Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bear gets (Gov.)Pawlenty (MN) pardon

ST. PAUL – Solo the one-eared bear received a Christmas present of life.
“We are going to give the black bear a reprieve, a pardon,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced on his weekly Friday radio show. “It is a good pre-Christmas, pre-holiday announcement.”
State Department of Natural Resources officials had considered putting Solo down because she had become too friendly with people, which could be dangerous. But now state officials say she will live out her life in a wildlife sanctuary, but no decision about where to send the bear family will be made until next week.
Solo is a 4-year-old, one-eared bear that has become well known to residents of Eagles Nest Township near Tower, Minn. That is where she and her cubs are hibernating under a private cabin.
Pawlenty, saying all he knew about the case was what he read in newspapers, came down on the bear’s side Friday.
“My feeling is this bear should not be euthanized,” Pawlenty declared.
DNR officials said Friday afternoon that the bear family will be sent to a captive facility where the three can live without “uncontrolled interactions with people.”
“This solution satisfies our original and primary concern about public safety,” said Michael DonCarlos, DNR wildlife research and policy manager. “The typical behavior of a black bear, like any wild animal, is to avoid humans. This bear is habituated to humans and has lost its fear of people, which makes it impossible to predict its behavior.”
DNR officials said they are looking into several locations for the bears. Solo and other bears in the area eat from bird feeders that are placed on trees and residents’ decks. Solo has allowed people too closely to her. That created fears she could attack if people get too close.
In June, 28 township residents signed a petition calling Solo a nuisance.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hello, Ellie









Ellie rat is an adoption that is a year and half old. Ellie is very mellow and loved to be snuggled or to sit on shoulders.





not so wee little beastie


The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says that Solo, a one-eared black bear hibernating with her two cubs underneath a private cabin, has become too familiar with humans in Eagles Nest Township. [Associated Press]

DULUTH, Minn. – Some residents of a northeastern Minnesota township just can’t bear the thought that the Department of Natural Resources would give Solo a permanent hibernation.
The DNR says that Solo, a one-eared black bear blissfully hibernating with her two cubs underneath a private cabin, has become too familiar with humans in Eagles Nest Township. But many of those humans have put out food for Solo and like having her and other bears around.
An estimated 25 bears live in the township, but many residents recognize Solo because she only has one ear. The other was ripped off when an adult bear attacked her as a cub, Humay said.
“Personally, I think it’s premature to kill the bear,” said Township Board Chairman Dan Humay. “A number of people are convinced this is not an aggressive animal. It hasn’t done anything to merit destruction.”
One of those people is Lynn Rogers, a longtime bear researcher who has a radio collar on Solo and has been studying her habits to find out if people’s “diversionary feeding” of bears makes them less likely to break into homes or cause other damage.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says that Solo, a one-eared black bear hibernating with her two cubs underneath a private cabin, has become too familiar with humans in Eagles Nest Township. Associated Press But the DNR told Rogers in a Dec. 5 letter that some of the reported problems with Solo last summer, in which she got close enough to some residents to sniff or nudge them, “may be a direct result of your activities, which have habituated the bear to human presence.”
In November, the owner of the cabin learned that Solo and her cubs were hibernating under the unoccupied cabin – and that Rogers, founder of Ely’s North American Bear Center, wanted permission to put a video camera there and broadcast images on a Web site.
Instead, the cabin owner asked the DNR to remove the bears. That, along with the earlier complaints, prompted the DNR’s plan to euthanize Solo and relocate her cubs, said Mike DonCarlos, the agency’s wildlife research and policy manager.
The cubs are young enough to learn new habits, DonCarlos said, but Solo’s behavior probably can’t be changed.
“The bear is willingly approaching people without fear,” DonCarlos said. “That’s not normal behavior, and that is sufficient cause for a public safety concern. We have to err on the side of caution.”
Minnesota’s wild bear population is thriving, numbering in the thousands, he said, and the DNR usually kills a few dozen a year in the name of public safety. He admitted Solo’s situation is unusual because the problem bear is currently hibernating.
DonCarlos said the plan remains in place despite complaints, although “there’s no timeline, and it’s not likely (to be carried out) this week.”
That hasn’t stopped a 14-member “Community Bear Committee” from devising a 17-page plan called “Living with Bears ... Coexisting with Wildlife in a Natural Setting.” It concluded that, while habitually aggressive or destructive bears may need to be killed, that research or nuisance bears might simply be deterred through coordinated efforts like electric fences around gardens, storing barbecue grills and bird food inside, and driving problem bears away with loud noises or pepper spray.
“Killing the bear might be the expedient thing to do,” Humay said, “but we’re eager to see if we can be effective in finding a different solution.”

Friday, December 14, 2007

Geneticists make obsolete old game of cat and mouse




Associated Press
Published Friday, December 14, 2007

TOKYO – The age-old animosity between cats and mice could be a thing of the past with genetically modified mice that Japanese scientists say show no fear and shed new light on mammal behavior.
Scientists at Tokyo University say they have used genetic engineering to successfully switch off a mouse’s instinct to cower at the smell or presence of cats – showing that fear is genetically hardwired and not learned through experience, as commonly believed.
“Mice are naturally terrified of cats, and usually panic or flee at the smell of one. But mice with certain nasal cells removed through genetic engineering didn’t display any fear,” said research team leader Ko Kobayakawa.
“The mice approached the cat, even snuggled up to it and played with it,” Kobayakawa said. “The discovery that fear is genetically determined and not learned after birth is very interesting, and goes against what was previously thought.”
The findings suggest that human aversion to dangerous smells, such as that of rotten food, for example, could also be genetically predetermined, he said.

Monday, December 10, 2007