DEAR READERS: Outdoors reporter Dennis Anderson of the Star Tribune recently wrote an article entitled "Wolves need managing. Period" with the subhead, "Science tells us that, even if the powers that be do not."
As a scientist and veterinarian, I wonder what kind of "science" he refers to, beyond the outdated pseudoscience of "wildlife management" based on predator control for the livestock industry. Such management also provides more deer and wolf trophies for hunters, and wolf pelts for trappers and snarers.
There are science-based methods of nonlethal predator control and deterrence to protect livestock. There is also scientific evidence that a robust, healthy wolf population can help prevent coyote incursion and possibly limit the spread of Lyme disease and chronic wasting disease. Science in the so-called "public interest" (which often means "the interests of hunters and ranchers") is quite different from science in the interest of ecosystems, wildlife and healthy biodiversity.
If Minnesota's wolf population is opened to hunters and trappers, what is there to prevent the rabid overkill documented after wolf protections were lifted in neighboring Wisconsin? There is no way of knowing which wolves were killed legally, by those with quota permits, versus illegally. As for the state's moose, their demise stems more from winter ticks, brain worms (spread from white-tailed deer, which are immune), habitat loss and the climate crisis than from predation by wolves.
We need to manage ourselves. Period. Wolves and other predators have coevolved with prey species for millions of years and are better wildlife managers than we humans -- an invasive species.
DEAR DR. FOX: I had hemorrhagic fever while stationed in Korea in 1951. It took researchers about 25 years to find out what caused the virus and how it was transmitted. I would think those scientists who are trying to determine if a virus can be transmitted from mouse to mouse, or mouse to humans, would want to look into the Korean experience.
When the droppings or saliva from particular mice dries up and is breathed in, it causes the virus to take hold in another mouse or human. Not all mice are carriers; it is obvious some are immune to certain viruses. -- B.E., Naples, Florida
DEAR B.E.: You are fortunate to have survived! Many diseases are airborne, like influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and anthrax bacillus, while others are transmitted by various insects. Our collective fear and adversarial attitude toward other species has led to overreliance on insecticides, rodenticides and other poisons -- along with various drugs to treat these infections and illnesses, which are profitable for manufacturers.
But there is no substitute for good personal hygiene -- a keystone of public health along with clean air, pure water, safe food and sanitary homes and public places. When we keep a polite distance from other species and respect, rather than encroach on and disrupt, their habitats, we take a step toward reducing the chances of zoonotic (animal-to-human) disease.
NATURAL PET CLEANERS AND DEODORIZERS
For readers looking for cleaning and odor-removal options: Fresh Wave's plant-based products use nontoxic plant oils to clean surfaces and neutralize odors. Products include sprays, gels, shampoos, litter box deodorizers and more.
If you want to make your own dog shampoo, try veterinarian Dr. Ihor Basko's recipe (recently published in Innovative Veterinary Care): Mix together 12 ounces of Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap (in lavender, hemp or baby variety); 2 ounces of aloe vera juice; 2 ounces of green tea; 2 ounces of Java plum tea; and 2 tsp of olive oil.
The pH of shampoos for dogs should be between 6.5 and 7.5, but I disagree with Dr. Basko that dogs should be bathed every three or four days. Bathe only as needed -- when the coat is greasy or smelly -- but groom well every day.
As for cats, a sprinkling of baking soda under the litter in the box helps reduce odors. Never use a covered litter box to contain odors, since this can create an unpleasant ammoniated environment for cats. Note: Male cats should be neutered before 6 months of age; otherwise, their urine will become very pungent and they may start to spray-mark in the home.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)