Country Life Today: ‘Nature’s most adorable assassins’ released into the wilds of Gloucestershire

In today's round-up we bring you reports of pine martens, a gigantic iceberg, a surge of abandoned 'designer' dogs and a goose who deserves an ASBO.

Pine martens return to the Cotswolds

Pine marten numbers have been recovering steadily in Britain over recent years, but a new scheme in Gloucestershire has looked to expand their horizons.

Some 18 Scottish pine martens were ‘secretly released’ into the Forest of Dean, according to a local news report which dubs them ‘nature’s most adorable assassins’.

That reputation is well-founded. In a Country Life feature a few years ago, we described pine martens as ‘enthusiastic omnivores’ with deadly hunting skill — but also as ‘creatures of rare grace’, adding that ‘even the droppings are said to smell rather like Parma violets.’

Full story (Gloucestershire Live) and find out more about pine martens (Country Life)

Target ‘super-emitters’ of methane to slow global warming, say experts

Cutting methane emissions is the simplest and quickest way to start tackling the environmental crisis, according to two new studies by Princeton University reported in the Environment Journal.

Despite relatively small amounts of the gas in the atmosphere compared to CO2, it accounts for about a quarter of man-made warming due to its potency as a greenhouse gas. Yet it seems that emissions might be cut relatively easily. A study in the USA found that 10% of natural gas wells are ‘super-emitters’ which account for three-quarters of methane emissions, while the other study — examining off-shore gas drilling in Britain — suggested that methane leaks are a much bigger problem than previously thought.

Fixing these problems could be quickly beneficial, according to Princeton professor Mark Zondlo, who explains that reducing methane ‘will pay off quickly because the half-life of methane in the atmosphere is about a decade, and it wouldn’t take long for the current build-up to clear.’

Full story (Environment Journal)

Biggest iceberg in half a century breaks off east Antarctica

Winter. Snow Arctic ice. Fragment. Close-up.

A gigantic iceberg, 1,636 square kilometres in size, broke off from the Amery ice shelf in east Antarctica on 26 September.

The calving occurred next to the ‘loose tooth’, a location that scientists had been watching because the ice appeared to be precariously attached.

It is the biggest iceberg produced by the Amery shelf since 1963-64.

‘I am excited to see this calving event after all these years,’ said Helen Amanda Fricker, a Scripps professor. ‘We knew it would happen eventually, but just to keep us all on our toes, it is not exactly where we expected it to be.’

Experts say the calving is not linked to climate change, but could speed up further melting.

Full story (The Guardian)

Charity urges public to rehome dogs after surge in ‘designer’ and ‘handbag’ breeds

The number of French bulldogs entering RSPCA care is up 236%. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

The number of chihuahuas coming into the RSPCA’s care has gone up by 700% in the last seven years, while the number of French bulldogs is up 236%, with Dachshunds up 600% and Pomeranians up by 440%.

It has also seen more popular crosses – such as cocker spaniels and poodles – arriving in its centres as inspectors shut down puppy farms and collect abandoned dogs and puppies.

The charity is urging the public to consider rehoming a dog rather than buying a puppy.

Full story (Country Life)

On this day…

Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

On 2 October, 1927, Francis Matthews was born in York. The celebrated actor played Paul Temple in the BBC’s television series of the same name, and voiced Captain Scarlet in Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.

Livesaver retires after thousands of rescues

Veteran lifesaver George Parsonage met his wife during a rescue. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

75-year-old George Parsonage has stepped down from his position as head of of the Glasgow Humane Society, which organises rescues on the River Clyde in Scotland.

In his time in charge of the society’s motorboat, he has saved more than 1,500 people, earned an MBE for his efforts — and even went on to marry one woman he rescued from the water.

‘I don’t know any other form of life. I was born right here and I’ve been helping for nearly 70 years on the river,’ said a modest Mr Parsonage of his impressive feat.

Full story (Country Life)

And finally… A goose on the loose

A taxi driver in Radford would have been forgiven for honking their horn when a goose smashed through a window and landed in the back of their cab.

Police joked the bird, which was subsequently checked by a vet, may have been trying to get to Nottingham’s Goose Fair, or perhaps he was just having a goosey gander…