Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Saturday, 28 June 2014

The welfare of feral cats

Slater, M. R. (2007). The welfare of feral cats. In The welfare of cats (pp. 141-175). Springer Netherlands.

The  control of feral cats is a controversial issue in many countries, due to the differences in the way humans perceive cats in general and feral cats in particular. As cats spread into a wide rage of habitats, there are concerns regarding the best methods to control their numbers. Predation on wildlife, public health and zoonotic diseases, as well as the welfare of the cats themselves, are issues that drive the need to control the feral cat population. Killing the cats, or letting nature take its course, were the usual historical approaches but in recent years non-lethal methods have been espoused as being more humane and effective. Effors have been made to improve the welfare of feral cat populations through sterilization, the control of infectious disease and ensuring that they are adequately cared for. A combination of approaches are necessary to decrease feral cat numbers, to prevent influx of owned cats into the populations, and to manage established feral cat colonies successfully.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Toxoplasmosis risk to sea-otters

Seventeen percent of sea otters die from brain disease caused by a single-cell deadly parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. For eons, this parasite has moved mostly without notice among animals, including humans, on land. But now, it is migrating to the sea, where it is infecting mammals, including sea otters, whose immune systems are unprepared for the assault.

Toxoplasmosis and sea otters

Parasite Shed in Cat Feces Kills Sea Otters

Conrad, P. (2007). Parasite Shed in Cat Feces Kills Sea Otters. Healthy Marine Ecosystems • November 2006

Endangered sea otters in California have been found to suffer lethal infections from a parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, shed in cat feces. These infections may be a factor contributing to the marine mammal’s slow recovery from near extinction.

Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite that attacks an otter’s brain tissue, causing lesions, depression, convulsions and death.

Because cats are the only animals known to shed Toxoplasma gondii, runoff must be carrying cat feces and the parasite to the coast. From there, it is not clear how otters are getting sick. One possibility is that they are ingesting infected mussels or other filter-feeding bivalves, which accumulate pathogens in their tissues.

The parasite is usually harmless to healthy people. The exception is pregnant women, whose fetuses can develop toxoplasmosis, hence the advice for pregnant women to avoid cleaning cat litter boxes.

Once numbering more than 300,000, southern sea otters were hunted to near extinction in the 19th century for their lush pelts. They were granted protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1977, when their numbers were about 1,789. In the mid-1990s, their recovery staggered and concerns were raised about the animal’s long-term prospects. More recently their numbers seem to be rising.

Observers tallied a total of 2,692 California sea otters for the 2006 spring survey, compared with 2,100 in 2002 and 2,377 in 1995.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Suppression of Fertility in Pre‐pubertal Dogs and Cats.

Schäfer‐Somi, S., Kaya, D., Gültiken, N., & Aslan, S. (2014). Suppression of Fertility in Pre‐pubertal Dogs and Cats. Reproduction in Domestic Animals, 49(s2), 21-27.

Pre-pubertal gonadectomy in dogs and cats is still controversially discussed because some consequences cause health problems. Nevertheless, postponement of puberty, that is, prevention of an increase in sexual hormones and thereby prevention of their manifold effects, is of major importance, not only in controlling overpopulation but also to preserve the genetic base for future breeding stock and pets. Therefore, alternatives for surgical suppression of fertility in pre-pubertal animals were critically reviewed. As a promising alternative, the slow-release GnRH agonist deslorelin and other GnRH analogues have been investigated. In female dogs and cats, puberty could be significantly postponed without initial flare-up effect and without disturbance of body development. First trials to delay puberty in female and male cats by application of a 4.7-mg deslorelin implant 24 h after birth so far are promising. In female dogs, a previous investigation showed that when the implant was inserted at the age of 4 months, the initial flare-up effect was prevented. Body development was normal in the studies reviewed here, and with the 9.4-mg implant, puberty was significantly delayed until the age of 21 months or older. In one study, bitches either received a 4.7- or a 9.4-mg implant at the age of 4 months and the epiphyses were mostly closed before the time of first oestrus. Using a 4.7-mg deslorelin implant in pre-pubertal male dogs significantly postponed puberty, and age at puberty was >2 years when a 9.4-mg implant was used. However, further investigations are required, especially concerning the effect of different GnRH agonist dosages and resorption rates on the duration of postponement of puberty as well as long-term effects in both dogs and cats.

Suppression of Fertility in Adult Cats

Goericke‐Pesch, S., Wehrend, A., & Georgiev, P. (2014). Suppression of Fertility in Adult Cats. Reproduction in Domestic Animals, 49(s2), 33-40.

Cats are animals with highly efficient reproduction, clearly pointing to a need for suppression of fertility. Although surgical contraception is highly effective, it is not always the method of choice. This is predominantly because it is cost-intensive, time-consuming and irreversible, with the latter being of major importance for cat breeders. This article reviews the use of progestins, scleroting agents, immunocontraception, melatonin, GnRH antagonists and finally, GnRH agonists, in adult male and female cats in detail, according to the present state of the art. By now, various scientific and clinical options are available for the suppression of fertility in adult cats and the decision as to which should be chosen – independent of the legal registration of any state – depends on different facts: (i) feral or privately owned animal? (ii) temporary or permanent suppression of fertility wanted/needed? (iii) sex of the animal? New effective and available methods for hormonal contraception include melatonin implants for short-term post ponement of oestrus in adult queens and slow-release GnRH-agonist implants containing deslorelin (Suprelorin®) for short- and long-term contraception in male and female companion and breeding cats.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Vulture decline and stray dogs' rise in India

The vulture population in India has gone from 40 million to 60,000 largely due to poisoning, often by the drug diclofenac. Carrion-consuming birds are now on the critically endangered list of BirdLife International, a global network of conservation groups. The result is an abundance of carcasses left untouched by vultures bringing in a whole host of new scavengers in ever increasing numbers, such as rats, stray dogs etc.. The new scavengers are less effective in clearing up the carcasses or removing disease from them in comparison to vultures. There is an increased risk of diseases such as tuberculosis, anthrax and foot-and-mouth disease as flesh is left on the bone when dogs scavenge from cows. Packs of dogs are now reported to be 'hunting' humans as well as wildlife and bring with them the threat of rabies. The increase in the number of feral dogs has seen India's human infection rate with rabies reach a world record level, over 20,000 deaths per year. Such is the problem; a plan to sterilize 8 million dogs over a decade has been introduced.
The Parsis of India who practice Zoroastrianism rely on vultures to dispose of their dead as their faith prevents them from burying, burning or submerging them due to fears over hygiene. Corpses are seen in the faith as impure so it contradicts their faith to allow anything that would defile the elements to enter into them. Bodies are laid out in the open for the vultures to consume and this can usually be done (to the bone) in around an hour by a large group of vultures. The practice has existed for centuries. Plummeting vulture populations mean half consumed bodies now lie for days leading to further risk of infection in the neighbouring communities, and ultimately encouraging a taste for human flesh amongst the ever increasing feral dog population. Attacks on humans in Bikaner in western Rajasthan state have rocketed with 1,000 dogs roaming the area. The farming community who have long been unaccustomed to dealing with carcasses have not been quick to adapt and this has exacerbated the problem. Lacking money and resources not to mention experience, they have been unable to dispose of bodies quickly and efficiently. Water contamination is also a worry for authorities as rotting meat degrades and enters the water table. In a country where water is a scarce and valued resource this has potentially dire consequences. 

Vulture decline costs in India

Markandya, A., T. Taylor, A. Longo, M.N. Murty, S. Murty & K. Dhavala. 2008. Counting the cost of vulture decline—An appraisal of the human health and other benefits of vultures in India. Ecological Economics, 67 (2): 194–204

Widespread use of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) diclofenac to treat livestock has resulted in dramatic declines in the populations of vultures across India. This has become an issue of considerable concern as vultures are a keystone species and their decline has a range of socio-economic, as well as cultural and biodiversity impacts. In this paper, we review these impacts and estimate in detail the economic cost of one of them: the human health impacts of the vulture decline. Livestock carcasses provide the main food supply for vultures, and are also eaten by dogs. Dogs are the main source of rabies in humans in India, and their populations have increased substantially in parallel with the vulture decline. The potential human health impact of rabies associated with the vulture decline is found to be significant. This, and a wide range of other impacts suggest that significant resources should be put into (1) testing of pharmaceutical products to ensure that similar situations are not repeated, (2) helping vulture populations to recover through the use of alternative drugs to diclofenac that are of low toxicity to vultures, and (3) through conservation breeding programmes.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Range of feral cats in NZ forest

Fitzgerald, B. M., & Karl, B. J. (1986). Home range of feral house cats (Felis catus L.) in forest of the Orongorongo Valley, Wellington, New Zealand. New Zealand journal of ecology, 9, 71-82.

The home ranges of four male and five female feral house cats (Felis catus) were studied by radiotelemetry. In the narrow, steep-sided valley the home ranges of cats were linear, with an average length of 6.34 km for males and 3.83 km for females; only large males crossed the river. Females with kittens had small home ranges of 0.84 to 2.0 km. Home ranges of animals of the same sex, including breeding females, overlapped considerably. The social organisation of feral cats at low density differs little from that of higher-density freeranging domestic cats

Feeding cats deplates native fauna

Hawkins, C.C., W.E. Grant & M.T. Longnecker. 1999. Effect of subsidized house cats on California birds and rodents. Transactions of the Western Section of The Wildlife Society, 35: 29-33

Cat advocates are establishing feeding stations in public parks, often claiming that well-fed cats pose little threat to wildlife. This claim was tested east of San Francisco, California, in a cat area and a no-cat area. In 1995, more harvest mice were trapped in the no-cat area. In 1996, more harvest mice (Reithrodontomys megalotis) and deer mice (Peromyscus sp.) were trapped in the no-cat area, and more house mice were trapped in the cat area. The numbers of trapped California meadow voles (Microtus californicus) were not different between the areas in either year. More native rodents were trapped in the no-cat area. Birds present during the breeding season were seen more often in the no-cat area. California quail (Callipepla californicus) and California thrashers (Toxostoma redivivum) were present in the no-cat area and absent in the cat area. Cats at artificially high densities, sustained by supplementary feeding, reduced the abundance or native rodent and bird populations, changed the rodent species composition, and may have facilitated the expansion of the house mouse into new areas. Thus we recommend that the feeding of cats in parks should be strictly prohibited. 

Friday, 20 June 2014

The cats of Herekopare

Fitzgerald, B. M., & Veitch, C. R. (1985). The cats of Herekopare Island, New Zealand; their history, ecology and affects on birdlife. New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 12(3), 319-330.

House cats (Felis catus) were introduced to Herekopare Island, a mammal-free island of about 28 ha near Stewart Island, in about 1925. In winter 1970, the total population of 33 cats (20 males, 13 females) — a density of 1.2 cats/ha — was killed, mainly by trapping. Examination of stomach contents and scats showed that the cats fed mainly on petrels, supplemented by land birds and insects. The bird life of Herekopare Island was studied by H. Guthrie-Smith in 1911, L. E. Richdale in the early 1940s, and by New Zealand Wildlife Service staff in 1968 and 1970. Their accounts indicate that a vast breeding population of diving petrels and thousands of broad-billed prions were probably exterminated by the cats, though fairy prions and sooty shearwaters persisted. Among land birds, the yellow-crowned parakeet, robin, fernbird, brown creeper, Stewart Island snipe, and banded rail were exterminated. Two other species, the red-crowned parakeet and tomtit, probably disappeared but subsequently recolonised the island. Although cats had the greatest influence on the bird life over this period, wekas, which were present for some years, together with changes in the vegetation, may have affected some bird populations.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Feral cat eradication from Pacific atolls

Rauzon, M. J., Everett, W. T., Boyle, D., Bell, L., & Gilardi, J. (2008).Eradication of feral cats at Wake Atoll. National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Feral cats (Felis catus) were introduced at Wake Atoll, (19°18' N, 166° 38' E) in the 1960s as pets and probably to control rats on this U.S. military base in the North Pacific Ocean. After base-downsizing in the 1970s, feral cats became a noticeable problem. Hunting and trapping to control their numbers has been sporadic over time but began seriously in 1996 and continued through 2002, during which time about 200 cats were removed. The eradication effort began in July 2003 and by January 2004 another 170 cats had been removed. During visits from late 2004 to 2007, two feral cats were seen but no cat reproduction was detected.

Bird populations responded quickly to the release of predation: Masked Boobies (Sula dactylatra) increased from three breeding pairs in 1996 to 25 by 2007; the Brown Booby (S. leucogaster) population rose from 73 nests in 1996 to 162 in 2003. Wedgetailed Shearwaters (Puffinus pacificus) recolonized around 1998 and populations expanded to form at least three colonies with individuals in numerous locations around the atoll. Gray-backed Terns (Onychoprion lunata), not recorded breeding on the atoll since the 1980s, began nesting in two new sites, and Great Frigatebirds (Fregata minor), which had not been recorded nesting since the 1960s, renewed reproductive efforts in 2005. Due to feral cat removal and wet weather, Pacific Rats (R. exulans) greatly increased. Current rodent control effort was less effective than it should be because hermit crabs (Coenobita perlata) ate the bait before the rats did. A bait station model design to exclude crabs was designed and tested. The island managers continued to control rats at Wake around housing areas, and rodent populations have declined since their peak following cat eradication.

On Aug. 31, 2006, Wake Island was struck by Super Typhoon Ioke. Winds over 130 mph knots broke many trees and damaged the island infrastructure but the island was soon functioning again. In June 2007, we returned and found a few cats survived. They appear to be the same cats known to remain at the end of our eradication, are likely the same sex since no kittens have been detected since then.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Space use and intraguild interactions among three opportunistic predators

Krauze-Gryz, D., Gryz, J. B., Goszczyński, J., Chylarecki, P., & Zmihorski, M. (2012). The good, the bad, and the ugly: space use and intraguild interactions among three opportunistic predators—cat (Felis catus), dog (Canis lupus familiaris), and red fox (Vulpes vulpes)—under human pressure. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 90(12), 1402-1413.

Examples of interspecific interactions have been described for mammalian predators, but less is known regarding disturbances of native predator guilds by domestic predators. We investigated intraguild interactions among three opportunistic predators (dog (Canis lupus familiaris L., 1758), cat (Felis catus L., 1758), and red fox (Vulpes vulpes (L., 1758)) co-occurring in the extensive farmlands of central Poland. Their space use was monitored using tracking stations distributed in field and forest plots along a distance gradient from buildings and analyzed using the occupancy-modeling framework. For all three species occupancy decreased with increased distance from buildings, although for the fox the pattern was relatively weak. The occurrence of cats at the stations was higher in the forest than in the field; for fox and dog, there was a strong variation between study plots. For all three predators, the probability of detection was higher during the night than during the day and varied between the seasons; however, the exact patterns were species-specific. The presence of one predator was also linked to the presence of the other two species—generally, a given species was detected more frequently in the absence of the other two species. We recorded spatiotemporal niche segregation among the three species. We conclude that interspecific antagonistic interactions and differences in foraging ecology are the main drivers shaping co-occurrence of the three species in the agriculture landscape.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Age of neutering domestic cats in W Australia

Johnson, J., & Calver, M. C. (2014). Prevalence of desexed cats in relation to age in a convenience sample of Western Australian cats. Australian Veterinary Journal, 92(6), 226-227.

Desexing percentages for pet cats in Australia are nearly 95%, but the high numbers of unwanted kittens surrendered to animal shelters suggest that many pet cats breed before the owners consider desexing, or that the mothers of many of these kittens are stray or feral.

Methods and Results
A convenience sample of Western Australian pet cats of known age presented for microchipping (584 in 2012 and 316 in 2013) found that younger cats were less likely to be desexed. In 2012, 93.2% of cats aged ≥2 years were desexed compared with 49.4% of cats <2 years old, with the data for 2013 being 97.4% and 28%, respectively.

If these results are reflected nationally, desexing of prepubescent cats up to 4 months old could significantly reduce the numbers of unwanted kittens born to pet cats.

Can cat predation help competitors coexist in seabird communities?

Pontier, D., Fouchet, D., & Bried, J. (2010). Can cat predation help competitors coexist in seabird communities?. Journal of theoretical biology, 262(1), 90-96.

On oceanic islands, nest site availability can be an important factor regulating seabird population dynamics. The potential for birds to secure a nest to reproduce can be an important component of their life histories. The dates at which different seabird species arrive at colonies to breed will have important consequences for their relative chances of success. Early arrival on the island allows birds to obtain nests more easily and have higher reproductive success. However, the presence of an introduced predator may reverse this situation. For instance, in the sub-Antarctic Kerguelen archipelago, early arriving birds suffer heavy predation from introduced cats. Cats progressively switch from seabirds to rabbits, since the local rabbit population starts to peak after early arriving seabird species have already returned to the colony. When late-arriving birds arrive, cat predation pressure on seabirds is thus weaker. In this paper, we investigate the assumption that the advantage of early nest monopolization conferred to early arriving birds may be counterbalanced by the cost resulting from predation. We develop a mathematical model representing a simplified situation in which two insular seabird species differ only in their arrival date at the colony site and compete for nesting sites. We conclude that predation may ensure the coexistence of the two bird species or favor the late-arriving species, but only when seasonal variations in predation pressure are large. Interestingly, we conclude that arriving early is only favorable until a given level where high reproductive success no longer compensates for the long exposure to strong predation pressure. Our work suggests that predation can help to maintain the balance between species of different phenologies.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

An integrated assessment of the impact of wild dogs in Australia

Wicks, S., Mazur, K., Please, P., Ecker, S., & Buetre, B. (2014). An integrated assessment of the impact of wild dogs in Australia. ABARES Research report no. 14.4, Canberra.

Wild dogs are a significant pest animal in Australia. They are widespread in Queensland, the Northern Territory and much of Western Australia and South Australia, as well as being present in parts of New South Wales and Victoria. Wild dogs are known to have a significant detrimental effect on the agricultural sector (market impacts), but they also cause non-market impacts in terms of adverse social impacts and environmental damage. These impacts are described in more detail below.


Monday, 9 June 2014

Feral cats are wiping out Australian mammals

The Action Plan for Australian Mammals, to be released next week, confirms that predation by feral cats are the major cause of Australia's mammal decline, ranking first on the 'threat score'.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2643439/Feral-cats-threatening-Australian-mammals.html#ixzz347wPF24T
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Control of feral cats for nature conservation (parts I to IV)

Risbey, D. A., Calver, M., & Short, J. (1997). Control of feral cats for nature conservation. I. Field tests of four baiting methods. Wildlife Research, 24(3), 319-326.

Four methods of baiting were evaluated on a radio-collared population of feral cats on Heirisson Prong, Shark Bay, Western Australia. Dried-meat baits, baiting rabbits to kill cats through secondary poisoning, a fishmeal-based bait and a bait coated in the flavour enhancer Digest were tested. All proved to be ineffective for controlling feral cats. Future research should explore baits more ‘natural’ in appearance and the effect of visual lures, and possibly bait over a larger area to increase the number of cats exposed to baits.

Short, J., Turner, B., Risbey, D. A., & Carnamah, R. (1997). Control of feral cats for nature conservation. II. Population reduction by poisoning. Wildlife Research, 24(6), 703-714.

A feral cat population was substantially reduced by poisoning at a semi-arid site in Western Australia. The control programme was designed to protect two species of endangered native mammals that had recently been reintroduced to the site. Feral cats were poisoned with carcasses of laboratory mice, each impregnated with 4.5 mg of sodium monofluoroacetate (1080). Baits were placed at 100-m intervals along the track system each night for four consecutive nights. Kill rates were assessed by monitoring survival of radio- collared cats and by spotlight counts of cats before and after baiting. All radio-collared cats were killed and there was a 74% reduction in spotlight counts of cats after baiting. Bait removal varied with the abundance of rabbits, the primary prey item for cats in this area. Effectiveness of control operations against feral cats is maximised by baiting at times of low prey abundance. Monitoring the changing abundance of the primary prey species provides important information for timing control operations against feral cats.

Short, J., Turner, B., & Risbey, D. (2003). Control of feral cats for nature conservation. III. Trapping. Wildlife Research, 29(5), 475-487.

We present comparative success of various trapping methods trialed during control of feral cats at a site for the reintroduction of threatened mammals at Shark Bay, Western Australia. Our results come from 31 703 trap-nights that caught 263 cats (an average of 0.83 per 100 trap-nights). Cats differed markedly in their vulnerability to trapping depending on whether they primarily scavenged at rubbish tips or around human settlement or whether they hunted for their food in the bush. Cage traps were an effective means of controlling the former, with 9.4 cats captured per 100 trap-nights. Scavenging cats included a higher proportion of sub-adults and kittens and lower proportion of adult males than hunting cats. Variation between years in capture success for hunting cats was largely explained by the abundance of rabbits relative to that of cats and whether the rabbit population was increasing or decreasing. These factors accounted for a nine-fold difference in trap success. The number of cats caught in any particular trapping session could be explained by location (rubbish tip or town versus bush), trapping effort (typically greater effort yielded higher captures), abundance of cats at the site (captures were highest when cats were abundant), and season (captures were highest in the first half of the year when the young of the year were becoming independent). Concealed foot-hold traps, in a range of possible sets, provided effective methods for capturing cats that hunt, except where capture of non-target species was a critical limiting factor. Cage traps caught cats at a comparable rate to foot-hold traps for standard sets, but caught a significantly different cohort. Concealed foot-hold traps caught a higher percentage of adult cats, particularly males, than did cage traps. Mouse carcases and rabbit pieces were significantly more effective as lures when rabbits (the major food of cats at the site) were at low densities, whereas the success of commercial scent lures was unrelated to food availability. Significantly more cats than expected were caught using food as an attractant at times of food shortage (late summer, autumn and early winter) for both scavenging and hunting cats. In contrast, scent lures caught significantly more cats than expected in spring and summer when cats were defending access to mates and/or territory. Hence, no single trap type, trap set, or lure provided unequivocally superior performance over others. Control is likely to be best achieved by a variety of trapping methods and lure types used in combination, supplementing well timed poisoning efforts. Trap success is likely to be maximised by trapping at times when the dominant prey of cats are scarce relative to the number of cats and are decreasing in abundance.

Short, J., & Turner, B. (2005). Control of feral cats for nature conservation. IV. Population dynamics and morphological attributes of feral cats at Shark Bay, Western Australia. Wildlife Research, 32(6), 489-501.

The dynamics of feral cats (Felis catus) were assessed at Shark Bay at two adjoining sites subject to differing intensities of predator control. The Heirisson Prong conservation reserve (12 km2) was fenced to exclude predators and was subject to intensive control actions, while a portion of the adjoining Carrarang pastoral lease (60 km2) was subject to a lesser level of control. Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) were largely absent at both sites owing to effective control. Densities of cats were highly variable over time, showing strong annual fluctuations over 14 years of records Three independent estimates of peak density were made, varying between 1.5 and 2.8 km-2. Rate of increase was assessed as 0.98 on the pastoral lease and 0.99 on the conservation reserve (to give an approximate doubling of the population every 8.5 months). A logistic model, with K = 1.5 km-2 and r of 0.98, gave a maximum sustained yield of 0.37 cats km-2 year-1 and a harvest rate of >0.6 cats km-2 year-1 for their elimination in 5 years or less (for K = 2.8 km-2  these values increase to 0.69 and >1.05 km-2 year-1 respectively). Harvest outcomes at both sites were consistent with these models. However, the effort required to maintain a given offtake rate increased 6-fold at low cat densities and offtake by trapping as a function of cat density took the form of a Type 3 functional response. The functional response for cat trapping (the offtake with constant effort per unit time) overlaid against the curve of cat productivity suggested a stable equilibrium point at low cat densities (0.07–0.13 cats km-2). Hence, trapping effort needed to be greatly intensified at low cat densities and/or augmented by other methods of control to eradicate cats from the closed system of the reserve. The strongly male-biased sex ratio of captures at the barrier fence suggested high levels of reinvasion from beyond the harvested area of the pastoral lease and this made effective control in this open system difficult.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Rabies in Europe: what are the risks?

Cliquet, F., Picard-Meyer, E., & Robardet, E. (2014). Rabies in Europe: what are the risks?. Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy, (0), 1-4.

Rabies remains a serious endemic disease in animal populations in many European countries. Oral vaccination by use of rabies vaccine baits has proved to be durably efficient for controlling and eliminating terrestrial rabies. However, the recurrence of rabies in some countries highlights the fragility of rabies-free country status and the need for continuous surveillance. In Eastern and Southern countries, the rabies control programmes for foxes should be accompanied by stray dog management measures in view of the high populations of strays in certain areas. Alerts of rabies in pets imported from enzootic countries are regularly reported in Europe, threatening the rabies-free status of terrestrial animals. New variants of rabies virus have been recently discovered in autochthonous bats, implying research studies to assess the efficacy of the current vaccines against those strains and the possible crossing of the species barrier in terrestrial mammals. The incidence of the disease in humans is very low, with cases contracted in Europe or in enzootic countries. Sustainable strategies of vaccination programmes in animals and improvement of public awareness, particularly for travelers, regarding rabies risks and legislation for pet movements would render accessible the elimination of rabies in Europe.

Dog bites and rabies in Nigeria

Nwokeukwu, H. (2014, August). Dog bites and public health intervention in a tertiary health institution, South Eastern Nigeria. In The 20th IEA World Congress of Epidemiology (17-21 August 2014, Anchorage, AK). WCE.

Introduction: Human dog-bite injuries are a major public health problem, particularly where there are large populations of free-roaming or street dogs. Dog bites are also the major source of human rabies infections. Since rabies fatality rate is about 100% it is important to look at the dog bites that can lead to it and a way of preventing such occurrence. Objective: To determine cases of dog bites and describe intervention taken after a rabid patient..

Methods: Dog bites cases where collected from immunization records from 2009 to 2013. The cases were then analyzed with excel and Epi –info. Unvariate analysis was carried out. The intervention given by public health team due to a rabid patient that died was described. The team went to the village of the rabid patient and conducted Health Education.

Results: The total numbers of Dog bites since in immunization clinic were 58 cases. Out of these males were 30(52%) and females were 28(48%). The children less than 18years were 31(54%) while the adults were 27(47%). The children 0-5years were 11(19%).However children the males 20(65%) and females 11 (35%) while among the adults the females 17(61%) were more than the males 10(39%)..The greatest number of dog bites 23(40%) was in 2013. The community with rabid patient, only the dog of the chief was immunized.

Conclusion and Recommendation: Recent increase of Dog bites in 2013 calls for urgent intervention. The dogs are not immunized there is need to get all the dogs immunized by their owners and get rid of stray dogs knowing the fatality of rabies.

Human rabies in Morocco

Bennani Mechita, N. (2014). Human rabies cases in Morocco, Period 2003-2012. In The 20th IEA World Congress of Epidemiology (17-21 August 2014, Anchorage, AK). WCE.

Rabies is a zoonotic disease, affecting more than 150 countries and territories, present in all continents except Antarctica. Man is accidentally reached after a rabid animal’s bite, Rabies almost always leads to rapid death.In Morocco, rabies is a notifiable disease. A multisectoral national program against rabies was established in 1986, and its stakeholders are the Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Interior. The objectives of this program is to fight against stray dogs, to reduce rabies in human in a short term and to eliminate it in a long term. The objective of this study is to discribe rubies in human in morocco.

This study was conducted at the Department of Epidemiology and Disease Control, in charge of epidemiological surveillance of the population and programs of disease control.We conducted a retrospective descriptive study concerning all cases of rabies reported to the department of Epidemiology and Disease Control during the period from January 2003 to December 2012

An accumulation of 212 cases of human rabies were notified from 2003 until 2012. The maximum number of cases was observed in 2007 (31 cases).The cases came from all regions of the kingdom, except two regions (Oued Eddahab et Laayoun-Boujdour-Sakia lhamra) with a predominance of cases in rural areas (75.5%).

The most affected age group was from 0 to 15 years (34%), with a predominance of male gender (81.6%).The most frequent vector was the dog (85.4%).The sites for the majority of bites were the upper limb (43.9%).The majority of cases didn’t receive vaccination (67.5%) neither serum therapy (72.6%).The median incubation period was 34 days [21; 58 days], This period was shorter when the bite was localized at the upper limb (p <0.001) or when the case didn’t benefit from serum therapy or vaccination (p <0.001).

 To reduce the incidence of rubies in human, we have to concentrate our activity in the rural area and to educate the population and the professional of health in the interest of the vaccination.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Determining the antiquity of dog origin

Raisor, M. J. (2004). Determining the antiquity of dog origins: canine domestication as a model for the consilience between molecular genetics and archaeology (Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University).

Archaeologists have favored a date of 14,000-15,000 years before present (BP) for canine domestication. However, recent studies of mutations in the mitochondrial DNA sequence by molecular geneticists have implied that dogs were domesticated over 100,000 years ago, which has challenged traditional theory. Geneticists have further hypothesized that dogs originated from wolf ancestors based upon the number of substitutions observed in dog and wolf haplotypes. Although both disciplines provide substantial evidence for their theories, the origin of dog domestication remains controversial. Several areas continue to be debatable. First, both geneticists and archaeologists incorrectly use the term domestication to describe events that clearly can not be proven to under human control. Second, the evolutionary development of canines is viewed by molecular biologists as well as archaeologist to be indicators of domestication without any further exploration of other probable causes. Third, the studies in canine genetics are so complex that most archaeologists have difficulty in providing evidence that would be contradictory to molecular theory. Fourth, both fields of study continually ignore innate behavioral characteristics of wolves that would make domestication highly improbable. Fifth, geneticists rely heavily on data gathered from sequencing of mitochondrial DNA, which has been assumed to maternally inherited. However recent human studies have shown that this assumption has now been proven to be incorrect. And finally, not only are morphological traits of fossilized dogs and wolves so similar that making a taxonomic identification improbable, but also the amount of archaeological remains available are too sparse and fragmented for accurate affiliation. An alternate theory of canine domestication will be proposed utilizing data gathered from the archaeological record and molecular research. I hypothesize that dogs diverged naturally from wolves 100,000 years ago as a result of the natural course of evolution, not human intervention, and had already evolved into a dog prior to being domesticated by humans 14,000-15,000 years ago. Evidence will be presented to clearly show that this hypothesis is a more accurate scenario of canine domestication.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Domestic cat range in an urban environment

Thomas, R. L., Baker, P. J., & Fellowes, M. D. (2014). Ranging characteristics of the domestic cat (Felis catus) in an urban environment. Urban Ecosystems, 1-11.

In many countries, high densities of domestic cats (Felis catus) are found in urban habitats where they have the potential to exert considerable predation pressure on their prey. However, little is known of the ranging behaviour of cats in the UK. Twenty cats in suburban Reading, UK, were fitted with GPS trackers to quantify movement patterns. Cats were monitored during the summer and winter for an average of 6.8 24 h periods per season. Mean daily area ranged (95 % MCP) was 1.94 ha. Including all fixes, mean maximum area ranged was 6.88 ha. These are broadly comparable to those observed in urban areas in other countries. Daily area ranged was not affected by the cat’s sex or the season, but was significantly larger at night than during the day. There was no relationship between area ranged and habitat availability. Taking available habitat into account, cat ranging area contained significantly more garden and other green space than urban habitats. If cats were shown to be negatively affecting prey populations, one mitigation option for consideration in housing developments proposed near important wildlife sites would be to incorporate a ‘buffer zone’ in which cat ownership was not permitted. Absolute maximum daily area ranged by a cat in this study was 33.78 ha. This would correspond to an exclusory limit of approximately 300–400 m to minimise the negative effects of cat predation, but this may need to be larger if cat ranging behaviour is negatively affected by population density.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

The demography of free-roaming dog populations and applications to disease and population control

Morters, M. K., McKinley, T. J., Restif, O., Conlan, A. J. K., Cleaveland, S., Hampson, K.,
H. R , Damriyasa, I M.  & Wood, J. L. N. (2014). The demography of free‐roaming dog populations and applications to disease and population control. Journal of Applied Ecology.

Understanding the demography of domestic dog populations is essential for effective disease control, particularly of canine-mediated rabies. Demographic data are also needed to plan effective population management. However, no study has comprehensively evaluated the contribution of demographic processes (i.e. births, deaths and movement) to variations in dog population size or density, or determined the factors that regulate these processes, including human factors.

We report the results of a three-year cohort study of domestic dogs, which is the first to generate detailed data on the temporal variation of these demographic characteristics. Two communities were monitored at each study site in rabies-endemic areas and where the majority of dogs were free-roaming: Bali, Indonesia and Johannesburg, South Africa. None of the four communities had been engaged in any dog population management interventions by local authorities or animal welfare organizations. All identified dogs in the four communities were monitored individually throughout the study.

We observed either no population growth or a progressive decline in population size during the study period. There was no clear evidence that population size was regulated through environmental resource constraints. Rather, almost all of the identified dogs were owned and fed regularly by their owners, consistent with population size regulated by human demand. Finally, a substantial fraction of the dogs originated from outside the population, entirely through the translocation of dogs by people, rather than from local births. These findings demonstrate that previously reported growth of dog populations is not a general phenomenon, and challenge the widely held view that free-roaming dogs are unowned and form closed populations.

Synthesis and applications. These observations have broad implications for disease and population control. The accessibility of dogs for vaccination and evaluation through owners and the movement of dogs (some of them infected) by people will determine the viable options for disease control strategies. The impact of human factors on population dynamics will also influence the feasibility of annual vaccination campaigns to control rabies and population control through culling or sterilisation. The complex relationship between dogs and people is critically important in the transmission and control of canine-mediated rabies. For effective management, human factors must be considered in the development of disease and population control programmes.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Cost‐effectiveness analisys of fencing vs. pest trapping

Norbury, G., Hutcheon, A., Reardon, J., & Daigneault, A. (2014). Pest fencing or pest trapping: A bio‐economic analysis of cost‐effectiveness. Austral Ecology.

Scofield et al. discredited the utility of pest-exclusion fences for restoring biodiversity partly on the grounds of unquantified costs and benefits. We estimated the discounted costs of mammal exclusion fences, semi-permeable (‘leaky’) fences and trapping, over 50 years and adjusted costs by their observed effectiveness at reducing mammalian predator abundance. We modelled data from two large predator management programmes operated by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. Using typical baseline costs and predator control efficacies (scale 0 to 1), the model predicted that an exclusion fence (efficacy 1.0) is the cheapest and most cost-effective option for areas below about 1 ha, a leaky fence (efficacy 0.9) is most cost-effective for 1–219 ha, and trapping (efficacy 0.6, based on 0.2 traps per hectare and a 1500-m buffer to reduce predator reinvasion) for areas above 219 ha. This ranking was insensitive to adjustments in efficacy, but reducing efficacy of leaky fences to 0.8 or increasing trapping efficacy to 0.7 reduced the cost-effective range of leaky fences by about 90 ha. Reducing trap maintenance costs from $300 to $100 per trap per year (e.g. using long-life lures), or reducing trap buffer widths to 500 m, significantly elevated trapping as the most cost-effective method for areas greater than 11–15 ha. These results were largely consistent with an ecological measure of effectiveness based on observed rates of recovery of two indigenous skink species inside exclusion fences or with trapping. The results support criticisms that exclusion fences are generally not cost-effective, but highlight the value of considering cheaper leaky designs for small- to medium-sized areas. Because this study is based largely on reductions in predator abundance, it has general application to broader biodiversity protection interests, but not to indigenous species that are highly sensitive to predation and only ever adequately protected on the mainland by exclusion fences.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

People's preferences on feral cats management in Hawaii

Cox, L. J. (2014) Identifying people’s most preferred management technique for feral cats in Hawaii. Human Wildlife Interactions 8 (1): 56-66

Feral cats (Felis catus) are abundant in many parts of the world and pose a threat to native wildlife. Human–wildlife conflicts regarding how feral cats should be managed have increased recently. In Hawaii, previous research has revealed that most residents would like to see the feral cat abundance reduced, but opinions differ regarding which techniques are acceptable for achieving this. This paper describes an analytical hierarchy process that combines rankings of decision criteria by Hawaii’s residents with expert knowledge of the costs and benefits associated with 7 techniques (live-capture and adoption, live-capture and lethal injection, live-capture and lethal gunshot, trap-neuter-release [TNR]), lethal traps, predatorproof fence, and sharpshooter) for reducing feral cat abundance. We used a state-wide survey with 1,369 respondents and in-person surveys with 11 wildlife professionals to gather data for the model. Inconsistency values were below 0.1 for data from both the state-wide survey and the survey of wildlife professionals. Sensitivity analysis revealed that the model was not sensitive to changes in the public’s ranking of the decision criteria, because when data were averaged all decision criteria became equally important. The final ranking of the management techniques was dominated by the costs and benefits of each technique. Lethal traps were ranked as the best technique, and TNR was ranked as the worst technique.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Decline in Tasmanian bettong following local incursion of feral cats

Fancourt, B. (2014). Rapid decline in detections of the Tasmanian bettong (Bettongia gaimardi) following local incursion of feral cats (Felis catus).Australian Mammalogy.

An abrupt decline in the number of Tasmanian bettongs (Bettongia gaimardi) was observed as part of a study investigating population declines in the eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus). Seven remote camera surveys were undertaken at a monitoring site between February 2012 and October 2013. An 11% reduction in bettong detections was observed immediately following the first appearance of feral cats (Felis catus; at least three individuals) at the site. Within four months, bettong detections had fallen by 58% and by 100% within six months. No bettongs were detected in subsequent surveys undertaken 10, 12 and 16 months after cats were first observed. Cat predation and toxoplasmosis are discussed as mechanisms possibly responsible for the local disappearance of bettongs from this site, together with implications for the future management and conservation of the species.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Habitat‐specific effectiveness of feral cat control for the conservation of an endemic ground‐nesting bird

Oppel, S., Burns, F., Vickery, J., George, K., Ellick, G., Leo, D., & Hillman, J. C. (2014). Habitat‐specific effectiveness of feral cat control for the conservation of an endemic ground‐nesting bird species. Journal of Applied Ecology

Invasive non-native species are one of the greatest drivers of the loss of biodiversity worldwide. Consequently, removing or controlling invasive predators should generally benefit vulnerable native species. However, especially on islands, where most mammalian predators are introduced, these predators may also prey on other invasive mammals. Removing only apex predators may lead to increases of meso-predators that may in turn increase predation pressure on native wildlife.We examined the benefits of a feral cat Felis catus control programme on nest survival of a critically endangered ground-nesting bird, the St Helena Plover Charadrius sanctaehelenae in two habitat types, harbouring ~30% of the global population of this species. We monitored nest success and the activity of introduced mammals (cats, rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus, rats Rattus rattus and R. norvegicus, and mice Mus musculus) over two years, before and after controlling feral cats. Live trapping removed 56 feral cats from our study areas. In the semi-desert, rabbit and mouse activity increased, but rat activity remained low after feral cat control. In pastures, rat and mouse activity increased after feral cat control, while rabbit activity remained constant.Nest survival of plovers increased more than threefold in the semi-desert, but increased only marginally in pastures. This difference may be due to an increase in rat activity and potentially rat predation following cat control in pastures, whereas no increase in rat activity was observed in the semi-desert.
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