This week instead of an already endangered species we decided to focus on a creature that is currently threatened, and on their way to endangered: the Great Plains Bison.
Symbols of strength and determination, bison are Ice Age survivors. Clearing away snow and brush with their massive heads, they weigh up to 2,000 pounds and can run up to 40 miles per hour. Once numbering 30-60 million in North America, their numbers were decimated in just a few decades as expansion pressed westward. No other species on Earth has declined so quickly. Several Native American tribes are working with the World Wildlife Foundation to grow bison numbers once again across vast grasslands under their management.
Historically bison were the dominant grazer on the Northern Great Plains landscape. This dominance shaped the landscape by affecting the pattern and structure of the grasses and vegetation that grew. Expansive areas of native grasslands allowed animals to flourish along with many species of other prairie wildlife.
Today, the largest remaining wild herd of approximately 4,500 individuals can be found in Yellowstone National Park. Large North American grazers including the plains bison traditionally roamed across millions of acres, which kept the grasslands and herds healthy and diverse. However, early settlement and current land uses by present day communities have redefined where these large animals are able to roam. WWF’s Northern Great Plains Program is working with National Parks, native tribal communities, and its ranching partners to find common ground on returning bison to suitable intact prairie landscapes.
The below picture is of our receptionist on her journey home from Alaska through Canada with a Bison!
The Indo-Pacific finless porpoise, or finless porpoise, is one of seven porpoise species. Most of the population has been found around the Korean peninsula in the Yellow and East China Seas, although a freshwater population is found around Jiuduansha near Shanghai at the mouth of China’s Yangtze River. Genetic studies indicate that the finless porpoise is the most basal living member of the porpoise family.
The Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia, used to be one of the only two rivers in the world that was home to two different species of dolphin—the Yangtze finless porpoise and the Baiji dolphin. However, in 2006 the Baiji dolphin was declared functionally extinct. This was the first time in history that an entire species of dolphin had been wiped off the planet because of human activity. Its close cousin, the Yangtze finless porpoise, is known for its mischievous smile and has a level of intelligence comparable to that of a gorilla.
Finless porpoises need an abundant food supply for survival. The destruction of the Baiji dolphin food supply was central to its extinction. Overfishing is the main factor that contributes to the decrease in finless porpoises’ food supply, but pollution and ship movement are factors as well.
For more information or to help these awesome creatures please visit World Wildlife.
With spring popping up all over the place, we wanted to touch on a few troublesome areas that come about with the changing weather.
Similar to humans, pets can suffer from allergies due to the increase in grass growth and pollen. Also, we have already begun to notice a dramatic increase in tick population. We strongly recommend tick prevention for all outdoor pets as these little pests tend to carry a slew of infectious diseases , including lymes disease. And as the foliage continues to grow, so does our favorite weed, the foxtail.
Foxtail season is an incredibly busy season for us at Meadow Vista Vet because they are everywhere in the Auburn area! Dogs (and cats!) can get a foxtail stuck pretty much anywhere and they are painful! Foxtails look harmless and fuzzy, but they have barbed sprigs that when lodged in a paw or ear, can cause some serious damage! Try to avoid letting your pets run through fields to avoid having one of these stuck up your dogs nose.
Lastly, and most importantly, we want to make sure you are keeping your pets up to date on their rabies vaccinations. We haven’t had any official reports of rabies, but we have seen several dogs that have had a run in with skunks in the area that are acting “odd.” A lot of people think of rabies and they picture bats, but actually a lot of the local ground critters such as raccoons, and skunks are likely carriers of the disease. If your pet comes in contact with wildlife, we recommend boostering their rabies vaccination as soon as possible after the incident, followed by close monitoring for behavioral changes.
Right now, if you purchase a box of Nexgard (flea and tick preventative) we will send you home with a free Kong chew toy!! If you have any questions about any of this information, please give us a call!!
We’d like to introduce you all to our endangered species of the week, the Pangolin! Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal in the world, which is surprising because we only just learned about them in our recent research into endangered species.
Pangolins have large, protective keratin scales covering their skin; they are the only known mammals with this adaptation. They live in hollow trees or burrows, depending on the species. Pangolins are nocturnal, and their diet consists of mainly ants and termites which they capture using their long tongues. They tend to be solitary animals, meeting only to mate and produce a litter of one to three offspring which are raised for about two years. Pangolins are threatened by hunting (for their meat and scales) and heavy deforestation of their natural habitats, and are the most trafficked mammals in the world. Of the eight species of pangolin, four (Phataginus tetradactyla, P. tricuspis, Smutsia gigantea, and S. temminckii) are listed as vulnerable, two (Manis crassicaudata and M. culionensis) are listed as endangered, and two (M. pentadactyla and M. javanica) are listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
On Sunday morning a local pony was attacked by two pit bulls, leaving it with skinned legs, and over 300 stitches in his face. A neighboring family heard the pony’s screams around dawn, and ran over to try and help. After calling a mobile vet, the pony was taken to an emergency clinic and is now resting at home, currently stable.
We chose to share this story for a couple of reasons: First, we like to stay connected with local news and stories involving animals, and secondly we want to stress the importance of proper animal care.
It is unfortunate that this particular story involves pit bulls, because we at Meadow Vista Veterinary Clinic have had nothing but positive experiences with this breed of dog, who continually seem to get a bad reputation. We definitely believe that mean dogs are not born, they are made. Which is why we mention proper animal care, because it is the mistreatment of animals that leads to situations such as this.
We strongly encourage the socialization of dogs (after being fully vaccinated) with both humans and other dogs. This encourages animals to trust animals and can help prevent confrontation. Also, having a secure place to keep dogs if you have to leave them is very important! When animals get out they can feel lost and scared, which leads to a protective state that comes across as aggression.
If you have heard anything about the attack please let the local police know, as both dogs are still presumably on the loose.
To read Eor the ponies story, please click here.