Carlos Bocanegra García, said that when the water temperature rises, fish like catfish, juice and lorna do not resist and lose oxygen. “They are fish that live on the shore,” he said.
He also noted that there is a climatic upheaval regarding the change in sea temperature, as it would normally be at 22 degrees, however, reported that sea water is 26 and 27 degrees.
For their part, the birds would be dying because they can not find food. He said that around 200 dead birds have been found along the coast of Huanchaco , but also have been found in Las Delicias and Salaverry.
Bocanegra García, said that we are facing an anomalous phenomenon.
“El Nino is a phenomenon that is generated, it does not happen overnight, but there is a pool of hot water that is in the north and the waters that come from the south are also hot, then that current is coming together” , Explained.
Meanwhile, the temperature will continue to increase and as a consequence, the rains will continue.
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71,000 chickens killed due to bird flu in Saga, Japan

Bird Flu
The culling of roughly 71,000 chickens was completed over the weekend at two poultry farms in the town of Kohoku, Saga Prefecture, marking Japan’s 10th case of bird flu this winter.
The prefectural government will take all necessary measures to prevent the infection from spreading, including by sterilizing infected farms and burying the dead birds and about 770,000 eggs.
The cause of the outbreak was confirmed Saturday as the H5 avian flu virus. It was detected in dead birds at one of the farms through genetic testing.
Prefectural officials started culling the birds Saturday night and finished the job Sunday night in an operation that also involved Self-Defense Forces personnel.
Using on-site inspections and telephone discussions, it was determined that operations at other poultry farms within 10 km of the two infected farms, which are run by the same person, are normal, the officials said.
Since November, the virus has damaged poultry farms in many parts of Japan, including Niigata, Aomori, Hokkaido, Gifu and Miyazaki prefectures.
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