Thursday, January 3, 2013

Good news/bad news

News is mixed, but promising, for a continuing trend of people standing up to bad animals this year:

-Good news: At Everglades National Park in Florida, a possible breakthrough in the battle against vandalizing vultures. For the past few years the birds have been virtually disassembling parked cars, as one visitor experienced recently when returning from touring the park:
Vulture dung covered the hood of his GMC Yukon. Worse, just about every piece of rubber and plastic on his sunroof, windows and hood was ripped away and shredded. The insurance company paid $1,850 for the damage, he said — and that was before he discovered the birds had also apparently yanked out the seals on the bottom of the doors as well. “It took the guys from the insurance agency 10 or 15 minutes to even figure out how to code it.”
Efforts to scare the birds away have proved fruitless, but now they've come up with a simple solution. The park is offering to loan visitors an "Anti-Vulture Kit" consisting of a tarp with bungee cords to cover your car. This is an admirable twofer: standing up to animal misbehavior, and proving that doing so doesn't take rocket science.

-Bad news: In one of the worst examples to date of a human being enabling a bad animal, a trainer in Ukraine has taught a dolphin to walk on dry land:

Regular readers of this blog are well-informed about how dangerous dolphins are. But up till now, we could rest easy in the knowledge that the only people at risk are those who deliberately place themselves in harm's way. As I quote in the book:
Dolphin expert Karen Pryor has observed, “the sentimental view that these animals are harmless stems at least in part from the fact that they are usually in the water and we are usually on boats or dry land: they can’t get at us.”
As an animal trainer myself, I can appreciate that the training challenge might have seemed interesting, but people, this is the last thing we need dolphins to be able to do!

-Good-ish news: Elsewhere, people are being stupid about dolphins, but at least the experts are on the side of the humans for a change. In Australia, another dolphin is following in the flipper-steps of the famous Moko and getting way too intimate with swimmers:
A dolphin living in St George's Basin, near Jervis Bay, has come into regular contact with humans during the warmer summer months.
A spokeswoman for marine mammal rescue group ORCCA, Janine Davies, says people are getting too close and treating the animal like a domestic pet.
"Unfortunately there are some people that are not abiding the regulations and are trying to feed the animal with ham sandwiches," she said.
"There was an incident yesterday where some parents had children with the dolphin and the children were trying to poke their fingers down its blowhole".
Impressively, the warning is being stated in no uncertain terms:
"There is documented evidence where they will become hostile, and they could severely injury someone - or in fact overseas they have been known to actually kill a human," she said.
Recalling that Moko came to a bad end, let's hope that people heed this warning before anyone - of any species - gets hurt.

Sign photographed by Flickr user afagen.

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