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
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.
Indiana Man Saves Children During House Fire, Footage Caught on Police Body Camera
There are moments in life when we can decide to become a hero or to fade into the background. For Nicholas Bostic, a young man from Indiana, the choice was thrust upon his shoulders without much time to think. Bostic had been driving home around 12:30 in the morning when he noticed a fire billowing from the balcony of a home. A moment later, the driver was slamming on his brakes, running up a hill, and vanishing into a house engulfed in flame. Moments later, Bostic would re-appear with four saved lives.
However, there was someone still missing.
Tragedy Averted, Stunning Moments Caught on Camera
When police officers and fire response teams arrived at the Indiana home that was ablaze, they didn’t know what they were walking into. However, moments after officers arrived on the scene, video footage from police body-worn cameras would reveal a stunning image of Bostic emerging from the flames with a young girl in his arms. Moments later, the two would collapse onto the sidewalk, wheezing and injured, asking for oxygen.
After initially beating law enforcement to the scene, Bostic would run into the home where he would find four young children as well as their oldest sister. After getting the small group out of the home, they would reveal that another child was still stuck inside.
Bostic didn’t hesitate. In an interview with Fox 59, Bostic revealed his return to the home, “The smoke just came out of nowhere. It was pitch black, pitch black. The heat was excruciating.”
Despite the billowing smoke, excruciating heat, and blinding particulates, Bostic was able to find the young child trapped in the home. Listening to her faint cries, Bostic was able to find the child on the second story of the building. The duo would jump out of the window only to appear dramatically before the waiting law enforcement officials.
Bostic and the child would both survive the incident, though Bostic would suffer from blisters, burns, and other abrasions. The entire family was uninjured.
When asked about his experience, Bostic replied, “I’d be hoping that the guy driving would consider doing the same if they were able to.”
Honoring a Local Hero: Thanks From a City
According to a report by fire department officials, the fire began on the front porch and had been caused by ashes that had not been extinguished before they were emptied. Bostic’s minor injuries would be treated at Eskenazi Hospital in nearby Indianapolis.
Lt. Randy Sherer of the local Lafayette Police Department cited Bostic’s actions as being brave, selfless, and heroic. Lt. Sherer stated, “He has impressed many with his courage, tenacity, and steadfast calmness in the face of such perilous danger.”
Local police officers stated that Bostic would be honored by the community during a local baseball game for the Aviators in August. Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski was also quick to thank Bostic for his actions. All proceeds earned from tickets at the local baseball game will be given to a fundraising campaign on the internet for Bostic.
As far as Bostic is concerned, his actions were just an extension of his personal faith. Bostic told the local station News 18, “I have something to remind me of why I’m here, still alive. Why God keeps me here. He used me like his instrument that night.”
The Blue Angels Select FIRST Female Pilot: Lt. Amanda Lee Joins the Squadron
The Blue Angels have been part and parcel of air shows for as long as most aviation fans can remember. Established in 1946, the Blue Angels have been providing fans with wondrous aerial displays at sporting events, air shows, and other demonstrations throughout the country as part of an effort to recruit for the United States Navy.
Throughout the history of the Blue Angels’ flying demonstrations, they’ve never held a female pilot as one of their core members – this all changed with the introduction of Lt. Amanda Lee.
Let’s take a closer look at the newest member of the squadron as well as the latest efforts by the Blue Angels.
Introducing Lt. Amanda Lee
Lt. Amanda Lee will be joining the Blue Angels after doing a stint with the Strike Fighter Squadron 106, otherwise known as the Gladiators. Lee’s time with the Gladiators will be spent at the Naval Air Station Oceana located in Virginia Beach, VA. After spending time training with the Gladiators, Angel is expected to report to the Blue Angels to begin her training in earnest.
Lee has long been a name associated with ‘firsts’ in the Air Force. In 2019, Lee would join an all-female flyover team for the funeral of Rosemary Mariner, a retired captain as well as one of the first-ever female pilots in the Navy. Mariner was also the first woman to ever command a naval aviation squadron, but that isn’t something Lee is thinking too much about.
Lee said in an interview released through the Navy, “I’m a pilot first, a person second, and my gender really isn’t an issue.”
In the Naval interview, Lee would go on to cite Rosemary Mariner as being an inspiration and a motivator. Lee said at the time, “It’s people like Capt. Mariner that have paved that way for us, so it’s really a huge honor.”
Amanda Lee will join the Blue Angels roster as it currently consists of 17 members. Among the 17 officers serving with the Blue Angels, there are only three women on the team: a public affairs professional, an events coordinator, and a flight surgeon. Lee will become the first female pilot to ever join the team.
Members of the Blue Angels typically serve on the roster for two years but they first must have acquired a minimum of 1,250 tactical jet flight hours. At the time of this writing, the Blue Angels are flying F/A-18 Super Hornet Jets.
YouTube Content Creator Reunites Luggage With Owners
When people travel via commercial airlines, they are expected to put a nametag on their suitcase that goes in baggage, and it’s not a bad idea to do the same on their carryons as well. However, unless the same travelers use their own tag, what’s provided at the airport is usually just enough to survive the trip and then be replaced. Unfortunately, a good number of bags get separated from their tags, and they also don’t get recovered in the immediate lost and found by their owners. While airlines will try to connect these bags with their owners, eventually some don’t make it.
Bags that are permanently separated or unclaimed ultimately have to be gotten rid of, and airlines take advantage of third parties to move bags from their warehouses onsite to other parties who might want to use the luggage for second-hand goods. This then connects the lost luggage with our story.
Hope Allen is a well-known YouTuber. In that respect, the artist needs content to keep audiences growing and entertained. One particular topic Hope came up with, known online as HopeScope, involves connecting lost luggage with its original owners. So off Hope went recovering lost belongings and trying to connect them with previous holders. In particular, Hope focuses on expensive personal property, including everything ranging from Louis Vuitton baggage to high-end electronics. The adventure got so popular, Hope was joined by Safiya Nygaard, another YouTuber, to help make the connections. Nygaard had her own expertise, being an accomplished treasure hunter. Add in the fact that with the pandemic people were losing things all over the place, pickings were good, no pun intended.
Hope and partner focused on specific items that clearly represented personal connections as well as value. High-end scarves, sunglasses, cameras and similar were all fair game. And, while it was a good idea for content, the success in finding the real owners didn’t pan out so well. Unfazed, the two YouTubers changed their strategy and focused on websites already in the business of selling unclaimed travel property (yes, there are online businesses just for that market, believe it or not).
To help in making connections more successful, Hope and Safiya then got a list of items from owners who detailed what they lost. Rather than focusing on finding the exact item, the pair instead looked for viable exact or similar replacements. The similarities got further and further away from exact copies, but the replacements were still comparable quality. Hope would complete the circle by shipping the replacement back to the affected owner, who would in turn submit a video reaction. The high majority were quite happy enough to get some kind of recovery.
As mentioned before, airlines use third party to move unclaimed bags. Either they go to charities or other parties paid to move them out; there’s no profit for the airlines, just removal of a concern. After 60 days, everything ends up in those parties’ hands. The oddest things are found in luggage. Some cases end up being mini-treasures, like expensive Rolex watches. Others can be potential risks like a live rattlesnake. It’s amazing what people try to go on a trip with.
A New Baby Frozen Mammoth Discovery in Canada
Finding parts of an ancient animal tends to be par for the course for many paleontologists and researchers focused on gaining a better understanding of the biological past. And in the case of the mammoths, most times bones and assembly are spread far and wide, with some left where they landed and others used or carried for food or tools. So, to find an entire woolly mammoth complete and intact, and a juvenile at that, is a serious paleontological treasure.
Aged by estimates to an approximate 30,000 years, a mummified baby woolly mammoth was discovered during gold mining operations. The location is deep in Canada’s wilderness in the Klondike Region. The territory is within the title and ownership of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation who will now also retain title to the mammoth discovery as well.
In terms of biological record, the recent baby mammoth discovery is comparable to the one found in 2007 in Russia’s Siberia region, and it may even be more complete. Based on results tested so far and evaluated, the specimen is assumed to be a baby female of the species, and it was already sizeable when it perished. The local tribespeople have named it Nun cho ga, which is a literal description of the find, “big baby animal.” For researchers, however, the discovery goes far deeper. The level of preservation and recovery is intense, giving them a whole new portfolio of material on which to study and know more about the mammoths that once trekked the colder parts of the world regularly in large herds.
The last major baby mammoth find was more than 70 years ago in 1948. That find was also in a gold mining operation, but in Alaska instead. Like so many discoveries during mining, the current mammoth specimen was located when the given miner involved was working a bulldozer and hit something that didn’t feel right. Trained to watch out for such anomalies, the driver immediately stopped and called for a supervisor to confirm what he thought might be going on. Sure enough, there was the baby mammoth’s body now exposed for the first time in probably thousands of years since it passed away. Much of the mammoth had been preserved in deep mud, protecting it from the air and deterioration, similar to how the British bogs have protected archaeological finds from oxidation as well.
With careful work and fast stabilization, the baby mammoth will be preserved and then studied for years to come, adding extensive new material for researchers to work with. No surprise, the biological journal world will be buzzing for a while based on this new Canadian discovery.
Greenland Polar Bears Secretly Found Living Inland from Coast
Polar bears for centuries have been a resilient species, surviving and thriving in remote locations of extreme cold. However, as their environment has changed, there have been numerous instances of these creatures starving as well as interacting far more with human development while looking for food. Little did anyone expect, they would also adapt and hide in plain site when it came to bears in Greenland.
The Greenland contingency of polar bears faced the same challenges as their cousins, shrinking territory with melting ice and less ability to hunt on floating ice platforms to look for food. However, on Greenland, the polars seem to have adapted far better to living on solid land, working and hunting for food via inlets on the coastal edges versus being on the glaciers and ice flows directly. This adjustment has allowed the Greenland bears to thrive, as well as be confused with other pods and groups that were purely arctic and North Pole groupings instead.
The Greenland population of polar bears hasn’t been a recent change either. Instead, this particular contingent has been around for centuries, using the fjords as launching points to engage with the ocean and then return. The lack of ice on the ocean in some areas has simply forced them to be on land more, which finally caught the notice of researchers.
Biologists believe they are watching evolution at work. Those bears that are adapting to land are surviving, while those that rely on the ice floats and similar for traditional hunting are limited and eventually dying out as their floating territory becomes scarcer and scarcer. Adaption and survival of the fittest again seems to rule based on savviness as well.
A total of 19 different subgroups roam the arctic in terms of polar bear territory. Of those, at least one of them covers a 2,000 mile stretch of coastal land on Greenland itself. However, once the census counting really got under way, the scientists realized they were really looking at two different subgroups on the coast, not just one. This was based on 36 years of data tracking, using animal GPS monitoring, and individually identified bears. Additionally, genetic sampling has also helped narrow down individuals and their offspring.
Of course, critics can argue that the population is just a mix of temporary and visiting bears, just following the local food availability. This criticism is proven wrong by the heredity and genetic data collection on each of the bears involved, clearly showing they are a distinct coastal subgroup separate and different from the other arctic polar bears, a key factor in their recognition. In total, the distinct grouping measures about 300 different animals.
Some argue that the Greenland bears may very well have the better part of the deal. Being able to take advantage of the confluence of fjord water with the ocean, coastal ice and land, and glacier activity, the bears have a robust source of food to dive after in the water, ranging from fish to mammals and more. And that particular mix is contributing to their strength versus other parts of the arctic. In effect, they have found the sweet spot for polar bear living. Add in the fact that the area is so remote, humans effectively can’t access it, and the bears have their coastal zone to themselves. Ironically, however, their birth rate is low, something that scientists are guessing is caused by the geographic challenges in the area connecting bears with bears consistently. So, it turns out, nothing is perfect.
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