Endangered Wolf’s 8,700-Mile Journey Ends in Tragedy
A lone female wolf had traveled more than 8,700 miles in nearly two years through California, Oregon and Nevada in search of a mate before her radio collar went silent in December 2019, The New York Times reported. Then, California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists received an influx of data from her collar indicating she had stopped moving in California's Shasta County. On Feb. 5, they located her.
"Unfortunately, what they found was her carcass," department spokeswoman Jordan Traverso told The New York Times.
The female, named OR-54, was an important symbol for the return of wolves to California. Her father, OR-7, was the first wolf to enter California in around 100 years when he crossed south from Oregon in 2011. The event helped inspire California's Fish and Game Commission to vote to protect wolves under the state Endangered Species Act in 2014, The Washington Post pointed out.
OR-7 returned to Oregon to establish the Rogue Pack, but his offspring, who was fitted with a radio collar in Oregon in 2017, headed south again on Jan. 24, 2018 when she crossed into California to begin her journey. She spent most of the next two years in the state, despite two return trips to Oregon and one sojourn to Nevada. In California, she wandered through Butte, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Shasta and Tehama counties, The Sacramento Bee reported. As of December, she had traveled at least 8,712 miles, averaging 13 miles a day.
"After the arduous journey wolves have had to get back to California, the loss of any wolf is a step back for wolf recovery," Defenders of Wildlife senior California representative Pamela Flick said in a statement. "OR-54 traveled more than 8,700 miles, from Oregon to California and even into Nevada and was a symbol of hope for the next generation of wolves."
Sad News! The #California Department of Fish & Wildlife Service announced #OR54, an #endangered #graywolf, was foun… https://t.co/AhnXFAffOs— Defenders of Wildlife (@Defenders of Wildlife)1581099013.0
The average wolf travels 50 to 100 miles to find a mate, so OR-54's odyssey was "extraordinarily long," Misi Stine, outreach director at the International Wolf Center in Minnesota, told The New York Times.
"She's going to be one of those ones who people say, 'Wow, she was exceptional,' because we know her story," Stine said.
The circumstances of her death are being investigated. OR-54 was three or four when she died, and Center for Biological Diversity wolf advocate Amaroq Weiss told The Washington Post that most lone wolves only live to be four or five. They are vulnerable to attacks by other wolf packs, defensive kicks from elks, or human attacks. OR-54 did have potential human enemies, because she was suspected in at least five livestock attacks in Plumas County, according to The Sacramento Bee.
"We hope OR-54 died a natural death and wasn't killed illegally," Weiss said in a statement. "The return of wolves is a major environmental milestone in our state, and the vast majority of Californians want to see wolves recovered here."
There are 15 to 20 wolves now living in California, according to official estimates reported by The New York Times. The Trump administration has proposed stripping gray wolves of federal Endangered Species Act protections in the lower 48 states, but Weiss told The Washington Post that those protections had been essential for wolf recovery in places like California.
"We'd never have wolves coming back to California, coming to Oregon, if they hadn't been listed for federal protections," she said.
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Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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