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Animals

APHIS Wildlife Biologists Aid Squirrel Recovery on the Delmarva

Many claim that 2020 has been a year of chaos and calamity, but for one rare squirrel, it might be a year of hope and new beginnings. The Delmarva Fox Squirrel (DFS) is a subspecies of fox squirrel found on the eastern shore of Maryland, Southern Delaware and Virginia. This pudgy, slow squirrel with its signature size and silvery-white coat has become a conservation success story in Maryland. Habitat loss along with other additive factors landed them on the Federal endangered species list in 1967. Protection and management efforts benefited DFS and in 2015, populations reached stable limits and they were officially delisted in Maryland. In parts of Delaware, DFS populations were not as prolific and numbers began to dwindle over time leaving only a few small populations.

World Rabies Day

Did you first learn about rabies through the children’s book or movie “Old Yeller”? Rabies has changed drastically over the last century in the United States, moving from a majority of cases occurring in domestic animals like the literary canine hero, to a disease occurring predominantly in wildlife. That makes rabies a significant wildlife management challenge in the U.S. today, and a reason the United States Department of Agriculture and our partners in rabies prevention and elimination recognize World Rabies Day on September 28, 2020. This is a day of global action that started in 2007 to raise awareness for rabies prevention and to enhance control efforts worldwide.

An Important Action to Take: Check Your Trees!

Did you know that USDA has declared August as Tree Check Month? That’s because August is the peak time of year to spot the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB)—an invasive wood-boring beetle that attacks 12 types of hardwood trees in North America, such as maples, elms, horse chestnuts, birches and willows. Checking trees for the beetle and the damage it causes is one way residents can protect their own trees and help USDA’s efforts to eliminate this pest from the United States.

From Vet to Fed: U.S. Coast Guard Veteran Now Helps to Protect America’s Agricultural Resources

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the agency I work with, will host virtual hiring events focused on military veterans this Summer and Fall as the agency looks to fill positions to help carry out our Agency mission to safeguard American agriculture. The first veterans virtual hiring event (PDF, 2.6 MB) APHIS will offer is on August 11, 2020 in partnership with the Department of Veteran Affairs Veterans Readiness and Employment Program (VR&E), with another to follow in the Fall. Veterans, transitioning from military life, make excellent recruits for the APHIS team—as a veteran, I know.

APHIS-Trained Canines are Ready for their Close-ups: Dogs Featured on Disney+’s It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer

A few of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) affiliated canines are showing off their “sniffs” and talents to the world in the Disney+ weekly series, “It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer”. The 10-episode series that began airing on Friday, May 15 will feature APHIS operated Hawaiian Geese canine teams, APHIS trained brown tree snake canine teams and APHIS trained Beagle Brigade teams. The canine teams will be featured in the season’s final two episodes.

Protecting Pollinators from A New Threat – First-Ever U.S. Sightings of Asian Giant Hornet

It’s not the first time that European honey bees and other pollinators in the United States have encountered invasive pests, with the parasitic Varroa mite being the most noteworthy. For years, researchers and beekeepers have wondered what the next invasive pest of concern would be. Perhaps Tropilaelaps mites, a parasitic mite that feeds on bee brood? Or an Asian honey bee, which is known to outcompete our European honey bees? Ultimately, it was the Asian giant hornet, making a confirmed appearance in Washington state during winter of 2019.

The Search for Genetic Clues to Determine Chronic Wasting Disease Susceptibility

As cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) continue to rise, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is looking to genetics for new and innovative ways to reduce the prevalence of this brain-wasting disease in farmed and wild deer and elk populations. Working in collaboration with Texas A&M University and Texas Parks and Wildlife, APHIS has identified a handful of promising regions in the white-tailed deer genome allowing the researchers to distinguish animals highly susceptible to CWD with greater than 80 percent accuracy.

Stop Invasive Pests in Their Tracks with Tips from APHIS and PlayCleanGo this Summer

Summer is here, and it’s time to head outdoors! June is National Camping Month, and it also features National Trails Day, National Recreational Vehicle Day, World Ocean Day, and National Get Outdoors Day. But before you hit the trails or the waterways this summer, take a few precautions to avoid giving invasive pests a free ride to new territories. We have some ideas on how you can help!

Celebrating Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month with Your Children: Activities, Curriculums and Video Links

Looking for nature- or science-based activities or projects for your kids to do at home? You and your school-aged children can join in the important worldwide effort to protect plants from invasive species. Invasive pests can destroy up to 40 percent of crops annually, having a direct impact on the cost and availability of the food you eat every day.