Site update

Since I have been really terrible at updating the blog (but pretty good at keeping up with the facebook blog posts) I've added the widget below so that facebook cross posts to the blog.

You shouldn't need to join facebook but can just click on the links in the widget to access the articles. If you have any problems or comments please mail me at arandjel 'AT'

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New mAn video & sign the manifesto!

Go to and please sign the petition!

Join the Manifesto for Apes and Nature Facebook group here

Meet the coywolf: a coyote wolf hybrid in Ontario

The "discovery" of the coywolf has settled a debate between me and one of my colleagues from western Canada here at the MPI-EVA. We were discussing coyote behaviour and he insisted they were solitary (he is correct by the way) but i was SURE that the coyotes in the suburbs of Toronto traveled in packs as I had seen and heard them many times while walking my dogs (and i knew they wern't wolves since I have seen those too). Well, I was sorta correct too - its the coywolf. -MA

From the Toronto Star

A newly emerging species is behind the brazen attacks in Durham

Is it a coyote? Is it a wolf?

Yes and yes. It's a "coywolf."

The predators that are plaguing Durham Region and showing up in urban areas appear to be an emerging species resulting from wolves and coyotes interbreeding.

The larger, highly adaptable animals "have the wolf characteristics of pack hunting and aggression and the coyote characteristics of lack of fear of human-developed areas," says Trent University geneticist Bradley White, who's been studying the hybrids for 12 years.

We're seeing "evolution in action," he says.

But that combination of genetic material from both species has spelled trouble for farmers, who are losing a growing number of livestock to predators.

They report attacks by animals that are bigger, bolder and smarter than regular coyotes. They say hunting in packs to prey on sheep and cattle in broad daylight is becoming a common behaviour.

Durham Region farmers have suffered the most damage to livestock in the province. Last year the food and agriculture ministry paid out a total compensation of $168,000 in the region for 545 dead or injured animals.

Commonly called eastern coyotes, the creatures are actually a mixture of western coyote and eastern wolf that comes from a constantly evolving gene pool, says White, chair and professor of biology in Peterborough.

Going back 100 years, deforestation, wolf control programs and changing habitat, ecosystems and prey conspired to drive down the wolf population. Meanwhile, the number of coyotes – whose original range was in western North America – grew, thanks to their ability to adapt and reproduce with ease. The two species started to interbreed, White explains.

"In many ways, this animal is a creation of human impact on the planet," says White.

Although the coywolf hybrid has only recently been verified through genetic research, White believes they started appearing in southern Algonquin Park back in the 1920s.

Colleague Paul Wilson, a wildlife genetics specialist, says the genetic gumbo from which coywolves emerge produces some that are more wolf-like, while others have more coyote characteristics. But they're definitely bigger.

"Some of these are 80-pound animals, double the size of a typical coyote that used to be 40 pounds."

But there's no cause for alarm, says John Pisapio, a wildlife biologist with the Ministry of Natural Resources, which is studying the role of coyotes and wolves in the ecosystem.

Hybrids may be larger but there's no evidence the population as a whole is more aggressive or prone to aberrant behaviour, he says.

He agrees predation on livestock is a concern – they do kill sheep and smaller animals – but insists attacks on cattle are unusual.

"As a biologist I find it hard to explain how a coyote brings down a 900-pound steer."

In some cases, coyotes might just be feeding on an animal that died from other causes, he says.

The population growth is a natural upswing following a mange epidemic that wiped out big numbers eight or nine years ago, he adds.

Pisapio says instances of fearlessness or brazen attacks are usually the result of coyotes that have come to associate food with people and lose their natural fear of humans.

That belief is echoed by Johnny, "The Critter Gitter," who didn't want his last name used because people don't like that he kills problem wildlife for a living.

"I kill coyotes. I don't sugarcoat it," he says.

But he feels sympathy for them.

"Humans are to blame for making monsters of them," he says. Coyotes are attracted by pet food and garbage left lying around in urban areas, and deadstock on farms.

They're not all bad and often get the blame when dogs kill livestock, he says. Johnny also doubts they're making a regular meal of cattle. During the 30 years he's worked in the province, he's seen only a few cases of "large, healthy animals taken down by coyotes."

But as coywolves become more urbanized and their relationship with people continues to evolve, city dwellers can expect problems, says White, suggesting a control program may be needed at some point.

"They will clearly bump into human activities, and there will be pets eaten in Rouge Valley."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sign the petition banning ivory

I recently posted on the large confiscatin of Ivory in Kenya, headed to China.

Ivory has no medicinal benefit to humans. Killing elephants for their tusks is simply a waste of life.

Go to Care2's petition site to sign a petition banning the ivory trade. It will take only 1 minute, 1 minute! from your busy day, please sign!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Modest Mouse's King Rat video

Modest Mouse's new haunting video highlighting the unnecessary and barbaric whale hunts that happen every year across the world.

If video doesnt work CLICK HERE

updated - from
"Heath's vision, brave and unapologetic in its nature, would marry his love of bold and original music with his impassioned stance against the illegal commercial whale hunts taking place off the coast of Australia each year," the band wrote in a post on their MySpace blog. "Always one to operate from his heart and take a stand for what he cared deeply about, Heath's intention was to raise awareness on modern whaling practices through a potent visual piece without having to say a word. It was his way to let the story, in its candid reversal, speak for itself."

According to the post, proceeds from iTunes downloads of the video will benefit the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an international nonprofit marine wildlife conservation organization.