Monday

Long before the sun peaked over the mountains Wednesday, U.S. Fish and Wildlife employees were hard at work protecting one of the rarest sub-species in North America, the Mexican gray wolf.

 Their mission was to capture a pregnant female and her mate inside their big pen then release them into the wild.

“It’s a pretty unique program. These wolves have been raised for generations in captivity and then we are releasing some of them into the wild and establishing a wild population,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Assistant Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator Maggie Dwire.The Mexican gray wolf population, which was once in the thousands, was nearly wiped out in the 1970’s.

On the verge of extinction, the federal government implemented the re-introduction program. That’s where the two wolves living at the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility south of Belen come in.


“Our hope is her wild experience and his genetics will make a really great pair to contribute to the population for generations to come,” said Dwire. Wednesday, employees with the help of volunteers, captured the pair. Standing in a line, they formed a human wall and funneled the animals toward their dens.

“They are naturally afraid of people and it turns out when you bring a wall of people into a pen the wolves will retreat to the other side,” she said.Next, the wolves were taken out of their den, processed, given tracking collars and vaccinations.


Then just as they once entered captivity, they were crated out to become part of a wild pack and add to the once diminishing population in the southwest.The two wolves are expected to be released into the wild in Arizona this Wednesday night.

There are now more than 100 Mexican gray wolves roaming in the southwest. That’s up from about 80 last year.
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These small foxes live in an urban environment, and are considered endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The kit fox (Vulpes macrotis), is the smallest fox native to North America and typically weighs between three and a half to six pounds. The species is not generally considered endangered. However, the subpopulation of San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica), once common to California’s San Joaquin Valley, has been labeled “endangered” since 1967 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The San Joaquin kit fox is threatened by competition from the red fox and habitat loss. In 2007, the Deadman Creek Conservation Bank was established south of the City of Merced to preserve 684 acres of habitat for this adorable species.

Rick Derevan writes that these wild young foxes and their mother were photographed in the urban environment where they live. He adds that the animals weren’t baited or called for the photographs.


Derevan’s photos have an uncanny sense of timing. He captures many wonderful moments between the siblings and their mother. Or in other words, total face-melt cuteness.
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Sunday

Helen Oliff for National Relief Charities penned the following column for Memorial Day. It speaks directly to health care issues Native veterans are facing and struggling with

Memorial Day has become a time for cook-outs and gathering with friends and family, but let us also remember its true purpose. Originally called “Decoration Day,” it was intended as a time of remembrance for those who died in service of the U.S.

For more than two centuries, Native American people have served with distinction in all U.S. military actions. We have written before about the importance of Veteran’s Day in Indian country and about Native Americans having the highest rate of military service of any ethnic group in the US.

But a higher rate of military service isn’t the only thing that distinguishes Native American veterans. They also experience higher rates of joblessness and health issues such as diabetes, alcoholism and depression connected with PTSD, and complications related to Agent Orange. For instance, Native Americans exposed to Agent Orange are more likely to get adult-onset type 2 diabetes than non-Natives. They are also more likely to incur nervous system damage from Agent Orange and DMZ (demilitarized zone) action, which can contribute to onset or instability of diabetes. Add to this the fact that mortality from diabetes is three times more likely for Native Americans than for non-Natives, and you start to get a sense of the health impact for Native veterans.


These health concerns are compounded when there is a lack of access to proper healthcare. Currently, there are 185,000 to 200,000 Native American veterans that served in World Wars I and II, the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf conflicts, Iraq and Afghanistan. These veterans represent the 566 federally recognized tribes and the 400 non-federally recognized tribes throughout the U.S.

Many Native American veterans are eligible for healthcare services through both the Veterans Administration and the Indian Health Service (VA and IHS). On the other hand, a veteran who is a member of a non–federally recognized tribe may be eligible for VA health care services but not IHS health care services. And, on the reservations that NRC serves, both VA and IHS facilities are often long distances from the home communities of our Native veterans. Accessing these services sometimes requires special transport and an overnight stay just for a regular office visit.


To support community-based healthcare, National Relief Charities provides products that are needed by health and wellness programs, community health representatives, and public health nurses in reservation communities. These health professionals conduct health screenings and education on self-care, make home visits, transport people for appointments, and generally assist Native American veterans and other homebound people on the reservations.

To honor Native American veterans and veterans everywhere, National Relief Charities would like to share this dedication of a Veterans Wall in 2010 by the American Indian Society:

We have contributed to the American dream with the hope that one day we will live in peace as brothers and sisters under one flag… This is not a time of mourning, but a time of celebration when we can come, joined as one people… Let us all remember who we are today and why we meet today and why we remember who we are and why we celebrate our heritage. Why we keep our tradition and our land is to pass it on to our children. We must hold onto our land and our traditions or we will be left to wander aimlessly in the land of our Fathers.
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Saturday

Rushing to grab a quick drink can sometimes leave you stuck in the mud, as these baby elephants found out.

The troublesome trio were eager to be the first to the watering hole at the Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa as they sought to cool off in the sweltering conditions.

However, in their haste they become stuck in some thick mud to make the journey just that little bit harder.

Kristoff Potgieter, 28, captured the whole thing on video early last month and gave the elephants names of Hughey, Dewey and Louis after the characters from animated TV series “Duck Tales”.“After a long hot day in the Madikwe Game Reserve these three baby elephants couldn’t wait to get to the waterhole first,” he said.


“They were in such a hurry they managed to get stuck in the mud. “The smallest one then jump into the waterhole, getting stuck a second time. This video was just too cute not to share!”Kristoff says the fiercely-contested race was witnessed by many guests from the Etali Safari Lodge where he works and he hoped it provided a memory that would stay with them forever.


“Watching cute baby elephants is one thing I never get tired of,” he said. “For our guests it was one of the best sightings amongst the many memorable things they saw during their trip.”
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When vet tech Jessica VanHusen’s 10-year-old dog lost both of her eyes to glaucoma, she became concerned that her quality of life would suffer. But she needn’t have worried, because Kiaya’s younger brothers became her seeing-eye dogs.

 “It’s been wonderful. They’re my kids. It’s nice to see them step up.”The Waterford, Michigan resident knew something was wrong when Kiaya began frequently squinting one eye.“I found out she had glaucoma, which is increased pressure in her eyeball,” VanHusen told WXYZ.

“When Kiaya originally presented we started treatments for glaucoma,” said Dr. Michael West, a veterinary opthalmologist at BluePearl Veterinary Partners. The medicine helped with the bad eye, but it was still painful, so it was decided that it should be removed. Then her other eye began to develop glaucoma and also had to be extracted. Yes, dogs lead with their noses, but how would she get around?

Easy – her brothers, eight-year-old Cass and two-year-old Keller, both rescue dogs – have made themselves her guides. “They were kind of bookends to her,” VanHusen told ABC News. “They’re not fiercely protective but they’re always touching her. They’re really respectful of her.


“I think she would be lost without them. She relies on them. When they are coming in from the backyard they rub up against her. They guide her.”Doctor Gwen Sila, who operated on Kiaya, was astonished by their actions. “Her brothers are pretty amazing at the way they help to guide her around,” Sila said. “Each of them will stand on either side of her so she doesn’t bump into anything and lead her around the yard.”


“Cass definitely took the role upon himself to guide her around the yard which made me of course cry my eyes out,” VanHusen said. “It’s adorable.”Keller, being the youngest, took a little longer to take on the nurse role, but is becoming more sensitive to Kiaya’s needs as he matures.


“Cass always allows Kiaya to get to her food dish first and waits for her to start eating,” VanHusen said. “When I take them in the car, he leans against her to keep her steady because she sometimes gets a little off kilter. He also loves to groom her. “She lives in a dark world and is sunny.”
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