Irvine Woman, Children Have Close Encounter With Mountain Lion

An alert woman and several surprised children kept close tabs on a mountain lion in the backyard of an Irvine home last week, enabling state wildlife officers to safely capture the cat.

Shortly before 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 11-year-old Michael Deming was putting his bicycle away when his mother, Danielle Deming, noticed some movement and a dark shadow near a fence behind her home on Charleston, a small street off busy Irvine Boulevard.

“Just as Michael closed the gate to come around to the front door I saw a large cat face appear,” Deming recalled. “It was a mountain lion in our backyard watching Michael. I was very concerned because I didn’t expect to see it in a residential neighborhood.”

Deming rushed her son inside the home and went again to look through the dining room window but didn’t see the mountain lion. But as Deming opened the sliding patio door, she heard the cat scaling the fence and landing in a neighbor’s yard.

Deming immediately texted neighbors and phoned the Irvine Animal Control Center.

“It sounded crazy and I didn’t think they would believe me,” she said. “The animal control officer that called me back even said that the last person who reported a mountain lion had actually seen a large mama raccoon with six of her babies hanging onto her.”

Shortly after the phone call the mountain lion hopped back over her fence and into Deming’s yard. This time Deming was prepared and snapped several photos with her cell phone that she sent to the animal control officer.

“It looked very calm, and it wasn’t until later that I took a closer look at the pictures that I could see how big its paws were and that its claws were extended,” Deming said.

Then as Deming, who teaches violin at her home, was continuing to watch the mountain lion, her doorbell rang. A 8-year-old music student and the girl’s 10-year-old brother were standing at her front door. “I rushed them inside,” Deming said. “A second later the doorbell rang again. It still wasn’t animal control. It was another boy from our street. We had quite an audience of excited children watching a mountain lion in our backyard.”

Irvine animal control officers arrived at Deming’s home and began tracking the animal, which had once again jumped into a neighbor’s yard. The officers spotted the cat through some missing slats in a fence and shot it with a tranquilizer dart, Deming said.

Later that day after the 3-year-old, 110 pound male mountain lion regained consciousness, it was released back into its natural habitat, said Andrew Hughan, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The mountain lion was likely pursing food, most likely a deer, when it inadvertently became trapped in Deming’s backyard, Hughan said. “It was in the wrong place and had no route back to its habitat.”

Mountain lions typically hunt alone from dusk to dawn. As many as 10 of them are spotted in Orange County each year, according to Hughan.

Deming described watching the big cat up close as frightening and chilling. “It was a crazy, heart stopping experience,” she said.


Happy Tail for Diesel The Husky

A waggy dog story has had a happy ending after an incredible fund-raising effort saved a rescue animal from the likely prospect of being put to sleep.

Diesel, a handsome Siberian husky, was in real trouble because scans revealed he needed a double hip operation, a major undertaking costing almost £4,000.

And sadly Diesel is not even a veteran dog with a long life behind him, but a pup who is just a year old.
The scans showed he urgently required full hip replacements on both sides, as only 25 per cent of the ball joint on both sides are actually in the sockets.

But after a series of fund-raisers in Diesel’s home town of Fleetwood, a magnificent sum of £3,000 was raised meaning the procedure will be able to go ahead.

Even better, he has now been adopted by a new owner who has a knowledge of Siberian Huskies and understands their needs.

Diesel’s fate started to look up after he was rescued from his original home in the port when his owners struggled to deal with his hip problems.

Dog lover Linda Stackhouse played a key part in the fund-raising campaign in Fleetwood and said: “The best thing was that the fund-raising directly led to Diesel being taken on by Howls for Help (Sled Dog Rescue), a charity in Colne which specialises in fostering Siberian Huskies.

“If we had not raised that money, there would be no chance of the operation or the foster charity getting involved. Now, Diesel’s foster carer, who lives near Colne, has decided to adopt him .”

Diesel is now having hydrotherapy sessions to build him up before the operation.

People Shell Out Lakhs To Own Exotic Animals & Birds Of Fancy Feathers

HYDERABAD: The craze for exotic animals has taken over the city, with people willing to shell out lakhs to own one. Apart from dogs like Siberian husky and Chow Chow, there is huge demand for birds like Blue-eyed cockatoo, Macaw, green iguana, African grey parrot and other exotic species. These exotic animals range from 30, 000 to 25 lakh.

“There is a huge demand for exotic dogs, cats, and birds. People are ready to spend money to buy an animal with proper pedigree. On an average, we sell about 30-35 animals every month,” said Md Moinuddin, owner of Ammus Pets & Kennels.

He says dog breeds like Maltese, Shih Tzu, Shiba Inu, Chow Chow, Labrador retriever, and Golden Retriever are in demand and owning a dog with proper pedigree can cost up to 5 lakh. Among cats, the Bengal cat and Persian cat are in demand.

Pet shop owners said that people are crazy about birds like cockatoo, Macaw as they can interact and have lately became status symbol, and costs up to 25 lakh. While few birds are imported, most are bred in captivity in the city itself.

“We get many orders for birds like Blue-eyed cockatoo and scarlet macaw and these cost 5 lakh and 3.5 lakh, respectively. Once, they are properly trained, these birds are easy to maintain and will live up to 80 years. Hyacinth macaw can live up to 100 years,” said Suresh Kumar, caretaker at a pet store in Banjara Hills.

Animal lovers said they are ready to shell out money for the best dog breeds. “Although many assume that maintaining a good breed dog is costly than a country dog, the fact is that these dogs are very light on pocket. The pedigree is known so, one needs to get them vaccinated only for few particular diseases,” said Akhila Reddy P, an animal lover, who owns different kinds of dogs, turkeys, turtles among other animals.

Slovenly Humans Bring Out The Worst In The Resident Wildlife

After enduring weeks of overcast skies and squally showers, hordes of visitors had evidently spent the day at the heath, making the most of the long-awaited sunshine.

A confetti of carelessly discarded sweet and ice lolly wrappers littered the path to the 22-acre Heath Pond. The bins were overflowing with bottles, cans and fast food packaging, but rather than taking their rubbish home people had resorted to dumping bags of picnic detritus beside them.

As I watched a carrion crow tug the ham out of a half-eaten sandwich, I noticed movement inside one of the supermarket carriers. The plastic bulged, and a stocky brown rat squeezed out from between the loosely knotted handles. Two lithe youngsters slunk out of the bramble thicket, and the trio began scrabbling through the cornucopia of scraps.

Just as the adult sniffed out a browning apple core, a German shepherd puppy came loping towards them. The juvenile rats galloped towards the lake and leapt into the silt-clouded water. Paddling out to an overhanging willow, they each shinned up a whippy branch with squirrel-like agility. Unwilling to abandon its prize, the adult sank its yellow incisors into the fruit and skittered through the reed bed, disappearing into a bolthole beneath the boardwalk.

While domesticated “fancy rats” are praised for their cleanliness, intelligence and sociability, their wild counterparts are perceived as dirty, disease-ridden vermin. True, humans are susceptible to a host of rat-borne pathogens and, as well as spreading disease, Rattus norvegicus causes significant economic damage to property and crops, and threatens UK biodiversity. However, it is important to recognise that brown rat ecology is inextricably linked with our own – we can’t blame these opportunistic animals for exploiting humankind’s pervasive slovenliness and antisocial behaviour.

By the boat-hire hut, where mute swans, mallards and Egyptian geese congregate, a sign urged visitors not to feed the wildfowl, in order to avoid attracting rodents. Beyond the sign, foraging trails of star-like splay-toed prints surrounded the hotdog buns, hunks of granary cob and anaemic-looking crusts of sliced white that lay mouldering on the muddy bank. It was clear that, until we clean up our act, we are extending rats an open invitation.

Experts Offer Tips On Protecting Property From Urban Wildlife

The hot, wet summer and the ongoing construction around Mansfield have combined to create a perfect habitat for wooded animals. Experts from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the city’s own Environmental Services Department have advised the city that residents can take measures to protect themselves and their property.

In addition to mosquitoes that inhabit creeks and other standing water, wildlife ranging from mice and rats to snakes and raccoons are looking for food, water and shelter from the elements.

“While it’s great to see all the construction activity throughout the city, turning dirt often means displacing wildlife from their habitats,” said Howard Redfearn, environmental manager for the city. “One of the biggest impacts is along Highway 360. The area where the road is being constructed was home to several species of wildlife for many years. That wildlife is now looking a place to call home.”

There are measures homeowners can take to keep nature from invading their yards and homes says Sam Kieschnick, urban wildlife biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

“First of all, it’s not a wise decision to leave out food for wild animals,” he says. “If folks are feeding outdoor cats or dogs, they need to make sure that they remove all uneaten food. Other critters will utilize those food sources.”

Kieschnick also suggests sealing garbage and trash cans. “Many wild animals are opportunists, so if there is leftover food or bits of food in the rubbish, a raccoon or opossum or rat would take that in a minute.”

Another important step is removing any possible habitat for wild animals. Homeowners should remove brush or wood piles or remove shrubs and thick vegetation.

Redfearn said many of these tips, including removing standing water from around homes and property, are also helpful in keeping mosquitoes at bay.

“All of these steps may not seem like much but they can have a significant impact,” Redfearn said.

Both Kieschnick and Redfearn say this year’s wet weather has meant plants have responded with lots of seeds and fruits. This causes a boom in the mice population and also a boom in the things that eat mice.

“Texas Parks and Wildlife has answered numerous calls about wildlife including bobcats and coyotes all around the Metroplex,” Kieschnick said. “I just tell folks to adjust some of their behavior – cleaning up garbage and not leaving food out – and the animals respond.”

Here’s How Harvey Is Affecting Wild Animals

People and pets aren’t the only ones trying to get back on their feet after Tropical Storm Harvey. Wild animals also took a hit from the record-breaking rainfall, surging floodwaters and brutal winds.

The Houston SPCA Wildlife Center of Texas has been “bombarded” with requests to help injured or waterlogged wildlife, and has taken in 225 animals since Friday, executive director Sharon Schmalz told HuffPost. She expects that number to grow in the coming days, as the waters recede and more people are able to get around.

Many of the wildlife center’s newest patients are baby squirrels.

“These poor little guys, a lot of them fell out of the nest or blew out of the nest,” said Schmalz. “They’ve been lying on the ground, some of them were underwater.”

The center is also caring for turtles, possums, rabbits and a variety of birds. It even received a frigate bird — a kind of seabird — that was blown ashore by the high winds.

Workers are scrambling to keep their growing number of charges warm and fed, and to administer needed veterinary care. The center has set up an Amazon wishlist of needed supplies, and also is accepting monetary donations.

The ultimate goal — when the animals are healthy and conditions are safe — is to release them back to the wild.

Steve Lightfoot, spokesman for Texas Parks and Wildlife Development, told HuffPost that it’s just too soon to assess how serious Harvey’s effects on local wildlife will be. But he’s optimistic.

“I can tell you that wildlife populations in Texas are fairly resilient,” Lightfoot said in an email. “These species evolved with hurricanes and floods, so they will recover.”

That said, Lightfoot noted that the high number of baby squirrels that have been blown out of trees may mean there could be “a significant impact to this year’s squirrel crop.” He also predicted that while many young deer are likely old enough at this point to swim to high ground, the region would likely see a reduced number of fawns in the fall.

Habitat recovery is also a concern, Lightfoot said, noting that major storms in the past have been detrimental to freshwater marshes around the coast, inundating them with saltwater.

“Those are areas that provide critical habitat for migrating birds such as endangered whooping cranes, so that is a concern as many migratory species will be heading to wintering grounds in Texas in the months ahead,” he said.

Schmalz explained why she believes that humans have a responsibility to step in and assist wild animals in times of crisis. After all, people sometimes ask, isn’t a storm just nature taking its course?

“The problem is, we have so changed [the animals’] natural world,” Schmalz said. “There’s so much concrete, so many homes, so many trees we’ve cut down, we’re not on an even standing anymore.”

She said she wasn’t sure how the ramifications of Harvey might affect local wildlife populations in the future.

“Hopefully they’ll bounce back,” Schmalz said. “We’ve never seen a situation this big.”

Summer Washout Drowns Hopes Of UK Wildlife Bonanza

The summer holiday washout wiped out a much needed bumper season for wildlife across the UK, according to wildlife experts at the National Trust.

A normal winter and balmy spring provided ideal conditions for birds, insects and plants but the heavy rains that rolled in during August dampened the promised bonanza. However, the weather patterns should see a good autumn for fungi and some nuts and berries.

“The [wet August] was especially damaging for warmth-loving insects, including many butterflies and bees,” said National Trust wildlife expert Matthew Oates. “It means we haven’t had a genuinely good summer since 2006 – the wait goes on. As we all know, you can’t rely on the weather.”

The rains were ushered in by a southward shift of the jet stream, which usually shepherds wet weather to the north of the UK. Scientists expect climate change to result in wetter UK summers, possibly linked to rapid ice melting in the Arctic affecting systems further south.

The UK’s wildlife is in decline, with a major report in 2016 finding one in 10 species are threatened with extinction and that the UK is “among the most nature-depleted countries in the world”. The National Trust is the country’s biggest farmer with 2,000 tenants and the biggest landowner after the Forestry Commission, and it is aiming to restore 25,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat by 2025.

2017 began promisingly for wildlife, with a mild spring ensuring a good nesting season for many birds, with rarities such as the little tern doing well at Blakeney Point in Norfolk. The gentle spring also drew many flowers into blooming early, with daffodils in the Teign Valley woods appearing as early as mid-February and elder and dog rose appearing a month early at the end of April.

Moderate temperatures also boosted roe deer in some parts of the country. Glen Graham, National Trust ranger at Wallington Hall, Northumberland, said there was a much higher kid survival rate this year.

The early summer was dry and the RSPB said it received a lot of calls about house martin nests cracking, meaning chicks had to be moved into substitute containers. But the warm weather encouraged insects such as the purple emperor butterfly, which appeared at the National Trust’s Bookham Common, Surrey in mid-June, the earliest sighting since 1893. The rare and spectacular crane fly Ctenophora flaveolata was also spotted at Maidenhead Thicket in Berkshire.

But then the rains came, disrupting breeding, boosting the spread of diseases and leading to fast grass growth, which swamps the small plants many insects rely on. August had above average rainfall and the first half of the month was the coldest in the south-east of England in three decades, according to the Met Office.

Matt Shardlow, from Buglife, said: “The summer has been so disappointing that there has been a national debate about the sparsity of flying insects and the absence of unfortunate splats on car windscreens. In addition to summer rain the warm wet winter was deeply unhelpful to insects trying to hibernate. It has been one of the least bountiful years for yellow-jacket wasp I can recall.”

The damp August was also the likely cause of the failure of nests established by bee-eaters at a quarry in Nottinghamshire in June – only the third time in a decade such nests have been seen, according to the RSPB.

The early summer heat followed by persistent rain is however likely to result in a good autumn for fungi, with waxcap fungi looking good on the National Trust’s Golden Cap meadows in West Dorset, where 22 species have been recorded.

Also benefitting are oaks, which have delivered huge acorns crops, and holly, which should provide plenty of berries for Christmas. But the early profusion of blackberries ended up rotting in the rain in many places.