animals | KUOW News and Information

animals

How Traffic Is Drowning Out Frogs' Mating Calls

Mar 13, 2017

Chances are you’ve heard the Pacific chorus frogs’ call before. Its classic “rib-bit” is featured in basically any movie that needs frog noise.

The Pacific chorus frogs’ call is ubiquitous in the Northwest. But the amphibians are having more and more trouble hearing themselves.

Traffic is drowning them out.

During mating season the chorus of “rib-bit” “rib-bit” “rib-bit” attracts the females to ponds where they mate.

A tiny brown bat wriggles about John Huckabee’s gloved hands, voicing its displeasure with a high-pitched series of screeches and squawks.

The wildlife biologist expertly grasps one of the bat's wings and unfolds it. Bending close, he searches for telltale signs of infection.

“There are a few small deep pigmented areas of scarring,” Huckabee said, turning the bat over in his hands. “But overall looks like he’s in very good shape.”

A sow with two two-year old cubs.
FLICKR PHOTO/Gregory 'Slobirdr' Smith (CC BY-SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/ozF67K

There are fewer than 10 grizzly bears in the North Cascades, according to government estimates. U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the National Parks Service has a plan to bring them back. There are four possible options with choices range from do nothing at all to capturing bears from surrounding areas and placing them here in Washington.

National Geographic contributing photographer Joel Sartore is 11 years into a 25-year endeavor to document every captive animal species in the world using studio lighting and black-and-white backgrounds. So far, he's photographed 6,500 different species, which leaves approximately 6,000 to go.

B
Eilis O'Neil

Bill Johnson lives with his seven border collies in a log house that he built himself in the Teanaway Valley, just over the Cascade Mountains that divide rural eastern Washington state from the more urban western part.

Johnson’s been a cowboy here for about 16 years. When he started, there were no wolves around, but that changed about five years ago. He vividly remembers his first encounter with the returning predators.

He was driving out of the valley one night when a deer ran across the road.

The video of about a dozen hefty Siberian tigers chasing and batting a flying drone from the sky seemed a lighthearted reprieve from the more serious news of the day. But since sharing the footage, we've become aware that it may conceal a darker story.

Initially, Clint Perry wanted to make a vending machine for bumblebees. He wanted to understand how they solve problems.

Perry, a cognitive biologist at Queen Mary University of London, is interested in testing the limits of animal intelligence.

"I want to know: How does the brain do stuff? How does it make decisions? How does it keep memory?" says Perry. And how big does a brain need to be in order to do all of those things?

Steve Hinton has a pretty unusual mindset when it comes to his job.

“I try to think like a fish,” he says.

That’s a crucial part of Hinton’s job as the director of habitat restoration for the Swinomish Tribal Community and the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe. He spends a lot of his time trying to figure out how salmon will respond to obstacles in their way as they return from the Puget Sound, up the Skagit River, into little creeks and streams to spawn. One of the problems they encounter are road culverts.

Washington Grizzly Bear Public Meetings Kick Off

Feb 21, 2017

More than 100 people turned out Monday during a public meeting in Cle Elum to voice their opinions on reintroducing grizzly bears to the North Cascades. It was the first of eight meetings to be held across Washington.

Honey Bees May Be Harmed By Crop-Protecting Fungicides

Feb 21, 2017

You know those nasty brown spots that can ruin an otherwise perfectly delicious apple? Those spots--and other problems, like blossom blight and yellow leaves — are often caused by fungi. Apple growers usually fight back with fungicides — but, it turns out, those fungicides could be hurting honey bees.

“The long-standing assumption is that fungicides won’t be toxic to insects,” says May Berenbaum, an entomologist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Welcome to the bat cave. No, we're not talking about the secret headquarters of a superhero.

This is Gomantong — an ancient cave carved out of 20 million-year-old limestone in the middle of the Borneo rain forest in Malaysia. It's part of a vast network of tunnels and caverns. And it's the perfect hideout for bats.

Up at the top are millions of bats. Literally millions. They hang upside down all day long from the cave's ceiling, sleeping and pooping.

Polar bears aren't the only beloved Arctic animal threatened by climate change. Scientists believe reindeer are at risk as a warming world makes their main winter food source disappear.

But reindeer on one Alaskan island are surprising researchers.

And that surprise doesn't just come from the fact that the reindeer are hard to spot.

On St. Paul Island, Lauren Divine of the EcoSystem Conservation Office was not having luck seeing a herd of 400 reindeer, even on this treeless island with tundra as far as the eye can see.

Washington’s House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources hosted a public hearing Wednesday on a bill that proposes the partial delisting of wolves from the state’s endangered species list.

Sea Turtle Stranded Along Oregon Coast Dies

Feb 13, 2017

A sea turtle that washed up on Oregon’s beaches over the weekend has died.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium reported Monday the loggerhead turtle was stunned by cold waters, and succumbed to its injuries.

Loggerhead turtles are relatively rare to see on Oregon shores, with the last one to arriving here Christmas Eve 2007. It also died after just a single day of treatment.

About 16 pregnant ewes lounge beneath a lone tree on a ranch in north-central Washington's Methow Valley. They stand up, shaking snow from their heavy wool as Kate Haven and I walk closer.

Her two sheepdogs notice us from about a football field away. They recognize Haven, but not me — prompting them to start barking out of a sense of duty to protect their flock.

Urban development is encroaching on forests and impacting the love lives of some songbirds in the Pacific Northwest.

Citing the possible presence of pentobarbital, a chemical used to euthanize animals, pet food maker Evanger's has issued a partial recall of its popular Hunk of Beef Au Jus product. Several pugs grew ill after eating it on New Year's Eve; one of the dogs died.

As the company says in its FDA recall notice, "Pentobarbital can affect animals that ingest it, and possibly cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, or nausea, or in extreme cases, possibly death."

This is the second part in our series on wildlife and lead ammunition. Read part one here.

It was a typical phone call for Martha Jordan. Someone had found a sickly-looking swan; Jordan had better come collect the body.

Grizzly bears have been listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act since 1975. In Washington, they are considered endangered. Last week, federal officials unveiled their draft plan to reintroduce grizzlies in North Central Washington.

In a tiny island laboratory in the Northwesternmost corner of Washington, one marine biologist is on a mission: scan every known fish species in the world.

It’s a painstaking and smelly task, but one that promises to fundamentally change the way scientists and educators look at marine anatomy.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the rusty patched bumblebee an endangered species — the first such designation for a bumblebee and for a bee species in the continental U.S.

The protected status, which goes into effect on Feb. 10, includes requirements for federal protections and the development of a recovery plan. It also means that states with habitats for this species are eligible for federal funds.

When South Korea's mountain town of PyeongChang hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games next year, a white tiger and a black bear, respectively, will serve as mascots. They've been introduced as cuddly icons of Korean history and folklore.

'Uber For Veterinarians' Coming To Portland

Jan 6, 2017

Portland’s about to become home to a new kind of business: VetPronto. The company's founder describes it as an "Uber for veterinarians." VetPronto is scheduled to arrive in Portland at the end of January.

The pitch is that you can have a vet come to your home, instead of taking your pet to a clinic.

Sounds expensive, right?

“Yeah, that’s a common misconception," said company founder Joe Waltman.

He's already rolled the idea out in 10 cities.

Tilikum, possibly the most famous orca in the world, has died, according to SeaWorld Orlando.

He was the subject of the influential documentary Blackfish, and outcry over his story prompted SeaWorld to stop breeding orcas in captivity.

The vaquita is a small porpoise found only in the northern Gulf of California, in Mexico. Today, the species is critically endangered, with less than 60 animals left in the wild, thanks to fishing nets to catch fish and shrimp for sale in Mexico and America. The animal is an accidental victim of the fishing industry, as are many other marine mammals.

Adam Truitt, owner of Pest Fighter, sets traps for rats in an alley behind the University Book Store in Seattle. There are two kinds of rats in Seattle, the Norway rat and the roof rat.
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

2017 may not be a good year for Seattle’s booming rat population.

The city’s new building code as of Jan. 1 requires developers to get rid of rats from any property they plan to tear down.

Annual Bird Count Opens A Window Into Climate Change

Dec 30, 2016

Scott Atkinson and Diana Antunes are tramping around a flooded field in an abandoned farm just north of Everett. They pick their way through blackberry brambles and wade through water halfway up to their knees. Antunes stops short when she spots something in the distance.

“What do you got?” Atkinson asks her.

Antunes points to a peregrine falcon perched on a tree, eating a bird.

“Oh! Nicely done!” Atkinson says.

After the results of the November election, more than half of U.S. states have now authorized medical marijuana. And eight of those states also allow recreational marijuana. So if pot helps some humans feel better, how about people's best friends?

Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered a sound coming from one of the deepest spots in the ocean. They believe it’s the song of a Minke whale, but it’s not like any they’ve identified before.

The so-called “Western Pacific Biotwang” is more horror movie than Nashville ballad. A low moan at the beginning is typical of baleen whales, but it was the end that caught the ear of OSU researcher Sharon Nieukirk.

“What makes this call special is the second part, and the way it sweeps way up and it sort of has that metallic twang sound to it,” she said.

Wondering if your pet rat is feeling happy? You should check its ears, researchers say.

A team of scientists in Switzerland found that a rat's ears are more pinkish and are positioned at a more relaxed angle when it is experiencing positive emotions. The researchers recently published their findings in the journal Plos One.

Pages