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Staid and steeped in parliamentary rules, the annual World Health Assembly is a mostly predictable exercise. Delegates from 194 member states of the World Health Organization gather each May to plod through a lengthy agenda and haggle over policies and priorities for the WHO's upcoming year. A few decisions are momentous, most mundane.

Emaciated gray whales have been washing up on the West Coast at a rate that’s alarming scientists.

At least 64 gray whales have turned up dead along the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington this year — the highest number since 2000.

In the tiny town of Erwin, Tenn., history is the elephant in the room.

At the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce, Cathy Huskins remembers one particularly angry tourist "came barreling through the door, and came up to the counter here and slung her hands down. ... And she says, 'I cannot believe that you killed an elephant!' "

Librarian Angie Georgeff is used to the strange phone calls and unannounced visits from world travelers:

If you're looking for a new hobby this summer, here's an idea. It's something that gets you out of the house and into the fresh air. It demands concentration and rewards you with beauty. Welcome to the world of birding.

Recent rains and warmer weather are expected to make the local mosquito population explode. Local health officials offered advice on how to fight them off.

Up to 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species on Earth are at risk of extinction — many of them within decades — according to scientists and researchers who produced a sweeping U.N. report on how humanity's burgeoning growth is putting the world's biodiversity at perilous risk.

More Than 500,000 Bees In Texas Killed In Act Of Vandalism

May 2, 2019

Investigators south of Houston are trying to determine who killed more than 500,000 bees by setting hives on fire, toppling some over and tossing others into a pond.

The William P. Hobby Jr. State Office Building in Austin houses several small state agency offices.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

On Jan. 16, an employee at the Texas Department of Insurance noticed an unwelcome pest in her fifth-floor office in one of the towers of downtown Austin’s William P. Hobby Jr. State Office Building.

Her maintenance work order described the encounter: “Rat was in the ceiling and just poked his head out to look at an employee.”

New Research Center Will Study Texas Sea Turtles

Apr 29, 2019

From Texas Standard:

The time of year for an annual ritual on the Gulf Coast is approaching  –  when Texans take to the beach to watch dozens of tiny turtles toddle from the sand down to the surf. There's certainly something special about watching sea turtles hatch, but there's some mystery, too. We still don't about where the turtles in the Gulf travel, and what habitats they use. That's why this week, Texas A&M University at Galveston announced the establishment of the new Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research.

When Timothy Masters got his first chickens a decade ago, it was easy. He lives "way out in the country" in Pennsylvania, away from urban regulations about keeping chickens in backyards. He built a chicken coop and got three hens to provide eggs for him and his wife. "It was the perfect number for us," he says.

That's when the catalogs began to arrive.

Workers on an oil rig about 135 miles offshore from southern Thailand noticed something stunning in the water: a dog.

The animal swam toward the rig's platform on Friday and clung to it as team members tried to figure out how to save him, Vitisak Payalaw, an offshore planner for Chevron Thailand Exploration & Production, told NPR.

Video that Payalaw posted on Facebook shows the shivering animal partially submerged in water, staring up at the workers.

Our Planet is the kind of nature show where every image could be a screen saver: sweeping, dramatic landscapes are full of colorful animals.

From Texas Standard:

It’s hard to miss the large colosseum-like structure off Ranch Road 1017 in the Rio Grande Valley. It’s the Santa Maria Bullring, and it’s where Fred and Lisa Renk have been running bloodless bullfights for the past 19 years.

Coyote attacks on humans are incredibly rare and don't usually cause serious injuries, mostly due to the small size of the animal. But Dallas suburb Frisco has been experiencing an abnormal number of sightings and attacks.
Shutterstock

Since October, residents in Frisco have reported seven incidents where coyotes attacked humans. The last attack came more than a month after city officials captured an animal suspected in some of the attacks and launched an interactive map to report sightings.

Mosquitoes searching for a meal of blood use a variety of clues to track down humans, including our body heat and the carbon dioxide in our breath. Now, research shows that a certain olfactory receptor in their antennae also serves as a detector of humans, responding to smelly chemicals in our sweat.

Dixie Malloy and her dog "Puppy" enjoy the small dog park at White Rock Lake in Dallas.
Courtney Collins / KERA news

If you've got a four-legged friend, chances are you've scoped out dog-friendly greenspace in your neighborhood. The Trust for Public Land just ranked the 100 largest U.S. cities, according to dog parks. At No. 40, Irving was the only North Texas town to crack the top 50.

When Frans de Waal started studying nonhuman primates, in the Netherlands more than 40 years ago, he was told not to consider the emotions of the animals he was observing.

"Thoughts and feelings — the mental processes basically — were off limits," he says. "We were told not to talk about them, because they were considered by many scientists as 'inner states' and you only were allowed to talk about 'outer states.' "

Bigger isn't necessarily better when it comes to catching, selling and eating fish.

For certain snappers, in fact, a market preference for plate-size whole fillets is driving fishermen to target smaller fish. For some wild fish populations, this is a recipe for collapse.

Updated at 5:44 p.m. ET

Darrell Blatchley received a call from the Philippines' Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources early Friday morning reporting that it had a young Cuvier's beaked whale that was weak and vomiting blood.

Within a few hours it was dead.

Blatchley, a marine biologist and environmentalist based in the Philippine city of Davao, gathered his team to drive two hours to where the whale had washed up.

The Dallas Zoo's 13-year-old critically endangered western lowland gorilla Megan delivered her infant in the early morning of March 7. This is Megan's first baby, and zoo official say both are doing great.
Dallas Zoo

Nine-month-old Saambili now has a playmate and half-sibling at the Dallas Zoo — a healthy baby born quietly in the early hours of March 7.

The future of the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, has been uncertain ever since President Trump took office.

Zombie Deer Disease: It's A Catchy Name That Doesn't Tell The Whole Story

Feb 22, 2019

From Texas Standard:

Ever heard of bartonella henselae? It’s the bacteria behind an illness you’re probably more familiar with – cat scratch fever. What about this one: bovine spongiform encephalopathy? You may know it better as mad cow disease. As you can see, nonscientific names for certain afflictions tend to stick. But sometimes, their meanings may get lost in translation.

A planned liquefied natural gas facility near Brownsville would boost energy export opportunities, but also poses a risk to Texas ocelots.

Hungry deer in the northeastern U. S. are likely changing the acoustics of their forests by eating up bushes, small trees and other leafy plants that normally would affect the transmission of natural sounds such as bird calls.

Updated at 2:40 p.m. ET

A wire fox terrier named King has taken the crown at the 143rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. He's the 15th wire fox terrier to win best in show.

Updated at 11 a.m. ET

A trail jogger in Colorado successfully defended himself Monday against a mountain lion that attacked him from behind. The cat is dead, and the man is recovering in a local hospital.

The jogger, whose identity has not been released, was running alone in the foothills of the Horsetooth Mountain Park in northern Colorado when, he said, he heard something behind him on the trail. As he turned to investigate, the juvenile mountain lion lunged.

From Texas Standard:

There have been sightings and interactions recently with "aggressive" coyotes in Texas cities – something wildlife experts say is rare.

Something even rarer is research on how these wild dogs are adapting to urban growth. With human-coyote interactions on the upswing in Austin, a group of researchers at Huston-Tillotson University are looking for, among other things, clues as to how humans and coyotes might better coexist.

A team of biologists announced this week they’d found three new species of rare salamanders in Central Texas. The discovery of any new species is big news for science, but in Texas – where the fate of salamanders and people are often linked – it could also set up a new fight over endangered species protections.  

Wolves, as it turns out, might not be the bloodthirsty, moose-slaughtering, northwoods-roaming carnivores you always thought they were.

New research on wolf packs at Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota is challenging the conventional wisdom on wolves: Their diets are a lot more varied than scientists previously thought.

Coyote
Shutterstock

Frisco police say a coyote has attacked or almost attacked four joggers in the past month. The latest attack was Wednesday morning and left a jogger hospitalized in stable condition with neck injuries.

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