Puppies and Penguins for a Perfect Planet

What is more perfect than puppies protecting endangered penguin populations from predation?

Maremma puppy.  Photo from the Dodo.

Maremma puppy, presumably one of the individuals in penguin protection training. But nevertheless, cute! Photo from the Dodo.

In a quickly transforming world where job skills are constantly changing, Maremma guardian dogs are being retrained for a new job market.  Scientists and trainers are shifting the genetically selected behaviors of Maremma guardian dogs from guarding sheep to guarding the Little Blue Penguin (Eudyptula minor) of Australia from an invasive species of Red Fox.

The breeding population dropping to a low of 4 in 2004-2005 has since risen to 200 thanks to the puppy protection program.

One of the most amazing aspects of this conservation program?  It didn’t come from scientists.  It came from an ordinary citizen.  Imagine what progress we could make if everyone cared about conservation.

Little Blue Penguins, locally known as Fairy Penguins for their small stature.  Are also known as Chooks in Suits. | Photo from the Dodo.

Little Blue Penguins, locally known as Fairy Penguins for their small stature. Are also known as Chickens in Suits. Photo from the Dodo.

References and Additional Reading:
Via Meet The Dogs Responsible For The Itty Bitty Fairy Penguins’ Comeback.
Check out their website here: Flagstaff Hill
Middle Island Little Penguin Monitoring Program Season Report 2012-2013

Read about this yesterday and can’t get it out of my mind so I thought I’d share.   A birding centered post will be up shortly!

Birds on the Wire

A question posed in my graduate colloquium this morning suggested that the news didn’t have any relevance.  As I spent the morning reading bird-blogs (totally relevant!) and working on data analysis, I couldn’t recall any news stories of note, but upon returning to my computer there were a number regarding birds!

  • Washington Post reports that the largest comprehensive study on the impact of American cats on wildlife: “Outdoor cats kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds a year”. Feral cats killing more than outdoor cats.  Death by cat vastly overshadows death by windows-crashes or deaths from wind turbines.  Data suggests that 10% of adult land birds are killed by cats yearly.
  • Also worth noting, in Where the Wild Things Were, a  frightening look at how the loss of predators has eroded community stability, coyotes in Arizona keep cat populations in check and bird populations at healthier levels.
  • Earlier this month, a New Zealand economist began pushing for legislation to do gradually eliminate cat ownership due to it’s toll on biodiversity.
  • Also from New Zealand, a couple have created a farm to increase the Korora, White-Flippered Penguin population.  The population has doubled in the last decade reports the New York Times and Scientific American.  The conservation efforts in that region has also heralded the return of other bird species, including another species of penguin, the Yellow-eyed Penguin.