15 Insurers Drop Trans Mountain Pipeline After Grassroots Pressure

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      Humans vaccinate wildlife for a number of reasons, but most hinge on human health and the protection of livestock. Raccoons are vaccinated for rabies, white-tailed deer for tuberculosis, and wild boar for swine fever. But such immunization campaigns aren’t designed to save wildlife — they’re designed to save us.

      That’s starting to change. Today, with environmental threats mounting, there is growing acceptance of the need to vaccinate wild animals to help save them from extinction. In 2015, the Wildlife Conservation Society along with several academic institutions convened the first “Vaccines for Conservation” international meeting in New York City to push for vaccinating threatened carnivores against canine distemper. But that’s just one among many initiatives under consideration by conservationists.

      In the United States, scientists have developed an oral vaccine for prairie dogs, hidden in peanut-butter-flavored bait, to prevent plague, caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium. Prairie dogs are the key prey species of endangered black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes). Researchers are also racing to develop a vaccine for white-nose syndrome, caused by the Pseudogymnoascus destructans fungus, in hibernating bats. The fungus has killed millions of bats in North America and threatens some species with extinction. Scientists aspire to apply the vaccine by spraying it onto bats at roosting sites; when the bats groom themselves, they should ingest the vaccine.

      The white-nose vaccine highlights just how difficult it can be to vaccinate wild animals. Entire bat or prairie dog populations can’t simply be captured and given a jab. And within some species, vaccines don’t seem to be very effective. For example, there’s little evidence that amphibians can acquire resistance to the devastating pathogenic chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis through immunization. In recent studies, scientists at the University of South Florida were able to provoke an immune response to the fungus in Cuban tree frogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis), but they’ve yet to replicate the results with the critically endangered Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki).

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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