Below is part of an email exchange that took place between Toby Bridges, Destroyers of Wildlife, who asked a couple of questions about hydatid disease and how it spreads, as well as diagnosis of the disease, and Jim Beers, retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist.
QUESTIONS FROM TOBY BRIDGES:
“Now, since wolves spread the Echinococcus granulosis tapeworm eggs in all of those piles of scat they leave across tens of thousands of square miles (collectively) every day and night, and those eggs collect on the blades of grass ingested by elk, deer, moose, and bighorn sheep, I’ve often wondered about several things.
1.) We know that ingestion of this parasite’s eggs causes cysts on the lungs of ungulates, which common sense should tell us reduces lung capacity, or the ability of the lungs to process air to some degree. And that makes me wonder just how accurate our FWP biologists are at diagnosing that so many of this state’s bighorns have contracted pneumonia in recent years. Could the symptoms that FWP determines as “pneumonia” actually be reduced lung capacity due to hydatid cysts on and in the lungs? Also, is their diagnosis an honest diagnosis, or is FWP (again) trying to cover up, to hide more negative wolf impact? As you well know, they have not been the most honest team of “wildlife experts” since the wolf fiasco began.
2.) At this time of year, bears (black and grizzly) rely on grasses as the bulk of their diet. They do eat some “meat” in the form of grubs, worms and insects…plus feed some on any wolf or lion kills they may find, and are another factor in the depredation of elk/moose calves and deer fawns. Still, when the come out of hibernation, they feed mostly on green grasses. (And up high where the snows are still 3 to 5 foot deep, bears are just now coming out of hibernation.) That leads me to believe that they could be infected with the Echinococcus granulosis tapeworm as well…or infected with hydatid disease cysts as well.
What are your thoughts? (Yours too Jim.)”
1.MT FWP diagnostic capabilities, like so many other state fish and wildlife agencies today, are certainly open to question. Given the level of reorientation from management and use of renewable natural resources to elimination of these traditional pursuits; given the evolution of state fish and wildlife agencies from state agencies serving state residents to federal subcontractors serving the agendas of national urban causes; and given the abysmal record of state and federal agencies hiring, promoting, and transferring employees that are unfamiliar with and actually oppose wildlife management: I for one would be very suspicious of state diagnoses of any wildlife ailments. I regret to say that the combination of opposing wildlife management and a growing record of no accountability (indeed reward) for misleading the public and surreptitiously enabling radical agendas make me able to say that it is likely that they are “trying to cover up” and “hide more negative wolf impact”.
2.As to bighorn sheep losses I can relate the following:
A few years ago I was in NE Oregon as they awaited what they were rightly sure would be an invasion of wolves from Idaho. While poking around the Wallowa Mtns. With Mr. Potter, I was shown a grazing allotment that formerly supported domestic sheep. It was closed down because a few years earlier the state had re-introduced bighorn sheep nearby at great expense and domestic sheep were well known to contract and transmit any and all diseases and infections as bighorn sheep and vice versa.
A couple of years later I returned to that area when wolves had, as expected, moved back to Oregon. At first there were sightings of one or two, then pups were reported, and then packs were roaming the Wallowas and their ranches and small towns. I am reminded of that period when you ask about tapeworm egg infections and grass and carcasses and scat, etc. Consider the following two paragraphs from Young and Goldman’s 1944 “THE WOLVES OF NORTH AMERICA”.
“The sheep disease spread by dogs and wolves, known as gid and sometimes referred to as sturdy or turnstick in sheep, is caused by the larva or hydatid phase of a tapeworm. The eggs of this tapeworm are distributed in the feces of flesh-eating animals such as the wolf in open range lands. These eggs are taken on forage by grazing sheep and hatch on the walls of their stomach. The embryos pierce the stomach walls and enter the blood; some reach the brain or spinal cord, developing cysts. There appears to be no cure for sheep afflicted with the disease.”
“According to Norman Criddle:
Another disease spread by wolves is that known as gid in sheep. This fatal affliction is due to bladder-like cysts formed on the brain. It is reality caused by the immature stage of a tapeworm found in dogs, coyotes, etc. and so far as is known it has no other means of spreading than through these animals. The chief method of distribution is brought about by carnivorous animals devouring carcasses of sheep which have died of the disease. Dr. Seymour Hadwen, formerly Chief Veterinary Pathologist of the Dominion Department of Agriculture, who furnished this information state that gid in sheep is not uncommon in Montana and that it has been found in Saskatchewan” (Criddle, N.,1925:15).
Observe that this was all known in 1925 and 1944. Observe that tapeworm eggs are picked up on forage contaminated by wolf/coyote/dog feces from infected animals. Observe that Oregon environmentalists get USFS to close a sheep grazing allotment to “save” the introduced bighorns (how “sweet”) until wolves (that range farther and wider than coyotes) can enter the Wallowas and feed on both kinds of sheep (killing two birds with one “stone” so to speak) and then shit/crap/defecate/whatever back and forth tapeworm eggs. Observe this cycle regarding gid and we wonder about Echinococcus granulosis? Observe these dates and these facts and ask yourself why was this never mentioned when: “the ESA” and “science” demanded the return of wolves and millions were being spent to justify this entire wolf business? Observe this and consider the 30+ diseases and infection wolves transmit and how widely they roam and what they eat and how they and we and our animals are increasingly coming into close contact!!
3.As to black bears emerging from hibernation and grazing on green grass:
-Green grass is “forage”.
-Spring is a time of “runoff” and rains and (especially in mountainous areas) water running over the “forage” ( in this case green grass) from uphill wolf scat loaded with tapeworm eggs.
-Now, of course I am no Veterinarian or Hydrologist or bureaucrat or staff expert from Defenders of Wildlife (thank God) BUT might not a simple peasant conclude that the tapeworm eggs that live in ranch yards and rural carpets and increasingly elsewhere in human “habitat” and that live for Lord knows how long are on those hillsides you describe seeing black bears grazing on so happily?
Things are worse than anyone realizes.
Things are getting worse.
Like the upcoming Presidential election, if we do not elect people with guts and very committed to drastic changes and put them in charge: things are not going to get any better.
I hope this answers your questions.
1 June 2011
Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist,
Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC. He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority. He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.
Jim Beers is available to speak or for consulting at firstname.lastname@example.org