September 20, 2012

    Photo: Ed Bierman/Flickr

Controversial Badger Cull Set to Begin

57,000 sign petition as police ready to meet protestors

Government officials have approved the systematic mass-shooting-and-killing of badgers in England, and, well, people are upset. On Monday, the government issued the first badger-cull licenses for Gloucestershire in a plan to exterminate about 100,000 badgers, designed to curb badger-transmitted tuberculosis in cattle. Licensed farmers and landowners are encouraged to shoot as many badgers as possible over a six-week season for the next four years. Environmentalists and many scientists oppose the plan, saying that the use of a vaccine and improved biosecurity are better, more effective options. Over 67,000 people have signed an e-petition to stop the cull, and protestors have already mapped out the badger-cull zone and plan to camp out and disrupt the shootings. Ministers at the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs have been warned of the possible fallout between the two sides. “We regard this as a scenario with clear potential for harm to public safety,” said Adrian Tudway, national coordinator for domestic extremism at the Association of Chief Police Officers. “We believe there is a likelihood [of] incidents of lawful protest and lobbying as well as some potential for unlawful direct action, disorder and criminality.”

Via The Guardian

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Blood IV bag     Photo: mikecogh/Flickr

Operation Puerto Defendants Going to Trial

Alberto Contador is set to testify

Six people arrested during the Operation Puerto doping raids in 2006 will finally go to trial on January 28 in Madrid's Superior Court. The defendants include Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes and former head of Liberty Seguros team Manolo Saiz, both of whom are suspected of helping cyclists cheat using blood doping and anabolic steroids. The raids, in which police searched businesses and houses in Madrid and Zaragoza, implicated some 50 cyclists, including Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso, both of whom are set to testify at the trial.

Via Washington Post

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    Photo: Everrett Collection/Shutterstock

Apes Found to Enjoy Slapstick Comedy

Everybody enjoys the banana peel gag

Primates may laugh at the misfortune of others, according to new research on laughter that finds apes appear to enjoy slapstick comedy. "The use of language-based jokes is clearly unique to humans," said Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Oxford. "There is some suggestion that apes 'play practical jokes' or laugh at another's misfortune,” such as enjoying watching someone trip on a banana peel. The research also demonstrated how laughter evolved and facilitates bonding in humans. Scientists have found that laughter groups—coordinated laughing—in humans include no more than three to four individuals but are still larger than ape groups. They laugh only in tandem.

Via Discovery News

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Wolf in West Yellowstone     Photo: Dennis Matheson/Flickr

Denali Officials Reject Wolf Protection Zone

Conservationists try to protect shrinking population

The Alaska Board of Game has denied a request to establish an immediate no-hunting zone around Denali National Park to protect the wolf population after a female wolf was fatally trapped earlier this year. For about a decade, a 122-mile buffer zone protected Denali wolves who strayed from the park's boundaries. Advocates for the buffer zone are concerned that the Denali wolf population is at its lowest in years and failed to produce any pups this past season. Despite advocacy from conservationists, six of the board's seven members chose not to convene an emergency meeting to reinstate a buffer zone around the park. “It is a shame that a small group of gubernatorial appointees is allowed to determine—behind closed doors and with no public input—the fate of such a treasured national resource,” said Tina Brown, president of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance.

Via Los Angeles Times

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