Weekly News Roundup 4/26 to 5/2


An army of volunteers is trying to control Chicago’s feral cat population—and It looks like it’s working

The front line in Chicago’s battle to control its stray cat population runs across Alicia Mendoza’s front porch. Every morning, as she sets out paper plates laden with kibble, her colony stirs. Some poke their heads out of straw-layered plastic tubs that serve as shelters. Others materialize from the vacant lot on one side of her house or from the abandoned home on the other. Each of the dozen or so cats displays the clipped left ear that shows it has been spayed or neutered. Mendoza trapped them herself, and now that they’re fixed, she treats them as quasi-pets even though they have the run of her neighborhood. New ones, however, show up all the time. . . . more

Owner risks life to rescue cat stranded on balcony 60 feet in the air

A Canadian cat owner in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who put his own life at stake by sliding across a narrow ledge of a high-rise building to save his pet has been hailed a “hero.” In an Instagram video, the man can be seen treading the side of the building in order to retrieve his cat after he got stuck on the neighbor’s balcony. The man, who didn’t want to be named, said he had tried knocking on the neighbor’s door to see if they could help, but they weren’t in. He said of the incident: “He [the cat] was trying to squeeze back under the glass and getting stuck almost. I was afraid he was going to hurt himself.” Fearing the pet would slip and plunge to his death, the man decided to take matters into his own hands. . . . more

Hiker died in fall but dog stayed by his side, barking to alert rescuers a day later

The dog of a hiker who died in a fall stayed by her owner’s side and alerted the rescue team of the man’s location by barking. A search-and-rescue team with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department in Washington state found the hiker Thursday after he and his dog, Daisy, had gone out Wednesday morning. “Without the barking of his loyal companion, Daisy, we never would have located the missing man. It was amazing,” the department said. The 64-year-old Washington man regularly went on hikes with Daisy. When they hadn’t returned by Wednesday evening, the man’s wife called 911. Rescue teams began their search early Thursday. Deputies were able to locate the man’s cellphone signal location and eventually spotted his car. But it wasn’t until evening that a search-and-rescue team member heard Daisy’s bark. . . . more

Australian officials killing millions of feral cats with poisoned sausages

Australian officials are airdropping poisonous sausages across the country in order to kill the millions of feral cats who have taken over the continent. In 2015, the government announced a plan to kill two million feral cats by 2020. “Feral cats are a real menace and a very significant threat to the health of our ecosystem,” said Josh Frydenberg, Australia’s former environment minister. In the first year after the government publicized their plan, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology estimated 211,560 feral cats were killed. The cats are mostly trapped and shot by officials, but now the cats are also being poisoned by airdropped sausages. The recipe for the sausages includes kangaroo meat, chicken fat, herbs, spices, and a poison called 1080 that is deadly to the feral cats. . . . more

Stressed? Take a 20-minute nature “pill”

Taking at least 20 minutes out of your day to stroll or sit in a place that makes you feel in contact with nature will significantly lower your stress-hormone levels. That’s the finding of a study that has established for the first time the most effective dose of an urban nature experience. Veterinary hospital staff can use this discovery, published in Frontiers in Psychology, to take “nature pills” with the knowledge that they have a real, measurable effect. “We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us,” says MaryCarol Hunter, PhD, MLA, associate professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of this research. “Our study shows that, for the greatest payoff in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature.” . . . more