From the folks who brought you a non-random, self-selecting census

A report last week in the prestigious scientific journal Nature revealed that the hole in the ozone layer over the Arctic was the largest ever recorded—comparable for the first time to the man-induced hole that appears every year in the ozone layer over the Antarctic. But when reporters asked Canadian scientist  David Tarasick, who was involved in the study, to explain its findings, Environment Canada refused to let him speak.

David Tarasick, muzzled by Environment Canada

Environment Canada scientist David Tarasick, whose team played a key role in the report published Sunday in the journal Nature, is not being allowed to discuss the discovery with the media.

Environment Canada told Postmedia News that an interview with Tarasick “cannot be granted.” Tarasick is one of several Environment Canada ozone scientists who have received letters warning of possible “discontinuance of job function” as part of the downsizing underway in the department.

Meanwhile, the Harper Government is cutting back on ozone monitoring. CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks host Bob MacDonald decries the government’s behaviour:

How has this country turned from a world leader in environmental protection, to one where scientists are forbidden to speak and the government seems to have turned its back on environmental protection?

….Scientists are our eyes on the planet. Their detailed monitoring of changes to the atmosphere, water, and movements in the ground, give us a window into the complex interplay of the Earth’s many systems. They also see how human activity has an effect on those systems and the courses they will take in the future.

Over the long term, the scientists see trends, such as warming temperatures, loss of Arctic sea ice, shifting ocean currents or changes in biology, that are used to make predictions about the type of world our children will inherit.

H/T: Elizabeth May

A shocking coywolf attack in Cape Breton – updated

Skyline Trail-sA very sad update: The woman attacked by two coywolves succumbed to her injuries overnight. Deepest sympathy to her family and friends for their unimaginable loss.

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The shocking news that a 19-year-old Toronto-area woman was attacked and “very, very seriously” injured by a pair of coyotes in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park this afternoon will undoubtedly focus attention on recent reports that Eastern Coyotes are in fact a hybrid of coyotes and wolves, or coywolves.

We offer heartfelt hopes for a speedy and complete recovery for the unidentified woman, who was hiking on the popular and well used Skyline Trail north of Cheticamp—a trail Contrarian has often hiked with family and friends. The injured woman has been airlifted to Halifax, where she is in critical condition. RCMP officers who happened to be nearby came to her assistance. They shot and apparently wounded one of the animals; however both escaped into the woods.

CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks recently interviewed Dr. Roland Kays, Curator of Mammals at New York State Museum, about genetic testing he carried out on coyotes in that state, indicating that, as they moved east, coyotes interbred with remnant wolf populations:

Coyotes are a newcomer to Nova Scotia, the earliest confirmed specimin having been taken in Guysborough in 1977. The 30- to 50-pound Eastern Coyote is larger and darker than its western cousin, and typically occupies woodlands, not the grassy habitat favored by pure coyotes.

Coywolf-csKays found that the head and jaw of the coywolf are better adapted for taking down the white tailed deer that flourish here. In effect, as the coyote took over the wolf’s ecological niche in eastern North America, it became part-wolf.

The Knight Science Journalism Tracker has links to more stories about the coywolf, including articles from AAAS Science Now, Discovery, and Scientific American.

Canadian Press quotes Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources spokesman Don Anderson as saying a young Ontario girl was bitten several years ago on the Skyline Trail. “That coyote was put down and sent away for testing and it came back negative for rabies or anything like that,” he said.

Hat tip: SP.