Animals of Interest

Nancy Rogowski

ElephantImageA recent edition of the ScienceTimes, a section of the NY Times includes several noteworthy animal articles. Elephants Get the Point of Pointing, by Carl Zimmer writes about a new research lead by Dr. Byrne’s suggesting elephants understand human pointing, a rare gift in the animal kingdom.   Dr. Byrne’s states, “Even our closest relatives, like chimpanzees, don’t seem to get the point of pointing.”  Researchers have done tests, such as putting food in one of two identical containers and then silently point at the one with food.  Primates and most other animals studied fail the test, some have done well, such as domesticated mammals, especially dogs.  These results have prompted researchers to speculate that during domestication animals evolve to become keenly aware of humans.  Dr. Byrne’s began to wonder if elephants would pass the pointing test, so last year one of his students went to Zimbabwe, and for 2 months tested 11 elephants.  The study found that 67.5% of the time elephants could follow the pointing.  Dr. Byrne’s would also like to study the pointing test on whales and dolphins but thinks “they make elephants look easy to work with.”

Think Elephant International, a not-for-profit organization that str

meekratsimage

ives to promote elephant conservation through scientific research and educational programming announced a study on April 17, 2013 co-authored by 12-14 year old students from East Side Middle School in NYC, revealing elephants were not able to recognize visual cues provided by humans, although they were more responsive to voice commends.  The study is a three-year endeavor to mooseimagecreate a comprehensive middle school curriculum that brings elephant into classrooms as a way to educate young people about conservation by getting them directly involved in work with endangered species. This research tested elephant pointing to find food hidden in one of two buckets, and the elephants failed this Continue reading

The Return of a Majestic Giant

Travis Brown

The moose (Alces Alces Americana) population is beginning to rebound in New York State.  Moose constitute the largest member of the deer family and with once dwindling population levels, New York is now enjoying a healthy resurgence of a once scant creature.  Standing as tall as six and a half feet, measured from the shoulder to the ground (leaving their neck and head much, much higher), moose were once the target of aggressive hunting practices in the Northeastern states of the US.  Population numbers did not start to recover until 1935 when Maine prohibited the hunting of moose.  From 1950 to 1990, moose populations in Maine nearly tripled from 7,000 to 20,000.  This marked increase was noticed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) in 2010.  Continue reading

Deer Culling in Westchester — Rhetoric vs. Reality

I recently received the email below from my colleague (and occasional guest-blogger), Vanessa Merton.  I found the topic so interesting (and topical — see the panther post below) and the email such a good read that I asked her if I could post it on the blawg.  She agreed and so…

deer suburbs

David, I didn’t see this subject referenced on the blawg under “deer” or “hunting”, but I’m imagining that you’re well aware of the major deer “culling” (killing) movement developing all around our immediate area: in my little, recently highly gentrified, home town 12 miles from Times Square, we may have a major deer kill by this winter, probably executed (J) by sharpshooters or maybe bow hunters – see http://hastingsgov.org/W/EMAIL/2009/DEERUPDATE.html .  And of course, similar government-sponsored (not merely permitted, but sponsored) kills have been proposed for Westchester County parks — http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/lohud/access/1719154751.html?FMT=ABS&date=May+17,+2009 – and across the Hudson in Rockland County — http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/lohud/access/1723951371.html?FMT=ABS&date=May+21,+2009 .   (These “solutions”, billed as interim if not final, may soon embrace moose as well – see news story below.)

I recently sat through the first Hastings-on-Hudson legislative hearing on a deer hunt proposal and was struck by the intensity of the many advocates for mass killing and the frequency of their use of the term “rats with hooves.”  The “cull” (I wish I had time to look up the etymology of that word – it’s so exquisitely clinical) proponents proclaimed themselves “animal lovers” and said that those who opposed systematic killing of deer were NOT animal lovers but rather (with an acid tone of contempt) “deer lovers,” because deer so ravage the natural habitat, other wildlife are driven out or starved.  (I’m a little hazy on the mechanics of this phenomenon – the deer eat what skunks and possums and raccoons eat? — but apparently it’s all documented in the legislative report.)  That rhetoric adroitly raises the issue: what is the right position for an animal advocate when confronted with government proposals to exterminate or at least vastly reduce a given animal population such as rats, lice, bedbugs, mosquitoes, etc.?  (I have to tell you, if I could wave a wand or even fire a .22 and kill all the mosquitoes on earth, I’m pretty sure I’d do it.  The bats can learn to eat something else.)

Continue reading

Yet Another Reason to Never Vote For Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin implemented a program to encourage the hunting of wolves in order to eliminate the natural predators of moose and caribou. Why? So that Alaskan hunters could have more moose and caribou to kill. She also asked Bush to exclude polar bears from the endangered species list. Watch this recent video of Palin’s interview while turkeys are being slaughtered for yet another reason to never vote for her. 

Luis Chiesa