Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Roundup: The Week's Wildlife Links (December 19th, 2014)

Sometimes people ask me what they can do to help make a difference in wildlife conservation. Opportunities are seldom as direct and important as this one: The North Carolina Herpetological Society took out an emergency loan to help the state buy some critical Bog Turtle habitat. It's a small loan and you can make a big difference in helping them pay it back. Please contribute and spread the word!

Maybe you've seen the following video (viewed over three million times!) of one tortoise "helping" another tortoise that was flipped over:

National Geographic talked to me about it and I'm sorry to say I was a bit of a buzzkill with my interpretation.

The National Review commiserates with a Florida homeowner unable to relocate protected Gopher Tortoises because he thinks they will wreck his house.

The carnivores next door. Europe is showing us all how we can share landscapes with big carnivores.

Protecting native wildlife in New Zealand means killing lots and lots of non-native animals.

Harvesting sea snakes in the Gulf of Thailand is big business. No really, 80 tons are harvested each year.

Biologists' clever way to detect animals they can't find...look for their DNA...

All who wander are not lost: big carnivores need room to roam.

New Jersey's six day bear-hunting season just ended and the final tally is: 267 dead Black Bears.

Killing contests like this should not exist. Period. Animals are not just targets.

An adult cougar was spotted in Kentucky for the first time since the Civil War. It was promptly killed. Most reports are overlooking the fact that a kitten was killed on the road in Kentucky in 1997. DNA tests are underway to figure out where the cat came from.

Northern White Rhino in San Diego zoo dies of old age. And that means there are now only five left.

That was a lot of bad news in a are 12 wins for wildlife in 2014.

Arizona's Bighorn Sheep reintroduction is going so well now they're starting to get eaten by cougars.

Did I miss something interesting? Let me know below.


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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Readers Write In: Can You Help Them Figure Out The Identities of These Snakes?

Here are some recent snake identification requests. Can you help these folks out?


My neighbor's cat brought this into her garage today. She killed it because she was afraid it was going to get her cat. The vet said it was an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. After doing some googling, I found your site and hoax page. We are located about 45 miles north of Little Rock in Greenbrier, Arkansas. So, is the vet wrong or are we the lucky first ones to find one of these in Arkansas? 

I really appreciate your help. Your site is very interesting (even for a snake hater) :)

Thank you very much for your time.

Hope J.
Greenbrier, Arkansas

Good morning ….I came across your blog while looking up some questions concerning rattlesnakes….I’ve included a few shots I took recently of a rattlesnake I startled at about 10am in the morning on a cool sunny morning in the Sonoran Desert recently….Sat., November 8th I believe…..anyway….my leashed dog startled the snake on the edge of a mesa at Arcosanti AZ….this area is rocky, but also rather prairie like and brushy…..this is my first rattlesnake sighting and I am 61….I was excited to see such a wonder of nature and grateful the snake was not aggressive….after its initial alarm it no longer rattled and remained posed for the shots I took…..I wonder if you can identify the type of rattlesnake this is?

Jeff H.
Arcosanti, Arizona


I saw this snake (first picture) in the Florida Panther 
National Wildlife Refuge this week while hiking. Two of us nearly stepped on it and the third hiker with us pointed it out after we passed by it. It was coiled up and stayed still while I took a quick photo of it. Being from Maine I had no idea what type snake it was. Saw this one (second picture) beside the road in the Everglades in 2011. Is it an Eastern Diamondback Rattler? Even from 10 feet he was in a bad mood, but I was in an auto so I felt fairly safe.



Readers: What Are These Snakes?

Snake Identification Post Ground Rules

-Guesses are welcome and encouraged. Don't worry if you're not an expert, wrong guesses allow us to talk about how to distinguish between the various species and that's why I run these posts.

-If you can't explain why you think a snake is a particular species, go ahead and just say what you think it is. But otherwise please do let us all know how you identified the animal. If you're wrong, we can explain why. If you're right, this helps everyone learn how to identify snakes, which is the goal of these posts.

-You can safely assume that I know what kind of snake is in the picture, I run these posts because they are outreach opportunities. Please don't send me private e-mails with your guesses, include them below.

-Remember, the person that sent me the picture is probably reading your comments. Although it is frustrating to know that many of these snakes have been killed, these people do want to learn more about them. More snake knowledge will lead to fewer snakes being killed.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Friday Roundup: The Week's Wildlife Links (December 12th, 2014)

Let's get the Eaten Alive by an Anaconda nonsense out of the way. I received a number of interview requests about the show:

Before the show aired, EarthTouch News Network talked to me about five reasons it was unlikely anyone would be eaten by an Anaconda.

And, Slate wrote an article about why trying to get eaten alive by an Anaconda is not educational no matter what happened.

After the show aired, Vox talked with me to recap the show, and they also created the following video, which superimposes my tweets with the pivotal moments of the program (already viewed nearly 600,000 times!)

The Washington Post also talked to me about my impressions of the show.

Several outlets took what I tweeted and featured my thoughts in their articles, like i09, Yahoo TV, and Salon.

A timely article: nature filmmakers need a code of conduct. Hey, remember the Swamp Brothers show on Discovery? One of them is going to prison for smuggling rare snakes.

OK - on to the non-Anaconda related news:

We may be soon facing the next amphibian apocalypse. Here's how to stop it.

Overfishing is wiping out Bluefin Tuna and the USA is cracking down. Meanwhile, Canada is increasing the number of Bluefin Tuna it catches, despite the species likely needing protection as an endangered species. Canada is not done there though, they just opted not to block international trade in 76 endangered species.

Giraffe populations are declining throughout Africa, and it is largely going unnoticed, here and here.

Regarding animals that are even closer to the brink, you can learn more about the Great Indian Bustard (100 left), Vaquita porpoise (97 left), and Hainan Gibbon (25 left).

Here's some good news Europe is making great strides in re-wilding their landscapes.

A scientific paper just came out that showed Electric Eels don't just shock their prey, they use a first shock so that prey items reveal themselves, and then another shock to incapacitate them. Everyone wanted to write about, like here, here, and here.

Are massive squid really the sea monsters of legend?

Is Alabama home to America's Amazon?

Encouraging signs for the world's rarest marsupial: the Potoroo.

And, signs for hope for the world's sea turtles.

Some fascinating salamanders can be found in eastern Georgia.

A baby boom for the world's rarest antelope.

Grizzly bear meanders 2,800 miles through Montana and Idaho. How do we conserve their landscapes?

Lead remains a threat for California Condors.

Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge's first ever alligator harvest includes 20 gators.

On the other hand, these 20 Siamese Crocodile babies are soon to be released into the wild.

'Should you be foolish enough to drop trou and answer the call of nature in the wilderness, you’ll find the beast will “enter your body by the most unspeakable means,” said Carl Franklin, a herpetologist at the University of Texas at Arlington. “And it’ll rip your guts, shred them to pieces.” The death is slow, not to mention embarrassing.'

More Florida Panthers have been
 killed on the roads this year than any previous year. And, a record number of farm animals have been killed too. This might mean that there are more big cats...

Humpback Whales are coming back to the waters around New York City.

Three dead, eight injured after vehicle hits and kills bear in Florida.

Rare Central American iguana is endangered because the taste of females with eggs is preferred.

The International Union for Conservation for Nature keeps track of globally imperiled species, including 993 insects listed as threatened. Here's the breakdown.

Missing the Mastodon - how close were we to sharing our landscapes with the giant beast?

Australia's butt-breathing turtle is now critically endangered.

The Red Knot is now Threatened under the Endangered Species Act of the USA.

A tribute to Ian Player, a pioneering conservationist of rhinos.

Worries emerge about the elephants of South Sudan.

Did I miss something interesting? Let me know below.


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