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Wildlife Services

USDA and Partners Work to Eliminate Invasive Nutria From Maryland’s Eastern Shore

Word has it that legendary actress Greta Garbo could be seen wearing nutria fur coats back in the day, and nutria fur coats can still be found in vintage clothing stores around the world. Nutria, sometimes called swamp rats, were first introduced into the United States in the 1800s to be used in the fur trade. However, when the fur trade collapsed in the mid 1900’s thousands of nutria were released by ranchers who could no longer afford to feed and care for them. This invasive rodent, about half the size of a beaver, damages wetland ecosystems by eating away at their delicate vegetation. Nutria have since been found in at least 20 states.

Bear Proofing Your Home: Simple Fix Can Reduce Bear Conflicts

Like the famous cartoon character Yogi Bear, black bears are quick to take advantage of food left out by people. Black bears forage on garbage, bird seed, dog food, and other food items commonly found around homes and businesses. This has led to an increase in conflicts between bears and people in cities and towns across America. Unfortunately, these conflicts often end badly for the bears with many being killed or moved to prevent injuries to people and property damage.

Sniffing Out Disease: Dogs Trained for Wildlife Disease Surveillance

Odin is a Labrador retriever/border collie mix. By watching his wagging tail and alert expression, Colorado State University researcher Dr. Glen Golden can sense he is eager to begin his training.

Odin is one of five dogs recently adopted from shelters and animal rescue centers to become detector dogs for wildlife disease surveillance. The dogs are housed and trained at the USDA-APHIS National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) in Fort Collins, Colorado. They are part of a collaborative 12-month program to evaluate the effectiveness of training and using dogs to detect and identify waterfowl feces or carcasses infected with avian influenza (AI). If successful, this collaboration may be extended an additional 12 months.

Feral Swine Eradication in Havasu National Wildlife Refuge: Protecting Endangered Species from Feral Swine Damage

Havasu National Wildlife Refuge was established by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941, as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. The refuge encompasses 37,515 acres of riverine, riparian, wetland, and desert upland habitats protecting one of the last remaining natural stretches of the lower Colorado River along the Arizona and California borders. The refuge is an important breeding ground and migratory flyway stopover for over 300 species of birds.

Wildlife Partners Unite to Protect Iconic Species from Deadly Plague

Last month, researchers, wildlife biologists and managers from several federal, state and local agencies gathered at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ (USFWS) National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center to celebrate a breakthrough in wildlife management— the development of an oral vaccine bait that helps protect prairie dogs against deadly sylvatic plague and assists in the recovery of endangered black-footed ferrets (BFF). Sylvatic plague, caused by Yersinia pestis, is a bacterial disease transmitted by fleas that afflicts many mammalian species, including humans.

Keeping Our Military Pilots Safe from Wildlife Strikes

“Very hot, sandy and dry” is how APHIS Wildlife Services (WS) biologist Matt Miller describes the area around the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia. Matt is one of three wildlife biologists (see below) who returned home in early April after serving 4 months in the Middle East helping to keep our military pilots safe:

Neither Rain nor Sleet nor Snow Stops Wildlife Disease Biologists from Collecting Samples

On a cold and blustery day, APHIS wildlife disease biologist Jared Hedelius sits in his truck by the Bighorn River in Montana and waits. Although the temperatures outside are well below freezing, the mallards on the river are busy searching for food, oblivious to Jared’s swim-in live trap just a few feet from the shoreline. Soon, enough ducks have entered the trap and Jared leaves his warm truck and heads to the water. He sets up his equipment and begins collecting samples.