Birds in West Virginia (in a number of states) dying from unknown disease

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) updated its investigation of diseased birds found in recent months in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia and surrounding states…

In late May and early June, WVDNR received initial reports of sick or dead birds in the Eastern Panhandle. Approximately 15-20 percent of the reports related to lesions of the birds’ eyes common to the regional event. Mortality events have typically involved one to four birds at a given location. Reports of sick and dead birds have decreased in West Virginia and surrounding states since late July…

While the cause of this avian mortality event is yet to be determined, birds that congregate at feeders and baths can transmit avian diseases to one another. As such, the WVDNR is continuing to recommend that West Virginia residents do the following:

Stop feeding birds in Berkeley and Jefferson Counties until this wildlife morbidity/mortality event subsides.

Clean feeders and bird baths with hot, soapy water and sterilize in 10 percent bleach solution (one part bleach mixed with nine parts water), rinse with water and allow to air dry.

Avoid handling birds, but wear disposable gloves if handling is necessary.

Keep pets away from sick or dead wild birds as a standard precaution…

Reports like this are current in several states. If you hear of this in your patch of birdwatching, wild bird feeding, please follow the instructions above about cleaning and sterilizing your bird feeders.

Maybe you should just go ahead and do this, anyway.

Amazon is buying up dead shopping malls…

Malls that buckled due to e-commerce or suffered during the pandemic are being given new life by the very entity that precipitated their decline — Amazon…Over the last several months, the retail giant has gone on a shopping spree of its own, buying up disused malls across the country and turning them into distribution centers.

Between 2016 and 2019, Amazon converted around 25 shopping malls … “The reality is that the cash flow at these lower-quality malls is declining rapidly,” said Vince Tibone, lead retail and industrial analyst at the real estate analytics firm Green Street. “You have to decide, ‘Do I want to do something myself to invest a lot of money to transform this dead retail into thriving retail or put up offices?’ Selling a dead mall as land is a more attractive option.”

Poisonally, I think the GOUSA is facing a tough economic forecast … for individual cities and towns that don’t figure out what to do with dead malls. Online shopping and the pandemic have pushed lots of diminishing-margin businesses to the wall. My wife and I still shop groceries, week by week, over a range including several stores. A couple of heavies like Walmart or Target, smaller stores like Sprouts or Trader Joe’s. That’s what fits the budget of a couple of retirees.

3-Tons of Dead Feral Pigs Made for a Helluva Experiment


Before

❝ In nature, mass mortality sometimes happens. More than 200,000 saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan drop dead in a matter of weeks; 337 dead whales wash up in a remote fjord in southern Chile; some 300 reindeer in Norway are felled by a single bolt of lightning— all that has happened since 2015. There’s evidence such spectacular displays of death are increasing in frequency due to climate change…

The problem is the die-offs are unpredictable. Once one has happened, scientists can’t go back in time to make the baseline measurements that would allow them to say how exactly an ecosystem has been changed by a sudden jolt of animal carcasses…

❝ …The team needed an immense mass of dead animals. Luckily, wildlife biologist Marcus Lashley of Mississipi State had connections with people at state and federal agencies who are responsible for combatting a wildlife pest that currently plagues Mississippi and many other states.

A few phone calls later, the dead feral pigs started streaming in…

❝ …on July 5th, 2016, with the help of some technicians graciously loaned to them by colleagues, they dragged 6,000 pounds of dead pigs into their study plots and left them to rot.

Almost immediately, camera traps recorded dozens of vultures descending on the piles of pigs. Sticky traps to collect insects had to be changed daily because “you couldn’t have stuck another one on there,” Brandon Barton of Mississippi State University says. The writhing maggot swarms on the carcasses were several inches deep.

Vultures and maggots were to be expected, of course, but the intensity of the response awed the researchers. “We were completely unprepared for what happened,” Barton says…The biological response was so extreme that the researchers had to abandon some of their sampling methods…

❝ Even now, more than a year later, the sites remain ecologically scarred. “Will they ever go back to normal? Probably not,” Barton says…Though not much is left of the three tons of dead pig they started with, the researchers plan to continue monitoring their experimental plots until they’re indistinguishable from the surrounding forest—which may be never, they note. “We’re going to measure this for the rest of our careers,” Lashley predicts.

RTFA. Truly interesting. I’ve blogged before about decomp, learning from the natural processes is an important part of criminology. This study takes a look at death in another direction.

An interesting read. If you’re up for it.

Doctors Without Borders Launch Massive measles vaccination campaign in Guinea

Doctors Without Borders says it is launching a massive measles vaccination campaign with Guinea’s government after at least 14 deaths and more than 3,400 cases were confirmed so far this year.

The aid group said Friday that thousands of people were left unprotected in 2014 and 2015 when the Ebola outbreak swept through the West African nation. Vaccination activities were reduced because of infection risks, and frightened families stayed away from health facilities…

MSF health policy analyst Dr. Mit Philips says Guinea now faces health issues without the funding and support promised during the Ebola outbreak to build better systems there. Ebola killed more than 11,300 people in the region and devastated health care systems.

Yup. Unforeseen consequences at work. Who might have foretold an epidemic outbreak grounded in fear of going to a clinic. Yet, Ebola in epidemic stage is so frightening the response was almost automatic.

Now, people have returned to strapped health clinics all too slowly and the measles vector expands into the unvaccinated population.

The ignoranus middle class anti-vaxxers of America should be required to spend a month or so in Guinea as volunteers. They can witness firsthand what life can be in a nation unprotected by basic vaccination. Which is how I grew up – not one year out-of-sequence; but, in an America that hadn’t yet instituted the whole range of vaccine protection now available to our children.

In case you wonder why I hold no forgiveness for folks fighting against vaccination.

They sent robots in to clean up Fukushima – it was too dangerous for humans. The robots died!

The robots who went into Fukushima’s no-man’s land have not returned after radiation levels in the power plant proved too strong for their circuit boards to handle.

The clean-up continues almost five years to the day after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station experienced three meltdowns after a tsunami crashed into the coastal power plant in 2011. The deathly high levels of radiation means it’s impossible for humans to go into areas of the plant to dispose of or contain the radioactivite materials. And it turns out, robots don’t fare much better either.

TEPCO and Toshiba developed a series of robots that were able to go underwater in the plant’s damaged cooling pools to remove the radioactive nuclear rods.

Five of the custom-built robots have been sent into the plant to work their magic. So far, none of them have returned. As soon as they get close to the reactors, their wiring becomes destroyed by the high levels of radioactivity and they are unable to move.

❝ “It is extremely difficult to access the inside of the nuclear plant,” said Naohiro Masuda, TEPCo’s head of decommissioning. “The biggest obstacle is the radiation.”

Yup. No one at TEPCo figured that out before they spent five years and lots of money on 5 custom robots.

Anyone surprised their safety systems failed during the tsunami?

Darwin Award candidate

A suspected burglar who attempted to enter a home in California through the chimney has died after the homeowner lit a fire without realising the intruder was inside…

The man appeared to have climbed into the chimney on Friday night while the owner was away and then became stuck, according to the Fresno county sheriff’s office.

The owner of the home in Huron, a small town in Fresno county, lit a fire in his fireplace on Saturday afternoon but then heard a man yelling inside the chimney as the house filled with smoke…

The homeowner tried to extinguish the flames but firefighters who dismantled the chimney with drills and chisels during a rescue effort found the suspect dead inside, the sheriff’s office said.

The deceased man was identified by the coroner’s office as Cody Caldwell, aged 19. The cause of death was determined to be smoke inhalation and burns.

Should’ve checked the weather forecast before he set off chimney-burgling.

Body of Alien Savior found decomposing in parking lot

A man whose body was discovered decomposing in a Southern California parking lot last week was believed by his fiancee to be an alien from another world, who had arrived on Earth to save humanity…

It’s the latest detail in a bizarre death investigation that involves a theory of extraterrestrial intelligence, intrigue — and a newly found arsenal of guns and ammo inside the man’s home…

The ordeal started July 4, while Jeffrey Lash and his fiancee of 17 years, Catherine Nebron, were at a Santa Monica grocery store. According to Nebron’s attorney, Harlan Braun, Lash suddenly fell ill and suffered a seizure.

Nebron and her employee, Dawn VadBunker, attempted to render aid.

“They worked on him for three hours, trying to revive him and then he died,” Braun said, also noting that Lash had battled cancer for more than a year.

Once it was known the man was dead, though, Braun said Nebron placed the body into her vehicle in the store’s parking lot and departed with VadBunker for Oregon. Lash’s body sat in the SUV and decomposed in the hot Southern California sun for nearly two weeks.

According to VadBunker’s mother, Laura, neither woman reported the death to authorities because they believed Lash was a half human-half alien being from another world who had come to Earth to save humanity. They also reportedly believed he’d been working secretly with the U.S. government, and that federal agents would soon come by to collect the body…

Upon returning to Southern California — and discovering that no government agency had come for her fiancé’s remains — Braun said Nebron finally notified police…

However, at that point the ordeal took yet another bizarre turn.

Investigators were shocked themselves when they showed up this week at the couple’s condo — and found more than 1,200 firearms, 6 tons of ammunition, and $230,000 — entirely in cash.

The Los Angeles Police Department is trying to sort out the case — but it’s not yet known exactly why Lash died, why he had so many firearms, or how he amassed all that money.

“It does not make any sense, but it’s probably a continuation of this fantasy world where he is a secret man which he is supposed to not reveal who he really is,” Braun said…

It all seems clear to me. Obviously the alien planet Jeffrey Lash came from is secretly funding the NRA. The weapons, ammo and cash are simply the means of exchange between the planet’s overlords and their underlings here on earth.

This has to be true. Certainly you don’t think some ordinary nutball could acquire 1200 firearms and 6 tons of ammo without the help of extra-terrestrial powers.

“A deaf whale is a dead whale”


Click to enlargeJosh Edelson/AFP

Six whales have washed ashore in northern California in the past two months, prompting headlines around the world and attracting droves of tourists, curious about the massive mammals so suddenly out of their natural element.

According to a California Academy of Sciences (CAS) necropsy one of those whales, a 32ft female humpback that washed ashore in Pacifica, a 20-minute drive from San Francisco, had “signs of trauma consistent with blunt force”.

Suggested causes of death have included being hit by a ship and an attack by an orca. But while those might have been the final blows for the whales, other issues are being raised by environmental groups…These issues include the US navy’s use of sonar.

Moe Flannery, a stranded marine mammal responder and manager of the CAS Department of Ornithology and Mammalogy, declined to give a cause of death shortly after conducting the necropsy on the first Pacifica whale. But she did say the whale showed signs of muscle hemorrhaging, an injury which research has shown to be consistent with sonar-related deaths.

Other researchers who participated in the necropsy, including those from the Marine Mammal Center, corroborated such findings and pointed out that hemorrhaging does not necessarily mean blunt force trauma from a ship…

In March, a US district court in Hawaii found that the National Marine Fisheries Services improperly gave approval to the navy’s use of sonar in the Pacific, an issue long-contested by environmental groups that allege sonar is causing damage to marine animals’ migration patterns, feeding locations, breeding and ability to hear and communicate. The navy uses sonar for training, to simulate real-life situations in the ocean. Thousands of sonar devices remain in the coastal waters of the Pacific as Earthjustice and other environmental organizations negotiate with the navy on how and where it should use sonar for drills…

The navy is not being forced to stop using sonar, says Earthjustice attorney David Henkin – it is only a matter of where and how. The navy requires authorization from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The navy’s current five-year permit expires this year…

In a May 2012 report on sonar use, the navy said acoustic sources and sonar more than 2.5 million times annually exposed marine animals to sounds considered “disturbing”, while around 500 times a year marine animals were exposed to sound levels that were considered to result in injury…

Even when stranding does not result, military sonar can cause hearing loss and internal injuries to marine mammals that results in death, even if the animal does not end up on shore,” Henkin said.

Our military, like most commercial users of global waters, considers the death of countless denizens inconsequential. Just as they feel above the law when it comes to pollution, they are equally unconcerned over turning this planet’s oceans into a charnel reservoir strewn with the unburied dead.