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Boats have to stay 200 yards away from the Northwest’s endangered resident killer whales. But what if one of those boaters launches an aerial drone to take better pictures from closer up?

It's not a theoretical question. And the answer is not as clear as law enforcement would like.

This weekend, thousands of environmental protesters will rally to block the oil flowing to refineries near Anacortes, Washington. But some worry the event may also block the Salish Sea’s largest colony of great blue herons from feeding their young.

Oregon Spotted Frog
Flickr Photo/USFWS Pacific Region, Teal Waterstrat (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/ajZhmE

On Monday federal officials defined the critical habitat for a rare Northwest creature: the Oregon spotted frog. That designation is required since the frog was listed as threatened in 2014.

You'd be lucky to see or hear this frog.


A new environmental nonprofit is scouting the Pacific Northwest coast for a suitable cove or bay to establish a refuge for retired captive orca and beluga whales.

The board and staff of the new outfit, called The Whale Sanctuary Project, includes a number of people who helped return Keiko, the star of the Free Willy movie, to Icelandic waters from Newport, Oregon.

Deep in the ocean, a mission is underway to explore the "unknown and poorly known areas" around the Mariana Trench.

Bioethicist Jessica Pierce includes pets — or "animal companions" — among her family members: a cat, two dogs and fish.

So, it's startling to read this passage near the beginning of her new book released this week, Run, Spot, Run: The Ethics of Keeping Pets:

For the Greatest Show on Earth, there is no longer an elephant in the room. The 145-year-old Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus held its last show featuring elephants Sunday night, in a move that's being applauded by animal rights activists.

Ringling announced its plan last spring, saying it is sending all its Asian elephants to live on the company's Florida nature reserve. The original plan called for phasing out elephants' role in the circus by 2018. But in January, Ringling's parent company, Feld Entertainment, said it was moving up the timetable.

The bald eagle may soon have a large, furry friend: The North American bison is on the verge of being named the first national mammal of the United States.

The House approved the National Bison Legacy Act on Tuesday, and it passed the Senate on Thursday. Now it's awaiting President Obama's signature to become law.

A small mammal has sabotaged the world's most powerful scientific instrument.

The Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile superconducting machine designed to smash protons together at close to the speed of light, went offline overnight. Engineers investigating the mishap found the charred remains of a furry creature near a gnawed-through power cable.

The newest apiary inspector at the Maryland Department of Agriculture has four legs, golden fur and a powerful sniffer.

Mack, a 2-year-old yellow Lab, joined the team last fall to help his mom, chief apiary inspector Cybil Preston, inspect beehives for American foulbrood — AFB — a highly contagious bacterial disease that infects honeybee brood and, eventually, kills the colony.

Lucy, a golden retriever from Connecticut, is a dog of the future. Imagine this: As she trots down a suburban street, a girl with a scooter can't help but stare. Attached to Lucy's collar is a leash, and attached to her leash is a small quadcopter drone. When the drone moves to the left, she looks up at it and follows along.

Douglass Brown was walking down Titlow Beach in Tacoma with a girl he liked when he saw a giant thing – that looked like an octopus tentacle – emerge from the water. He ran, screaming.
Illustration by Tom Dougherty

Douglass Brown was 15 when he saw a giant tentacle emerge from Puget Sound.

He was in Tacoma, walking down the beach with a girl he liked. Then he looked out at the water.

Inky is out.

Inky, an octopus who is about the size of a basketball and of undetermined age, has lammed it out of his tank at the National Aquarium of New Zealand and is at large somewhere in Hawke's Bay, on the east coast of New Zealand's north island.

Its populations were first damaged by trapping and logging, and more recently faced a threat from rat poison used by illegal marijuana farms in Southern Oregon and Northern California.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

A weasel-like creature that lives in northwest forests will remain unprotected. Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it won't list the fisher as an endangered species. That decision could affect the animal's population across the west.

A well-loved octopus named Inky escaped recently from the National Aquarium in New Zealand.

Aquarium manager Rob Yarrall says the lid to the octopus’ tank was left slightly ajar after maintenance one night.  

"He found this rather tempting, climbed out,” Yarrall says, “and he managed to make his way to one of the drain holes that go back to the ocean, and off he went, and didn't even leave us a message, just off and went!"

The escape happened earlier this year, and hit the New Zealand national press Tuesday.

Are Pandas Bad For Washington?

Apr 12, 2016
pandas
Flickr Photo/iheartpandas (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/kvuifK

David Plotz has one message for Northwest animal lovers when they consider adding pandas to their zoos in the next year: Don’t do it.

“Pandas have been duping us for a generation now,” Plotz said. “These animals don't want to survive. They're evolutionarily a dead end. They don't take care of their children. They don't breed. They eat only one food.”

The Oregon Department of Agriculture plans to spray an organic insecticide across thousands of acres of North Portland and Vancouver, Washington, over the next month to eradicate invasive gypsy moths.

Poaching and destruction of habitat have decimated wild tiger populations around the world, especially in Cambodia.

There are no longer any breeding tigers left in the wild in that country, and the species is considered "functionally extinct" there, according to the World Wildlife Foundation.

In Chicago, one neighborhood's rat problem is about to get a lot worse.

Crews are preparing to tear down an old hospital and when the wrecking ball starts swinging, the rodents living in and underneath the aging structure will scurry.

The city and the developer are setting poison baits and traps to help control the problem, but some residents are turning to one of the rats' worst enemies instead — cats.

Construction On Old Buildings Worsens Rat Problem

Officials confirmed this brown bat found in King County, Washington, contracted white-nose-syndrome.
Courtesy of Progressive Animal Welfare Society

Jeannie Yandel talks with Earthfix reporter Jes Burns about a deadly fungus called white nose syndrome that's killed millions of bats on the East coast. In March, a single bat with white nose syndrome was discovered in Washington state. Burns talks about what the spread of this syndrome could do to the state's ecosystem and agriculture. 

Oregon Kills 4 Wolves After Confirming Livestock Attacks

Mar 31, 2016

Oregon wildlife officials killed four wolves in northeastern Oregon Thursday after determining they are responsible for killing too many livestock.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday that information transmitted from collared wolves in the Imnaha pack allowed the agency to confirm that four pack members have been chronically preying on livestock.

A devastating disease that has killed millions of bats in the eastern United States has now been confirmed in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time white nose syndrome has been found west of the Rocky Mountains.

In mid-March, a hiker on a mountain trail east of Seattle found an ailing bat and brought it into a local animal hospital. Two days later, the bat was dead. A government lab confirmed it had an advanced case of white nose syndrome.

Scientists have discovered a well-preserved 305 million-year-old arachnid that is "almost a spider" in France. In a new journal article, they say the fossil sheds some light on the origins of "true" spiders.

The main point of distinction: This newly discovered arachnid very likely could produce silk but lacked the spinnerets used by true spiders to, well, spin it, the scientists say. The researchers say it belongs to a "sister group" to the real-deal spiders.

An orca pod travels past the Seattle skyline. A new study shows that pods are most likely led by older females.
Courtesy of NOAA/Candice Emmons

Bill Radke speaks with Joe Gaydos, chief scientist for the University of California Davis Wildlife on Orcas Island, about the creation of individual health care records for all the resident orcas in Puget Sound. 

A century ago, your typical chicken was really kind of scrawny. It took about four months to grow to a weight of 3 pounds. One result: Americans really didn't eat much chicken.

Today, the typical broiler, or meat chicken, turns feed into meat at a mind-boggling pace. Compared with the bird of yesteryear, it grows to twice the size in half the time. But some animal welfare advocates want the poultry industry to turn back the clock. Modern meat chickens are growing so fast, they say, that they are suffering.

Most people have a colleague or two who don't seem to do much work at work. They're in the break room watching March Madness, or they disappear for a two-hour coffee break.

For Allison Lamb, that person is her cubicle mate. Lamb is a statistical clerk for a company in Fishers, Ind., who says she likes her job and has a good work ethic. So it irritates her to see her cubicle mate ignoring her duties, disappearing with her friends and keeping her nose in her cellphone all day talking, texting and gaming.

It seems to Lamb that her colleague flaunts her do-nothing attitude.

At a rally in Portland, Ore., on Friday morning, Bernie Sanders had an unexpected visitor.

And the crowd went wild.

If you haven't seen it yet, here's the video:

Japanese Fleet Kills 333 Whales In The Antarctic

Mar 25, 2016

Japan's whaling fleet has returned to base with the carcasses of 333 minke whales, in apparent violation of a ruling by the International Court of Justice.

Reuters quoted a statement by Japan's Fisheries Agency that said 103 male and 230 female whales were caught during the fleet's summer expedition to Antarctic waters. Ninety percent of the mature females were pregnant.

Here in California we worry a lot about the "Monkey Mind." You know, the noisy thoughts that jump and trip and interrupt your meditation.

But what's really going on inside the mind of a monkey?

A bunch of my Facebook friends — cognitive scientists, professors, students of the mind, one and all — were more excited than a barrel of monkeys this week over some videos of monkeys and apes confronted with stage magic that have been making the rounds.

Take exhibit one, for example, here.

A still from Chris Morgan's short movie about grizzly bears.
grizzlybearfilm.org

If you feel like you're just waking up from a long winter, you're not alone. Bears feel the same way. And they're out and about in the North Cascades.

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