Off the wire

Dung deal: Elephant count surprises in Malaysia
A count of elephant dung revealed a surprisingly large endangered elephant population — more than 600 — in Malaysia's biggest national park, researchers said Thursday.
Read complete story from the Memphis Commercial Appeal

Fish poop helps balance ocean's acid levels
The ocean's delicate acid balance may be getting help from an unexpected source, fish poop. The increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not only drives global warming, but also raises the amount of CO2 dissolved in ocean water, tending to make it more acid, potentially a threat to sea life.
Read complete story from the Memphis Commercial Appeal

Scientists find possible mammoth tusk on Santa Cruz Island

A complete tusk believed to belong to a prehistoric mammoth was uncovered on Santa Cruz Island off the Southern California coast, researchers reported Tuesday. If the discovery is confirmed, it would mean the tusked beasts roamed 62,000-acre Santa Cruz Island more widely than previously thought.

Read complete story from the South Coast Today

Spate of shark attacks in Australia rattles nerves

A recent string of shark attacks across Australia has rattled swimmers' nerves, but experts say fear not - it's (relatively) safe to go in the water.

Read complete story from the Associated Press

Feds: Mexican gray wolf plan needs updating

Federal wildlife officials admit in a new assessment that the plan guiding their efforts to return the endangered Mexican gray wolf to its former glory in the Southwest is nearly three decades old and in need of an update.

Read complete story from the Associated Press

Just desserts? Bird beaten for stealing ice cream

A rare gull that apparently tried to eat a couple's ice cream was euthanized after the man beat the bird with a stick. Dragan Djuric, 50, of Wichita, Kansas, and his wife were eating ice cream New Year's Eve on the boardwalk at Main Beach when a flock of birds attacked them, Laguna Beach police Sgt. Jeff Calvert said.

Read complete story from the Associated Press

Black abalone latest endangered species in Pacific

The federal government is giving endangered species protection to the black abalone, a Pacific Coast mollusk that is being pushed to extinction by overfishing, disease and changing ocean conditions.

Read complete story from the Associated Press

Clearwater bait shop wraps itself in the First Amendment over mural

A bait and tackle shop has been battling with city officials over a mural on its building that depicts game fish, which the city views as an unauthorized business sign. So the shop has covered up the artwork — with a banner displaying the text of the First Amendment.

Read complete story from the Saint Petersburg Times