Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle

One Health Series: World’s Smallest Turtles Stranded on Cape Cod

Kemps Ridley Sea turtle

How do world’s smallest sea turtles become stranded on Cape Cod?

A computational analysis has surfaced new insights into the wind and water conditions that cause Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles to become stranded on beaches in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Xiaojian Liu of Wuhan University, China, and colleagues presented these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on December 4, 2019.

The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle is smaller and in greater danger of extinction than any other sea turtle in the world. This species is found in coastal waters ranging from the Gulf of Mexico to Nova Scotia, Canada. While Kemp’s Ridley populations have slowly risen since conservation efforts began in the 1970s, the number of turtles found stranded on Cape Cod beaches in the last few years is nearly an order of magnitude higher than in earlier decades.

To help clarify the conditions that lead to stranding, Liu and colleagues combined computational modeling with real-world observations. This enabled them to investigate circumstances that could trigger hypothermia in Kemp’s Ridley turtles — the primary cause of most strandings — and subsequent transport of the cold-stunned animals to shore.

The researchers used the Finite Volume Community Ocean Model to simulate ocean currents in Cape Cod Bay. To validate these simulations, they also released drifting instruments into the currents and tracked their movements via satellite. Then, they looked for links between the simulations, the drifter data, water temperature data, and records of where and when Kemp’s Ridley turtles were found stranded.

The findings suggest that Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles are more likely to become stranded at certain beach locations along Cape Cod when water temperatures drop below 10.5° Celsius and, concurrently, winds blow with high wind stress in certain directions. Once stranded, hypothermic turtles usually require assistance from trained volunteers in order to survive.

While these findings provide new insights that could help guide future search and rescue efforts, questions remain. Further research is needed to clarify the depth of water at which Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles typically become hypothermic, and how processes like wind and waves may impact stranding events at those depths.

Co-author James Manning notes: “While the state-of-the-art ocean model can help simulate the process, both the student-built drifters and bottom temperature sensors deployed by local fishermen are critical to the investigation.”

Report made possible by data published this month from Prof. Xiaojian Liu, Wuhan University, China, and PLOS.

 

  1. For Full Abstract See: Xiaojian Liu, James Manning, Robert Prescott, Felicia Page, Huimin Zou, Mark Faherty. On simulating cold-stunned sea turtle strandings on Cape Cod, MassachusettsPLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (12): e0204717 DOI: 1371/journal.pone.0204717
Coyote Pups
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Massachusetts Coyotes Now Legally Protected from Trophy Killers

Coyote Pups

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hyannis-based retailer Powderhorn Outfitters launched its first coyote killing contest on the Cape in January 2018. The second annual contest ended on March 10 of this year. These two contests awarded cash prizes to hunters who brought in the largest coyote and the most cumulative weight. Raffle tickets were also awarded for each coyote weighed in at the store. In both contests, protesters bearing signs expressing their condemnation of the competition lined the road outside the store.

Public Outcry: Animal Protection Over Murder for Sport.

After hearing the public outcry on the issue, Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, along with state Rep. Sarah Peake, D-Provincetown, and others in the Cape delegation were able to bring the issue to the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

A coalition of leading wildlife protection organizations joined Cyr and Peake in a two-year crusade to ban wildlife killing contests in the Commonwealth; their efforts were realized on December 18, 2019 when  MassWildlife staff and the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board voted to ban the killings.

This brings an end to events like those sponsored by Powderhorn Outfitters in which participants competed to kill the largest, smallest, or the greatest number of animals for cash and prizes. Winners of wildlife killing contests often proudly post photos and videos on social media that show them posing with piles of dead animals, often before disposing of the animals in “carcass dumps,” away from the public eye.

Wildlife agencies and professionals across the country have expressed concerns about killing contests not only because they reflect badly on responsible sportsmen and sportswomen, but because they also contravene modern, science-based wildlife management principles.

Science-Based Wildlife Management in Massachusetts

“This is a terrific example of constituents engaging with state government and challenging us to do better,” Cyr said. “I’m glad to see action was taken,” Cyr said of the new regulations. “We were able to end these wildlife killing contests in the Commonwealth and make sure that we have scientific based wildlife management.”

In 2018, more than 70 renowned conservation scientists issued a statement citing peer-reviewed science that refutes claims that indiscriminately killing coyotes permanently limits coyote populations, increases the number of deer or other game species for hunters, or reduces conflicts with humans, pets or livestock.

In fact, by disrupting coyote pack structure, randomly shooting coyotes may increase their populations and lead to more conflicts. Nonlethal, preventive measures are most effective at reducing conflicts with wildlife.

Wildlife Killing Is Destructive to Ecosystems

Wildlife killing contests are also destructive to healthy ecosystems, within which all wildlife species play a crucial role. Coyotes and foxes in particular provide a range of ecosystem benefits, including controlling rabbit and rodent populations and restricting rodent- and tick-borne disease transmission.

In just the past five years, California, Vermont, New Mexico and Arizona have taken a stand against cruel, unsporting and wasteful wildlife killing contests. California banned the awarding of prizes for killing furbearing and nongame mammals in 2014; New Mexico and Vermont outlawed coyote killing contests in 2019 and 2018, respectively; and Arizona prohibited the events for predatory and furbearing species this year.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE:

Coyotes are still legally slaughtered for sport on Cape Cod

While we add this new measure of protection for Cape Coyotes, our reveling is tempered knowing this decision has done nothing to change the Coyote hunting season length, methods used and unlimited bag limits per hunter.

Consider this from sage Provincetown animal activist, Peter Souza:

“Wildlife, especially the Coyote, living on Cape Cod are constantly struggling to survive in extreme conditions.  Any semblance to living a peaceful existence is destroyed by a 6 month daily free for all killing season using any caliber desired, up until midnight. Case in point, the Coyote; a Wiley and Magnificent apex predator, Steward of the Capes ecosystem, has been the brunt of unimaginable atrocities. The killings and torturous practices inflicted by hunters as legal, will continue until the Coyote is granted full protection. This holiday season I humbly pray we bestows the gift of life to the coyote, a life void of terror, a life to raise and nurture their young, to let them live and thrive among the beauty and splendor that Cape Cod has to offer. Let us ensure the coyote will not only be here for our future generation but also for theirs. Today’s generation will determine the fate of the coyote, I pray we don’t let it be too late.”

Birds in winter
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A Bird’s Winter Wish List

How can we do our part to help them survive the harsh winter?

  • High energy, nutritious food
  • Access to clean water
  • Refuge from winter winds, rain and snow

1) Stock up on bird seed. Birdseed mixes containing sunflower seeds and nuts are high in fat and calories and provide high energy fuel for maintaining body heat and strength. Scatter seeds in sheltered places on the ground for ground feeders. Keep birdseed dry to prevent bacteria and mold buildup.

2) Provide suet cakes. Suet is an important source of high energy nutrition and is especially valuable in cold weather, as it provides the easily metabolized fat that birds use to stay warm. Animal fat is easily digested and metabolized by many birds, including woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, jays and infrequently, wrens, cardinals and warblers.

3) Provide access to fresh clean water. Water is just as important in winter as in summer. Birds need water to stay hydrated, but also use water to preen feathers, important to maintain good insulation against the cold. Even in places where there is abundant snow and ice, birds are forced to burn calories and sacrifice precious body heat to melt the snow.

To keep water from freezing, consider an immersion style water heater for the birdbath.  Also, help birds stay safe and dry by adding several stones and branches to the bird bath to allow for perching and keeping feet out of the water.  Bird baths with gentle slopes are recommended.  Some birds do bathe in the winter.  Do not add glycerin to prevent water from freezing.  It can stick to feathers and destroy their insulation value.

4) Provide shelter from wind and cold. Birds find shelter in hedges, evergreens, brush/leaf piles, even under decks.  Leaves, branches, and grass in a brush pile provide excellent insulation and shelter not only from the harsh weather, but also provide protection for smaller birds from predators like cats and hawks.  Shelter closer to the ground is warmer.

5) Keep cats indoors. Though this is a highly controversial topic, with flawed statistics, keeping cats indoors does impact predation of birds.

Recipe for a Homemade Holiday Bird Treat

https://ww;w.audubon.org/news/help-feed-birds-diy-wreath

Materials:

Bundt Pan

Large Pot

Wide Ribbon

3 Blocks of plain suet  (available at various garden centers, home improvement stores and on the Internet)

½ cup of peanut butter

9 cups of bird seed

Assorted dried fruits and berries

Steps:

  • Over low heat, melt the three blocks of suet in a large pot. Stir constantly. Do not allow to boil.
  • Once the suet is melted, add the peanut butter and let the combined mixture fully melt. Stir as needed.
  • Combine the liquid suet mixture with the bird seed. Mix well.
  • Spray the Bundt pan well with cooking spray and layer the bottom with berries and fruit
  • Fill the Bundt pan with the liquid suet mixture.
  • Let stand in the refrigerator overnight to harden. Once hardened carefully remove the mold from the pan.
  • Tie a ribbon around the wreath and hang outdoors for the birds to enjoy. Make an extra wreath and give to a friend.

Note:  Some reviewers have noted that the mixture was difficult to remove from the Bundt pan and that putting it in the freezer solved the problem.

Giving Tuesday, Give to your Favorite WildLife Rescue Team

GIVING TUESDAY

Giving Tuesday started seven years ago with one simple idea — encouraging people to do something good for other people. Since then, that simple idea has grown into a global movement inspiring hundreds of millions of people who wish to give, collaborate, and celebrate human generosity.

HELP US REACH OUR GOAL!

We have declared a goal of $10,000 for this one special day of fundraising. We don’t come to you very often with our hand out, though we believe you may want to help us support Cape Cod Wildlife during this unusual giving event. Twenty-four hours is a short time to raise $10,000 but we have moved some mountains in our time (according to more than one squirrel and opossum), and we know we have friends among you who care about what we’re doing.

How to give on December 3. If you wish to help us with our $10,000 Giving Tuesday goal, go to our website to donate! We will see your gift as it arrives and will be in contact shortly thereafter with our deepest thanks.

 

Visitors and Moose

Wildlife and One Health: From Jackal to Humans

Graphic, field work Field work is the key to understanding the life cycle and behavior of parasites.Within the framework of One Health, the role of biodiversity and ecology of parasites in wildlife is being studied, though at the present time the current focus on surveillance and control strategies of infectious diseases does not follow a holistic approach. For example, some studies that investigated the epidemiology of infectious diseases barely examined the ecosystem as a whole. The interrelationships between humans, animals, and the parasite microbiome are not fully understood. One Health has a pivotal role to play, because of its fundamental principles that are inclusive of all aspects that can contribute to disease monitoring and control. One Health is defined as a collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary approach to achieving optimal health of ecosystems, considering the interconnection between animals, plants, humans, and their environment. It considers that animals exist with humans in a diverse ecosystem that has varied environmental factors, such as nutrition, toxins, climate change, and infectious. A key aspect of One Health is fieldwork because it determines the extent of mitigation in terms of methods employed to control diseases and ensure optimal ecosystem health.

Understanding the life cycle of parasites is fundamental to the fieldwork approach because it provides an understanding of the biology as the parasite undergoes phases of transmission. It can inform researchers about appropriate fieldwork methods for management practices such as surveillance and disease control.

About One Health

In this and coming posts, you’ll see brief notes on the One Health approach, which acknowledges that population health is dependent on interactions between animal and human diseases.

Across our world, and here on Cape Cod, humans and animals interact with greater frequency and intimacy. This interaction offers the opportunity for the emergence and spread of disease agents (chemicals, pathogens, etc.) that could adversely impact animal health, human health, or both.

Experts are taking a multidisciplinary approach to address these questions.

Winter bird on branch in snow
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What you can do in your own yard to help Cape Cod Wildlife get through the winter

Winter can be hard. It’s cold and frozen and sometimes all you want to do is snuggle down with a warm blanket and hot chocolate in front of a fireplace. But before you get too comfortable, take a moment to consider what you can do to help local wildlife before winter hits.

Think about it this way: if you’re providing for small animals and plants in a meaningful way, that action moves all the way up the food chain and promotes a healthy and thriving ecosystem in your backyard throughout the cold months.

With just a little preparation, you can winterize your backyard and make it a haven for your local wildlife. Simply remember the three basic things every animal needs to survive the winter: food, water, and shelter — then make sure your yard provides them.

Winter bird on branch in snow Winter bird feeder

Food

Fill Your Bird Feeders. Bird feeders are one of the easiest ways to provide food to wildlife. Use a seed that provides a lot of substance and energy, such as black oil sunflower seeds.

Put Out Suet. Suet is fat found near the kidneys in beef and mutton. It provides a great high energy food for winter birds and is a particular favorite for woodpeckers, jays, and chickadees. Make suet cakes by adding fruits, nuts or insects, but don’t leave it out when the weather turns warm. Suet spoils quickly when temperatures are above freezing.

Use Nature’s Home-Made Feeders. There are a number of things nature provides that you can use to feed wildlife. Hang dried sunflower heads and let the birds and squirrels pick out the seeds. You can also use dried corn on the cob or make a straw wreath for animals to sneak pieces from to make their bedding. Half of a pumpkin shell encourages little critters to grab a quick bite to eat and provides lots of nutrients. Peanut butter smeared pine cones rolled in cornmeal is a favorite to get the kids involved. For the holidays, make strings of popcorn and cranberries and hang where animals and birds can reach them.

Plant Berries, Nuts, and Seeds. One of the easiest ways to help wildlife survive the winter is to plant trees and shrubs that produce seeds, seed pods, fruit, (berries) and nuts, but stick to something native to ensure your local wildlife eats it. A few standbys that farewell include dogwood, winterberry holly, and sumac. Leave the fruit on the plants and when winter comes, the animals will gratefully devour it.

Heated birdbath in winter snow. Water Source for Wildlife

Water

Heat Your Birdbath. A heated birdbath can become one of the most popular items in your yard. Not only does it provide water for drinking, which more than just birds appreciate, but it gives the birds a place to splash and play. Bathing is essential to their survival in the winter and actually helps keeps them warmer. When birds bathe, their inner feathers fluff, creating more insulation to protect them against the elements. You can modify your existing birdbath into a year-round paradise by adding a simple heating element available at most garden stores. These elements keep the water temperature right above freezing and cost only a few cents a day to run.

Two Birdbaths? If you really want to make a difference to your local wildlife this winter, place a second heated birdbath on the ground with no base. This provides water to animals that don’t climb, such as rabbits and hares, and keeps the climbers, like raccoons and squirrels, off of the other one.

Backyard pond after snowfall

Build a Pond. (Extra points for this one) If you have space and the motivation, build a small pond; even an ornamental one in your flower garden can do wonders for winter wildlife. Fresh, consistent water is one of the most important things an animal needs in the winter and one of the hardest to find.

One Dish at a Time. If you don’t have a birdbath and aren’t planning a pond, you can still encourage wildlife by placing a dish of water outside. Even a dog dish full of fresh water can mean the difference between life or death for some animals. Refill it every day and before long, you’ll have regulars who stop by daily for a drink.

Backyard brush pile of leaves, perfect winter hiding place for small critters. Backyard brush pile of leaves, perfect winter hiding place for small critters.

Shelter

Make a Brush Pile. Instead of bagging or burning your leaves, find a place in the corner of your yard and use them as the base for a brush pile. Add sticks and twigs and even throw on your Christmas tree after the season’s end. A brush pile provides a warm habitat for many different kinds of wildlife including spiders, salamanders, butterflies, toads, and mice. Don’t think these small critters don’t matter. They’re the food for many larger species and a necessary component to the food chain. By making a cozy home for insects, moles and other small animals, you’re doing your part to make sure the fox, owls, and eagles survive as well.

Cover Your Flower Garden with Leaves. Like your brush pile, covering your flower garden with leaves provides shelter to small animals and insects throughout the winter. And while you’re at it, hold off trimming back your flowers and pruning your hedges until spring. The dead flowers, stalks and overgrown branches offer places to sleep and hide. Remember, the more coverage an area provides, the more wildlife it can protect.

By winterizing your yard, you help the little guys who, in turn, help the big guys thrive. When mating and nesting season comes along, there are healthy populations everywhere, thanks to your yard.

Howling Coyote in deep grass and flowers
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Coyote Killing Contests – Upcoming Events for Protest

Press Release
Contact: Jan Raffaele, 774-237-0797

It’s time to end coyote killing contests in Massachusetts

In 2017 Powderhorn Outfitters, a Hyannis gun shop, launched its first “annual” coyote killing contest on the Cape, to award prizes for the heaviest coyote and the largest coyote killed by men, women, and youth. The second annual killing contest just ended on 3/10/19. A similar event is annually held in Granby, MA.

The idea of killing contests for fun and for prizes brings outrage too many people. Remember Cecil the lion?

As more and more people learn about the practice of senseless killing contests across the country they find it more and more disturbing. As concerned citizens of Cape Cod we need to make our voices heard about what is going on in our own backyard.

Senator Julian Cyr and Representative Sarah Peake have been working for months with the Department of Fish and Wildlife (MassWildlife) to get a meeting scheduled here on the Cape regarding the coyotes and particularly the coyote-killing contest that has been sponsored by Powderhorn Outfitters in Hyannis and will be in attendance.

There are two important upcoming events you should plan to attend.

Thursday April 4th, 6-8 pm – Cape Cod Community College, 2240 Iyannough Road, West Barnstable, in Lecture Hall A in the Science Building (Building 6).

Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) will hold a public listening session. Staff will make a short presentation which will be followed by a comment and ask-question period.

A map of the campus is available at: https://www.capecod.edu/web/about-us/campus-map.

June 18th, 2019 – A time and suitable location will be later determined.

MA Fisheries and Wildlife Board will hold its annual business meeting on the Cape, followed by a second listening session. Both events are an opportunity for concerned citizens to express their views to MassWildlife on the annual coyote killing contest.

For more information about wildlife killing contests and, specifically, the behavior and biology of coyotes, please go to www.projectcoyote.org.

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife solely benefits consumptive users (hunters) despite the fact that our state’s fish and wildlife resources belong to all citizens. Ninety-five percent of Massachusetts residents do not hunt, and non-consumptive users (wildlife watchers) outnumber and outspend consumptive users in our state.

Thank you for caring and for taking action!

A Message from Senator Julian regarding the Coyote Killing Contests

Thank you for engaging in such dedicated advocacy regarding the coyote hunting contests that have been taking place in the Town of Barnstable over the past two years. Your input, and the input of fellow advocates, has been powerful and helpful as we have worked to find a solution that will respect the rights, and preserve the safety, of people, pets, and wildlife.

5 Tips for First-Time Pet Owners

by Jessica Brody

Congratulations! You’re about to be a first-time pet owner. While it may be tempting to play with your new pet the minute you get home, it’s important to keep in mind that your pet is coming into an unfamiliar place, and she may not yet feel comfortable in your home. Here are five tips you can follow to make sure the first few weeks with your new pet are full of love instead of anxiety.

Pick the right breed for your family

Cats don’t come in that many breeds, so you don’t really have to worry about the type you bring home. But if you have allergies, it’s best to get a short-haired cat instead of a long-haired cat. Deciding what dog breed is right for you is an important decision. Breeds can vary when it comes to fitness requirements, energy, and friendliness. If your home doesn’t have a backyard or has a very small backyard, you should consider a smaller dog that doesn’t need a lot of physical fitness, like a Chihuahua. If you have more space in your backyard, consider bringing home a pup that needs a lot of exercise, like a husky. Read more

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Consider Quieter Fireworks

Fourth of July. New Years Eve. Weddings. Special Events. These are all becoming common instances where fireworks are included. We are all familiar with the colorful displays of light and the loud booms, but we may not be aware of the effect this has on other living beings, especially our companion animals and nearby wildlife.

As is commonly known, dogs and other animals have an acute sense of hearing, much stronger than that of their human counterparts. What is startling to our senses can be quite terrifying for animals and could result in them behaving unpredictably which could put them or their caregivers at risk.

People are told to leave their dogs at home, or even worse, to crate them, when fireworks are scheduled to be lit, but the American Humane Society strongly advises against this. A dog left alone in a house, or even confined to a crate, is more at risk to injure themselves trying to escape the noise. The Humane Society goes on to say that the most common behavior problems associated with loud noises is destruction and escape.

There are things that can be done, not just for the benefit of our domestic animals and wildlife, but also for people with noise related phobias such as individuals with PTSD and sensitive little children. Fireworks are being developed with less flashpowder (the chemical that produces the loud bangs) and the associated noise levels have been reduced significantly. Of note, noise reduction in fireworks began around 1999 and has grown in popularity and there are now more, and better, quieter fireworks available.

Please consider joining the list of cities and towns, both domestic and abroad, who have chosen to use fireworks with reduced flashpowder and thereby significantly reducing the noise factor. Go to your town council meetings and be a voice for the animals. You can help make your town a compassionate leader by introducing quieter fireworks on behalf of our domestic animals and wildlife.

Call Friends off Cape Wildlife anytime to talk more about what you can do. 508-375-3700.

Dogs and Fireworks: Dealing with Anxiety

Quiet Fireworks

11 Tips to Help Your Dog Cope With Fireworks