Texas ocelots get life-saving passages at last


This video from the USA says about itself:

12 April 2013

A phantom cat secretively stalks the remnants of thick, thorny brush in southernmost Texas. Biologists estimate there are less than 50 rare ocelots clinging to a precarious existence in deep South Texas

The last foothold of this strikingly beautiful cat in the United States are two small breeding populations on remote ranchlands and Laguna Atarscosa National Wildlife Refuge where private landowners are working with state and federal agencies to save the endangered ocelot.

From Takepart.com in the USA:

Texas Builds a Wildlife Highway to Help Endangered Ocelots Survive

As deaths of the rare cats mount, the Lone Star state finally builds safe passage around dangerous roads.

May 27, 2016

Richard Conniff is the author of House of Lost Worlds: Dinosaurs, Dynasties, and the Story of Life on Earth, and other books.

Back in the fall of 2014, I took a whack at the Texas Department of Transportation for treating the nation’s only viable population of endangered ocelots—beautiful spotted cats about twice the size of a house cat—as fodder for roadkill. The department had flagrantly disregarded recommendations from wildlife experts on the critical need for safe road crossings, instead installing an impassable concrete barrier down the center of a busy highway bordering a national wildlife refuge.

TxDot, as it’s known, responded with a note suggesting that it was hurt, deeply hurt, by my suggestion that it was anything less than acutely sensitive to the needs of wildlife. But it would cost $1 million apiece for crossings in the area of that concrete barrier. Not that anyone was counting. They had only asked whether it was worth spending that kind of money on a species nearing extinction in this country so they could “learn and understand the historical dynamics of wildlife survival.” This was at a time when the relevant dynamic was that highway accidents were causing 40 percent of all ocelot deaths.

But occasionally good things happen, even in the unlikeliest places. So I am delighted to report that TxDot is now doing something to protect ocelots in their last remaining patch of habitat. (It may have helped that you and readers of other articles about the plight of the ocelots let your feelings be known, so thank you for that.) The state last month began installation of a dozen wildlife underpasses in and around the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, a 98,000-acre coastal habitat near Brownsville, at the mouth of the Rio Grande.

Four of them, spaced at half-mile intervals, will help ocelots get around (or under) that concrete divider on Highway 100, which runs south of Laguna Atascosa and carries heavy vacation traffic to South Padre Island. Another eight are already being put into place on FM106, which may sound like a radio station but is actually a farm-to-market road that borders and runs through Laguna Atascosa. The work there will cost just $1 million, because the tunnels are part of an overall upgrading of the road; the retrofit on Highway 100 will cost $5 million.

The work is happening at a critical moment for the ocelots. Fewer than 100 of them survive in and around the refuge, and seven have died in road accidents since last June. “We were devastated, since almost a year had passed with no reports of ocelots hit by cars,” said Hilary Swarts, a wildlife biologist who monitors the ocelots for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. That first death took out an adult female, a major loss because females are the limiting factor in population growth. “Males can go impregnate multiple females in a relatively short time, but females have to gestate and lactate,” said Swarts. “Basically a female, from the second she gets pregnant, you’re talking about two years before she’s ready to have another offspring.”

Each gender has its little hell. The other six highway victims were males, not surprisingly, said Swarts, “since they have such a rough time of it once the older males start to see the younger males as competition for mates and territory.” The younger males typically get pushed out of the dense, brushy habitat where they grew up and into the increasingly developed outside world with its deadly highways.

While the progress on wildlife crossings is good news, it may not be enough to protect the ocelots adequately. Three of the recent deaths took place on a road called Highway 186, about five miles north of the refuge, where wildlife crossings are under discussion but are not actually being built. Last fall TxDot posted signs saying “Wildlife Crossing—Next Two Miles,” but it doesn’t appear to have helped: Another male died there just last month.

In addition to the new wildlife crossings, the refuge is working with neighboring landowners to establish permanent wildlife corridors for ocelots and other species in the area. Private landowners already have more of the ocelots than does the refuge itself, said Laguna Atascosa manager Boyd Blihovde. “Many times ranchers that are interested in hunting, even though they have crops or cattle on the property, will want to preserve native vegetation,” he said, including the thorn scrub vegetation that ocelots require. “My goal as a refuge manager is to help ranchers continue doing what they’re doing, owning and protecting the land, and maintaining a working ranch so they don’t feel the need to sell it off to developers.”

Subdivisions are almost as deadly as highways for the ocelots. Blihovde said the recent settlement in the BP Deepwater Horizon case will help that cause, with new funding available for ranchers to enter into conservation easements that will keep them on the land while protecting the conservation value of the property in perpetuity.

Meanwhile, two-and-a-half cheers for TxDot for getting the highway ocelot crossings started. And three cheers for those rare sensible people among us who drive a little bit slower than they might like, not just around Laguna Atascosa but anywhere with enough room for wildlife to thrive. I was driving on the coast of Maine the other day—yes, a little over the speed limit—and I had a sick feeling when a chipmunk bolted out in front and went thump under the left rear wheel. And that was just a lousy chipmunk. You don’t want to know what it must feel like to kill an endangered ocelot.

Another problem for the survival of ocelots in Texas is the difficulty in connecting with larger ocelot populations south of the US-Mexican border. George W Bush’s wall along the border already has done much damage to wildlife; and a still bigger Donald Trump wall would do still more damage.

Texas white supremacists want massacre of Muslims


This video from Texas in the USA says about itself:

5 April 2016

The Bureau of American Islamic Relations (BAIR) enjoys showing up at Muslim prayer centers armed with firearms in an effort to intimidate people trying to worship.

The hate group expected an average day of bigotry and aggression at the Nation of Islam mosque on Martin Luther King Boulevard in South Dallas, only to find themselves outnumbered by the armed self-defense group waiting for them.

Members of the community, along with the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the Huey P Newton Gun Club, were there to protect the Muslims from the BAIR demonstrators.

Both groups made the most of open carry laws in Texas that allow residents to carry AK-47s and rifles on the streets.

There was a heavy police presence at the scene.

BAIR didn’t stay long, after being encouraged to leave by the police, Fox 4 reports.

“The community here in South Dallas, on Martin Luther King and Malcolm X spoke out, and you should see today, it wasn’t the Huey P Newton Gun Club that ran BAIR out of the community, it was the residents, and the people who live here who got BAIR out of here,” Balogun said.

From RT.com:

Extremist group in Texas trains to shoot Muslims with bullets dipped in pig blood

Published time: 29 May, 2016 11:43

Edited time: 29 May, 2016 11:52

An extremist group of white men in Texas are training against a Muslim “uprising” by dipping their bullets in pig’s blood and bacon grease to target victims.

The so-called “Bureau of American Islamic Relations” (BAIR) said using pig products to line the bullets would ensure victims would “go straight to hell,” according to a video released by AJ+.

This BAIR, this ‘Christian’ ISIS, reminds me of the ‘Muslim’ ISIS; who are afraid of death by the Kurdish women’s militia, as being killed by a woman supposedly leads to going to hell.

“A lot of us here are using either pig’s blood or bacon grease on our bullets, packing it in the middle so that when you shoot a Muslim, they go straight to hell,” says one man in the video, while another insists, “Don’t f*ck with white people.”

READ MORE: Florida gun-maker designs ‘ISIS-proof’ assault rifle

David Wright, spokesperson for the radical group, said he was “going to start doing something” about Muslims “now.”

READ MORE: ‘Islamophobia: New face of racism for the 21st century‘ — RT Op-Edge

“The next step in jihad does not involve random, sporadic attacks,” he told the news outlet. “They started killing people. Do you really expect me to stand here and wait until we get to that point?”

BAIR, which is based in the city of Irving, home of Ahmed Mohamed, the “clock boy”, fears of a takeover by thousands of Muslim refugees. The concern, however, appears to be short lived. From 2012 till 2015, the US accepted approximately 2,174 Syrian refugees, the Guardian reports. Despite that, the group already staged protests against accepting any asylum seekers.

“If you get to the point where there’s an Arab Spring, where there’s a lot of radical Muslims here and they all decide to hit the streets at one time… that’s going to be more of a battlefield type situation,” Wright adds.

Dressed in army overalls, several men from the group fire bullets from various locations as part of their training.

BAIR members have also staged armed protests outside mosques in Texas against the “Islamization of America.”

READ MORE: Massive ‘Islamophobia industry’ flourishes in US — RT Op-Edge

Islamophobic attitudes have been increasing in the US. In 2015, a YouGov poll showed that 55 percent of Americans have an “unfavorable” opinion of Islam.

Beth Van Duyne, the mayor of Irving, fuelled further tension by recently leading the city’s council to support a state bill with the purpose of blocking Muslim influence in US courts.

An “anti-Bair” Facebook group page was started by people from various religious backgrounds as a counter protest against the group.

Texas barn owls news update


This video from the USA is called Texas Barn Owl Part 4. Owls have had enough [of inquisitive wood duck] 24 04 2016.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA wrote about this nest box yesterday:

All six eggs in the Texas Barn Owls nest hatched successfully this year, and we are celebrating the excellent care that parents Dottie and Dash have been providing.

As with many of our nests, the Barn Owls experience something called “hatching asynchrony,” which means that the eggs hatch out in the order they were laid, sometimes days apart. In the case of our nest, there were nearly 11 days between the first and last eggs’ hatching, and when the sixth egg hatched, the oldest nestling was around three times the size of the newly hatched owlet! The upside of having so many young at once is that if the parents are able to bring extraordinarily good supply of prey to the nest, then all of the owlets will survive. However, there is a downside—in more challenging years, the youngest or smallest nestlings don’t make it.

This is the reality of being a Barn Owl nestling—sadly, it is rare for all Barn Owl hatchlings to survive to fledging. One 16-year study in Utah found that, on average, only 63 percent of eggs laid hatched and 87 percent of hatchlings survived to fledging. Similar observations have been made on Barn Owl nests in other parts of the world and on this cam.

These are natural conditions affecting wild birds so we will not intervene at the nest. Our Bird Cams are intended to interfere with nature as little as possible, and as in real life, nature shows us beautiful and profound moments as well as moments that seem difficult to comprehend at times. At the Cornell Lab, we look to nature as our teacher and we hope that you, like us, will choose to watch, question, and learn from what we see.

For now, the parents have been able to bring ample prey to the nest and all of the owlets are receiving food and growing as expected. We are keeping our fingers crossed that Dash continues to be an excellent provider of prey—thanks for sharing the experience with us.

Townsend’s solitaire drinks, video


This video from the USA says about itself:

26 January 2016

A Townsend’s Solitaire drinking in Texas. These are long-tailed gray birds of the high western mountains, descending in the winter to lower elevations where they feed almost exclusively on juniper berries. Look out for their white eye ring, white outer tail feathers and buffy wing patch.

Video recorded by Timothy Barksdale/Macaulay Library.

George W Bush’s ‘super Berlin’ wall damages wildlife


This 2012 video is called Photos and video of wildlife stranded at the US-Mexico border wall.

From Newsweek in the USA:

The Environmental Impact of the U.S.-Mexico Border Wall

By Melissa Gaskill On 2/14/16 at 2:28 PM

A line of 18-foot-tall steel posts placed four inches apart cuts like a scar across the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge near McAllen, Texas. It’s a stretch of a barrier extending intermittently across 650 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border from California to Texas, and presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio vow to enlarge it if elected.

The barrier is intended to deter illegal immigration and smuggling. Whether it has achieved those aims remains unclear, but what is clear in this part of Texas is that sections of the barrier bisect and isolate public and private lands, threatening to decimate wildlife habitats and leaving communities on both sides of the border that rely on wildlife tourism to wither.

Bats at former military base


This video from the USA says about itself:

World’s largest bat colony – over 40 million bats – BBC wildlife

Enter the deep toxic bat caves of Texas USA and take a closer look at the breeding skills and survival instincts of bat young.

Soesterberg in Utrecht province in the Netherlands used to be an air force base.

Now, it is reconstructed as a nature reserve.

Bats winter there. Mostly Daubenton’s bats, but also Natterer’s bats and greater long-eared bats.

Bat ‘Super Immunity’ To Lethal Diseases Could Help Protect People: here. And here.

Rufous-crowned sparrow drinks, video


This video from the USA says about itself:

27 January 2016

A Rufous-crowned Sparrow has a drink at a bowl of water in Texas. These bulky, long-tailed sparrows forage on the ground beneath sparse shrubs and grasses. They are not strong fliers and prefer to walk or run when on the move.