Abstract: Most people in the world now live in cities. Urbanisation simultaneously isolates people from nature and contributes to biodiversity decline. As cities expand, suburban development and the road infrastructure to support them widens their impact on wildlife. Even so, urban communities, especially those on the peri-urban fringe, endeavour to support biodiversity through wildlife friendly gardens, green spaces and corridors, and conservation estates. On one hand, many who live on city fringes do so because they enjoy proximity to nature, however, the ever increasing intrusion of roads leads to conflict with wildlife. Trauma (usually fatal) to wildlife and (usually emotional and financial) to people ensues. Exposure to this trauma, therefore, should inform attitudes towards wildlife vehicle collisions (WVC) and be linked to willingness to reduce risk of further WVC. While there is good anecdotal evidence for this response, competing priorities and better understanding of the likelihood of human injury or fatalities, as opposed to wildlife fatalities, may confound this trend. In this paper we sought to explore this relationship with a quantitative study of driver behaviour and attitudes to WVC from a cohort of residents and visitors who drive through a peri-urban reserve (Royal National Park) on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia. We distributed a self-reporting questionnaire and received responses from 105 local residents and 51 visitors to small townships accessed by roads through the national park. We sought the respondents’ exposure to WVC, their evasive actions in an impending WVC, their attitudes to wildlife fatalities, their strategies to reduce the risk of WVC, and their willingness to adopt new ameliorative measures. The results were partitioned by driver demographics and residency. Residents were generally well informed about mitigation strategies but exposure led to a decrease in viewing WVC as very serious. In addition, despite most respondents stating they routinely drive slower when collision risk is high (at dusk and dawn), our assessment of driving trends via traffic speeds suggested this sentiment was not generally adhered to. Thus we unveil some of the complexities in tackling driver’s willingness to act on reducing risk of WVC, particularly when risk of human trauma is low.
Abstract: Moles are considered pests in Britain, but this issue has been little studied. Lower welfare standards have been tolerated for moles than for most other managed wild mammal species, as use of both the controversial poison, strychnine, and unregulated traps have been permitted. Strychnine was withdrawn in 2006 and there were fears that mole populations would increase as a result. In 2007, we conducted a comprehensive, nationwide survey of land manager perceptions, opinions and behaviour regarding moles and mole control on farms, amenities and domestic gardens in Britain. We surveyed 2150 land managers (achieving a 59% response rate) and ground-truthed 29 responses. Moles were reported to be present on most farms and amenities, and 13% of gardens, and were more common in lighter soils. Where present, moles were usually considered pests, this being more likely in Wales, Scotland and northern England, on livestock and mixed farms, and on large, high-value amenities, e.g., racecourses and golf courses. Mole control followed similar patterns to mole presence. More control may occur than is economically, and therefore potentially ethically, justified. Control should be more carefully considered and, where necessary, more effectively targeted. Kill-trapping was the favoured recent and future method on farms and amenities, even if strychnine was to be reintroduced; however, because mole traps are currently unregulated, some might not meet current welfare standards if tested. We found no evidence for an increase in moles since a farm questionnaire survey conducted in 1992; this could have wider implications for future wildlife management policy changes.
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of dietary lecithin on skeletal muscle gene expression of collagen precursors and enzymes involved in collagen synthesis and degradation. Finisher gilts with an average start weight of 55.9 ± 2.22 kg were fed diets containing either 0, 4, 20 or 80 g/kg soybean lecithin prior to harvest for six weeks and the rectus abdominis muscle gene expression profile was analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR. Lecithin treatment down-regulated Type I (α1) procollagen (COL1A1) and Type III (α1) procollagen (COL3A1) mRNA expression ( p < 0.05, respectively), indicating a decrease in the precursors for collagen synthesis. The α-subunit of prolyl 4-hydroxylase (P4H) mRNA expression also tended to be down-regulated ( p = 0.056), indicating a decrease in collagen synthesis. Decreased matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) mRNA expression may reflect a positive regulatory response to the reduced collagen synthesis in muscle from the pigs fed lecithin ( p = 0.035). Lecithin had no effect on tissue inhibitor metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1), matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13) and lysyl oxidase mRNA expression. In conclusion, lecithin down-regulated COL1A1 and COL3A1 as well as tended to down-regulate α-subunit P4H expression. However, determination of muscle collagen content and solubility are required to support the gene functions.
Abstract: A controlled feeding study was undertaken to determine the physiological and production effects of consuming perennial ryegrass alkaloids (fed via seed) under extreme heat in sheep. Twenty-four Merino ewe weaners (6 months; initial BW 30.8 ± 1.0 kg) were selected and the treatment period lasted 21 days following a 14 day acclimatisation period. Two levels of two factors were used. The first factor was alkaloid, fed at a nil (NilAlk) or moderate level (Alk; 80 μg/kg LW ergovaline and 20.5 μg/kg·LW lolitrem B). The second factor was ambient temperature applied at two levels; thermoneutral (TN; constant 21–22 °C) or heat (Heat; 9:00 AM–5:00 PM at 38 °C; 5:00 PM–9:00 AM at 21–22 °C), resulting in four treatments, NilAlk TN, NilAlk Heat, Alk TN and Alk Heat. Alkaloid consumption reduced dry matter intake ( p = 0.008), and tended to reduce liveweight ( p = 0.07). Rectal temperature and respiration rate were increased by both alkaloid and heat ( p < 0.05 for all). Respiration rate increased to severe levels when alkaloid and heat were combined, indicating the short term effects which may be occurring in perennial ryegrass toxicosis (PRGT) areas during severe weather conditions, a novel finding. When alkaloid ingestion and heat were administered separately, similar physiological responses occurred, indicating alkaloid ingestion causes a similar heat stress response to 38 °C heat.
Abstract: The objective was to describe the incidence of failure to finish a race in flat-racing Thoroughbreds in New Zealand as these are summary indicators of falls, injuries and poor performance. Retrospective data on six complete flat racing seasons (n = 188,615 race starts) of all Thoroughbred flat race starts from 1 August 2005 to 31 July 2011 were obtained. The incidence of failure to finish events and binomial exact 95% confidence intervals were calculated per 1000 horse starts. The association between horse-, rider- and race-level variables with the outcomes failure to finish, pulled-up/fell and lost rider were examined with a mixed effects Poisson regression model. A total of 544 horses failed to finish in 188,615 race starts with an overall incidence of 2.88 per 1000 horse starts (95% CI 2.64–3.12). The incidence of failure to finish horses across each race year showed little variability. In the univariable analysis race distance, larger field size, season, and ratings bands showed association with failing to finish a race. The overall failure to finish outcome was associated with season, race distance and ratings bands (horse experience and success ranking criteria). In the multivariable analysis, race distance and ratings bands were associated with horses that pulled-up/fell; season, apprentice allowances and ratings bands were associated with the outcome lost rider. The failure to finish rate was lower than international figures for race day catastrophic injury. Racing and environmental variables were associated with failure to finish a race highlighting the multifactorial nature of race-day events. Further investigation of risk factors for failure to finish is required to better understand the reasons for a low failure to finish rate in Thoroughbred flat races in New Zealand.
Abstract: This opinion paper considers the relative validity and utility of three concepts: the Five Freedoms (FF), Five Domains (FD) and Quality of Life (QoL) as tools for the analysis of animal welfare. The aims of FF and FD are different but complementary. FD seeks to assess the impact of the physical and social environment on the mental (affective) state of a sentient animal, FF is an outcome-based approach to identify and evaluate the efficacy of specific actions necessary to promote well-being. Both have utility. The concept of QoL is presented mainly as a motivational framework. The FD approach provides an effective foundation for research and evidence-based conclusions as to the impact of the things we do on the mental state of the animals in our care. Moreover, it is one that can evolve with time. The FF are much simpler. They do not attempt to achieve an overall picture of mental state and welfare status, but the principles upon which they are based are timeless. Their aim is to be no more than a memorable set of signposts to right action. Since, so far as the animals are concerned, it is not what we think but what we do that counts, I suggest that they are likely to have a more general impact.