- The Washington Times - Monday, September 7, 2009


State’s drought endangers salmon

SAN GERONIMO | California’s third year of drought has worsened the already dire outlook for endangered coho salmon, as coastal creeks used for spawning dwindle into disconnected pools where fish get trapped and die.

On a hot summer afternoon about 40 miles north of San Francisco, a group armed with fishing nets and buckets was on a rescue mission. They slogged through muddy pools, the last vestiges of the once-flowing Arroyo Creek, trying to find stranded coho and threatened steelhead trout.

So far this summer, these fish rescuers in Marin County have found no coho, an ominous sign for a species struggling to survive on the West Coast.

Federal fisheries regulators say the disappearance of coho salmon in Marin County is not an isolated incident, and that studies find they are vanishing along the state’s central and northern coast. Coho live in coastal streams where they mature before moving to the ocean, and then back to freshwater to reproduce.


Astronauts pack for trip home

CAPE CANAVERAL | The astronauts aboard the linked space shuttle and space station are nearly finished packing up a moving van for a return to Earth in a few days.

The Italian-built van, essentially a giant cylinder, flew up aboard Discovery with seven tons of space station supplies and equipment. It will come back filled with a ton of trash, surplus gear and completed science experiments.

The astronauts will place the van back aboard Discovery on Monday night, just in time for Tuesday’s shuttle undocking.


Nuclear fallout leads to a health crisis

HONOLULU | Pius Henry fears his adopted government will kill him - the United States won’t live up to a health care obligation to people from Pacific islands where it tested nuclear bombs.

Mr. Henry, a diabetic from the Marshall Islands, has received free dialysis treatments three times a week for years, but the cash-strapped state of Hawaii has threatened to cut off him and others to save money.

Like thousands of legal migrants to Hawaii from independent Pacific nations, Mr. Henry thinks the United States has a responsibility to provide health care to compensate for the radioactive fallout of 67 nuclear weapons tests that took place from 1946 to 1958. A federal judge’s ruling Sept. 1 temporarily prevented Hawaii from halting critical dialysis and chemotherapy treatments to hundreds of migrants from three nations.


Track deaths unchanged since ‘08

LEXINGTON | The rush to improve safety since Eight Belles was euthanized at last year’s Kentucky Derby did little to curb the number of horses dying at American racetracks in 2008, the Associated Press found in a national count.

Although many tracks were already implementing safety reforms when the popular filly pulled up lame with two broken legs after finishing second at the Derby in May 2008, her death on racing’s biggest stage gave the effort a national face and new momentum.

However, the AP’s count found only a slight change in the number of fatalities in 2008 - 1,217 - compared with 2007 - 1,247.


Defunct theater’s show to hit Broadway

BEVERLY | A Massachusetts regional music theater that has gone out of business will finally see one of its original musicals reach Broadway.

“Memphis,” which premiered at the North Shore Music Theater in 2003, will open Oct. 19 on Broadway.

The musical tells the story of a white Memphis DJ who brings “race music” to the segregated South.

Former theater artistic director Jon Kimbell tells the Salem News it’s the first time in the theater’s 54-year history that one of its shows has made it to Broadway. The defunct Beverly theater is scheduled to be sold at an Oct. 1 foreclosure auction.


Endangered rhino dies at zoo

CINCINNATI | An endangered Sumatran rhino has died at the Cincinnati Zoo, a setback to a program that successfully produced the first calves born in captivity in more than a century.

Emi, a 21-year-old Sumatran rhino that had been at the zoo for 14 years, died Saturday after appearing less energetic for several weeks, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden announced Sunday.

Emi produced three calves at the zoo, including Andalas, born in 2001, the first Sumatran rhino bred and born in captivity since 1889. Emi was the only captive Sumatran rhino bred successfully, said zoo director Thane Maynard.

“Naturally it’s always devastating when an animal reaches the end of its life, but certainly one as beloved as she is - it’s a big loss,” Mr. Maynard said.

The zoo said Emi had appeared less energetic and had a diminished appetite since March. Veterinarians performed a complete physical exam with blood work in early April and found some subtle changes in her liver. She appeared to improve in May but her condition then continued to deteriorate, the zoo said.

The zoo conducted a necropsy Saturday on Emi to try to determine exactly why she died.


Shakespeare fans to blame for birds

SALT LAKE CITY | The next time the sky darkens with a flock of noisy unwelcome starlings, blame Shakespeare - or, better yet, a few of his strangest fans.

Had the Bard not mentioned the starling in the third scene of “Henry IV,” arguably the most hated bird in North America might never have arrived. In the early 1890s, about 100 European starlings were released in New York City’s Central Park by a group dedicated to bringing to America every bird ever mentioned by Shakespeare.

Federal aviation officials say they have caused $4 million in damage since 1990.


Captured cougar released in the wild

SEATTLE | A cougar that apparently had lived in Seattle for more than two weeks and forced the city’s largest park to close was captured early Sunday and returned to the wild, state wildlife officials said.

The cougar was immobilized with a tranquilizer in Discovery Park about 2:30 a.m. after hunting dogs treed it, Department of Fish and Wildlife Capt. Bill Hebner said.

An enforcement officer and the dogs tracked the animal after authorities were told it had been spotted Saturday night, the latest sighting in or near the 534-acre preserve, he said.

The cougar is a 2 1/2-year-old male, weighs 140 pounds and is in very good health, Mr. Hebner said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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