Australia to cull over two million feral cats by 2020

April 29, 2019 by  
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They may look adorable and fuzzy, but  feral cats  are now at war with  Australia . The country’s government intends to cull over two million untamed cats over the next year, cutting their numbers from upward of six million down to four million. As an invasive species, these cats are eliminating many species in Australia at an alarming rate through hunting. While killing such a large number of feral cats may seem excessively cruel, there are reasons why Australia is culling the population. These free-ranging cats were brought to the continent in the 1600s and now cover over 99 percent of the country. Unlike their domestic counterparts, feral cats survive by hunting in the wild. In fact, feral cats are extremely good at hunting small critters. According to CNN , experts estimate that feral cats have contributed to the wipe out of 20 different mammals over the past 300 years. Given that many of the country’s native species are not found anywhere else on the planet, this is a major problem. Related: Exotic pets most likely to be released in the wild and become invasive species What kind of animals are part of a feral cat’s diet? Conservationists estimate that, given their large population numbers, cats kill around 1.7 million reptiles every day in Australia. They also target birds, killing over a million on a typical day. Other animals hunted by feral cats include the brush-tailed rabbit-rat and the golden bandicoot, both of which are classified as vulnerable by the government. “We are not culling cats for the sake of it, we are not doing so because we hate cats,” Gregory Andrews, who works as the national commissioner of threatened species, explained. “We have got to make choices to save animals that we love, and who define us as a nation.” To prevent these species from going extinct, Australia has set aside five million dollars to pay groups that will help cull feral cat populations. The initiative, however, has faced a lot of criticism from activists and conservationists . Most critics of the plan conceded that feral cats are a problem but argue that large-scale culling is not the answer. Instead, groups are pushing for more accurate assessments on population numbers and want the government to focus on feral cats that live in areas with threatened animals. Via CNN Image via Daniel Ramirez

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Australia to cull over two million feral cats by 2020

Dramatic domino-effect facade wraps BIG-designed business school

April 29, 2019 by  
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Bjarke Ingels Group has unveiled images of the stunning Business Innovation Hub at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Designed in collaboration with Goody Clancy Architects , the recently completed 70,000-square-foot extension and partial renovation of the Isenberg School of Management not only delivers a dramatic appearance with a falling dominoes-like facade, but also high sustainability standards. Clad in low-maintenance copper, the Isenberg School of Management Business Innovation Hub expects to achieve LEED Silver certification. Prominently located on Haigis Mall near the entrance of campus, the Isenberg School of Management Business Innovation Hub extends the existing Isenberg building footprint to the north and then loops around east, creating a donut shape that connects back to the existing building to nearly double the school’s current space. At the center of the “donut” is a garden courtyard . The architects further articulated the curved facade by pulling out the northwest corner to emphasize the 5,000-square-foot Student Learning Commons at the entrance and by introducing a unique faceted geometry that mimics the appearance of dominoes falling in a line. “The new Business Innovation Hub at the Isenberg School of Management is conceived as an extension of both the building and the campus mall,” Bjarke Ingels explained. “The linear structure is bent to form a full loop framing an internal courtyard for the life of the students. The facade is pulled away in a domino effect to create a generous invitation from the Haigis Mall to the Learning Commons. The mall and the courtyard — inside and outside form a forum for the students, the faculty and the profession to meet, mingle and mix society and academia.” The new extension offers facilities for more than 150 staff and 5,000 students in undergraduate, master’s and PhD programs. In contrast to the dark copper facade, which will develop a natural patina over time, the interior is bright and spacious with natural light streaming in from the outdoors and the inner courtyard. The flexible interior spaces are designed to facilitate collaboration with student interactions and chance encounters in mind. + BIG + Goody Clancy Architects Photography by Max Touhey and Laurian Ghinitoiu via BIG

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Dramatic domino-effect facade wraps BIG-designed business school

Dangerous jellyfish have invaded Australian beaches

January 14, 2019 by  
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Bluebottle jellyfish have invaded Australia’s Gold and Sunshine Coasts. This past weekend, the jellyfish (also known as the Portuguese man-of-war) stung more than 5,000 people, and many of the victims weren’t even in the water. Just walking on one bluebottle jellyfish on the beach can bring intense pain, and because of strong north-easterly swell conditions, the jellyfish have been pushed to shore. Meanwhile, the deadly Irukandji jellyfish are bombarding the eastern coasts because of warming waters. “I have never seen anything like this — ever. Not everyone reacts the same way, but there have been very serious reactions,” said Jeremy Sturges, Surf Life Saving duty officer. The bluebottle jellyfish species travels in groups. Lifeguards have now closed several beaches, because during the month of December and the first week of January, more than 22,000 people have sought treatment for bluebottle jellyfish stings. Related: Invasive longhorned tick could spread disease across the US According to Queensland Ambulance, people that are stung should “pick off the tentacles with a towel or other object, rinse the area with seawater, place the affected area in warm water and, if needed, apply ice packs.” Luckily, there have not been any fatalities as a result of the bluebottle jellyfish stings. But on Australia’s east coast, experts say that deadly Irukandji jellyfish are spreading, and their stings are so severe they can cause brain hemorrhages and an intense feeling of impending doom, a condition known as Irukandji syndrome. These stings are the most concerning, especially near Queensland’s Fraser Island, because the sting rate has been growing steadily as the waters get warmer . This jellyfish likes to live in higher water temperatures and are normally found in the northern tropics. Recently, there have been two confirmed deaths in Australia due to the Irukandji, and the mysterious deaths of three other tourists have also been linked to the jellyfish. If waters continue to warm, the Irukandji will inevitably move farther south. In three years, they could hit the Gold Coast. “In Queensland alone, we put more people in hospital due to Irukandji stings than shark attacks, crocodile attacks and snake bites combined,” said Jamie Seymore, a professor at James Cook University. “This is something that we need to address now. I can see a time when we have to shut major beaches on the Sunshine Coast. It is going to happen.” Via Matador Network and The Guardian Image via GondwanaGirl

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Dangerous jellyfish have invaded Australian beaches

Gardening With Goats

September 11, 2018 by  
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Hiring garden goats was a huge trend a couple years … The post Gardening With Goats appeared first on Earth911.com.

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5 Essential Eco-Tech Ideas To Consider

September 11, 2018 by  
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For many, technology represents our best hope for radically redesigning … The post 5 Essential Eco-Tech Ideas To Consider appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Mice are eating nesting seabirds in the Pacific alive

March 28, 2018 by  
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On the Midway Atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, invasive mice are attacking nesting albatrosses , causing gruesome wounds that bleed profusely and can cause birds to abandon their nests or die. Why would mice do this? Scientists think it may be because they are drinking the birds’ blood. Non-native species cause a majority of seabird extinctions around the world, and mice have become a particularly bad problem on the island since 2015, attacking the birds from behind and causing open wounds on their heads and necks. The Midway Atoll is home to the world’s largest colonies of Black-footed and Laysan albatross. The common house mouse was introduced along with the black rat to the island about 75 years ago. While the rats have been eliminated on the island, mice have thrived without any competition. The mice have learned to sneak up behind the albatross while they nest, taking them by surprise. The mice may be causing these wounds to obtain hydration and sustenance from the birds’ blood. Related: New Zealand just eradicated 200,000 mice from a single island Nesting Albatross are particularly vulnerable because instead of leaving their nest, they refuse to abandon their eggs – so mice can easily attack them. The attacks began two years ago, and have since spread across the entire island. “Albatross did not evolve in contact with mice and they are defenseless against them. Albatrosses’ natural behavior – sitting on their egg for weeks at a time – leaves them particularly vulnerable to this emergent threat. In the first year, birds were killed (eaten alive) and nests abandoned in three areas on the island. The next year, the attacks, deaths, and nest abandonment spread across the entire island and increased exponentially,” said the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). USFWS wants to work to remove the mice – something that was just successfully accomplished in New Zealand – but debate continues on how to best do that. “The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to eradicate all mice from Midway Atoll using the rodenticide Brodifacoum 25D Conservation, a pelleted rodenticide bait intended for conservation purposes for the control or eradication of invasive rodents on islands or vessels.” Via IFLScience Images via USFWS

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Newly discovered Amazon structures change what we know about ancient civilization

March 28, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the University of Exeter have discovered 81 earthworks known as geoglpyhs across 1,200 miles of Amazon Rainforest in Brazil . This evidence, outlined in the journal Nature Communications , indicates that the dense, difficult-to-navigate region was once home to up to ten million people prior to European colonization. “There is a common misconception that the Amazon is an untouched landscape, home to scattered, nomadic communities. This is not the case,” said study researcher Jonas Gregorio de Souza in a statement . “We have found that some populations away from the major rivers are much larger than previously thought, and these people had an impact on the environment which we can still find today.” Although scientists are not sure exactly what purpose the geoglyphs served, they believe that they may have been used for ceremonial purposes. Many of them were discovered in close proximity to the remains of villages, which were consistently inhabited by large groups of people between 1250 AD and 1500 AD. These population centers would also have been populated with a wide variety of ethnic groups speaking different languages across the 1,200 mile range. “Our research shows we need to re-evaluate the history of the Amazon,” explained study researcher Jose Irirte in a statement . “It certainly wasn’t an area populated only near the banks of large rivers , and the people who lived there did change the landscape. “The area we surveyed had a population of at least tens of thousands.” Related: Scientists uncover hidden Mayan city of 10M people in Guatemala Scientists believe that they have discovered only one-third of the geoglyphs and man-made structures within the Amazon, while 95% of the Amazon river valley region remains unexplored. By understanding how the Amazon was settled in the past, we may gain a better sense of how to approach sustainability policy today. “The Amazon is crucial to regulating the Earth’s climate and knowing more about its history will help everyone make informed decisions about how it should be cared for in the future,” said de Souza. + University of Exeter Via IFLScience Images via University of Exeter

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Florida monkeys are excreting an infectious disease fatal to humans

January 11, 2018 by  
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Non-native rhesus macaques in Florida ‘s Silver Springs State Park have tested positive for herpes B, a potentially fatal disease that is spread through bodily fluids and may be transmissible to humans. According to a recent study published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal Emerging Infectious Diseases , about 30 percent of the monkeys tested carried the herpes B virus. In response to this public health threat, Florida state wildlife managers are proposing the removal of the macaques from their adopted habitats. Although there have been no documented cases of macaque-to-human transmission of the herpes B virus , we still do not know enough about the potential risks. Policymakers are taking the threat seriously. “Without management action, the presence and continued expansion of non-native rhesus macaques in Florida can result in serious human health and safety risks including human injury and transmission of disease,” said Thomas Eason, assistant executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, according to the Guardian . Although state officials have not specified exactly how the monkeys would be removed, they have indicated a willingness to fully remove the invasive macaques, creatures native to Asia which have settled in Ocala, Sarasota, and Tallahassee. Related: It’s so cold that frozen iguanas are falling off trees in Florida Of the 50 humans that have known to have contracted the herpes B virus, 21 have died. The high-fatality rate makes extreme precaution necessary. Unsurprisingly, the Florida monkeys are a popular wildlife attraction, though many who see them may not be aware of the risks of close contact. “Human visitors to the park are most likely to be exposed,” wrote the study’s authors, “through contact with saliva from macaque bites and scratches or from contact with virus shed through urine and feces.” While scientists work to uncover whether the virus is transmissible to humans, policymakers are making plans to control the invasive species. In the meantime, it’s probably best to keep your distance from Florida macaques. Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos and Flickr

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Florida monkeys are excreting an infectious disease fatal to humans

Hundreds of organisms hitch a ride from Japan to Oregon on waves of plastic trash

September 29, 2017 by  
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Japanese marine animals have hitched a ride all the way to the United States with unlikely help from plastic garbage. The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami dumped debris into the ocean , and now, several years later, scientists have recorded almost 300 marine animal species showing up in Hawaii and North America, riding on hundreds of crates, buoys, vessels, and trash. Scientists didn’t think organisms passively drifted on debris across the ocean, according to marine scientist John Chapman of Oregon State University . He said, “This has turned out to be one of the biggest, unplanned, natural experiments in marine biology , perhaps in history.” You knew plastic trash was polluting the oceans, but you probably didn’t know it was transporting non-native species across them. Neither did many scientists, who were surprised to discover Japanese species landing alive in North America and Hawaii. Researchers didn’t expect organisms to live through the trip across the North Pacific Ocean – and many species have lived four or more years longer than any previous records of organisms living on ocean rafts. Related: Japanese sculpture memorializes 18,000 people dead or missing after the 2011 earthquake In the beginning, wood released in the natural disasters showed up in Oregon with shipworms inside, but after 2014, wood landings plummeted, and researchers realized non-biodegradable trash like plastic, styrofoam, and fiberglass was allowing non-native species to travel and survive for so long. So far, scientists haven’t found any Japanese species established on the West Coast, but Chapman said that can take years to happen. He said, “One thing this event has taught us is that some of these organisms can be extraordinarily resilient…It would not surprise me if there were species from Japan that are out there living along the Oregon coast. In fact, it would surprise me if there weren’t.” Oregon State University marine scientist Jessica Miller said out of the species that arrived in 2017, almost 20 percent were capable of reproducing. James Carlton of Williams College , who was the lead author on a study published today in Science , said, “These vast quantities of non-biodegradable debris, potentially acting as novel ocean transport vectors, are of increasing concern given the vast economic cost and environmental impacts documented from the proliferation of marine invasive species around the world.” Chapman and Miller were co-authors of the study, along with six other scientists from institutions around the United States. Via Oregon State University Images via Oregon State University on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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This beautiful but toxic weed could make you go blind

July 26, 2017 by  
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Be careful before you pick that pretty wildflower . Giant hogweed, which can grow up to twenty-feet-tall and produce attractive white flowers, is a beautiful but dangerous plant. The plant produces a clear sap capable of causing third-degree burns or even blindness in humans who touch it. Native to the Caucasus in Central Asia , giant hogweed has become a wide-ranging invasive species in the Northern United States, Southern Canada, and Western Europe. Those who encounter the toxic flora are advised to admire from a distance. Like Japanese knotweed and other invasive, noxious plant species, giant hogweed was first introduced to the United Kingdom and other countries as an ornamental plant. Its white flowers reveal its familial origins as a member of the carrot family, like its similar though diminutive and less-toxic relative known as Queen Anne’s Lace. Hogweed flowers can be up to two feet across and are popular among pollinators. Related: Could Lasers Be The New Way to Kill Weeds? Hogweed’s curse is its phototoxic sap, which causes skin, eyes or whatever it touches to become highly sensitive to UV light. If the affected skin is exposed to sunlight, it can quickly become red and irritated. Affected areas will rapidly deteriorate if exposure is continued and the sap is not washed off. In North America, giant hogweed usually blooms in July. If possible, it is important to eliminate the plants before they flower and reproduce. “You want to have it eradicated before it does go to seed,” said Barbara Ashey, Town Administrator for Northport, Maine . “There are thousands of these seeds.” On the bright side, pigs and cows seem able to consume giant hogweed without harm and may be used as a biocontrol solution in the fight against the invasive species . Via Bangor Daily News/WGME Images via Nature Photos/Flickr and debs-eye/Flickr

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