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Innovative Overpass To Reduce Wildlife Deaths and Injuries

Sweden’s declaration that it will build a network of animal crossings has been the latest example of international attempts to assist animals navigating busy roads.

Sweden’s key highway draws to a complete halt each April. Dozens of reindeer led by indigenous Sami shepherds scramble all across E4 when they make their way west to the hills after a winter spent munching on lichen near Ume.

The crossings are becoming increasingly fractious as Sweden’s city’s main highway has become extremely busy, particularly if officials do not reach in time to close the route.

When drivers attempt to pass the reindeer as they cross the road, they spook the animals, causing lengthy gridlock as their Sami caregivers struggle to regain control.

According to Per Sandström, a land ecologist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences who acts as a mediator between the Sami and municipalities to develop the crossings, these lichen lands can be precious for the reindeer during difficult climate conditions.

Swedish authorities announced this week that they would construct up to twelve viaducts for the reindeers, also known as “renoducts,” to help with the crossings and make it easier for reindeer herds to access grazing.

The climate crisis has hit the country’s 4,500 Sami herders and 250,000 reindeer hard, with forest fires in the summer and freezing rain in the winter hiding lichen under impenetrable sheets of ice.

Long-range mammals that aren’t meant to live in these tiny, isolated pockets would profit most from this scheme, according to Sandström, who began his career in the United States, helping to establish grizzly bear ecological pathways in Montana.

The renoducts form part of a broader network of ecological bridges and crosswalks that seek to link fragmented ecosystems across the world.

Underpasses were also used to protect jaguars against traffic on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula.

Porcupines, apes, and kinkajous have used organic foliage crossings in the Peruvian Amazon to cross natural gas pipelines.

Bridges have been constructed over streets on Christmas Island to allow hundreds of thousands of red crabs to migrate from the jungle to the coasts on their annual cycle.

The wildlife bridges prevent several of the millions of wildlife fatalities each year on the world’s roads and mitigate human infrastructure’s unintended effects.

Since the bustling motorways around Los Angeles have fragmented habitats with low genetic variation, there are already indications of inbreeding amongst lions in the Santa Monica Mountains in southern California. An $87 million (£63 million) wild animals bridge is being built north of Los Angeles to help save the local mountain lion community from destruction. It will be the world’s largest.

Animals may be harmed if their ecosystem is separated, as they may be unable to obtain food and water.

According to Mark Benson, a representative of Parks Canada’s human-wildlife convergence group for Lake Louise, Yoho, and Kootenay, they might also have an effect on population genetic diversity.

In the United Kingdom, wildlife bridges are projected to be included in the government’s wildlife recovery network, which seeks to link biodiverse areas as part of a 25-year environmental plan.

Natural England noted the environmental benefits in a 2015 study, citing the Netherlands as an example, and is creating a network of “ecoducts” to help animals travel across the world.

Highways England is progressively constructing wildlife bridges as a component of infrastructure projects around the region, with more expected for the future. However, some conservationists believe that not enough is being achieved in the United Kingdom.

Although significant demonstrations against the project failed to halt construction, De Retuerto believes they signaled a change of attitude toward environmental concerns in the UK.

He claims that a sustainable walkway at Twyford Down will be built solely for this purpose to invigorate the wildlife recovery network.

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Paralyzed Farmer Returns to Work Thanks to One-of-a-Kind Tractor

Renee Yates

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Matthew Evans was as hard a working farmer as there was in the country when the 30-year-old experienced a tragic accident. Left paralyzed from the chest down, Evans would have to turn away from his career as a farmer due to the repercussions of the sudden incident. Injured and desperate to get back on the road and into work, Evans would work alongside another disabled farmer to craft something that would change both of their lives.

Introducing the Valtra Tractor

Matthew had been leaving a Denbigh and Flint Show in late April 2014 when he was struck by a 4×4 truck while walking along the road. Injured and immediately in need of help, Evans would get taken to the Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Rhyl before getting transferred via an ambulance to the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital. It was there that the agriculture contractor would be forced to undergo several operations to fix his spine. Broken in two places, the outcome of the incident was nothing less than dire.

While the incident was seven years ago at the time of this writing, Evans would require only ten months of recovery before he was able to return to some semblance of his normal routine. While the therapy was life-changing it was also painful, slow, and filled with frustration. After leaving rehab behind, Matthew knew that he would want more help in the future so that he could get back to life as he knew it. This would lead to a meeting with an engineer by the name of Andrew Stubbs.

The duo had met after Matthew wrote about his story, submitting it to WalesOnline. Stubbs had read Mathew’s story on the website and due to his relative proximity to the farmer, the duo decided to connect. Stubbs had been living in Astle Farm East of Cheshire at the time and he had been disabled himself, offering another layer of connectivity between the two. Andrew said, “You can see by the smile on his face what it means to be back on the job.”

Andrew Stubbs is a fellow disabled farmer who had been figuring out his own ways back into the industry. In order to get Matthew back on the tractor, the duo decided to work on a Valtra Tractor that had been specially fitted with a hydraulic chairlift. This chairlift would offer Matthew the ability to get in and out of the tractor while remaining in his wheelchair. Matthew says, “I’ve been using it for the past six weeks or so — and so far, no hiccups.”

While working with Andrew, Matthew would request that the tractor be painted white so that he could drive it during his wedding the following year. For his part, Matthew has revered the ability to engage with and develop his independence once again, noting just how difficult the journey has been.

Andrew and Michael have shared their story extensively and it has been covered by the production company known as Funkimation. The video would get posted online to the Vimeo platform where tens of thousands of viewers have already viewed Michael’s journey.

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Walk Along the Beach Turns Into Jurassic Experience For Shellfish Collector

Kelly Taylor

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When was the last time that you were truly blown away by something? We don’t mean impressed, we mean truly blown away. It’s a tough state of mind to find ourselves in, but that doesn’t mean that 29-year-old shellfish collector Marie Woods would have the same experiences! Woods had been foraging for shellfish along the Yorkshire Coast when she came across something quite remarkable. And when we say ‘quite remarkable’ what we really mean is ‘a relic of time’.

Let’s explore how a walk along the beach turned into a journey through time.

165 Million Years Ago…

Marie Woods was like many Yorkshire locals when she found herself walking along the coast, foraging for dinner. Woods had been looking for shellfish to incorporate into her meal when she came across something quite unique. In fact, what she found was something both out of time and out of place – an enormous footprint thought to be at least 165 million years old!

Now documented by experts, Marie was one of the first leaders in the field to examine the footprint. More than just a local shellfish enthusiast, Marie is also an archeologist. Upon finding the footprint, Marie would end up making international news. Marie said of her experience, “All I wanted was to grab some shellfish for my dinner.” Marie would go on to add, “..and I ended up stumbling across this.”

Woods wasn’t the only expert to put a pair of eyes on the uncovered footprint as Dr. Dean Lomax of the University of Manchester was quick to chime in. Dr. Lomax believes that the discovered print is that of the Megalosaurus, an animal that would stand with hips over two meters high and a body longer than nine meters. Put more plainly, Dr. Lomax says, “This is the largest theropod footprint ever found in Yorkshire, at least made by a large meat-eating dinosaur.”

The footprint is distinguishable at a glance, most notable due to its three-toed track and long shape. Dr. Lomax goes on to say that the shape of the footprint makes for a ‘large theropod’ or, as he likes to say, ‘a real Jurassic giant’.

Learning About Megalosaurus

Also known as the Great Lizard, the Megalosaurus was a large meat-eating dinosaur from the theropod class, existing throughout the Middle Jurassic Period. Found throughout Southern England, the first-ever genus of this dinosaur was found in 1824. Originally mistaken by a researcher for a 66-foot long lizard, Megalosaurus would receive more significant and accurate coverage after its inclusion in Richard Owen’s Dinosauria.

Described as bipedal with stout hind limbs, the Megalosaurus stood roughly 20 feet tall while weighing in at over 1,500 lbs. With short forelimbs and sharp teeth, the megalosaurus was quickly categorized as another meat eater for the time period. Unfortunately, we are still very short on further details as it has been beyond difficult for researchers to find a well-preserved fossilized skull for the Megalosaurus. Sans this information, it can be hard for researchers to get completely accurate details.

After discovering the fossilized footprint of Megalosaurus, Marie would contact other local experts where she would find out that her discovery was not completely new. Roughly a year ago, the footprint had been found by a local photographer named Rob Taylor. Though the image had been shared on social media, nothing had ever come of the discovery – at least not until Marie showed up.

Working with local experts, Marie and Rob are hopeful that their share discovery may find its way into a public display at the Rotunda Museum located in Scarborough.

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The Sydney Student Who Just Opened Up the Quantum Future

Shannon Jackson

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When a student goes above and beyond in a class, professors typically reward the person with extra credit and notable point of recognition. When a student goes and solves a long-standing quantum math problem with computer programming code that shifts the math understanding paradigm significantly, a professor hopes to have his or her name on the same research paper.

That was the case with one second-year student at the University of Sydney who managed to figure out how to program quantum computing problem solutions. The breakthrough is so big, major market players like Amazon are implementing the solution, and researchers in U.S. ivy league top brass are pouring over it in detail to upgrade their own understanding. For Pablo Bonilla, however, it’s another day at University.

Quantum computing involves then next step in computational power and capability that is currently be researched for even greater practical applications, particularly at the microscopic scale of physical operation. It’s a bit like thinking about how big data cylinders became large boxes, and then computer hard drives, and then flash drives the size of a finger or flat disk in a camera. Now, the next phase will go even smaller, allowing computer design to pack far more power into a smaller space. The ramifications of this new paradigm are huge.

Of course, for Bonilla, it doesn’t hurt when professors at Yale comment that Bonilla’s coding work is both exceptional as well as elegant in construction. Bonilla was able to find a modification that no one else had seen or thought possible for at least two decades. His new set of eyes found the hidden door to the next level that many others had spent a career already trying to solve without success. Once that door opened with Bonilla’s code, new possibilities in quantum computing have now become a reality. And, not surprisingly, his choices of code and solution were fairly simple in design as well compared to the complex choices others had pursued and ended up stumped.

Bonilla himself was anything but average. He had already grown up with a very unique perspective out of the norm being part of a family that emigrated to Australia from Uruguay. Growing up in a different land, culture and language than what he remembered in his early years may have very well allowed Pablo to see things from a different perspective than the mainstream, which worked to his advantage.

By the time Bonilla was in high school, it was obvious he was going somewhere. At 15, Bonilla was brought in early to try his hand on a different project at the University of Sydney. Today, Bonilla is reaching the end of his University tour, but he’s already committed to pursue a PhD as well. And, very likely, Bonilla will be making additional changes to quantum computing and more in his tenure.

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Beautiful Magellanic Penguins Returned to Atlantic Ocean After Rescue

Renee Yates

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The Magellanic Penguin is known for its distinct black bat and white belly. Standing between 24 and 30 inches tall, the Magellanic Penguin was first discovered in 1520 by Ferdinand Magellan, through whom they received their names. While one of the most populous of the South American penguins, these flightless birds are not entirely without external threats from nature, man, and global warming. So when twelve black-and-white penguins were discovered off the coasts of Argentina while suffering from anemia and malnutrition, it didn’t take long for help to arrive.

Argentina and the Atlantic Ocean

What would you do if you discovered a dozen penguins struggling to survive? For biologist Sergio Rodriguez of the Mundo Marino Foundation, the answer was pretty simple — you help them. Rodriguez described how the animals were found waddling around in a state of dangerous malnutrition as well as dehydration, both potentially fatal issues if left unattended.

Rodriguez is one of the leaders at the Mundo Marino Foundation located near San Clemente del Tuyu in Argentina. Her job there is to provide support for the local wildlife while also researching various conservation issues.

To verify that the Magellanic Penguins were truly struggling through dehydration and malnutrition, Rodriguez used her experience in the field. Rodriguez said, “In some cases, they had issues molting.. for various reasons, including lack of nutrients.”

When penguins cannot properly molt, Rodriguez says that they lack the appropriate feathers necessary to survive in cold ocean water. With a lack of real protection due to their interrupted molding process, the penguins had fled to the beaches of Argentina because they lacked the ability to withstand the colder temperatures of the sea. Put plainly, a lack of food and access to water had put their lives at risk. Sergio would go on to say, “They needed to be treated with a balanced diet, provided by nutritionists.”

For Magellanic Penguins that are healthy and capable of thriving in the wild, a traditional diet will consist of crustaceans, cuttlefish, krill, and even squid. Diving to a depth of up to 50m, penguins will forage for food, finding a constant supply of resources along the way.

The Mundo Marino Foundation

Comfortably nestled into the Mundo Marino Foundation, the rescued penguins were able to receive a steady diet of appropriate nutrition from the team at the Mundo Marino Foundation. While staying at the Mundo Marino Foundation, the penguins would also receive comprehensive vet checkups as well as blood work to verify their overall health. The birds were lucky to get rescued as they were fed, rehydrated, and returned to the ocean in relatively short order.

Mundo Marino is the largest aquarium in all of Argentina, established by Juan David Mendez. The aquarium first opened its doors in 1979 where it was built next to a crab land. Mundo Marion currently houses 20 pools, 50 sea mammals, 80 birds, and the star of the show Kshamenko, a male killer whale who was rescued after he had been stranded.

According to research compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, there are somewhere between 2.2 million and 3.2 million Magellanic penguins in the world, today. Traditionally, these penguins can be found throughout coastal regions surrounding Chile and Argentina.

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Bus Driver Gets Accolades For Assisting Homeless Individual In Milwaukee

Renee Yates

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It only takes one small act of kindness to transform the life of someone in need forever. The Driver of a Milwaukee bus managed to accomplish that feat recently.

She has since been lauded for helping a struggling passenger who had become homeless due to unforeseen circumstances get some much-needed support.

In October, bus driver Natalie Barnes began conversing with a passenger named Richard, who informed her that he had been homeless for a week after his previous residence was condemned.

She agreed when he inquired whether he could travel along during the night to avoid the cold.

“Everyone needs support at some stage in their lives,” Barnes wrote on the Milwaukee County Transit System’s blog. “I want to do everything I could to assist Richard in any way I could.”

She decided to take a break at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee during her shift and offered to get her passenger something to eat.

Richard was moved by the gesture, as shown by surveillance footage.

“Now I don’t know how to respond but thank you,” he told Barnes, promising to repay her in some way.

“I want to support you,” she said, refusing.

Barnes, on the other hand, was not satisfied with only one act of kindness.

Again during a break, she contacted a neighbor, who assisted in the placement of Richard in safe accommodation.

During the six-hour bus ride, Barnes and Richard had become friends. He now has her contact information, and they communicate regularly.

ABC News which initially aired the video and interviewed Barnes, said she talks to Richard every couple of days, and he honors her every time he speaks to her for supporting him.”

According to Barnes, “He refers to me as his little angel of security. I’m pleased to report that he’s making good progress.”

Barnes has won three commendations for exemplary service since joining the MCTS two years ago, and it is second nature to him to help others.

As per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, she frequently brings various types of sandwiches on the bus to distribute to those in crisis.

In a recent ceremony, Chris Abele, who is the Milwaukee County Executive, honored Barnes.

“(This is)What MCTS greatness is all about Natalie’s love, compassion, and reverence for this man that needs it,” he said. “Natalie exemplified what we all should be doing to combat homelessness: look out for one another, care for one another, and collaborate. Natalie’s words have made a huge difference in my life.”

Barnes continues to use her position as a bus driver to help as many people as possible.

Meanwhile, the city’s Mayor, Tom Barrett notes that there has been a four year drop in homelessness by forty-three percent. He added that there’s still much left to be done and expressed gratitude that more than 100 entities are working to end homelessness in Milwaukee.

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