deaths

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Baby in Kansas City dies after mother mistakenly put her in oven
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Feb 10, 2024 • Last updated 4 days ago • 1 minute read

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An infant in Missouri died when her mother mistakenly put her down for a nap in an oven, a prosecutor said Saturday.


Mariah Thomas of Kansas City was charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Court records do not yet show if Thomas has an attorney, and no phone listing for Thomas could be found.


Police responded Friday afternoon to a report of an infant not breathing. A probable cause statement said responders found the child with apparent burns. The child was pronounced dead at the scene.

The statement said responders were told by a witness that the mother “put the child down for a nap and accidentally placed her in the oven instead of the crib.”

The statement did not offer an explanation about how that mistake was made.

“We acknowledge the gruesome nature of this tragedy and our hearts are weighted by the loss of this precious life,” Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker said in a statement. “We trust the criminal justice system to respond appropriately to these awful circumstances.”
 

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Baby in Kansas City dies after mother mistakenly put her in oven
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Feb 10, 2024 • Last updated 4 days ago • 1 minute read

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An infant in Missouri died when her mother mistakenly put her down for a nap in an oven, a prosecutor said Saturday.


Mariah Thomas of Kansas City was charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Court records do not yet show if Thomas has an attorney, and no phone listing for Thomas could be found.


Police responded Friday afternoon to a report of an infant not breathing. A probable cause statement said responders found the child with apparent burns. The child was pronounced dead at the scene.

The statement said responders were told by a witness that the mother “put the child down for a nap and accidentally placed her in the oven instead of the crib.”

The statement did not offer an explanation about how that mistake was made.

“We acknowledge the gruesome nature of this tragedy and our hearts are weighted by the loss of this precious life,” Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker said in a statement. “We trust the criminal justice system to respond appropriately to these awful circumstances.”
they should also check the microwave and the washing machine. :rolleyes: :(
 

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Ontario euthanizes 84 raccoons, accuses rehabber of mistreating animals
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Liam Casey
Published Feb 27, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 3 minute read
Ontario has euthanized 84 raccoons and laid dozens of charges in its investigation of the wildlife rehabilitation centre.

Ontario has euthanized 84 raccoons and laid dozens of charges in its investigation of a wildlife rehabilitation centre it accuses of allowing animals to suffer with no real hope of recovery, the Canadian Press has learned.


Mally’s Third Chance Raccoon Rescue in Kawartha Lakes says it is outraged and wants accountability from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry over its handling of the animals.


The rescue, a non-profit, says it helps rehabilitate injured and orphaned raccoons and returns them to the wild once they are able.

Court documents show the owners of Mally’s, Derek Zavitsky and Barbara Zavitsky, face 18 counts and 23 counts, respectively, under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

“A total of 93 raccoons were seized, with six found dead on-site, three succumbing to severe disease and 84 humanely euthanized,” said Marcela Mayo, a spokeswoman with the ministry.

“All seized raccoons tested positive for canine distemper, with many displaying severe signs of the disease when MNRF took possession of them.”


The province also revoked Mally’s wildlife rehabilitator custodian licence.

Distemper is caused by a virus that is commonly found in wild raccoons and is fatal, usually killing animals in a matter of days or weeks.

On Sept. 26, 2023, more than 50 conservation officers with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry raided Mally’s Third Chance Raccoon Rescue, acting on a tip from the public.

“We’re absolutely devastated,” said Tiffany Devon, a spokeswoman and volunteer with Mally’s.

“Our biggest fight, and our number one priority, was for the safety of those raccoons.”

The majority of the raccoons were orphans Mally’s had been caring for since the spring, Devon said.

The province alleges the Zavitskys failed to keep updated log books, lacked raccoon identification, kept the animals more than 12 months and provided rehabilitation to raccoons that “had no reasonable chance of surviving.”


The province also alleges the pair allowed raccoons to be in contact with domestic animals, kept raccoons in their home and treated raccoons that displayed symptoms of distemper, and failed to euthanize those animals that displayed distemper symptoms.

Mally’s will fight the charges, Devon said.

The mass seizure and subsequent euthanization sparked protests at Queen’s Park. A small group of so-called “raccoon freedom fighters” have also demonstrated against Natural Resources and Forestry Minister Graydon Smith, including at a recent Progressive Conservative policy conference in Niagara Falls, Ont.

In November, Mally’s took the government to court, seeking an injunction to return the seized raccoons. The injunction was denied. But the court documents portray two vastly different versions of events.


The province alleges the raccoons were “living in unsanitary, squalid conditions.”

“Forty-nine raccoons were living in the same house as humans and domestic animals, including in bedrooms and bathrooms, causing significant biosecurity risks and depositing urine and feces everywhere,” the Ministry of the Attorney General wrote in its factum.

One “very sick raccoon” was found in a cabinet under the bathroom sink. Investigators said they found a dead raccoon in a cage in the home “full of rigor mortis” and another was “infested with live maggots.”

The ministry said it had to euthanize 15 raccoons that day because they “showed obvious signs of suffering including active seizing, head tremors, discharge from their eyes and nose, and open sores on their paws and bodies.”


The ministry alleged Mally’s had “mistreated the raccoons for who knows how long.” They say testing at the University of Guelph revealed all raccoons had distemper and all were eventually euthanized.

Mally’s took issue with the government’s characterization of its operations and the state of the animals on its property.

In court documents, Mally’s owners say ministry conservation officers were rough with the raccoons that were “aggressively ripped out of cages” and “shoved into cages that were far too small.”

The raccoons were left in those ministry cages for hours as the eight-hour raid unfolded, “where they were unable to move, struggled to breathe, and involuntarily defecated,” Mally’s factum said.

The officers “were heard laughing callously as they terrorized the raccoons,” Mally’s said.

The rescue organization said the ministry made “uncorroborated allegations” that all raccoons had contracted distemper.

The raccoons had all been vaccinated for distemper, Devon said, raising concerns over false-positives in the ministry’s testing. They also question how raccoons could have lived for several months with distemper before they were euthanized.

“Things are not adding up at all,” Devon said.
 

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Headless canine, possibly coyote, found on Port Stanley beach
An 18-year-old woman made the shocking discovery while walking on the beach on the weekend.

Author of the article:Dale Carruthers
Published Feb 26, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

An 18-year-old woman made a shocking discovery while walking on the beach in Port Stanley on the weekend.


Quinn, who asked to only be identified by her first name, was taking an afternoon stroll with her mom and her golden retriever on the pumphouse beach in the Lake Erie community Saturday when she stepped over a log and came across a decapitated canine.


“I screamed. I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh,’ and I fell back pulling him (my dog) back, because I didn’t want him to get into it,” she said of the carcass. “We got really close and right away my mom’s like, ‘There’s no head.’”

A crowd of shocked onlookers soon gathered, Quinn said. “The one lady said to us, ‘That is demonic.'”

Quinn reported the dead animal and Ontario Provincial Police responded around 3:40 p.m. Saturday, a spokesperson said Monday.

“The exact species of the remains was not determined, but did appear to be a medium-sized canine, possibly a coyote,” Const. Brett Phair said in an email. “There was nothing located on the animal or in the area to suggest that the animal was domesticated.”


The investigation is ongoing, Phair said.

The grisly find has fuelled speculation on social media, where users in a Port Stanley Facebook group falsely claimed the decapitated animal was a golden retriever, sparking fear and outrage.

Some users also made unverified claims of other decapitated animals found on the beach, but police didn’t confirm those claims.

Quinn believes the confusion is because her golden retriever was with her when she found the dead animal.

“It did look like a coyote. Right off the bat, its fur looked like a coyote,” Quinn said, estimating the animal weighed more than 20 kilograms.

“We talked to someone in the area and they see coyotes walking on the beach often.”

This wouldn’t be the first time a headless coyote has been found in Southwestern Ontario.

A pair of headless coyotes were found, laid out side by side, on Western University’s campus in 2015. A few days later, a woman reported she’d made a similar discovery while hiking in Parkhill.

Those coyote killings, along with a string of other gruesome animal deaths, prompted criminologist Mike Arntfield to speculate a serial animal killer was behind the killings.

dcarruthers@postmedia.com
 

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New York zoologists testing for toxins, disease
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Cedar Attanasio
Published Feb 25, 2024 • 1 minute read
A Eurasian eagle-owl named Flaco
A Eurasian eagle-owl named Flaco sits in a tree in New York's Central Park, Feb. 6, 2023. PHOTO BY SETH WENIG /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK — New York City’s celebrity owl Flaco died from a traumatic impact, zoologists confirmed a day after he reportedly flew into a building, with further testing planned to determine if the Eurasian eagle-owl may have been sick.


What happened in Flaco’s final hours is top of mind for his fans across the city, who cheered him on as he defied the odds by fending for himself despite a life in captivity. Police are still seeking to arrest whoever let him out of his enclosure at the Central Park Zoo a year ago.


Flaco had been in good physical shape, the necropsy found, succeeding in catching prey even though he had no experience hunting because he came to the zoo as a fledgling 13 years earlier. According to the necropsy report released Saturday, the owl weighed 1.89 kilograms (4.1 pounds), just 2% less than when he was last measured at the zoo.

Flaco was found dead Friday on a sidewalk after apparently hitting a building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.


“The main impact appears to have been to the body, as there was substantial hemorrhage under the sternum and in the back of the body cavity around the liver,” the report said.

The Central Park Zoo put the blame squarely on the person who cut open Flaco’s enclosure. But they’re investigating illness as a possible factor, and plan to release an update in around two weeks.

“This will include microscopic examination of tissue samples; toxicology tests to evaluate potential exposures to rodenticides or other toxins; and testing for infectious diseases such as West Nile Virus and Avian Influenza,” the zoo’s statement said.

Eulogies from his admirers poured in over the weekend. So did speculation about which of the many urban threats to wildlife may have contributed to his death.

Flaco fans who listened for his nightly hooting in on the Upper West Side reported he’d gone quiet in the days before his death, and theorized that he may have been ill.
escaped-owl-central-park[1].jpg
 

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Man to plead guilty to helping kill 3,600 eagles, other birds and selling feathers prized by tribes
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Matthew Brown
Published Feb 27, 2024 • 2 minute read
A Washington state man accused of helping kill more than 3,000 birds including eagles on a Montana Indian reservation then illegally selling their parts intends to plead guilty to federal criminal charges.
A Washington state man accused of helping kill more than 3,000 birds including eagles on a Montana Indian reservation then illegally selling their parts intends to plead guilty to federal criminal charges.
A Washington state man accused of helping kill more than 3,000 birds — including eagles on a Montana Indian reservation — then illegally selling their feathers intends to plead guilty to illegal wildlife trafficking and other criminal charges, court documents show.


Prosecutors have alleged Travis John Branson and others killed about 3,600 birds during a yearslong “killing spree” on the Flathead Indian Reservation and elsewhere. Feathers from eagles and other birds are highly prized among many Native American tribes for use in sacred ceremonies and during pow-wows.


Branson of Cusick, Washington, will plead guilty under an agreement with prosecutors to reduced charges including conspiracy, wildlife trafficking and two counts of unlawful trafficking of eagles.

A second suspect, Simon Paul of St. Ignatius, Montana, remains at large after an arrest warrant was issued when he failed to show up for an initial court appearance in early January. Paul could not be reached for comment and his attorney, Dwight Schulte, declined comment.


The defendants allegedly sold eagle parts on a black market that has been a long-running problem for U.S. wildlife officials. Illegal shootings are a leading cause of golden eagle deaths, according to a recent government study.

Immature golden eagle feathers are especially valued among tribes, and a tail set from one of the birds can sell for several hundred dollars apiece, according to details disclosed during a separate trafficking case in South Dakota last year in which a Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison.

A grand jury in December indicted the two men on 15 federal charges. They worked with others — who haven’t been named by authorities — to hunt and kill the birds and on at least one occasion used a dead deer to lure in an eagle that was killed, according to the indictment.


Federal officials have not said how many eagles were killed nor what other kinds of birds were involved in the scheme that they say began in 2015 and continued until 2021. The indictment included details on only 13 eagles and eagle parts that were sold.

Branson did not immediately respond to a message left at a phone number that’s listed for him. His attorney, Assistant Federal Defender Andrew Nelson, declined to comment on the plea agreement.

Text messages obtained by investigators showed Branson and others telling buyers he was “on a killing spree” to collect more eagle tail feathers for future sales, according to the indictment. Prosecutors described Paul as a “shooter” and “shipper” for Branson.

Bald eagles are the national symbol of the United States, and both bald and golden eagles are widely considered sacred by American Indians. U.S. law prohibits anyone without a permit from killing, wounding or disturbing eagles or taking any parts such as nests or eggs. Even taking feathers found in the wild can be a crime.

Federally recognized tribes can apply for permits with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take a bald or golden eagle for religious purposes, and enrolled tribal members can apply for eagle feathers and other parts from the National Eagle Repository. But there’s a lengthy backlog of requests that eagle researchers say is driving the black market for eagle parts.
 

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'Severely emaciated' dead dog found wrapped in garbage bag in Scarborough
The animal was found on Feb. 23

Author of the article:Jane Stevenson
Published Feb 29, 2024 • Last updated 3 days ago • < 1 minute read

Toronto Police are seeking the public’s help in an animal cruelty case.


Authorities say on Feb. 23, they located a dead dog wrapped in a garbage bag in the Morningside Ave. and Danzig St. area of Scarborough.


The animal “was found severely emaciated and malrourished,” police said in a statement Thursday.

It is believed to be an American Bulldog mix, light brown in colour with white markings on its head and snout.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Graham Ellis by emailing 11046@tps.ca or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), or via the website 222tips.com.
 

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Wild turkey stalking Quebec town taken down with slingshot
'People were being attacked,' says Louiseville mayor taking heat over decision to end saga

Author of the article:René Bruemmer
Published Feb 29, 2024 • Last updated 3 days ago • 4 minute read
Michel Turcotte was chased by a wild turkey in Louiseville after throwing snow at it.
Michel Turcotte was chased by a wild turkey in Louiseville after throwing snow at it. PHOTO BY FACEBOOK SCREEN GRAB
A wild turkey said to be sowing terror in the town of Louiseville was taken down by a vigilante wielding a sling Thursday, putting to an end a saga that gripped the municipality for weeks.


“This morning at 9 a.m., a man with a sling — like in the time of David and Goliath, he’s very good with it — he hit the wild turkey with two metal stones in the head and he fell. He didn’t suffer at all,” said Mayor Yvon Deshaies, who ordered the hit.


“Am I happy with it? No. I would have liked the wildlife ministry to take care of it,” he said.

But with no response from wildlife officials other than to be told the birds are not dangerous, Deshaies said he had no choice.

“People were being attacked,” he said.

Now it’s Deshaies who’s under siege, facing possible sanctions from Quebec’s wildlife ministry and receiving texts from people saying he’s not worthy of the title of mayor, that they will sue him, that he should resign.

“They’re saying I’m Putin,” he told the Montreal Gazette. “They said I’m worse than Putin.”


The problems began about three weeks ago, when wild turkeys started flocking from farmers’ fields to the downtown core in the town of 7,500 people located a bit over 100 kilometres northeast of Montreal. They hung around seniors’ residences and schools, sometimes chasing passersby. Parents were advised to drive their children to class. A woman in a wheelchair was attacked, Deshaies said, her shirt pulled at by an irate turkey.

Things came to a head this week when a Facebook video was aired of an older gentleman trying to enter his seniors residence, only to have his entrance blocked by a large wild turkey. Michel Turcotte clapped his hands, to no avail. Then he threw snow at the bird, which the bird did not like. The turkey went on the offensive, first chasing Turcotte around his SUV and then down the street. Turcotte ran around trees trying to escape. He came close to falling. The videographer can be heard laughing in the background.


“He tried to jump on my back,” Turcotte told TVA news. “He didn’t get me, but it was close. I was pretty scared.” Asked if in retrospect it was a good idea to chuck snow at the bird, Turcotte said “No, it was not.”

For Mayor Deshaies, it was enough.

“The birds have claws like razor blades,” said Deshaies, a colourful character with a fondness for bow ties who has served as city councillor and then mayor in Louiseville (town motto: Excellence and Harmony) for 34 years. “And they’re large. When they spread their wings, they’re five to six feet wide.” Seniors were staying indoors. Parents were frightened for their children.

“It’s the law of the wild turkeys in Louiseville,” he said.

During a TV interview, he told citizens to grab their baseball bats and take care of the job themselves.


“I will not wait until a child is disfigured.”

He tried to hire a trapper, but was told it was illegal. He called Quebec wildlife officials, who had come to town earlier but failed to remove the birds. Officials advised residents to take their bird feeders indoors and clap their hands to scare the wild turkeys away.

The American Humane Society notes turkeys have a “pecking order” of dominance and may view people or pets who act fearful of them as inferiors and start bullying them. If they become overly aggressive, they can be scared away by making noises or popping open an umbrella. They are usually timid and scare easily.

“People were telling me they tried to run away, and this bird would come after them, again and again,” Deshaies said. “He wouldn’t give up. The wildlife people told me he wasn’t dangerous. I have the claws on my desk, sir. The claws are enormous.”


Deshaies speculated that the bird was lost. Or “a bit mentally unstable.”

After the wildlife ministry failed to return his calls this week, he gave an ultimatum: remove the bird by Wednesday at midnight, or he would.

On Thursday morning, Sûreté du Québec police officers stood by to provide security as the bird was killed and did not intervene, Deshaies said. The hunter gave the claws to the mayor and took the bird home to cook it and eat it.

While some citizens are relieved, others are telling Deshaies it was immoral to kill the animal outside of the regular hunting season that runs from March 27 to April 7 in Quebec. Quebec’s wildlife ministry did not respond to questions in time for publication. The fine for killing a wild turkey out of season runs from $250 to $5,000 for a first offence.

Deshaies said he takes the blame and will contest the penalty if fined.

“In our town, if an aggressive dog or cat bites someone, it is euthanized,” he said. “For me it’s always the security of our citizens that comes first.

“This animal didn’t bite, but it was running after people. That’s not normal, so I said that’s enough. I acted as a good captain. I didn’t abandon the ship.”

rbruemmer@postmedia.com
0301-city-turkey[1].png
 

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’Deleterious substance' blamed for deaths of 19 eagles at B.C. landfill
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Published Mar 03, 2024 • 1 minute read

PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. — The City of Prince Rupert said 19 eagles are dead after someone dumped an unknown “deleterious substance” at a landfill on Friday.


The city said it’s investigating and trying to identify the substance while the cleanup began the day it was discovered. It said it also hired an environmental consultant to help identify the substance and help with a “long-term action plan.”



The city said the spill happened at the facility’s liquid waste site and was contained to a pond and didn’t spread elsewhere, although the death of the eagles was “devastating” and felt deeply by staff.

The city said it’s working with the provincial Environment Ministry and Environment Canada to help avoid a similar tragedy in the future and reworking an awareness campaign to warn of the dangers of dumping certain substances.
 

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Man to plead guilty in eagle ‘killing spree’ on reservation to sell feathers on black market
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Matthew Brown And Amy Beth Hanson
Published Mar 20, 2024 • 3 minute read

Eagles-Killed-Black-Market
This image provided by the US Attorney for the District of Montana from a court document shows eagle feathers from birds that a Washington state man is accused of shooting to sell their parts on the black market. The defendant is scheduled to plead guilty to federal wildlife trafficking charges on Wednesday, March 20, in Missoula, Mont. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
A Washington state man accused of helping kill thousands of birds is expected to plead guilty Wednesday to shooting eagles on an American Indian reservation in Montana and selling their feathers and body parts on the black market.


The prosecution over golden and bald eagles killed on the Flathead Indian Reservation underscores the persistence of a thriving illegal trade in eagle feathers despite a law enforcement crackdown in the 2010s that netted dozens of criminal indictments across the U.S. West and Midwest.


A grand jury indictment last December quotes defendant Travis John Branson saying in a January 2021 text that he was going on a “killing spree” to obtain eagle tails. Branson and a second defendant, Simon Paul, killed approximately 3,600 birds, including eagles on the Flathead reservation and elsewhere, according to the indictment. Federal authorities have not disclosed how all the birds were killed, nor where else the killings happened.


Branson, of Cusick, Washington, sold an unidentified purchaser two sets of golden eagle tail feathers — highly prized among many Native American tribes — for $650 in March 2021, according to court documents.

Less than two weeks later, law enforcement stopped Branson on the reservation and found in his vehicle the feet and feathers of a golden eagle he had shot near Polson, Montana, according to filings that included a photo of the bird’s severed feet with their massive talons. The bird’s carcass had been “cleaned” by the second defendant, Paul, and was found in a nearby field, prosecutors wrote.

Multiple phones seized by authorities during the stop yielded photos and text messages that described “the shooting, killing and ultimate selling of bald and golden eagles throughout the United States,” prosecutors said.


Feathers and other parts of eagles are illegal to sell but widely used by Native Americans in ceremonies and during powwows.

Branson, who remained free following the indictment, reached a deal with prosecutors last month to plead guilty to four counts: conspiracy, wildlife trafficking and two counts of trafficking in federally protected bald and golden eagles.

Branson could not be reached for comment before Wednesday’s hearing in Missoula. His public defender declined comment while the case is pending.

Paul of St. Ignatius, Montana, remains at large. A federal judge issued an arrest warrant for Paul when he did not show up for an initial court hearing in December.

The indictment described Branson and Paul trafficking golden and bald eagles or their parts on at least 11 occasions between December 2020 and the stop of Branson by law enforcement on March 13, 2021.


But court filings suggest the illegal activity went on much longer. They outline a conspiracy that began in 2015 and involved other people who killed eagles on the Flathead Reservation but have not been publicly identified.

In a 2016 text message quoted by prosecutors, Branson appeared to acknowledge that shipping eagles internationally was illegal, adding, “I just get em for 99 cents…price of a bullet.”

In another text exchange, Branson was negotiating an eagle feather sale when he allegedly wrote, “I don’t get em for free though….out hear (sic) committing felonies,” according to the court filings.

He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine at sentencing on the most serious charge, conspiracy. Under the plea deal, lawyers for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Montana said they would seek to dismiss additional trafficking charges and would recommend a sentencing guideline reduction that could lessen the severity of Branson’s punishment.


The criminal case comes almost a decade after a multi-state U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service trafficking investigation dubbed “Operation Dakota Flyer” led to charges against 35 defendants and the recovery of more than 150 eagles, 100 hawks and owls and 20 species of other protected birds that were seized or bought by authorities in undercover purchases, according to federal officials.

Federally recognized tribes can apply for permits with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take a bald or golden eagle for religious purposes, and enrolled tribal members can apply for feathers and other bird parts from the National Eagle Repository in Colorado and non-government repositories in Oklahoma and Phoenix. There’s a yearslong backlog of requests at the National Repository and researchers say the high demand is fueling the black market for eagle parts.
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Bird flu is decimating seal colonies. Scientists don’t know how to stop it
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Patrick Whittle
Published Mar 22, 2024 • 5 minute read

Bird-Flu-Seals
The problem of bird flu jumping from birds to marine mammals, such as seals, is worse than initially thought, scientists say.
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Avian influenza is killing tens of thousands of seals and sea lions in different corners of the world, disrupting ecosystems and flummoxing scientists who don’t see a clear way to slow the devastating virus.


The worldwide bird flu outbreak that began in 2020 has led to the deaths of millions of domesticated birds and spread to wildlife all over the globe. This virus isn’t thought to be a major threat to humans, but its spread in farming operations and wild ecosystems has caused widespread economic turmoil and environmental disruptions.


Seals and sea lions, in places as far apart as Maine and Chile, appear to be especially vulnerable to the disease, scientists said. The virus has been detected in seals on the east and west coasts of the U.S., leading to deaths of more than 300 seals in New England and a handful more in Puget Sound in Washington. The situation is even more dire in South America, where more than 20,000 sea lions have died in Chile and Peru and thousands of elephant seals have died in Argentina.


The virus can be controlled in domesticated animals, but it can spread unchecked in wildlife and marine mammals such as South America’s seals that lacked prior exposure to it have suffered devastating consequences, said Marcela Uhart, director of the Latin America program at the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center at the University of California, Davis.

“Once the virus is in wildlife, it spreads like wildfire, as long as there are susceptible animals and species,” Uhart said. “Movement of animals spreads the virus to new areas.”

Scientists are still researching how the seals have contracted bird flu, but it is most likely from contact with infected seabirds, Uhart said. High mortality has affected South American marine mammals consistently since the virus arrived late in 2022, and birds in Peru and Chile have died by the hundreds of thousands from the virus since then, she noted.


The virus is still spreading and was detected in mainland Antarctica for the first time in February.

The deaths of seals and sea lions disrupts ecosystems where the marine mammals serve as key predators near the top of the food chain. Seals help keep the ocean in balance by preventing overpopulation of the fish species they feed on.

Many species affected, such as South American sea lions and Southern elephant seals, have relatively stable populations, but scientists worry about the possibility of the virus jumping to more jeopardized animals. Scientists have said bird flu might have played a role in the deaths of hundreds of endangered Caspian seals in Russia last year.

“The loss of wildlife at the current scale presents an unprecedented risk of wildlife population collapse, creating an ecological crisis,” the World Organisation for Animal Health, an intergovernmental organization, said in a statement.


In New England, scientists with the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University found an outbreak of bird flu that killed more than 330 harbor and gray seals along the North Atlantic coast in 2022 turned out to be worse than initially thought. It’s possible the seals contracted the virus from gulls by coming into contact with sick gulls’ excrement or by preying on an infected bird, the scientists reported.

The U.S. government determined the seal die-off was an “unusual mortality event” attributable to bird flu. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has declared the event is over, but concerns remain about a possible repeat.

“Marine mammals are still pretty unique in the scale of the outbreaks that are occurring,” said Wendy Puryear, an author of the Tufts study. “One of the connections is there is a lot of virus that circulates in coastal birds. A lot of opportunities for those wild birds to host the virus and pass it on to marine mammals.”


Some scientists and environmental advocates say there could be a link between the outbreaks and climate change and warming oceans. Warmer sea temperatures off northern Chile decrease the population of forage fish, and that makes sea lions weaker and more susceptible to disease, said Liesbeth van der Meer, director of the environmental group Oceana in Chile.

Scientists and environmentalists are hopeful vaccinating poultry will help lessen the spread of the disease, van der Meer said, adding that it’s also important for people to avoid potentially infected animals in the wild.

“Authorities have carried out campaigns about the disease, strongly recommending to stay away from seabirds or marine mammals with symptoms or found dead in the coastal areas,” van der Meer said.


Even seals in aquariums are not considered completely safe from bird flu. The New England Aquarium, where outdoor harbor seal exhibits delight thousands of visitors every year, has taken strict sanitation precautions to prevent transmission of the virus to its animals, said Melissa Joblon, the Boston aquarium’s director of animal health.

Staff aren’t allowed to bring backyard poultry products to the aquarium, and an awning protects the seal exhibit from birds that could carry the virus, she said.

“We do know that it’s a risk for the animals that reside here,” said Joblon, adding that none of the aquarium’s seals have been infected.

The deaths of marine mammals are even more concerning because of mutations of the avian virus, according to a paper in the journal Nature Communications last fall. The mutations “warrant further examination and highlight an urgent need for active local surveillance to manage outbreaks and limit spillover into other species, including humans,” the study stated.


Another study, published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases in February, found the bird flu virus has adapted to spread between birds and mammals. Researchers found nearly identical samples of the virus in dead sea lions, a dead seal and a dead seabird. They said the finding is significant because it confirms a multispecies outbreak that can affect marine mammals and birds.

More seal deaths could disrupt critical ecosystems around the world, said Lynda Doughty, executive director of Marine Mammals of Maine, a marine mammal rescue organization that responded to seals with bird flu during the New England outbreak.

“You need this happy ecosystem. If we’re taking out some important species, what is the trickle down effect of that? That’s the million dollar question,” Doughty said.
 

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Endangered North Atlantic right whales lose three of 19 calves
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Published Mar 29, 2024 • 1 minute read

FREDERICTON — An international environmental organization says it is concerning that at least three of the 19 North Atlantic right whale calves born this season have died this year.


Oceana Canada campaign director Kim Elmslie says there should be between 25 and 30 new calves so far, noting the total local whale population of 360 contains about 70 reproducing females.

She says the main threats facing endangered North Atlantic right whales include hazards from fishing gear and ship strikes.

Elmslie highlighted a study published earlier this month in the journal Biological Sciences, where researchers found that entanglements in fishing gear are a main factor in the decline of the species.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced earlier this week it was making no changes to last year’s right whale protection measures, noting the same speed restrictions, gear prohibitions and area closures triggered by signs of a whale will remain unchanged in 2024.

Elmslie says she’s glad Ottawa left the same measures in place because North Atlantic right whales need all the help they can get, but adds there’s need for more action including making ropeless fishing gear a priority.
 

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Prague hospital allegedly performs abortion on wrong woman: Reports
Author of the article:postmedia News
Published Apr 02, 2024 • 1 minute read

Doctors performed an abortion on the wrong woman at a Prague hospital due to a patient mix-up, according to reports.
Doctors allegedly performed an abortion on the wrong woman at a Prague hospital due to a patient mix-up, according to reports.


Medical professionals blamed a “language barrier” for the unwanted termination. The foreign expectant mother was four months’ pregnant, reports said.

The incident happened at Bulovka University Hospital after the woman tended to what she assumed would be a routine check-up on March 25. Instead of the regular examination, however, she allegedly underwent a curettage — a surgical cleaning of the uterus — without consent or knowledge.

Nurses, doctors, a gynecologist and an anesthesiologist allegedly didn’t notice the error when she was put under anesthesia intended for another patient, who was also a foreigner. The woman miscarried following the procedure.



According to Radio Prague International, police said they were treating the matter as a case of bodily harm.

Staff responsible have been suspended and the hospital is investigating it as gross negligence.

David Marx, chair of the Czech Society for Quality in Healthcare, said: “The goal must be to do a root analysis, identify the causes and set a process so that this never happens again.”

In Czechia, abortion can be legally performed for up to 12 weeks for any reason, for up to 24 weeks for medical reasons and at any point during the pregnancy in case of a fetal anomaly.
 

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Video shows California deputies shooting abducted teen as she surrenders
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Stefanie Dazio
Published Apr 02, 2024 • 3 minute read

LOS ANGELES — A teenage girl who had been kidnapped by her father was following a sheriff’s deputy’s instructions and appeared to be surrendering when other deputies fatally shot her during a gun battle on a Southern California highway, according to recently released video and audio.


Savannah Graziano, 15, was shot and killed as she ran toward San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies amid a hail of gunfire on Sept. 27, 2022. Her father, 45-year-old Anthony Graziano, was also fatally shot.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department released the audio and video clips, including a heavily produced and narrated 15-minute video, on Friday in response to public records requests made by The Associated Press and other media outlets. The deputies did not have body-worn cameras, but video footage was recorded by a sheriff’s helicopter and witness dashboard cameras.

Before Savannah and her father were shot, deputies pursued Graziano’s pickup truck for some 70 miles (110 kilometers), including along Highway 15. A helicopter crew following the chase reported shots fired from the driver’s side. Other shots were fired from the passenger’s side, according to a deputy and a passing motorist. It is unclear who was shooting from the pickup truck.


The truck and deputies’ vehicles came to a stop on the desert interstate east of Los Angeles in Hesperia, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) north of Fontana, where her father had shot and killed her mother — his estranged wife — a day earlier.

Savannah Graziano was just steps from safety when she was killed, the video shows.

A deputy, taking cover behind a sheriff’s SUV, repeatedly shouts to her, “Passenger, get out!” and “Come to me, come to me!”

Wearing tactical gear and a helmet, the teenager gets out of the pickup truck from the passenger side and runs toward the deputy, briefly crouching to the ground as he continues to give her commands.

But as she rises from her crouch and starts toward the deputy, others from a higher elevation open fire. The deputy screams: “Stop! Stop shooting her! He’s in the car! Stop!”


The deputy’s shouts were not broadcast over the radio, the sheriff’s department said, but the audio was captured by his belt recorder.

A deputy in the helicopter can be heard saying “Oh, no” over the radio after the teen was shot.

For months, officials would not say whether it was her father or the deputies who killed Savannah Graziano. In the new video, the narrator says the Grazianos “were struck by deputy rounds and died of their injuries.”

The agency has not released autopsy reports for the teenager, her father or her mother, Tracy Martinez, and it has not named the deputies involved. A spokesperson for the agency did respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The department said four sheriff’s department vehicles were struck by gunfire during the pursuit, and deputies seized multiple firearms and hundreds of rounds from the pickup truck, as well as flash bangs, smoke grenades, body armor and tactical helmets.


Savannah Graziano was not armed when she was shot.

The state Department of Justice, which is investigating the shooting, referred media inquiries to their 2022 news release and declined further comment. State law requires the department to review any officer-involved shooting resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian.

Savannah Graziano witnessed her mother’s slaying from the backseat of her father’s pickup truck but did not move to help her, authorities said. Her father jumped out with a handgun and fired several times at Martinez near an elementary school during morning drop-off, forcing students and parents to dive for cover. Anthony Graziano also shot at a father and child near the school.

Anthony Graziano had moved out of the family’s home a month or two before the killing, as the couple went through a divorce, Fontana police have said. Savannah Graziano left with her father, while her younger brother stayed with their mother.

Anthony Graziano and his daughter had been living out of his pickup truck and hotels for weeks before the violence, police said at the time. There were no reports of domestic violence or child abuse.

Officials issued an Amber Alert for Savannah Graziano following the shooting in Fontana, though authorities later questioned whether she went with her father willingly. Friday’s video did not address that, only mentioning that an Amber Alert had been sent out.
 

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Christine Jessop's mom has died

Author of the article:Michele Mandel
Published Apr 05, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 4 minute read

Janet Jessop found peace at last.


And so she passed away last month, her son believes, because she felt it was finally safe to join her slain daughter: The endless hunt for Christine’s killer was over. And her surviving child Kenneth had just celebrated two years of sobriety.


“She’s with Christine, which is a relief for me,” says Ken Jessop over the phone from his home in Fort Erie.

Jessop was 81.

For so long I’ve known her as the brave, lovely mother who would never give up hope that some day, she would find out who brutally raped and stabbed her little girl and left her to rot in the woods 50 km from home. This October will mark 40 years since her nine-year-old, buck-toothed child disappeared from their home in quiet Queensville; Christine would have been home alone for barely half an hour.


Just enough time for a killer to pounce.


Through the desperate search that followed, the horrifying discovery of her remains three months later, the ensuing hunt for her killer, two trials and the ultimate exoneration of their innocent neighbour Guy Paul Morin — Jessop anxiously waited for justice for her Chrissie.

In 2019, we met near Lake Ontario — Jessop was far frailer than I remembered from our interviews in the past but still as feisty as ever. It was the 35th anniversary of her daughter’s murder and she and Ken wanted to talk about their frustration that not enough was being done to solve the cold case.

“I think about her every day,” Jessop told me that sunny autumn day.

“He took a lot away: Over the years, there could have been graduations, a wedding, children. You think about what she would have been doing. You just miss her, that’s all. She was robbed. We were robbed.”


The following year, for the first time in decades, mother and son went together to visit Christine’s grave in the cemetery behind the farmhouse where they once lived. Ken remembers how different it felt, how the heaviness in his heart was somehow lighter.

Just two weeks later, he discovered why.

“Are you ready?” Det. Steve Smith had asked his mother with a wide grin. “We know who it is.”

Thanks to the new tool of forensic genealogy, Toronto Police had finally identified Christine’s killer — former family friend Calvin Hoover. He and his wife Heather had worked with Christine’s father at Eastern Independent Telecom and the families had often socialized together.


Heather was one of only three people she’d told that October day in 1984 that she was taking Ken to see his father in jail where he was serving time for fraud but Chrissie was staying behind because she was too young. Hoover must have found out.


“If he’d even mentioned that he could take her to see her dad, she’d go with him in a minute, a split second even,” Jessop told me in 2020.

But after all the pain Hoover caused, the cowardly child killer evaded justice by taking his own life in 2015.

It all came as a seismic shock.

“We’d almost reached the point of thinking we’d never know,” says Ken, 53. “In the last few years of her life, mom got the answer she never thought she’d get and I’m so grateful for that.”

His initial relief soon turned to a cauldron of anger and a strange sense of emptiness — he’d been consumed for so long by the mystery — and in the midst of COVID, there was no way to get help. So he turned to alcohol.

“I filled up the void with drinking and stupidity and hit bottom,” he says, “and my mother was there to pick me up again.”


He spent the first month of detox on his mom’s couch and jokes that so much togetherness got him to his AA meetings — “I had to get out of the house. I went to 35 meetings in 28 days.”



Ken left the bar business and on a whim, began wood laser engraving, which has become his vocation and salvation.

In March, his mother came to celebrate his two years of sobriety.


“Her last words to me were how proud she was of what I’m doing and of the man I’ve become,” he said.

Jessop went home and a week later, slipped away peacefully in her sleep.

“I think she finally truly felt that she didn’t have to worry about me being self-destructive anymore and went home to Christine,” he said.

Rest in peace, Janet.

mmandel@postmedia.com
 

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K-9 killed protecting officer and inmate who was attacked by prisoners, Virginia officials say
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Apr 04, 2024 • 2 minute read

K-9 Rivan, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, was killed protecting a correctional officer, Virginia prison officials said.
K-9 Rivan, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, was killed protecting a correctional officer, Virginia prison officials said. PHOTO BY VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS /supplied
RICHMOND, Va. — A K-9 was killed “heroically” protecting a correctional officer, who was responding to a violent attack involving apparent gang members, Virginia prison officials said.


Rivan, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, died despite life-saving measures after being “violently and repeatedly stabbed and kicked” by the inmates involved in the assault, the Virginia Department of Corrections said in a news release Wednesday.


Three inmates affiliated with the MS-13 gang attacked another inmate Tuesday inside a housing unit at the Sussex I State Prison, with another inmate appearing to supervise the assault, the department said. Corrections Officer Kharmishia Phillip Fields and Rivan, her assigned K-9, were working in the area and responded to stop the attack and protect the inmates, the department said in a news release.

Rivan sustained injuries but Phillip Fields, a four-year veteran of the department, did not, “due to her training and Rivan’s courageous actions,” the news release said. Corrections officers ended the assault, and the inmate who was attacked was treated for injuries at a hospital and returned to the prison, according to the department.


“The loss of Rivan is truly tragic, but it is important to remember he did not die in vain,” Virginia Department of Corrections Director Chad Dotson said in a statement. “He lost his life while potentially saving the lives of two people, his assigned Officer and an inmate. The VADOC will never forget Rivan’s sacrifice.”

The department’s statement did not identify the inmates who were involved by name but said at least three were verified members of MS-13. All four were in the U.S. illegally when they were arrested and convicted, the department said.

They had been incarcerated on charges ranging from first-degree homicide to attempted rape and counts related to child sexual abuse images.

The department said it intended to seek prosecution of the inmates to the fullest extent of the law and that no further details would be provided amid an investigation.

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin said on social media that the “barbaric members of MS-13 will be held accountable.”

Rivan would have turned 6 on April 30 and had been with the department since 2019. A memorial service is being planned.
rivan[1].jpg
 
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