Monday, January 02, 2006

Birders count cats!

[Fine with me, being a birder and a feral cat advocate, if the information is collected and used properly! Let us know what other beings will be counted in future. ;-)]

Birders asked to count feral cats
Wisconsin State Journal - December 14, 2005

Participants in the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count will be counting more than just birds this year. They will also be counting cats.

The effort is intended to provide information on the number of free-ranging feral cats that may be roaming the state. Such cats have been the subject of considerable controversy this year for the threat they pose to wild birds - and some fear the move may again raise the possibility of making it legal to shoot feral cats.
While the primary purpose of the count is to have birders collect data on the status and distribution of birds in the Western Hemisphere, it isn't unusual for participants to also collect other, related information.

In the past, for example, participants in Wisconsin's count have helped monitor the numbers of crows and blue jays, birds that play a role in the spread of West Nile Virus.

So this year, it's cats.

"We thought that while we have people out there, why not gather some data on this?" said Karen Etter Hale, executive secretary of the Madison Audubon Society. "We have relatively little data on this."

The cat count was suggested by the issues committee of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, a coalition of groups, agencies and individuals working to study and protect birds and their habitats. William Mueller, issues committee chairman for the organization, has put the word out on the Wisconsin Birding Network, a computer bulletin board where birders share sightings.

Mueller suggested participants in the count keep track of the number of cats they see in the area they are assigned to count. In addition, he said, counters are also being asked to provide a rough estimate of the distance cats are seen from houses, barns or farm outbuildings.

"Basically," Mueller said, "we'd just like to get a handle on the number of cats people are seeing, whether more cats turn up, for example, in northern counties."
The proposal has not been without controversy. Some have suggested that the count raises once again the possibility of making it legal to hunt the free-ranging cats - a plan that raised hackles last year when it went before the Conservation Congress, a statewide group that advises the Department of Natural Resources on hunting and outdoor issues.

But Etter Hale said it is likely the data will be used by academics and others studying the difficult issue, not to push for a hunting season on feral cats.
"There is no hidden agenda here," Etter Hale said.

The bird count, in its 106th year nationwide, begins today and runs through Jan. 5. About 50,000 people participate nationwide.

Audubon's 106th Bird Count ends January 5, 2006



Ivyland, Pennsylvania, October 31, 2005 – From December 14, 2005 to January 5, 2006, the National Audubon Society’s longest-running wintertime tradition, the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), will take place throughout the Americas. During the 106th CBC, approximately 55,000 volunteers of all skill levels are expected to take part in this census of birds.

“Having fun while birding can identify important results that help shape the direction of bird conservation,” says Geoff LeBaron, National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count director. “Audubon and our partners at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and the Boreal Species Initiative are analyzing data from the overall CBC database, and using the results they find to develop Audubon’s ‘State of the Birds’ report. These important results will be reflected in 2006 in our ‘State of the Birds’ waterbirds report, and inform the Audubon WatchList, which is used to prioritize Audubon's bird conservation activities.”

CBC compilers enter their count data via Audubon's website at or through Bird Studies Canada's homepage at, where the 106th Count results will be viewable in near real-time. Explore this information for the winter of 2005-2006 or visit a count from the past. See if and how the state of your local birds has changed during the last 25...50...or 100 years.

AKC launches vet resource network

[Animal advocates ~ inform yourself about the affiliations, positions, motivations, and actions of animal groups so you may best interpret news, information and resources!]

From JAVMA News - December 15, 2005

AKC launches resource network for veterinarians

The American Kennel Club's Veterinary Outreach Program has launched the AKC Veterinary Network to offer resources to veterinary clinics across the country.

The network provides veterinarians and their clients with access to a free library of AKC educational materials about responsible dog ownership, selecting the appropriate breed for a family, responsible breeding practices, and AKC programs such as the Canine Good Citizen Program.

"The Veterinary Outreach Program was designed to connect the American Kennel Club more closely with the veterinary community," said Debra Bonnefond, director of the program. "We are pleased to provide veterinary offices with valuable AKC materials that will help vets and their clients improve the well-being of our canine companions."

The goal of the outreach program is to assist the veterinary community by providing up-to-date information about purebred dogs and canine health research. The AKC achieves this goal in a variety of ways—including awarding approximately $200,000 annually in scholarships to veterinary and veterinary technician students, hosting and presenting seminars to veterinary students at their schools, attending veterinary conferences with an outreach booth, and sharing information through the outreach program's Web site at

Copyright © 2005 by the American Veterinary Medical Association

Hurricane disaster summary ~ animals & vets

From JAVMA News - January 1, 2006

Hurricane estimates
Summarizng a disaster, by the numbers

Hurricane season took a toll on animals and veterinarians and millions of chickens—as well as many veterinarians.

Estimates of damages, displacements, and deaths continue to change. But rough figures from veterinary medical associations, government officials, and other groups paint a picture of the disaster in retrospect.

Veterinarian victims

Bland O'Connor, executive director of the Louisiana VMA, said Katrina initially closed almost all the clinics in hard-hit areas of the state—affecting about 120 practices and 250 veterinarians.

"For a week or two weeks, or maybe even longer, we had that many veterinarians who were out of service," he said.

As of Nov. 28, 19 clinics were still not operational. Yet, most of the 30 veterinarians with those practices were working elsewhere in the region. O'Connor said few veterinarians left Louisiana permanently.

Nancy Christiansen, administrative secretary of the Mississippi VMA, said most of the veterinarians in that state were also staying.

Dozens of Mississippi veterinarians reported damage to their clinics and homes. About 5 feet of water flooded one clinic, and another was underwater. Trees crashed into some buildings, and other buildings lost roofs.

Elbert C. Hutchins, executive director of the Texas VMA, said Rita caused major damage to two clinics in that state.

"We had a large number of doctors in Texas who had damage of one degree or another to their clinics and/or homes and automobiles," he said. "However, we were extremely fortunate that the damage was primarily limited to roof damage, downed trees, broken windows, etc."

Dr. Charles F. Franz, executive director of the Alabama VMA, said one clinic in the state suffered major hurricane damage.

Lost and found

Despite the destruction, veterinarians and other volunteers rescued, treated, and sheltered thousands of pets and hundreds of horses that fell victim to the storms.

At least 5,000 animals went through Lamar-Dixon Equine Exposition Center in Gonzales, La., and roughly 2,000 animals went through a shelter in Hattiesburg, Miss., according to state officials and the Humane Society of the United States.

The AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams treated animals at these and other locations. Members of VMAT-1 and VMAT-5 worked out of the exposition center. In Mississippi, VMAT-2 tended to 1,600 animals from Sept. 2-17. Also in Mississippi, VMAT-3 handled about 2,800 animals from Aug. 31-Sept. 29. and partner organizations listed more than 17,000 found animals in October through the online Animal Emergency Response Network. The Web site also fielded 22,000 rescue requests in October.

Many evacuees dropped their pets at shelters temporarily. After Katrina, Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine alone was caring for more than a thousand animal evacuees at peak population.

Dr. Brigid Elchos, Mississippi's state public health veterinarian, said no one can accurately estimate the total number of companion animals lost to death or displacement. Mississippi doesn't require licensing, for example, and shelters there treated a sizable population of stray animals along with other hurricane victims.

"There's no beginning number," she said. "If it's a production animal, you have an idea of how many are on a farm."

Agriculture assessment

According to Sept. 19 estimates from the Department of Agriculture, winds and flooding from Katrina killed 10,000 cattle worth $8 million in Louisiana. Mississippi lost 6 million chickens worth about $14 million, and Alabama lost 200,000 chickens worth about $500,000. In Louisiana and Mississippi, producers lost $3 million in dumped milk. In Louisiana, fish and shellfish losses totaled $151 million.

According to Oct. 18 estimates from the USDA, flooding after Rita caused the loss of 4,000 cattle worth about $3 million in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Lack of electricity and scattered structural damage affected poultry producers. Producer losses on milk sales might have amounted to $400,000 per week. In Louisiana, fish and shellfish losses totaled $80 million.

Dave Tomkins, emergency management coordinator with the Texas Animal Health Commission, said Texas later lost poultry because of the lack of power. He said the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service disposed of 240,000 dead birds.

Bob Odom, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry, estimated that Louisiana lost two-thirds of the cattle in the hardest-hit areas by the end of hurricane season. As for fish and shellfish, he said, crawfish losses alone reached about $50 million.

–Katie Burns
Copyright © 2006 by the American Veterinary Medical Association