Sunday, September 30, 2012

Coffee and Provocation

A Bone Economy: A nice story about the business of collecting and selling buffalo bones for fertilizer after we had shot all the buffalo out. A parable for the modern economy?   Maybe not.  Some say that the buffalo were not shot out -- that they were wiped out by a series of tick-borne plagues.  More on that in a later post.

A New Monkey Species?  It looks like a new species of owl monkey has been discoved in the Congo.

Jack Russell is the kicker for the Badgers. You cannot make this stuff up.

First they banned all badger-hunting with dogs.  Then, when the British found themselves ass-deep in badger, many of which (allegedly) carry brucelosis tuberculosis to cattle, they had to figure out how to locally reduce the badger population.  The answer?  Not to open licensed and regulated hunting in cattle country (far too logical!).  Instead, the British have engineered a massive badger cull in which farmers and activists are sure to clash

Raiders of the Lost Ark was not entirely fiction.  It seems the Nazis did send out archeological expeditions all over the globe, and on one of them they collected a 1,000 year old statue of a Bhudda made out of a meteorite and with a swastika (Indian version) on it.

File in the folder marked "sh*t happens".  French Hunter shot by dog loses his hand.

How thick is rhinocerous skin?  Pretty darn thick!  Here's a picture from the blog entitled "What's in John's Freezer?"

A "jerky renaissance"?  The Wall Street Journal says such a thing is underway as people discover that lean, dry, seasoned meat is a perfectly fine health food.   "Meat jerky is like Greek yogurt for men," says one sales researcher.

A Moose Message for the Gods?  In the Ural mountains, a gigantic Stone Age chalk carving of a two kilometre-long moose, similar to the chalk carvings seen in Britain, could be the oldest ever discovered in the world.

Urban and suburban coyotes appear to mate for life.   It seems that trait is part of their evolutionary success


Dan said...

The disease badgers carry (and suffer badly from themselves) isn't brucelosis, but bovine tuberculosis. bTB is a zoonosis; it infects a huge range of animals fairly easily, but only those that have co-existed with it for a long time are resistant.

Cows fight it off reasonably well, as do humans. Badgers are demonstrably crap at resisting infection and equally poor at resisting bTB infection when present but as they are effectively just a thirty pound weasel and bloody tough with it, it takes a fair old time to lay one low even with an uncontrolled systemic infection.

bTB is also weird in that vaccinations against it, even using attenuated live vaccine (which is what BCG is), don't give protection for more than at most a couple of years and then only in humans or cattle. Experiments by the UK Government show that even right after vaccinations with high doses of BCG, a majority of badgers show no ability to resist infection with wild-type bTB.

So, we've got a problem on our hands here. Control culling whereby entire setts of badgers are culled by gassing was the only effective way of eradicating the disease, and had it been continued it would have pushed bTB extinct by now. Instead badgers are becoming dangerously common in the UK countryside, since they have no natural predator and population control (other than death-by-road-traffic) is not permitted at all.

In fact, if you wanted to set up the pre-conditions for an epizootic of bovine TB, you really couldn't do better than the current UK situation. You have a burgeoning disease problem, a huge population of highly susceptible wildlife hosts, and a public adamantly opposed to control measures of all sorts because they're uniformly too bloody stupid to see sense.

Seahorse said...

A big old pot of goodness in this collation. Thanks for the effort. (Coolest Buddha I've ever seen).


PBurns said...

Thanks Dan -- fixed that!