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    Flushes & Noteworthy Points

    Another Tool for Choosing Dog Food?

    As Upland Almanac Editor Tom Carney was researching his article “Deciphering Dog Food Labels” (Summer 2020), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was conducting some research of its own. The upshot: You might want to think twice about feeding your dog some of the brands that advertise the most.

    In June 2019, it reported on an 11-month-long study in a report entitled, “FDA Investigation into Potential Link Between Certain Diets and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy” (DCM).

    The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) says in dogs the disease “results in an enlarged heart.”

    The study began as reports had come in of the disease’s developing in dogs “eating certain pet foods, many labeled as ‘grain-free.’” These foods contained “a high proportion of peas, lentils other legume seeds and/or potatoes in various forms (whole, flour, protein, etc.) as main ingredients.” (Italics ours). These would be the first 10 ingredients named on the ingredient list, before vitamins and minerals.

    The CVM and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories, continue to investigate the potential association. Based on the data collected and analyzed, the FDA “believes that the potential association between diet and DCM in dogs is a complex scientific issue that may involve multiple factors.”

    A factor that deserves consideration, says the FDA is that “many cases report eating ‘grain-free’ labeled pet food.” In the report, the FDA says it is striving “to learn more about this emergence of DCM and its potential link to certain diets or ingredients” (italics ours).

    To be clear, then, the best the FDA can do right now is to “believe” there is the “potential” for grain-free food to have a negative impact on a dog’s health. So, as an addendum to the “dog food label” suggestions in the article we published, one might also want to check to see if the potentially harmful items are among the main ingredients.

    To read the entire “Investigation into” report referenced at the beginning of this item, just Google its full name. You might be surprised to see the highest number of cases of DCM were registered by owners who were feeding their dogs some of the most widely advertised dry food brands. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the same brands we had mentioned in our article as being tested by nutritionists do not show up as “problem” foods.

    The study analyzed 524 case reports. A summary of those can be found at http://www.fda.gov/media/128303/download.

    Speaking of Dog Food …

    Among the dog food brands tested and formulated by nutritionists, Eukanuba shows up in only one of the case reports mentioned above, as the food a kennel owner had switched from before the dogs showed any signs of DCM. The new food was a highly advertised grain-free product. Within a year, two of the owner’s young Labs suffered from DCM. One died.

    Bird hunters might be interested to learn that as one of the most researched dog food brands available, Eukanuba markets a line of dry food exclusively for sporting dogs.

    The puppy varieties are formulated for two different types of sporting dogs: “medium” and “large” breeds and are fed for up to 12 and 15 months, respectively. Adjusted to the expected adult weight of a dog, each formula delivers a complete and balanced nutrition and support for muscle growth and bone health. The formulas also include a natural fiber and prebiotic blend to support gentle digestion.

    Eukanuba’s Premium Performance 30/20 is formulated for adult sporting dogs. Its high protein/fat numbers help to build strong, lean muscles and provide sustained energy for a dog that’s going to be charging hard through the field all day. It, too, contains natural fiber and prebiotics to help with optimal digestion, and its guaranteed antioxidant levels help provide immune support. Calcium, glucosamine and chondroitin help to support healthy joints and bones.

    To learn more: www.eukanubasportingdog.com.

    Flying Solo This Year

    Like the lonely Maytag repairman, Michigan biologist Al Stewart assesses his share of woodcock wings sent by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “I received a bunch of boxes with thousands of wings to examine. Fun times that are keeping me busy in my home office,” he said. (Photo/Michigan Department of Natural Resources)
    Like the lonely Maytag repairman, Michigan biologist Al Stewart assesses his share of woodcock wings sent by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “I received a bunch of boxes with thousands of wings to examine. Fun times that are keeping me busy in my home office,” he said. (Photo/Michigan Department of Natural Resources)
    A gathering that is both social and scientific in nature took a turn toward the solitary in 2020, thanks to safety precautions taken to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

    Each year, a group of state, federal and private biologists gather in a different area of the American woodcock’s range for their Woodcock Wingbee. At this event, the biologists collect data that can help estimate the reproductive success of woodcock. They examine the thousands of wings sent in by hunters through the woodcock wing collection survey administered through the cooperation of hunters, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and state wildlife agencies.

    According to frequent UA contributor Greg Hoch, a biologist himself who has attended previous wingbees, “The wingbee proper looks at the age and gender of the birds. Researchers can take this data and start looking at age/gender ratios through time, differences between Eastern and Central Region birds, differences between northern and southern states and so on. In recent years, some grad students have taken wings back to their universities and done stable isotope tests on them to try to determine where they were born.

    “When we have a regular wingbee, most wings are checked by a single person. And most wings are very easy to do.  However, there are a few wings that need additional discussion.

    Often you just lean over and ask the person next to you. There will be a wing or two that four to five people will have to look at and discuss. But that’s rare.”

    And nonexistent in 2020. The FWS canceled the annual wingbee in mid-April.

    So, this year, the biologists, like Al Stewart — Upland Game Bird Specialist and Program Leader, Michigan Department of Natural Resources — practiced extreme social distancing and worked in isolation to complete their assessments.

    Instead of gathering the biologists, said Stewart, the FWS “sent the wings to a handful of woodcock authorities.”

    And they gathered their data with no one to lean over to consult with.

    New Book a Must!

    Quick! If your upland bird hunting bookshelf does not have room for another inch-wide book, then cull a few pretenders. Or … get yourself another bookshelf. You want this one!

    The last book I recall that delivered prose and photography of this quality came out nearly a generation ago: Grouse of the North Shore, by Gordon Gullion with photography by Tom Martinson, 1984. Now you get more of each plus a wider variety of topics covered in Timothy C. Flanigan’s Grouse & Woodcock: The Birds of My Life.

    Grouse & Woodcock: The Birds of My Life by Upland Almanac contributing photographer Timothy C. Flanigan is now available from Wild River Press.
    Grouse & Woodcock: The Birds of My Life by Upland Almanac contributing photographer Timothy C. Flanigan is now available from Wild River Press.

    This book could easily have been subtitled The Birds of My Lifetimes, for the content reflects Flanigan’s several identities as a participant in nature. First, the hunter, the skills for which — along with those for fishing — he leaned from his maternal grandfather Pap. More important, “His guidance crafted a conservation-minded sportsman and led to a career in that field.” He spent his first professional lifetime — 33 years — as a decorated conservation officer for the Pennsylvania Game Commission. During that career, Flanigan was also preparing for the next one as he taught himself to become a photographer. Earlier experiences with the late Roger Latham, Ph.D., “generated a lifetime quest for personal knowledge of these fascinating birds and their lifestyles. That quest inspired a mission to photograph their fascinating life histories and share it with others.” And share it, he does.

    Flanigan has been a contributing photographer for The Upland Almanac forever, so if you’ve followed us for a while, undoubtedly you have come across his brilliant, beautiful, uncanny and solid photographs of grouse and woodcock in action. This book contains 200 such images, most of which simply take the breath away.

    All of Flanigan’s lifetimes with grouse and woodcock leave him with knowledge, experiences and memories to share in these 40 chapters. He talks about the biology of the birds and their peculiarities, as in his separate section of “Fascinating Facts About the Ruffed Grouse”; and in the special chapter on woodcock, “Skydance.”

    He even presents a chapter on  “Upland Photography” as well as a section of “Tips for Successful Wildlife Photography.”

    Flanigan is passionate, devout, humble, talented and skilled. He’s both a serious professional and a real gentleman. All of these qualities come through in this book, one I think you will marvel at, enjoy and treasure.

    Grouse & Woodcock: The Birds of My Life by Timothy C. Flanigan, Wild River Press, www.wildriverpress.com, $100 ($300 – deluxe leather-bound limited edition, signed).

    - Tom Carney

    This Just In …
    South Dakota Ends Summer Pheasant Brood Surveys


    At press time we learned that the South Dakota departments of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) and Tourism had teamed up to produce “a robust pheasant hunting marketing plan aimed at increasing resident and nonresident participation.”

    Among the “other ideas that could be incorporated into the marketing plan” the Executive Summary of the “Pheasant Hunting Marketing Workgroup and Plan,” mentioned “Modifications to reporting results of the annual pheasant brood survey.”

    Instead of “modifying,” however, the GFP “will discontinue the annual brood count survey because of concern those reported numbers deter residents and nonresidents from pheasant hunting in South Dakota,” www.drgnews.com reported.

    Wolfe Publishing Group