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Pokémon Go Players Become Unusual Heroes for Animals

Animals
Pokémon Go Players Become Unusual Heroes for Animals

Pokémon Go—the app that has hoards of people roaming streets, parks and public spaces looking for imaginary Pokémon—turns out to be beneficial for animals.

This is what Pokémon Go players see when their eyes are glued to their phones.Photo credit: brar_j, Flickr

While playing the app several users have stumbled upon abandoned or injured animals and offered help. Cornell University Animal Hospital in Ithaca, New York, is just one of the organizations receiving these injured and abandoned animals, Inhabitat reported. Since July 6, when the app was released, the hospital has been the recipient of a screech owl, rabbits, opossum and a baby squirrel.

People wandering around with their eyes glued to their phones is often seen as a nuisance, but some animal lovers are praising the habit.

"The whole 'Gotta Catch 'Em All,' it's great!" Victoria Campbell, owner of WildThings Sanctuary, said.

Campbell was part of a bat rescue. Pokémon Go player Olivia Case rescued a juvenile bat while she was in the pursuit of Pokémon in Ithaca. She called Campbell to tell her about the bat and Campbell directed her to Cornell University Animal Hospital.

"They showed up at almost midnight with this baby bat," Campbell said. "I was like 'Wow, where did you find it?' and they were like, 'We were out playing Pokémon Go.'"

Case isn't the only Pokémon Go player/animal rescuer out there. In Rochester, New York, a man found eight ducklings stuck in a storm drain and got them help. In South Houston two players saved 20 hamsters and seven baby mice that were found in a cage abandoned in a park. Also in Texas, in the town of Lufkin, two players found an injured puppy.

"The puppy was laying by the tree and a trash bag and could not move," Kaitlin Kouts told KTRE 9 News. "His mouth was bleeding, he wasn't moving very much. He looked like he was in pain. We found out his back leg was broken. His gums were pale and blue and so were his ears."

Kouts and her fellow Pokémon Go player were helped by Skyler Jerke, a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and pizza delivery man. Jerke stabilized the puppy and helped take it to a local veterinary clinic to undergo surgery for its broken bones.

Photo credit: Kaitlin Kouts

Pokémon Go doesn't only provide rescue services to animals, but exercise opportunities as well. Some animal shelters, such as Muncie Animal Shelter in Indiana, are using Pokémon Go players to walk their dogs.

"The idea is that they take the dog on kind of an adventure for the day," Phil Peckinpaugh, shelter director, told The Huffington Post.

So next time you come in contact with a Pokémon Go player, just think, they could be on their way to rescue an animal in need.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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