42 Wild Burros Found Shot Dead in Mojave Desert, $58,000 Offered to Identify the Killer
Someone is shooting the Mojave Desert's iconic wild burros, in what officials say is one of the largest killings of its kind on land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Southern California, The Los Angeles Times reported.
The bodies of 42 burros have been found shot dead since May in San Bernardino County, The Washington Post reported. As of Wednesday, the BLM and animal rights organizations had assembled nearly $60,000 in reward money for any information leading to the arrest of the killer or killers.
"The cruelty involved in shooting these burros and leaving them to die warrants prosecution to the fullest extent of the law," BLM's Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley said in a statement Wednesday. "We thank the animal welfare groups for adding their voices to those organizations who value these iconic symbols of the West."
Thanks to substantial new pledges from several conservation and animal welfare organizations, the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the deaths of 42 #wildburros in California has risen to almost $60,000. https://t.co/fdZsBPqqfd pic.twitter.com/iKiOFlUhvA— Bureau of Land Management California (@BLMca) August 28, 2019
The animals targeted are part of a population of 120 that lives in the Clark Mountain Herd Area, BLM spokeswoman Sarah Webster told The Washington Post, meaning one third of that group has been massacred this spring and summer. Many of the killings appear to have been made at a distance with a rifle aimed at the burros' necks, Webster said. In one incident, both foals and adults were killed as they drank from a watering hole.
"I've been told that at least one of the burros was still alive when it was discovered by a passerby. But it succumbed to its injuries by the time BLM investigators arrived on the scene," Neda DeMayo, president of the nonprofit Return To Freedom, which has put $5,000 towards the reward, told The Los Angeles Times. "It's all so unbelievable. Crazy. Hostile. Cruel."
The reward for information leading to the conviction of the killer(s) of 42 wild burros shot to death along I-15 between Halloran Springs, Calif., and Primm, Nev., has grown to nearly $60,000.— Return to Freedom (@ReturnToFreedom) August 28, 2019
If you have information, contact 800-782-7463 or https://t.co/GZ5S0GvgzX. Please RT! pic.twitter.com/eDrsAKgKWO
The total list of groups who have pledged money for the now $58,500 reward are:
- The Platero Project: $32,500
- The Humane Society of the United States: $2,500
- Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue: $2,500
- Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue: $2,500
- Bureau of Land Management: $10,000
- American Wild Horse Campaign: $2,500
- Return To Freedom: $5,000
- The Cloud Foundation: $1,000
Burros evolved in North Africa and were first brought to North America by the Spanish, where they became important pack animals in the U.S. West for early European explorers and Gold Rush miners, according to The Washington Post.
They were replaced by cars in the 1920s and 30s and left to fend for themselves in the Southwest, The Los Angeles Times reported. They succeeded in the Mojave Desert, with their populations doubling every four to five years. But they did become targets for killings that had gotten so excessive by the 1950s that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals called for legislation to protect them.
Since 1971, they have been protected by the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Anyone caught killing, capturing or harming a burro now faces a fine of up to $2,000 or up to a year in prison per count. If one person is responsible for all 42 deaths this year, they could face 42 years in prison, The Washington Post reported.
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With more than 1.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and more than 100,000 deaths from the virus, physicians face unprecedented challenges in their efforts to keep Americans safe.
They also encounter what some call an "infodemic," an outbreak of misinformation that's making it more difficult to treat patients.
When Leaders and Doctors Spread Misinformation<p>When people in charge of towns, cities, states, and countries spread misinformation, the potential for belief in misinformation to result in policies can have harmful effects.</p><p><a href="https://www.northwell.edu/find-care/find-a-doctor?q=Bruce+E.+Hirsch%2C+MD&insurance=&location=&query_type=provider&physician_partners=false&default_view=list&gender=&language=&sort=relevancy" target="_blank">Dr. Bruce E. Hirsch</a>, attending physician and assistant professor in the infectious disease division of Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, says an example of this is when President Trump informed the public he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure.</p><p>"To approach this enormous challenge, we need some intellectual honesty and clarity, and to disregard expertise and to make decisions and model decisions based on hunches is inviting us to handle challenges on the basis of rumor and uninformed opinion. The magnitude of that error is epic," Hirsch told Healthline.</p><p>Stukus agrees, noting that the harm of this proclamation is documented.</p><p>"Early on when the president touted the benefits of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, people started to hoard this medicine, and state boards had to shut it down because they were getting so many prescriptions for this unproven therapy that it was not available for those who truly needed it, such as those who have lupus and autoimmune conditions," Stukus said.</p><p>He adds that calls to poison control centers increased after the president suggested using disinfectant to prevent contracting the new coronavirus.</p>
Listen to Science, Even When it Changes<p>When recommendations change or evidence flip-flops, skepticism may arise. However, Stukus says change is the beauty of science.</p><p>"That shows us that we can evolve, and if the evidence shows that our prior thoughts were incorrect, we need to be able to change our recommendations and advice based upon the best quality of evidence at the time," he said.</p><p>Pierre agrees.</p><p>"Science is an iterative process, whereby we arrive at facts and truth through repeated and controlled observations. That means that it's inherently self-correcting as we revise conclusions based on ongoing research. Scientific facts aren't immutable dogma chiseled on a tablet. They change based on the best available evidence we have at a given point in time," he said.</p><p>Because research of COVID-19 has only been underway for 6 months, information is evolving rapidly, and new information may contradict old.</p><p>"There's still much we don't know about exactly how [COVID-19] spreads, what effects it has on the body, or how to best treat it. That means that the best available evidence is preliminary, but that doesn't mean that we should ignore it or turn to other sources of information or opinion as if they're just as valid," Pierre said.</p><p>He explains that conspiracy theories based on mistrust lead to vulnerability to misinformation.</p><p>If people mistrust science because it sometimes "changes its mind," Pierre said, "that shouldn't be used to embrace other opinions based on no evidence at all, which are typically selected based on confirmation bias: what we want to believe rather than what the objective evidence supports."</p>
Where to Find the Best Information<p>Stukus says to start with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html" target="_blank">CDC</a> and <a href="https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus" target="_blank">NIH</a>. Then check with your local health officials, because COVID-19 guidelines may vary depending on where you live.</p><p>If you can't find information you need or have questions specifically related to you, call your primary care doctor.</p><p>"Your personal doctor should always be a resource for individual specific questions because they know best how to apply all the nuances retaining to your health, and how to incorporate all the other general [COVID-19] recommendations," Stukus said.</p><p><a href="https://www.eehealth.org/find-a-doctor/b/boyd-laura-b/" target="_blank">Dr. Laura Boyd</a>, primary care physician at Edward-Elmhurst Health Center in Elmhurst, Illinois, says her clinic receives a lot of calls about COVID-19.</p><p>"Most doctors' offices are receiving calls and answering questions, and doing phone or video visits to help clarify and/or order testing over the phone based on patients' symptoms. It is always best to call your doctor's office first instead of worrying about symptoms and waiting too long to seek treatment," she told Healthline.</p><p>If your primary care doctor has limited testing, she suggests looking on your state's public health website for available testing sites.</p><p>With a lot of unknowns related to this virus and disease, Boyd says many patients are feeling overwhelmed and anxious for a treatment.</p><p>"Unfortunately, there is no specific medication recommended for COVID for outpatient. There are a lot of ongoing studies with various drugs going on within the hospital setting. Patients should always contact their doctors about their specific symptoms as they can treat the symptoms that go along with COVID, but there is no cure," Boyd said.</p><p>While we wait for treatment and a vaccine, Hirsch, who treats patients hospitalized for COVID-19 complications on a daily basis, says everyone can do their part by washing hands, wearing a mask, and staying 6 feet apart.</p><p>"As an infectious disease doctor working in the hospital, I see the damage of the pandemic and the worst cases of what's happening. We are trying to get the best possible outcome and confronting this overwhelming biologic reality of this terrible epidemic the best we can," Hirsch said.</p><p>Everyone at home can help in the fight too, he adds.</p><p>"Follow information that is science- and evidence-based, and avoid that which is not," he said.</p>
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