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Friday, March 7, 2014 at 9:49 am

Turtle rescuer in trouble with DEC

post by Howard Owens in animals, Attica, DEC, nature

CORRECTION: It turns out there are two people from Attica named John Volpe who rescue turtles. There is John P. Volpe, who was arrested, and John K. Volpe, who is the person we met on Creek Road in 2012. We apologize to John K. Volpe and his family for the mistaken identity.

We met John Volpe two years ago after spotting a snapping turtle trying to cross Creek Road by Baskin Livestock.

Now Volpe is in quite a bit of trouble with the Department of Environmental Conservation for his collection of turtles and birds of prey.

When we met Volpe previously, he had stopped his car on Creek Road to carry the turtle out of the road. A short time later, Volpe's wife arrived and the couple took the turtle to their place in Attica.

Volpe explained to me that he and his father often rescue turtles. He said they would take the turtle home, ensure she (or he) is healthy. If healthy, and a female, they would hold her until she laid her eggs, then release her back into the wild, then raise the babies.

"Turtles mean a lot to us," said Volpe, who is Native American.

He is now facing state charges on alleged unlicensed possession of more than 100 live native turtles, including one live wood turtle, which is currently listed as a "species of special concern" in New York State.

Volpe is also accused of having numerous live birds that require a license to possess, including screech owls, great horned owls, a snowy owl, red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, gulls, a blue heron and numerous other birds.

He was also allegedly found to possess taxidermy mounts of more than a dozen species of protected birds of prey including: screech owls, great-horned owls, snowy owls, barred owls, saw-whet owls, red-tailed hawks, Cooper's hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, kestrels and turkey vultures.

The  62-year-old also faces possible federal charges for taxidermy work on migratory waterfowl as well as possessing bald and golden eagle mounts and parts.

Volpe was allegedly found in possession in 2005 of two birds of prey. The birds were placed in a licensed facility, according to the DEC, and Volpe was given a chance to obtain a property license, but did not complete the process, the DEC said.

Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Lost Dogs: Deacon and Mavis

post by Howard Owens in animals, Attica, pets

This is Deacon and Mavis. Deacon and Mavis are missing.

Owner Dawn Wolcott said they ran off Monday night and haven't returned.

Wolcott lives in Attica. She isn't sure what direction they headed, but is hoping somebody in Genesee County might know their whereabouts.

They are rescues from Buffalo and Wolcott has had them about a year.

Deacon has a white and green collar and tags. Mavis has a red collar and tags.

Wolcott can be reached at (585) 297-3241.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Dog found malnourished showing signs of recovery, now in foster care

post by Howard Owens in animals, batavia, crime, pets

Nina Kelso certainly has her supporters -- friends and family members who have argued passionately on Facebook and on The Batavian that those who judge her and heap insults upon her and even threaten her don't know the full story.

She would never abuse an animal and her dog was ill not from mistreatment, they say, but because he unintentionally ate something toxic.

Darren Dewitt:

Don't judge this one too soon. I've known Nina for years and something is off with this whole deal. My understanding is that the dog was dying and instead of having the vet put it down she let it live out its days at home with the family. The court has the final word.

Lynda Kelso:

Can't help it when a DOG does what DOGS do and gets into something and it makes them sick. ... He got sick and was vomiting. How do u loose weight when u get sick? He was weak from what he ate. They were trying to get food in there right down to baby formula.

Nina Kelso's case began at 6:08 p.m., Feb. 4, when Sgt. Chris Camp and Officer Jamie Givens responded to a report on Hutchins Street of a malnourished dog.

When they arrived they spotted a canine inside that, according to the officers, was emaciated and couldn't stand on its own.

Dr. Fran Woodworth of State Street Animal Hospital was contacted to assist with the health care of the animal.

Woodworth said she arrived at the aninmal hospital around 7:30 and found a dog that was severally malnourished.

"He was emaciated and mentally he was dull and disoriented," Woodworth said. "I don't know how much of that was starvation or, the officers told me that his owner said he had gotten into potentially toxic substances, cigarette butts and incense oil or something along those lines, and that was why he was in shape in that he was in and had lost all that weight in just a couple of days. I don't know if he had gotten into some toxic substances, but he was definitely mentally not normal. He was just very depressed."

The dog had an intestinal infection, pressure-point sores and was blind.

Animal Control Officer James Sheflin began his investigation into the case the morning after the dog was brought to State Street. He took pictures and examined the dog and consulted with the District Attorney's Office on possible appropriate charges against Kelso (she was charged with torturing or injuring an animal, failure to provide sustenance, and owning/harboring an unlicensed dog).

"Honestly, he's the worst shape I've ever seen," Sheflin said. "The sores were over all his entire body. His feet were swollen two or three times what they should have been. His nails were overgrown. He literally didn't have enough strength to stand up. All he could do was lay down."

State Street staff monitored the dog's progress, unsure during those first 12 hours or so if the dog was going to make it.

But after 12 hours, the dog showed enough progress to warrant continued treatment.

Soon, he gained enough strength to stand up and he showed an interest again in eating.

The dog was brought in on a Tuesday and by Saturday it was in good enough health to be transferred to a foster family through Volunteers for Animals.

It's impossible to tell for sure, Woodsworth said, whether the dog ate anything toxic.

"Toxins are typically very short-lived," Woodsworth said. "They do their damage and then there is no sign of them in any blood test. They are gone. There was nothing in the blood work that was tagged as a sign of a toxin."

There's no indication the dog was brought to a vet for treatment prior to Camp and Givens picking them up, Woodworth said.

"He was overloaded with intestinal worms," Woodworth said. "There were pressure sores on all contact points, particularly his elbows and hind legs from being recumbent for so long. He hadn't eaten in weeks and was weak. That kind of emaciation doesn't just happen overnight.

"As far as I know," Woodworth added, "the owner never sought out veterinary help. What the dog needed was better nutritional care and parasite control and better health maintenance."

Woodworth isn't sure why the dog is blind or if the blindness will last. It's a problem in the dog's brain, not with the dog's eyes, she said.

That could be caused by a toxin, she said.

His mental state, depression, could also be the result of a "toxic insult," Woodworth said.

If the dog did ingest something toxic, veterinary treatment sooner would have been advised, she said.

"In fairness to her, the problems that I saw in the dog were primarily starvation and being recumbent too long," Woodworth said. "I didn't find any injuries inflicted by being kicked or being abused violently in that manner."

Woodworth is hopeful about the dog's improving health even if the prognosis isn't yet settled. The dog is in a good place now and that can only help him recover.

"It's too early to say if he will recover his sight," Woodworth said. "He retained his blindness after getting back on his feet, but he's acting normal otherwise. It was a joyful thing for us to see him on his feet and be interested in food by the next morning. He became rather attached to one of our technicians and began begging her for treats. He really showed some dramatic improvement in a short amount of time."

The Batavian tried to contact Nina Kelso through Facebook earlier today so she could tell her side of the story and have not received a response.

UPDATE: Nina Kelso contacted me about an hour after this story was published and said she prefers not to comment while her legal case is pending.

PHOTO: Batavia PD.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 3:32 pm

DEC trying to trap pair of eagles in Alexander so movements can be tracked and studied

post by Howard Owens in animals, alexander, DEC, Eagles, wildlife

A reader wants to know why she's seen Department of Environmental Conservation agents at a location in the Town of Alexander setting up a trap and watching it.

Kenneth Roblee, a senior wildlife biologist with the DEC's Buffalo office, said the DEC is trying to capture a mating pair of bald eagles that are known to range in the area so radio transmitters can be attached to the birds.

He and a partner have been trying to trap the eagles since early December.

The eagles are of interest to the DEC because their range includes the windmill farms in Orangeville.

"We want to collect information on their home range," Roblee said. "We want to track their movements in relation to the Orangeville wind project. We know the birds are in the area. They are nesting closest to a wind project as any pair of eagles in our region. We want to know how they interact with the turbines, if they approach them at all, and how the turbines might effect their habitat."

It's an important project, he said.

"The information would really help out our eagle management and protection program," Roblee said.

The trap contains bait and hidden netting. The DEC agents watch the trap and if the eagle lands and the timing seems right, little rockets fire and ensnare the eagle in the netting.

They almost got an eagle trapped on the 30th (of January), but it didn't quite work, so the agents are still trying.

The eagles are smart. The agents have to set the trap up in the dark of night. If one wire or rope or anything else isn't positioned as exactly how the eagle would remember it, the eagle will avoid the area. If the agents are spotted, the eagles will avoid the area.

Roblee asked that we only provide a general vicinity of where the DEC is setting up the trap. He said he and his associates try to keep the neighbors informed about what they're doing, but it's best if people stay away from the area because the eagles are so skittish.

The agents are using either a blind or staying in their vehicle while watching the trap.

The trap, by regulation, must be monitored at all times by two agents, and there also must be two agents on hand to handle the eagle if captured.

The DEC officials are being assisted by two experts in eagle capture, a woman from Watertown who has previously captured 14 bald eagles and another who has done a good deal of work over the years with bald eagles.

"It's a waiting game," Roblee said. "It's frustrating, but it's important information to have."

Photo: Provided by Roblee of an eagle with bait at a location.

Friday, February 7, 2014 at 11:20 am

Cat found on Thruway missing its owner

post by Howard Owens in animals, pembroke, pets, thruway

Is this your cat? Lori Vosburgh is trying to help find the feline's rightful owner. Here's what she says about it:

Jacob Bukowski was driving on the Thruway Jan. 31st, when he saw this cat laying down in the median between the Pembroke and Depew exits on the Thruway, right before the South Newstead RD overpass and 4 miles east of the Clarence Travel Plaza (Tim Horton's service area).

She was thin, cold, hungry and the hair around her neck was matted. He took her home and then to the vet the next morning. She is a young female, not micro-chipped, declawed and spayed. Instead of leaving the hair matted they shaved a little of it off. She was clearly an indoor cat and very friendly. She smelled like a farm and for obvious reasons was very dirty.

We think she may have been outside for at least a month, as another woman tried to rescue her the first of January but was unable to due to safety concerns with traffic. She reported it with the police but they must not have been able to rescue her.

She's a beautiful sweet cat and I'd like nothing more than to find her owners, or someone that would be willing to take her in. It's amazing that she made it through the bitter temperatures and snowy conditions!

If it's your cat or you can help find the owner, call Brittany  at (585) 297-0297.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Tara is missing in the Byron-Bergen area

post by Howard Owens in animals, bergen, byron, pets

Kelly Crocker's dog Tara is missing. Tara was last seen about 4:30 p.m.  Kelly and Tara live on Batavia Byron Road.

Tara may have ran across the Thruway and was heading east.

Tara did not have her collar on when she went missing.

"We tried getting her to come with us but she wouldn't stop running, and it's very very cold out," Kelly said.

Kelly can be reached at (585) 300-8801.

UPDATE Thursday 6:44 p.m.: The dog was found and is safe and warm at home.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Surprise lamb born during the Blizzard of '14 at Porter Farms

post by Howard Owens in animals, agriculture, Porter Farms, weather

Normally, according to Peter Metzler, at Porter Farms, ewes start to lamb in March and April, so it came as quite a surprise today when this little one was found -- an unexpected newborn in the freezing cold, shivering by its mother. Jake Hillabush is holding the lamb to help warm it up shortly after it was found. The lamb was born sometime between morning and afternoon chores. Once the little one was warmed a bit, they put mom and baby in a small pen to bed down and stay warm in a pile of straw.

Thursday, January 2, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Darien couple needs help finding missing calves

post by Howard Owens in animals, Darien

Rob and Carol Magoffin took delivery of 9-month-old beefers Monday and as soon as the cattle arrived, they got spooked, ran and broke through a fence.

The calves haven't been seen since.

"I've been looking for them for four days," Rob said.

He bought them to raise as meat for his own household. He and Carol also have a few goats and chickens.

Their hobby farm is located in the area of Colby and Sumner roads, Darien.

One calf is all black and the other is brown with a brown and white face.

Since Rob had just taken delivery of the calves, there are no identifying tags or markings on them.

If you know of their whereabouts or see them, contact Rob or Carol at (585) 813-3881 or (585) 813-2769.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Residents flocking to see snowy owls at airport

post by Howard Owens in animals, Genesee County Airport, nature

Jason Berne, manager of Parmenter Tire near the airport, sent in this picture of a snowy owl that he said a researcher brought into the shop for he and his staff to see.

"They are beautiful," Berne said.

TV news crews have been out to the airport today. Jay Terkel, in comments on our story from yesterday, said there are so many cars driving slowly around the airport "it's like Lion Country Safari" out there.

Photo by Jay Terkel.

Photo by Dylan Brew.

Monday, December 30, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Population of snowy owls at airport drawing birders and researchers from throughout the region

post by Howard Owens in animals, batavia, Genesee County Airport, nature

Snowy owls have become Batavia's latest tourist attraction. Birders are driving out to the Genesee County Airport from miles around to see the majestic raptors.

"It's very special to come out and see such an unusual bird," said Leslie Phillips, a Rochester resident who read about the "irruption" of snowy owls in Batavia through an e-mail discussion list for birders.

Irruptions are the irregular southern migrations exhibited by bird species that typically winter in Canada and the extreme northern United States, according to Cornell University's Project Feederwatch.

She was among six or seven birders who were on State Street Road this afternoon with scopes and binoculars watching the owls perched on snow banks or fence posts.

David Genesky, a conservationist who specializes in raptors, spent much of the day trapping the owls on behalf of a national snowy owl research program.

By 5 p.m. he had caught eight and believed there were at least two more in the airport area. (CORRECTION: It's eight for the season, three on Tuesday.)

Genesky collected a feather, for a DNA sample, and weighed each bird before banding it and releasing it. The whole process took about five minutes per bird.

"Personally, I just want to make sure the species is OK," Genesky said. "There's a lot of talk about global warming and climate change and how it would effect their nesting areas, and for me personally, that's what I'm concerned about."

Genesky said the collection of snowy owls at the airport is a great opportunity for the public to see one of the great birds of the wild up close.

"They've been as steady as can be for the last month," Genesky said. "People have come from miles away and gotten good looks at them."

Sharon Leising hasn't had to travel far this winter to see the owls. She lives on State Street Road, and when she heard about the trapping project today, she had to meet up with Genesky and learn about what he was doing. She was at the Emergency Training Center when Genesky brought one of the birds in for cataloging (inset photo; photo courtesy Sharon Leising).

"This is so exciting, to have something like this happen in our area," Leising said. "They're such beautiful birds."

Typically, snowy owls make their homes in the Arctic and don't often congregate in such numbers in the northeast.

"This year is probably is biggest number in 40 years," Genesky said. "It's very rare to get this many birds in the Northeastern United States.  The Western states have fewer birds. They seem to have concentrated here."

Genesky said the local snowy owl population seems to be in good shape.

"Believe me, these birds are all healthy," he said. "They're not starving."

While there may be as many as a dozen snowy owls in the airport area, that number will thin soon to one or two as the birds establish their territories for the rest of the winter. Grenesky said anybody interested in seeing the birds should get out to the airport soon.

Leslie Phillips

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