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Gray Wolf Pups Observed in the Wild for First Time in 80 Years

The wolf, more generally known as the gray wolf, is a native member of North America and Eurasia. Within this species, there are more than thirty different Canis Lupus subspecies. Today’s conversation is directed toward the gray wolves of Colorado that have been essentially ghosts in the area since the 1940s. An appearance in Jackson County, nearly 150 miles northwest of Denver, CO, would unveil a treat for wolf fans and conservationists alike.

Return of the Wolves

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been news article after news article detailing the pandemic’s impact on wildlife and pollution. Reports of animals returning home after a long time away began to pop up and that could potentially be indicative of what is happening here.

Members of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff began monitoring a pair of adult wolves named Jane and John at the beginning of the year. Later on in their analysis, the staff realized that there were three pups in tow of the two adults. Seeing wolf pups in the wild is incredibly uncommon and the act hadn’t been accomplished since the 1940s in Colorado.

Throughout the 1940s, Colorado put an intense focus on the hunting and poisoning of gray wolves in the area. This prevailing mindset was overturned in 20209 when a ballot initiative was passed to reintroduce these same wolves to the Western Slope of Colorado. As the measure continues to move through state houses and legislators, expectations are that gray wolves will be returned to the state by 2023.

Jared Polis is the governor of Colorado and he has been vocal about supporting the return of gray wolves. Polis said, “We welcome this historic den and new wolf family to Colorado.” Polis went on to direct attention back to the initiative that had passed in 2020, highlighting work done by the voters.

While Polis and other animal conservationists are glowing with joy about the return of the gray wolf, not everybody is thrilled. The wolves had been hunted throughout the 40s for a reason, due in large part to the way that they can menace ranchers and the livestock that they possess. While wolf pups may look cute, they don’t tend to stay small for too long. In fact, a fully grown male gray wolf can weigh in at nearly 90 lbs, measuring 63 inches from nose to tail.

Still, ranchers aren’t being ignored during the reintroduction efforts of the gray wolf. Voters included in their initiative the ability to pay farmers for any loss of livestock due to natural predation. Libbie Miller is a biologist at Colorado Parks and Wildlife and she had this to say, “Not bothering them remains a paramount concern but our hope is that we will eventually have photos to document this occasion.”

Right now, the global wolf population is estimated to be around 300,000. While wolves have been historically despised by humans, due in part to our agrarian and hunter-gatherer roots, wolf attacks are incredibly rare on humans. Gray wolves traditionally feed on livestock, hooved animals, garbage, and carrion. Wolves are traditionally fearful of humans due to their past experiences with ranchers and hunters.

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Mom Beats Up a Mountain Lion to Save Kid

Kevin Wells

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Ever heard the advice of never getting between a mother bear and her cubs? The same may very well apply to human mothers. In particular case, a mountain lion decides a 5-year-old was going to make a good target for its hunt and ends up making a huge mistake.

Located in Calabasas, the 5-year-old was playing around his house in the rural area when attacked by an adult mountain lion. The 65-lb cat with its aggressiveness overcame the child and dragged him almost a half football field before the mother could intervene. The boy was injured due to bite and scratch marks causing serious lacerations on his head and upper body, but the situation could have ended a lot worse.

Instead, the mother heard her son screaming and came running outside. Seeing her child being attacked and hauled off by the big cat, the mom kicked into high gear and went after the mountain lion with vengeance. With bare hands and feet, the woman attacked the cat and pummeled it until the mountain lion released the boy. Grabbing the boy, she then hauled him into a car, and by then her and her husband drove pell-mell to the nearest ER for treatment and the injuries.

Within seconds, the mountain lion involved decided it wasn’t going to have a huge banquet after all and took off from the immediate area. Later, animal control officers arrived and scouted the area for signs of the cat. It didn’t take long to locate the animal; it was still hunting in the area and looking for prey. As the officers approached the mountain lion hiding in nearby bushes, it went into defensive mode, hissing and pulling its ears back. All of the details, the attack, and the behavior gave officers enough of what they needed to shoot and kill the mountain lion on sight.

The cat was then examined, both for the potential of rabies infection as well as to confirm it was the one who attacked the boy. Positive ID was confirmed based on the DNA evidence the cat still had on its body as well as the angle of the teeth sets and claws.

Interestingly, a second mountain lion was also found in the neighborhood, potentially a mate or part of a roving pack. The officers captured that animal and then moved it safely to a far more remote location to break any growing cycle of getting closer to humans.

In the meantime, the boy was stitched up and recovered, but law enforcement involved were very much impressed at the capacity of the mom involved. By their estimate, she was the critical factor in saving the boy’s life from the attack.

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Twins Whose Lemonade Stand Was Robbed Gets Surprised By Community

Kevin Wells

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Being robbed is bad by every means; however, when it’s a child or children who the criminals prey on, this draws the wrath of everyone.

When two innocent young girls are trying their hands at entrepreneurship, it is a sign that they have great plans ahead and believe that the world awaits them with open arms.

However, for a pair of nine-year-old twins, they saw the bitter side of life way too early, and the community decided to chime in and help remove or at least soften the scars in their minds of what the world represents.

After a robber decided to steal from a lemonade stand operated by the two 9-year-olds, the Ames community reacted.

Katelyn and Elias, twins, had a lemonade business on Monday, but things rapidly went south.

“We were simply selling lemonade when a car pulled up, and a girl got out, so I asked if she wanted lemonade,” Katelyn explained. “She answered ‘sure,’ then took the tip jar, climbed into the passenger seat, and drove away.”

When the family phoned the cops, they said the response was better than they could have ever imagined.

Officer Celena Rohland stated, “I started texting some of the folks I work with, asking them to get together and maybe visit the lemonade stand so that we could make a difference in Katelyn and Elias’ day.”

The twins reopened their stand, deciding that when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.

The cops had no intention of taking the matter lightly. Four different law enforcement agencies arrived to assist them in recovering the money that the culprit stole.

“It makes me so glad to see these youngsters so happy right now. It’s all about that. Taking care of our neighborhood,” said one community member, Kyle Dirks. It is a sentiment shared by scores of other residents there.

Katelyn and Elias’ mother commented that this life lesson makes it all worthwhile.

“There was one terrible apple,” Karen Smidt explained, “but they got to experience the goodness of so many more people, and one bad apple will not spoil it for us.” “We’re going to keep going.”

According to the family, they have now raised more than $750. They intend to donate the entire sum to the Shop with a Cop program, and they are thrilled to be able to give back to the community that has helped them.

What happened to these young entrepreneurs might be a lesson to many criminals who have the money but not the people’s hearts.

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British Boy on His Way to Earning a £1 million for Hospice, Camping Outdoors

Kevin Wells

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Many children have been developing the art of giving from a very young age. Some give because they saw their family members don’t, while others, like Max Woosey, an 11-year-old boy in the United Kingdom, give because someone he cared about died. He does not want anyone else to endure the pain and suffering or do so in a comfortable setting.

His friend was an elderly neighbor with a terminal illness who chose to remain home instead of getting professional care at the hospice. The pandemic impacted funding for the hospice, and it broke Max’s heart. What he did next was mind-blowing. Read the heartwarming story of love, bravery, and community below.

After a dying man gave him a tent, a fortunate set of circumstances transformed Max into a staunch hero. His parents were helping to care for an elderly neighbor, Rick Abbott, who had terminal cancer just before the epidemic hit the UK last year.

They realized how critical it was that their neighbor’s final wish, to remain in his own house, was granted by the local hospice in North Devon. Abbott presented a special present to Max just before his passing. Max said Rick gave him a tent and had made him promise to utilize it for an expedition.

Because a large number of the hospice’s fundraising had been canceled and services had halted due to COVID-19, Max began camping in his new tent in the garden on March 29th, 2020, in the hopes of generating £100 for the hospice.

While waiting for the pandemic to end, he updated his fundraising page with updates from his plush toy animals. Max refused to come in from the outside as the lockdown restrictions drew on, and pleasant summer nights changed into harsh fall frost—and donations poured in.

“Thank you so much for all the donations,” he wrote on October 12. I can’t believe how much money I’ve managed to raise. I’ve decided to live in a tent for a year to see if I can save up enough money to reach £20,000.”

The boy flew beyond that target, reaching milestones of 100 days, 200 days, and 300 days in a row. Digby, his dog, was more than welcome to stay the night with him and keep this Cub Scout warm.

His tent blew over during a December storm, but he re-pitched it, so he could check another day off his calendar. During Storm Bella’s 70 mph winds, his father kept him company.

When the first tent sprung a leak, he had to acquire a new one. When the Christmas season arrived, his family decked out his tent with lights and Santa decorations. Perhaps he hoped to catch a glimpse of the red-suited man when his sleigh passed by while sleeping outside.

Max’s mission drew nationwide and worldwide attention, and people asked him to camp in the vicinity of the London Zoo lion’s den and the garden on Downing Street.

Recently, the kid from Braunton spent his 500th continuous night on an expedition that stemmed from a tragedy but resulted in more than $770,000 in donations from strangers all over the world for the life-saving treatment.

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How Embark Veterinary Will Use Its $75M Venture Capital Funding to Help Dogs

Kevin Wells

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Dogs and people have a unique relationship that goes beyond friendship. And some animal researchers believe that a mutually beneficial bond between the two species is rare in the animal kingdom. And a new Dog DNA startup is hoping to help understand our canine friends better by using $75M in venture funding to study the unique genetic makeup of dog breeds.

Understanding Dog Breeds

Dog breeds are fascinating because people artificially create them to highlight specific visual appearances and traits. For example, breeders created dachshunds by continually breeding dogs with long and round bodies, focusing these genetic traits into one breed. So, while breeds are quite different, their DNA is essentially the same, allowing for continued breeding.

However, thousands of years of this type of careful artificial selection have caused issues with many breeds. For example, dachshunds often have bad back problems that shorten their lifespans. And short-faced dogs like pugs struggle to breathe properly. So, unfortunately, what appeared to be cute or advantageous to humans isn’t always great for dogs.

Even worse, some traits and diseases are common in breeds due to one breeding mistake. For example, many spaniel breeds have a seizure disorder in which they may black out and lash out at others. This behavior is due to one trendy stud dog possessing this trait, which was passed on to many other generations. However, Embark Veterinary, Inc hopes to understand these problems better.

Who is Embark Veterinary?

Embark Veterinary is a canine genetics startup company that split from Cornell’s McGovern Business center in 2017 to focus on mapping canine genetic code and tracking differences throughout species. The startup’s goal has been to identify common genetic problems with various breeds and find solutions for these issues that help dogs live better lives.

Founded by Adam and Ryan Boyko, the firm has been examining dog genetics for over a decade. Adam Boyko has stated that it is a “labor of love,” and their goal is to “understand the origins of dogs” by using their DNA. In addition, by tracking the similarities and differences between various breeds, they believe it should be easier to understand dog behavior and follow “predisposition to illness.”

And they also hope to understand better dog aging and why some breeds live longer than others. For example, canine aging is faster than in other similar sub-species, like wolves and coyotes, which may sometimes live twice as long as shorter-lived breeds. By tracking how canine aging develops, they hope to find solutions that provide dogs with happier and longer lives.

The Venture Capital Funding

Over the years, Embark has created a unique Dog DNA Kit that has helped test and determine between 350 breeds and tracks over 200,000 genetic markers to point out potentially 200 different genetic health risks for a dog. Their success has caused many to become interested in funding their continued operation, and their most recent round of funding may be its biggest yet.

Led primarily by Lydia Jett of SoftBank Vision Fund 2, investors as diverse as F-Prime Capital, Slow Ventures, SV Angel, Third Kind Venture Capital, and Freestyle Capital have raised $75M in cash to invest in the company. They were especially impressed by the company’s ability to process around 1 million tests over the years and how well they’ve tracked various genetic issues.

This investment will help keep Embark Veterinary operating for many years and allow them to expand its genetic testing facilities in many ways. As a result, they are likely to come closer to their goal of extending canine lifespans and minimizing or even eliminating many common genetic disorders.

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One-Eyed Weed Sniffing Dog Gets a New Important Job

Jess

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When most people think about dogs being trained to recognize certain smells, they are probably thinking about drug-sniffing dogs or cadaver dogs. Dogs also play an important role in other important jobs, like sniffing for explosives, scat from endangered species, and trafficked ivory. Some dogs are even sniffing out weeds to help with conservation efforts.

Conservation dogs have already had a great deal of success in helping with various kinds of conservation jobs. One important task is to learn to locate different kinds of plants, especially ones that are growing in places where they don’t belong. Wink is one particularly smart dog who has successfully learned to recognize different kinds of weeds.

Wink, the Unlikely Conservation Dog

By the time he was 4 years old, Wink had proven himself adept at different tasks. He had an unlikely, beginning, though, that makes his success even more remarkable. At the tender age of 5 months, Wink developed an ulcer that caused him to lose an eye. Losing an eye never held him back, though. Wink lives in New Zealand and goes where he needs to when he gets the call for help.

How Do Conservation Dogs Do Training?

Unlike humans, dogs can’t sit in a classroom and learn instructions. They work on a rewards system instead. Wink will spend 3 months learning to identify one specific plant. At first, Wink learned that he would get a reward if he sat after sniffing the right plant. Then Wink had to find the weed in other places, such as in a jar with a hole in the lid. As it got harder and harder to find the target, Wink learned that he now had to bark when he smelled the target plant

Invasive Species

Why do we even need conservation dogs? Dogs like Wink help to find where an invasive species has taken hold so it can be removed. An invasive species is any plant or animal that moves into a new area and causes ecological harm. The new species competes with the native species for limited resources, sometimes causing the extinction of native plants and/or animals and changing the entire habitat.

Sometimes an invasive species enters a new area by accident, such as when ocean waves carry it to another area. Sometimes humans bring the invasive species themselves without realizing the consequences. People brought Kudzu to the U.S. from Asia because they thought it was pretty, and it has taken over the southern states and is threatening others. Kudzu can a foot every day, so it gets out-of-control quickly.

Wink’s Different Jobs

Wink doesn’t realize he has a job because he’s having fun. For detection dogs, their important work is a game.Wink helped to sniff out Spartina grass in the past. Spartina grass was originally brought to New Zealand on purpose to help stabilize estuaries and river banks. Unfortunately, it grows so fast it can change estuaries into grasslands in just a few years. Wink found over a hundred patches of Spatrina grass that the conservation officers were able to dig up.

Now Wink is going to tackle African love grass. African love grass is a hearty weed that can tolerate terrible conditions, even droughts and frosts. Wink spent three months in training so that he can set out with his conservation team on his new task. If they are successful, they will head off another invasive species and then go focus on another.

Wink isn’t the only canine hero helping to save the environment. There are others with their own stories.

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