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November 15, 2013

Across the United States, cougars are on the rebound, and city dwellers and suburbanites are getting a bit spooked by sightings of the 100-pound predators. Just last week, three cougars were reportedly seen outside of Baltimore, right on the heels of a sighting...

October 29, 2013

Fifty years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service imported a species of Asian carp to Arkansas as part of an initiative to control aquatic plants in reservoirs and fish farms. The foreign fish performed well, and managers in other states adopted the strategy. Unfortunately, an accidental release in 1966 set the invaders loose in the Mississippi River, and they’ve been eating their...

October 2, 2013

Until a few years ago, most people in Madagascar had never seen a melon-headed whale. These cetaceans—which are actually a species of dolphin—typically spend their lives in the deep sea and almost never come near shore. But strangely, in the summer of 2008, a pod of 100 to 200 of them suddenly appeared in a mangrove estuary along the island’s northwestern coast. Before long, dozens of melon-headed whales became...

September 23, 2013

In the jungles of southern Asia, there lives a little bundle of fur, fingers, and eyeballs known as the loris. Despite being the world’s only venomous primate, the loris is undeniably cute—in an E.T. meets Gizmo sort of way. But good looks can be a burden, and new research shows that this animal’s darling visage (which makes a perfect fit for...

September 19, 2013

Fungi are giving wildlife a real beating these days. Chytrid is walloping frog and salamander species worldwide, and here in the United States, white-nose syndrome, caused by an invasive European fungus, has killed millions of bats on the East Coast and is spreading west. Also worth mentioning is the...

August 15, 2013

There’s a new predator in town—but fortunately, it’s an adorable one.

Actually, this animal has been around for 3 to 4 million years, prowling the cloud forests of Colombia and Ecuador, but had been overlooked by scientists until very recently. So let me introduce you to the olinguito, the first carnivorous mammal discovered in the Americas in 35 years. I might not have noticed the newly identified species either, if CNN hadn’t blasted out a...

August 13, 2013

The only good snake is a dead snake. At least, that’s what my high school friend said the time we went backpacking and he chopped a garter snake in half with a machete. He wiped the blade in the grass while the tiny, non-venomous, non-constricting snake writhed—the last twitches of a non-threat neutralized.

Most snakes are harmless to humans, but developing a healthy fear of them kept our ancestors from...

August 6, 2013

Just in time for Discovery Channel’s annual bloodbath known as Shark Week, a group of scientists in the American Elasmobranch Society sent out a plea to Reuters, the Associated Press, and other media organizations asking them to revise the way they report on human encounters with sharks. The AES argues that applying the term "shark attack" to every little incident is...

July 29, 2013

Moose have had better days. In Minnesota, these majestic animals are up against blood-draining ticks, brain-eating worms, climate change, disease, and even tangles with wolves (see “What’s Killing Minnesota’s Moose”). And across the Atlantic in Norway, they’re not faring much better.

During the spring of 2007, Norway’s moose started balding. What hunters,...

July 17, 2013

In the early dawn hours, the panther crouched in the dense scrub lining Florida’s Route 41, watching the headlights of oncoming cars careen through a cacophony of cicadas and frogs. Timing was everything. Known to wildlife trackers as UCFP168, the big cat waited for a brief opening in the fast-coming traffic, then hurtled his long, low body across the asphalt. He had reached the double yellow lines before the truck hit. The bumper collided with the panther’s flank, shattering bone and...