Animals

Fly Fishing Is Big In Central PA. Can We Keep It That Way?

Aug 15, 2018
Julie Grant

For people searching for the best fly-fishing spots to catch wild trout in the U.S., central Pennsylvania still makes top 10 lists, despite pollution from agriculture and development. The Allegheny Front went to meet some of the people who are working to keep these premier streams clean.

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It’s just before sunset, and 27-year-old Matt Kowalchuk is standing in the river, near the bank of Penns Creek in central Pennsylvania, not far from State College. He’s a fly-fishing guide, and chooses a leggy-looking lure from his box. It’s meant to catch wild trout.

technician at a veterinary clinic in east Denver.
David Zalubowski / AP

The Allegheny County Health Department says a groundhog brought to one of its facilities after a dog killed it in Mount Lebanon has tested positive for rabies.

Officials say this is the ninth rabid animal reported in the county so far this year. The others were four raccoons and four bats.

County residents are being warned to avoid stray animals and wildlife, even if the animals appear healthy. They should also have their pets vaccinated and watch for unusual behavior.

Building A Better Bat Cave

Jun 5, 2018
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

To save the bats of Pennsylvania, Greg Turner wants to build a better bat cave. Turner is a biologist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. His latest renovation project is a cave under a hillside in Central Pennsylvania. Indian Caverns used to be commercial cave, and there’s still an abandoned gift shop with fake display plants. It closed last year, and now the state is in the process of acquiring it as a way to preserve bats.

The Lure Of The Saw-Whet Owl

Apr 19, 2018

The Northern saw-whet owl is the symbolic face of conservation in Pennsylvania. The Wild Resource Conservation Program uses a saw-whet owl as its emblem, and the Commonwealth featured a saw-whet owl on its first specialty state license plate in 1993.

Fish, Birds And Mussels Get Their Own Business Plan In Pennsylvania

Apr 12, 2018

A new conservation strategy is underway in Western Pennsylvania. The Western Pennsylvania Business Plan for Restoration of Healthy Forests and Freshwater Habitat prioritizes funding for projects that focus on key species in important ecosystems to ultimately restore healthy forests and freshwater habitat in the region. The plan was developed with numerous conservation groups headed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Niven Sabherwal / 90.5 WESA

Grazing goats are getting the go-ahead to keep munching on Pittsburgh's weeds and brush.

The City Council has given preliminary approval to a five-year deal with a nonprofit group that uses goats to reduce unwanted vegetation in parks and other city properties.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports a final vote on the agreement with Allegheny GoatScape is expected Tuesday.

Can This Bird Survive Climate Change? The Answer Could Be In Its DNA

Mar 15, 2018
Mary Corporan Dunn / Flickr

new study in the journal Science finds there are genetic differences in yellow warblers that live in different parts of the U.S. and Canada, and some of those populations seem to be more genetically vulnerable to climate change than others.

Rachael Bay is the lead author of the study, at the University of California-Davis and the Bird Genoscape Project.

Visitors From Asia Flock To Snow Geese Spectacle In Pennsylvania

Mar 5, 2018
Elaine Thompson / AP

It's 6:30 a.m. at Willow Point, a peninsula in the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area and though it's foggy and not yet light, about 75 people are already clustered together listening to an estimated 135,000 snow geese psyching themselves into a take-off.

Hunched over expensive cameras mounted on tripods and holding up cell phones to capture the roar, it's hard not to notice that more than half the onlookers are Asian-Americans or visitors from China.

Are Pipelines To Blame For Decline In Ancient Salamanders?

Feb 9, 2018
Dave Herasimtschuk / Freshwaters Illustrated

As the natural gas industry matures in our region, construction of big transmission pipelines like the Constitution and the Rover continue make headlines. But there are also thousands of miles of smaller pipelines being built in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to connect drilling well pads to the energy distribution system. These lines have far less oversight and could be having big impacts on smaller streams, and the wildlife that lives there.

Center for Biological Diversity / AP

An environmental group wants couples to think of wild animals before acting like them this Valentine's Day.

The Center for Biological Diversity is handing out endangered species condoms at the Carnegie Science Center's adults-only Valentine's event Friday in Pittsburgh.

The wrappers feature colorful artwork and slogans like "Before it gets any hotter...remember the sea otter," and "Can't refrain? Think of the whooping crane."

The group hopes to show how human population growth negatively affects wildlife.

Industry Gets A Pass On Accidental Bird Deaths

Jan 25, 2018
Dennis Schroeder / National Renewable Energy Labratory

This year, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act turns 100. It protects more than 1,000 species of birds from a host of threats, including disruption of nesting sites and illegal trade. 

Trump's USDA Moves Closer To Scrapping Animal Welfare Rule

Jan 19, 2018
Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs

A carton of organic eggs can cost more than double the price of regular eggs — so, what are you paying for? When it comes to the treatment of livestock and poultry, there are some murky areas. Many in the organic industry pushed for a new rule, issued at the end of the Obama administration, aimed, in part, at ensuring that the green and white organic seal on the egg carton means the chickens actually spent time outdoors.

Snatched By Hungry Eagle, Little Dog Lives To Bark The Tale

Jan 4, 2018
Jessica Hartman / via AP

Felipe Rodriguez says he thought he was hallucinating when an eagle snatched his sister's little white dog from her yard, flapped its massive wings and disappeared over the trees.

Did he really just see that?

He had. Zoey the 8-pound bichon frise was gone, taken by a hungry raptor Tuesday afternoon not 50 feet from his sister's house on the banks of the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania, Rodriguez said.

"It seemed like something from the 'Wizard of Oz,'" he told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "I'm a city boy. This doesn't happen in my world."

Greg Sousa / AP

Most drivers who hit roadkill leave the carcass on the ground, but several thousand Pennsylvanians in 2017 wanted to make the dead animal their next meal.

 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday passed a controversial bill outlawing the use of certain tools for training or controlling wild animals.

The ordinance specifically bans the use of “bullhook, electric prod, shocking device, hacksaw, ankus, ankusha, elephant goad, elephant hook, baseball bat, axe handle, pitchfork, whip, stick, muzzle or instrument capable of inflicting pain, intimidating or threatening pain.”

More than an hour of public comment preceded the vote.

Buster's Plight Helps Put Spotlight On Special Needs Animals

Dec 19, 2017
Humane Society of Cambria County via Facebook

The staff and volunteers at the Cambria County Humane Society know 2-year-old pit bull mix Buster's story - ears that were cropped incorrectly, heartworm disease and a spine injury that healed improperly, causing his back legs to collapse at times as he plays.

Buster was adopted out of the shelter previously, but became notorious for running loose in his neighborhood. He was eventually hit by a car while running after another dog, but was never taken to a veterinarian for those injuries.

On Nov. 5, he was returned to the humane society as a stray.

This Ancient Penguin Was As Big As Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby

Dec 12, 2017
Gerald Mayr / Senckenberg Research Institute via AP

Fossils from New Zealand have revealed a giant penguin that was as big as a grown man, roughly the size of the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The creature was slightly shorter in length and about 20 pounds heavier than the official stats for hockey star Sidney Crosby. It measured nearly 5 feet, 10 inches long when swimming and weighed in at 223 pounds.

If the penguin and the Penguin faced off on the ice, however, things would look different. When standing, the ancient bird was maybe only 5-foot-3.

Scientists Call On US To Allow Research On Pot Meds For Pets

Dec 7, 2017
technician at a veterinary clinic in east Denver.
David Zalubowski / AP

Dr. Byron Maas surveys a supply of marijuana products for dogs that lines a shelf in his veterinary clinic. They're selling well.

Paul A. Selvaggio / Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium via AP

Two rare tiger cubs whose mother didn't bond with them are being hand-raised at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

Zoo keepers on Tuesday showed off the twin male and female endangered Amur cubs, which were born Sept. 25. The keepers had noticed the cubs' mother, 10-year-old Tierney, wasn't caring for them 24 hours after their birth and decided to remove them.

Dr. Ginger Sturgeon, director of animal health at the zoo, said the twins don’t have names yet, but definitely have personalities.

Alfred de Montesquiou / AP

Police say they captured a big African cat, resembling a cheetah, running loose through the streets of a small Pennsylvania town.

Reports about the spotted feline started coming in on Nov. 3. When Reading officers tracked it down, they initially thought they'd found a cheetah.

The Animal Rescue League of Berks County says they got a call from the police department about the feline on Saturday.

For Ornery Shelter Cats, 2nd Chance Is A Job Chasing Mice

Oct 18, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Gary wasn't used to being around people. He didn't like being touched, or even looked at. If anyone came too close, he'd lash out.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Cathy Schlott’s fingers are covered in blood, but she doesn’t seem concerned or put off by it. She’s feeding Anne, a 4-pound adult barred owl, which are common in Pennsylvania.

“She gets lots of treats for this,” said Schlott, curator of animal behavioral management at the aviary, while holding Anne, who’s perched on her arm.

She’s feeding her “meeces pieces,” or chunks of raw meat.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Officials at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium say a baby elephant's appetite is improving following insertion of a feeding tube to help it gain much-needed weight.

Zoo spokesperson Tracy Gray said the still-unnamed female calf is taking in more food through the tube "and she's also taking more bottles."

On Saturday, the zoo posted on a blog devoted to the elephant that the baby had taken a short walk "and we're beginning to see her feisty personality return."

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

UPDATE: Pittsburgh Zoo officials said Friday that the elephant calf is doing well after surgery and was moving around. She is currently using a feeding tube to get one pint of formula and officials said her GI tract was functioning normally. She is also taking a bottle of milk from Nan, a lactating elephant also at the zoo.

Earlier Version:  

Pittsburgh Zoo officials announced Wednesday that the facility’s baby elephant's health is flagging, and that the next 24 to 48 hours will be critical.

Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center via Facebook

A Pennsylvania wildlife center says a 30-year-old bald eagle that was being treated for lead poisoning has died less than two weeks after two other eagles died of the same cause.

The Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Saegertown announced the bird's death on Facebook on Sunday.

The bird was captured Aug. 13 after it allowed people to get unusually close. Blood tests confirmed lead poisoning.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Pennsylvania wildlife officials say a bald eagle that is suffering from lead poisoning is in guarded condition.

The bird was letting people get close to it on a wildlife trail near Apollo over the weekend. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports it was taken to a wildlife center in Saegertown, where blood tests confirmed it had lead poisoning.

Jim Fetzner / Carnegie Museum of Natural History

A researcher at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has helped discover three new kinds of crayfish in Kentucky's Appalachian region. Jim Fetzner and his team said these newly classified lobster-like crustaceans could help us understand how crayfish evolve.

Well-trained guide dogs are important for visually impaired people who rely on them. But many puppies bred to be guide dogs flunk out of training programs.

A study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests the way a puppy's mother raises it may be the key to the dog's success, or failure. A research team at the University of Pennsylvania found that puppies destined for guide dog training are more likely to fail if they're coddled by their mothers.

Turning Trash Into Art To Save Urban Wildlife

Jul 27, 2017
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

Rebecca  Reid knew it was a long shot, but she emailed Portuguese street artist Bordalo II anyway. She’d seen his large murals depicting wildlife on Facebook.

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