For the first time since its construction in the 1930s, the federal government has formally declared a water shortage at Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir by volume, on the Colorado River. The declaration, issued by the Bureau of Reclamation, sets in motion a series of water allocation cuts to downstream states along the Colorado River.
- It also serves as a stark warning to a rapidly growing Southwest population that drought, heat and climate change are major threats to the region.
Lake Mead is at record low levels, having dropped below 1,075 feet above sea level, or 40% of capacity. The cuts come because the forecast lake level for 2022 is below that level as well. The West has been mired in the worst drought of this century, and when viewed over several decades, scientists have found that the Southwest is locked in the grip of the first climate change-caused megadrought seen in the past 1,200 years.
- The water level of Lake Mead has been on the decline since about 1999.
- Hotter temperatures and a reduction to spring snowmelt has reduced the water flowing into the Colorado River from the Rockies, where the river begins, before winding its way into the Gulf of California. So too has burgeoning water demand from increasing populations and thirsty agricultural interests.
- A series of agreements governs water use from the river, as well as the cuts to be implemented when the water levels dip below a certain threshold.
Lake Powell’s levels also are on the decline, which poses a threat to the electricity generated by the Glen Canyon Dam, threatening the roughly 5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity generated each year at the Glen Canyon Dam.
- This first round of cuts is going to have the greatest impact on Arizona farmers, as the state will lose 18% of its share from the river, which translates to about 8% of the state's total water use, or 512,000 acre-feet. (An acre-foot is about enough water to cover an acre in a foot of water.)
- Farmers in Arizona are likely to experience the brunt of the water cuts and may be faced with tough choices of letting their fields go fallow or tapping dwindling groundwater supplies or other alternate water sources.
- Under the water allocation cuts, Nevada will lose about 7% of its allocation, or 21,000 acre-feet of water.
- Mexico will see a reduction of roughly 5%, or 80,000 acre-feet.
- According to the Bureau of Reclamation, the Upper Colorado River Basin experienced an exceptionally dry spring in 2021, with April to July runoff into Lake Powell totaling just 26% of average despite near-average snowfall last winter.
- The Interior Department agency predicts the amount of water that would flow into Lake Mead without storage behind the dam is just 32% of average.
- “The Colorado River is the lifeblood of many Arizona cities, tribal communities, and generations of farmers who depend on it for water,” said Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz). “The announcement by the Bureau of Reclamation is serious, but Arizona has prepared for these initial water curtailments through the Lower Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan.”
A naturally occurring substance found in human skin could yield a viable alternative to existing mosquito repellent, scientists say. They say the chemical could help render people "invisible" to the insects.
At the American Chemical Society meeting, they revealed a group of compounds that could block mosquitoes' ability to smell potential targets. When a hand with these chemicals was placed in a mosquito filled enclosure, it was completely ignored.
The team says their work could help prevent the spread of deadly diseases. Mosquitoes are among the most deadly disease-carrying creatures. They spread malaria, which in 2010 killed an estimated 660,000, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Ulrich Bernier of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) who presented the work, said his team was exploring other options to Deet - a repellent which some do not favor. In fact, earlier this year a team of scientists said that the widely used repellent was losing effectiveness.
"Repellents have been the mainstay for preventing mosquito bites... [but] we are exploring a different approach, with substances that impair the mosquito's sense of smell. If a mosquito can't sense that dinner is ready, there will be no buzzing, no landing and no bite," said Dr Bernier.
It has long been known that some people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others, but now the team has pinpointed a group of chemical components secreted naturally, that can mask human smell from the blood-sucking insects.
Dr Bernier explained that hundreds of compounds on the skin makes up a person's smell. In order to see what smells attracted mosquitoes, his team sprayed various substances onto one side of a cage. It was the compounds that didn't attract any mosquitoes that they looked at further and when sprayed on a human hand, the insects did not react or attempt to bite. The compounds could be added into many cosmetics and lotions, Dr Bernier added.
"If you put your hand in a cage of mosquitoes where we have released some of these inhibitors, almost all just sit on the back wall and don't even recognize that the hand is in there. We call that anosmia or hyposmia, the inability to sense smells or a reduced ability to sense smells."
Commenting on the work, James Logan of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said it was exciting to find out exactly which chemicals repelled mosquitoes. "Although we already have good repellents on the market, there is still room for new active ingredients. The challenge that scientists face is improving upon the protection provided by existing repellents.
"If a new repellent can be developed which is more effective, longer lasting and affordable, it would be of great benefit to travelers and people living in disease endemic countries," Dr Logan told BBC News. But he said that it would take many years before a new product would make it to market.
AKC Reunite, the largest non-profit pet identification and recovery service provider in the United States, is pleased to announce the 50th deployment of its AKC Pet Disaster Relief trailers. These life-saving trailers donated to local emergency management teams through the AKC Pet Disaster Relief program are available to dispatch to any local disaster scene that needs assistance sheltering pets. AKC Reunite has also provided funds to support the work of organizations that are saving and reuniting pets with their owners during natural disasters.
AKC Pet Disaster Relief is a nationwide program sponsored by AKC Reunite, that is dedicated to keeping pets and their owners safe in response to natural disasters. AKC Reunite partners with AKC® dog clubs and pet lovers to donate lifesaving trailers to emergency management teams across the country. These trailers are stocked with equipment to help create a safe, temporary home-base for at least 65 pets before, during and after a disaster is declared. The trailer’s crates and generator can be set up as co-location shelters, where people can evacuate with their pets, as well as emergency animal shelters for displaced animals. Other contents include microchips and scanners, cleaning supplies, feeding bowls, leashes and administrative supplies.
To date, 95 AKC Pet Disaster Relief trailers have been donated to emergency management teams throughout the U.S. On Monday, August 16th, the Arizona Humane Society deployed its trailer to assist with animal sheltering efforts in the wake of the deadly flooding in Gila Bend, AZ. This marked the 50th deployment of these critical trailers throughout the country.
“The recent storms, flooding and wildfires across the country have been devastating for community members and their pets,” said Tom Sharp, CEO of AKC Reunite. “The AKC Pet Disaster Relief program helps ensure there is safe sanctuary for a pet found perched on a rooftop, swimming through floodwaters, or even worse due to a natural disaster. We are proud that these trailers have been deployed 50 times to assist with animal sheltering efforts throughout the country.”
Learn more about how to get involved in AKC Pet Disaster Relief at www.akcreunite.org/relief.
In a new report released by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), online investigators uncovered nearly 1,200 advertisements for close to 2,400 animals, parts, derivatives, or products of threatened species despite current protections under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The report entitled Digital Markets: Wildlife Trafficking Hidden in Plain Sight, details the findings following a six-week investigation of advertisements posted on 34 US-based online marketplaces with the goal of gaining a broad understanding of the nature of the online trade in protected wildlife species in the US. The report excludes social media sites.
“These findings are a clear indication that online wildlife trafficking remains highly active and a significant challenge in the US,” said Mark Hofberg, Campaigns Officer, IFAW. “An environment of complex laws and regulations, the inherent anonymity of the internet, as well as exceptions and loopholes that allow savvy traders to circumvent restrictions, are all factors that have allowed the proliferation of the sale of protected wildlife species on online platforms despite laws and protective measures in place.”
Of the three most common types of advertisements found:
- Nearly half (44%) were identified as elephant ivory, a decline from 2008 levels (73%), though surprisingly high considering the implementation of laws and regulations regarding elephant ivory since that time;
- Over one-quarter (27%) of all advertisements were for trophies and taxidermy products, including skins, skulls, claws, or other animal parts primarily for display, half of which were for species only found in the wild outside of the US (giraffes, African lions, caracals, and several primate species); and
- Live animals to be sold as exotic pets made up 19% of total advertisements, with birds, reptiles and mammals (44%, 40%, and 16% respectively) comprising the bulk of live animals sold. Live animals tended to be of higher value and made up a large share of the overall dollar value recorded, with nearly three fourths of the 34 advertisements for protected wildlife species valued at USD 10,000 or higher.
Digital Markets: Wildlife Trafficking Hidden in Plain Sight, is a follow-up to the 2008 report Killing with Keystrokes, representing a continuation of IFAW’s work to both monitor online wildlife trafficking while taking steps to shut it down. This includes collaborating with online marketplaces to improve their policies to reduce wildlife trafficking, implementing trainings of government enforcement officers on the latest techniques and trends for detecting trafficking, working with communities to reduce poaching, and ultimately reducing demand. Report comparisons show that the demand for live turtles, tortoises, wild cats and primates has proliferated since 2008.
“The loss of wildlife from illegal trade is devastating species that are a critical part of the complex web of life which we rely on for clean air, climate change mitigation, clean water, flood mitigation, soil health, and other critical ecosystem functions,” added Hofberg. Further, the number one risk factor for zoonotic disease spillover to people is sustained contact with wild animals, especially animals that are in close confines and in stressful conditions which are key features of wildlife trade. “The US government must prioritize wildlife trafficking in new legislation that closes loopholes in existing policy to safeguard both the future of such wildlife as well as our own.”
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul filed suit against Natural Resources Board chair Frederick Prehn to oust him from his Natural Resources Board seat, which he has refused to vacate months after his six-year term expired on May 1, 2021. The lawsuit was spurred by a complaint sent by the Humane Society of the United States and Center for Biological Diversity to Attorney General Kaul’s office last month.
“We applaud Attorney General Kaul for stepping up to do what is right for Wisconsin’s citizens, wildlife and natural resources. As demonstrated by last week’s disastrous decision to force through an excessive wolf hunting quota with total disregard for the recommendation of the state’s own expert biologists, the role of the Natural Resources Board is simply too important for Prehn to be playing politics,” said Nicholas Arrivo, an attorney for the Humane Society of the United States. “Prehn’s refusal to vacate his seat not only violates the law, but also violates the trust of Wisconsinites in what is supposed to be a nonpartisan Natural Resources Board that serves the people.”
The Natural Resources Board is responsible for setting wildlife, environmental and public lands policy in Wisconsin, including setting hunting quotas for the state’s diminishing wolf population. Wisconsin has already seen one catastrophic wolf hunt this year. Just last week, the board approved a fall wolf hunt quota of 300 wolves, overriding the recommendation of the state’s Department of Natural Resources and ignoring the warnings of independent experts that killing even half that many wolves would likely result in irreversible damage to the population. Prehn has stated that he has refused to step down from his seat in part to retain his influence over the fall hunting season and other wolf management policies.
“It’s outrageous that by squatting in his expired position for months, Prehn was able to vote for the arbitrary slaughter of 300 more wolves this fall,” said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We commend Attorney General Kaul for taking action. New leadership is long overdue on the Natural Resources Board, and we hope that Prehn’s removal marks the beginning of a better future for Wisconsin’s wildlife.”
Wisconsin law sets the composition of the Natural Resources Board and the term limits for its members. According to the documents filed in court yesterday, state law allows officials in certain positions to remain in their seats after their terms expire—but explicitly does not allow Natural Resources Board members to do so.
A successor has already been appointed by Gov. Tony Evers but has been unable to serve the public because of Prehn’s refusal to vacate his seat.
A federal judge in Alaska ruled against the Trump administration’s approval of a massive oil drilling project in the state, arguing that the Interior Department did not adequately measure the true environmental impact the project could pose.
In her opinion, Judge Sharon Gleason of the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska faulted the department’s Bureau of Land Management environmental assessment of the ConocoPhillips’s Willow project, which was granted approval under former President Trump and was subsequently backed by the Biden administration.
Gleason argued that the bureau's decision to exclude levels of greenhouse gas emissions in its environmental impact report was “arbitrary and capricious.” The Obama-appointed judge also said that the agency acted on the position that “ConocoPhillips had the right to extract all possible oil and gas from its leases” and also did not specify in its environmental analysis how polar bears would be impacted by the project.
The Trump administration in October finalized plans for the Willow project despite widespread pushback from environmental activists, allowing ConocoPhillips to extract about 100,000 barrels per day from Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve. Under the project, the company would be able to produce up to 590 million total barrels over a 30-year period.
The Biden administration backed the project in May, writing in a court filing that environmental and indigenous groups challenging the project in court were “cherry-picking” federal agency records to inaccurately claim that the analysis violated environmental laws.
Bridget Psarianos, a staff attorney with Trustees for Alaska, which represented six plaintiffs in the case, told The Washington Post that she and her clients were “just celebrating that there’s not going to be any Willow construction this winter.”
“The project can’t move forward without a significant amount of redoing,” she said, adding that she would like the Biden administration to use Wednesday’s ruling as an “opportunity to actually engage in a process that complies with the law and honors the campaign promises of making science-based decisions and protecting biodiversity and taking the concerns of Indigenous populations seriously.”
Rebecca Boys, a spokesperson for ConocoPhillips, told the Post that the oil company would “review the decision and evaluate the options available regarding this project.”
"The Interior Department is analyzing the decision," the spokesperson added in a statement.
Tigilanol tiglate injection (Stelfonta; Virbac) for treating canine mast cell tumors is now available in veterinarian clinics throughout the United States as an alternative to surgery. The therapy was approved by the FDA in November 2020 for the treatment of nonmetastatic, cutaneous mast cell tumors anywhere on a dog's body and nonmetastatic, subcutaneous mast cell tumors located in the lower parts of dogs' legs.
According to the Morris Animal Foundation, cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs over age 2. Mast cell tumors are the most common type of skin cancer in dogs and often appear as a nodule on or just underneath the skin. Although typical treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, these treatments may not be appropriate for every dog.
According to Virbac, tigilanol tiglate is a biologically active pharmaceutical ingredient discovered by Australian company Qbiotics in the seed of the blushwood tree native to the rainforest of North Queensland. Injected directly into the tumor, tigilanol tiglate works by activating the local innate immune system with destruction of the tumor cells and tumor blood supply, leading to tumor destruction. Tigilanol tiglate also promotes complete healing of the typical tissue deficit left after tumor removal with minimal scar formation. Although sedation is not usually required, it may be necessary to administer this injection therapy safely and accurately.
According to Virbac, this therapy can induce a substantial but transitory local inflammatory reaction which may result in pain, bruising, and swelling. Therefore, as with surgery, pain control medication is recommended.
Among dogs treated with tigilanol tiglate in the registration clinical trial conducted in the United States, 75% of mast cell tumors achieved a complete response (complete tumor removal) of the injected tumor with just 1 treatment, and nearly all of the tumor sites healed within 6 weeks. According to Virbac, some wounds can be more extensive and may require additional management and healing time. In this same controlled clinical trial, interventions such as a collar or bandages to manage wounds were minimal and only required in 5 of 117 cases.
Since tigilanol tiglate received approval from the FDA, roughly 88% of United States veterinarians polled who have used the therapy to treat canine mast cell tumors reported satisfactory experiences. It has also received approval from regulatory agencies in Australia, Europe and the United Kingdom for the treatment of canine mast cell tumors.
Tigilanol tiglate may cause extensive wound formation at the tumor site, including cellulitis and severe tissue sloughing that may require additional management and healing time. The most common adverse reactions seen in the clinical trial were wound formation, injection site pain, lameness in the treated limb, vomiting, diarrhea, hypoalbuminemia, and injection site bruising. Sedation of the dog may be necessary to administer tiglate tigilanol safely and accurately, and to decrease the chance of accidental self-injection that may cause local inflammation and wound formation. The safe use of tigilanol tiglate has not been evaluated in dogs younger than 3.5 years old.
The effectiveness of a commonly prescribed treatment for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) in cats may vary depending on the animal’s genes.
Veterinarians at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), have found a cat’s DNA alters how it responds to clopidogrel, a medication used to treat HCM, a heart disease that affects one in seven cats.
HCM causes a cat’s heart muscle to thicken, and, as the condition worsens, blood clots can form in the heart. Dislodged clots can lead to pain, distress, and even sudden death, UC Davis says.
Clopidogrel is among the most commonly prescribed medications to prevent blood clots in cats with HCM; however, data examined by the study’s researchers revealed nearly 20 percent of cats receiving clopidogrel therapy showed resistance.
“We were consistently seeing cats that, despite being on clopidogrel, were still forming blood clots,” says the study’s corresponding author, Joshua Stern, DVM, PhD, professor of veterinary cardiology and geneticist at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
“This study was about figuring out why some cats weren’t responding as expected to clopidogrel therapy and leading us towards a more effective prescription.”
In a clinical trial of 49 cats, researchers first tested the animals’ ability to form clots, then had the cats’ owners administer clopidogrel for a period of 14 days. They then tested whether mutations in the cat genome impacted the effectiveness of the medication.
“The end result is the ability to use a simple genetic test to make an educated decision about which drug therapy may be best for preventing blood clots in cats with HCM,” Dr. Stern says.
While testing like this is not yet commercially available, UC Davis researchers hope veterinarians will ultimately be able to rapidly test cats with HCM for these mutations. Ultimately, this could help in developing more personalized medicine for cats, allowing veterinarians to test kittens for a host of genetic variants to help inform medical decisions and treatments throughout the animal’s life.
“We are very excited to be approaching this era where personalized or precision medicine in animals can catch up to precision medicine in humans,” says co-author Ronald Li, DVM, MVetMed, PhD, an assistant professor of veterinary emergency and critical care and coagulation researcher, whose lab conducted much of the functional testing of the anticoagulant therapies. “Just as we can’t expect every human to respond to medication in the same way, we can’t expect all cats to respond the same way either.”
The National Hurricane Center has issued a rare hurricane watch for parts of New England, warning that Tropical Storm Henri will likely develop into a hurricane before making landfall on the northeastern U.S. coast this weekend.
"If Henri strikes southeast New England as a hurricane this weekend, it will be the first direct hurricane landfall since Bob in 1991," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokesman Chris Vaccaro told NPR.
Henri's maximum sustained winds grew to 70 mph on Friday, making it "almost a hurricane," the NHC said in its 8 p.m. ET update. Hurricanes have sustained winds of at least 74 mph.
The hurricane watch was issued early Friday, covering a large portion of Long Island and areas from New Haven, Conn., to Sagamore Beach, Mass., the National Hurricane Center said. Resort islands such as Block Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket are also in the watch zone.
In addition to strong winds and heavy rain, forecasters are warning of a storm surge that could inundate land with 3 to 5 feet of water.
"Confidence is high that the event will occur Sunday into Monday," the National Weather Service office in Boston said in a briefing early Friday. It added that damaging winds were especially possible east of Henri's track, while rains could cause flooding to the west of the storm's path.
A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area; forecasters normally issue the alerts roughly 48 hours before they expect the first tropical storm-force winds to arrive. The first tropical storm winds from Henri could reach the shore late tonight.
Authorities are now looking at toxic algae blooms as the possible cause for the deaths of a family and their dog during a hike in California this week.
John Gerrish and Ellen Chung, their 1-year-old daughter, Miju, and Oski, the family’s golden retriever, were found dead on a remote hiking trail along the Merced River in the Sierra National Forest Tuesday after a family friend reported them missing.
KSEE John Gerrish and Ellen Chung, their 1-year-old daughter, Miju, and Oski, the family’s golden retriever, were found dead in the Sierra National Forest Tuesday. Cause of death is under investigation.
As officials speculated about what caused the deaths ― and considered the possibility of poisonous gases from old mines in the area ― the spot where the family was found was treated as a hazmat site. However, that declaration was lifted Wednesday and investigators are now testing for any toxic algae blooms in the water.
“I don’t believe it’s connected to a mine,” Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese told the Fresno Bee. He said the closest mine was some 3 miles from where the bodies were found.
“We won’t rest until we figure it out,” the sheriff added.
Authorities are awaiting the results of autopsy and toxicology tests.
Kristie Mitchell, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, called the deaths a “very unusual, unique situation.” There were “no signs of trauma, no obvious cause of death. There was no suicide note,” said Mitchell, per AP.
Sidney Radanovich, a friend of the family, described the couple as avid hikers who were particularly fond of exploring the area.
“They were such a loving couple,” Radanovich told The San Francisco Chronicle. He said Gerrish, a San Francisco-based software designer, loved to show Miju “all sorts of things and explain them to her.”