Category: Uncategorized


Nature World News, April 2nd, 2019

FULL TEXT:

Staten Island residents have another reason to apply insect repellent and obsessively check for ticks this spring and summer: the population of a new, potentially dangerous invasive pest known as the Asian longhorned tick has grown dramatically across the borough, according to Columbia University researchers. And the tick–which unlike other local species can clone itself in large numbers–is likely to continue its conquest in the months ahead.

"The concern with this tick is that it could transmit human pathogens and make people sick," explains researcher Maria Diuk-Wasser, an associate professor in the Columbia University Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, who studies ticks and human disease risk.

In a new study appearing in the April issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, Diuk-Wasser and colleagues provide the most exhaustive local census of the new species to date–and suggest the Staten Island infestation is far more advanced than previously known.

The researchers found the species Haemaphysalis longicornis in 7 of 13 parks surveyed in 2017 and in 16 of 32 in 2018. In one park, the density of the ticks per 1000 square meters rose almost 1,698 percent between 2017 and 2018, with the number of ticks picked up in the sample area rising from 85 to 1,529. They also found the ticks on anesthetized deer from the area.

The news comes less than a year after the New York City Department of Health announced the discovery of the first member of the species in the city–a single tick–found on southern Staten Island last August.

The tick, native to Asia and Australia, had been identified in the months prior to the Staten Island sighting in New Jersey, West Virginia, North Carolina and Arkansas and just a few weeks earlier in Westchester County. The Westchester sighting prompted a number of state senators to send a letter urging state health officials to act aggressively to stop the spread of the new species.

Public health officials are particularly concerned because the longhorned tick is notorious for its ability to quickly replicate itself. Unlike deer ticks, the common local variety known for carrying Lyme disease, the female Asian longhorned can copy itself through asexual reproduction in certain environmental conditions, or reproduce sexually, laying 1,000-2,000 eggs at a time. They are typically found in grass in addition to the forested habitats that deer ticks prefer, adding a new complication to public health messaging. The Columbia analysis suggests that the public warnings may have come too late.

"The fact that longhorned tick populations are so high in southern Staten Island will make control of this species extremely difficult," says Meredith VanAcker, a member of Diuk-Wasser’s lab who collected the data as part of her Ph.D. thesis. "And because females don’t need to find male mates for reproduction, it is easier for the population to spread."

The threat these new arrivals pose to human health is still unknown. In Asia, there have been reports of ticks passing on a virus that can cause a number of diseases, including hemorrhagic fever and ehrlichiosis, a bacterial illness that can cause flu-like symptoms and lead to serious complications if not treated.

The arrival of the species on Staten Island adds another unwelcome dimension to the region’s tick woes, which have grown dramatically in recent years. Thanks to an expanding deer population, Lyme disease spread through deer ticks has reached epidemic proportions in some areas of the Northeast. Deer ticks (also called black-legged ticks) are capable of disseminating six other human pathogens.

The first Asian long-horned tick in the U.S. was identified in New Jersey in 2013. A large population was later found on sheep in Mercer County, New Jersey. Diuk-Wasser became aware of the potential danger when a doctor at a Westchester clinic removed a tick from a patient and sent it in for identification. The discovery of the first human bite prompted widespread alarm.

By then, the Columbia team was already in the midst of an extensive "tick census" on Staten Island to determine how the landscape connectivity between urban parks influenced the spread of disease.

The Asian longhorned is easy to miss because it resembles a rare native species of rabbit tick. VanAcker spent months combing areas of Staten Island for ticks, dragging a square-meter corduroy cloth over leaf litter and examining it every 10 to 20 meters Diuk-Wasser, post-doctoral student Danielle Tufts and other members of the Diuk-Wasser lab found huge numbers of them on the bodies of unconscious deer that had been captured and anesthetized by wildlife authorities.

VanAcker found her collections were overflowing with the new species, leading to publication of the current study in Emerging Infectious Diseases. Her work on landscape connectivity, slated to appear in the June issue of the same journal, drives home the difficult decisions facing policymakers as they attempt to arrest the spread of the new species and others like it.

"The easier it is for deer to maneuver through urban landscapes between parks, the more likely the ticks are to spread to new areas," Diuk-Wasser says. "This suggests that the emphasis on urban wildlife corridors has a previously unappreciated downside for human health."

Advertisements

The EPA Thinks So. New York State’s DEC Says No Way.

Published on Apr 22, 2019 3:09PM EDT

Lissa Harris

Few environmental cleanup efforts in US history have been as extensive—or as emotional—as General Electric’s years-long, $1.7 billion dredging project on the Hudson River to remove millions of pounds of PCBs dumped between the 1940s and ’70s.

Last week, that project hit a major milestone—or a major roadblock, depending on your perspective. On April 11, the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued a Certificate of Completion to GE for the dredging conducted so far. The certificate was a major victory for GE; the company promptly gave a statement announcing that the dredging had been a success. For New York State, whose own Department of Environmental Conservation holds that the river is still unacceptably contaminated, the EPA’s decision was a slap in the face.

The EPA plans to study the impact of the cleanup effort on the river and its wildlife. Agency officials say that GE could still be compelled to dredge more, or take other actions, if further research shows the cleanup has failed to achieve results. That’s not enough for Gov. Andrew Cuomo or Attorney General Letitia James, who announced within hours of the EPA’s decision that they intend to sue the federal agency.

Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson, the environmental groups that have long been at the forefront of the effort to restore the Hudson River, were also quick to condemn the EPA’s action. In a statement issued about the decision, Riverkeeper explains how the granting of the certificate will make it legally more difficult to compel GE to do more cleanup in future:

Issuing this certificate triggers a “covenant not to sue,” which will severely limit the EPA’s ability to compel GE to conduct additional cleanup action. Therefore, even if the EPA finds after evaluating several additional years of data that the goals of the cleanup will not be met—and that remaining PCBs continue to harm communities and wildlife—it will be more difficult for the EPA to hold GE accountable. In fact, issuing the Certificate of Completion without a fully supported finding that the remedy and the cleanup goals have been met is inconsistent with Superfund law.

Riverkeeper and the New York State DEC don’t always see eye to eye, but on the matter of the Hudson River PCB cleanup, they have been unanimous: GE’s work is not yet done.

New York isn’t the only state where federal and state officials are currently at odds over corporate pollution. Not far from the river, in Edgewater, New Jersey, residents have complained about toxic fumes released by Honeywell’s ongoing cleanup of the Quanta Superfund site. Here too, state officials appear to be taking risks to human health and the impacts of pollution more seriously than their federal counterparts.

According to a report by NorthJersey.com, the EPA has assured residents that despite the smells coming from the site, levels of naphthalene—the main chemical in mothballs—were merely a nuisance, not a danger to human health. But a recent health report issued by the state of New Jersey found otherwise: The state Department of Health has declared that naphthalene levels near the site were high enough to potentially cause harmful short-term health effects” in local residents.

River at a Crossroads

This week, American Rivers named the Hudson as one of America’s ten “Most Endangered Rivers of 2019.” Each year since 1984, the organization has published their Endangered Rivers report, which aims a spotlight on regions where looming critical policy decisions threaten a river and the natural and human communities that surround it. The Hudson River last appeared on the list in 2001, when the GE dredging project was being weighed as a solution to PCB contamination.

The key decision that landed the Hudson on the list for 2019 is an Army Corps of Engineers proposal to build a massive storm surge barrier separating the river and its tidal estuary, New York Harbor, from the Atlantic Ocean. The proposal is one of a number of alternatives currently being evaluated by the corps to deal with the accumulating impacts of climate change and sea level rise on New York City and the surrounding region.

Conservationists are deeply alarmed by the proposal, which would restrict the tidal flow of the river, partially blocking the movement of both water and marine life. In a statement released on Tuesday, Riverkeeper roundly condemned the proposal:

“For the Hudson, the stakes in this decision cannot be overstated. These storm barriers pose a truly existential threat to the Hudson. We cannot–must not–allow these barriers to be built. The twice-daily tides are the essential respiration and the heartbeat of this living ecosystem. The mouth of the river must remain open and unrestricted, as it has been for millennia,” said John Lipscomb, Riverkeeper Patrol Boat Captain and Vice President of Advocacy. “The Hudson has never faced a threat even close to this magnitude.”

In a 2018 article about the storm barrier proposal, The Hudson Independent discussed a similar structure that was built in the 1980s, the Eastern Scheldt Barrier in Holland—to the detriment of the river’s tidal estuary, conservationists say. Communities outside the proposed Hudson River barrier’s zone of protection are also worried:

New York State As­sem­bly­man Steven Otis wor­ries about what will hap­pen when the bar­ri­ers close. His con­stituents, in­clud­ing Ma­maro­neck, New Rochelle, Port Chester, Rye and oth­ers, are out­side the wall. “Where will the wa­ter go?” he asked. “To the Sound Shore com­mu­ni­ties.”

The corps has held a series of public hearings in New York and New Jersey to discuss the storm surge protection proposals. The Brooklyn Eagle has more on the timeline of decision making on the proposal, which will not be complete until at least 2022.

For more background on the efforts to clean up PCBs in the Hudson River, see our January story, “Cleaning Up The Hudson.”

For the meat lovers sweet tooth

It’s fat free, low sodium, cholesterol free, peanut free and gluten-free. bacon

March 5 1934-2019

Sixty-five years. And mom is only 39.

momndad

Brock Turner is trash

This dude is appealing his conviction. Not his sentence cause he got 6 months if which he only served 3 months. No he wants his conviction overturned because he didn’t want to rape her just ‘dry-hump’ her. Ok you entitle white asshole, you deserve to die in a fire.

It wasn’t consensual so it is still sexual assault! You ruined your life, despite what your asshole father said, this is all on you, not the victim.

Staten Island Advance, October 4th, 2017

FULL TEXT:

CITY HALL — State and federal authorities supported killing Staten Island deer in order to control the borough herd, officials confirmed.

The feds even undertook an environmental assessment of such a deer "cull" in 2015, but the NYPD "blanched" and the city refused, Borough President James Oddo wrote on Facebook Tuesday.

The Parks Department confirmed Oddo’s account, but said the NYPD didn’t "blanch." A cull was considered unrealistic because Staten Island is still an urban environment and even a controlled slaughter would require large swaths of borough green space to be cordoned off by the NYPD.

Police supervising the hunt would only add to the cost and complexity of the endeavor. Hunting is illegal across the five boroughs, so the city would have to get special state approvals for the kind of massive deer cull demanded by Staten Island’s large herd. And because hunting is illegal, any city slaughter would likely be delayed by potential lawsuits.

Ultimately the city decided to sterilize hundreds of Staten Island bucks. More than 875 vasectomies have been performed on them since the program began last year.

Oddo wrote about officials discussing the deer cull in a Facebook post that linked to an Advance story about an injured deer barging into a clothing shop on New Dorp Lane Monday afternoon. The deer was euthanized.

The borough president said that situations like this "might become more prevalent" during the mating season.

The number of collisions with vehicles tends to increase during the mating season or "rut" for white-tailed deer because bucks and doe are less cautious and are primarily focused on mating. The rut in New York is typically between October and January.

"I have long warned that one day we will see the tragic loss of human life occur," Oddo wrote on Facebook. "It has not yet happened, but it feels inevitable."

Oddo wrote he’s "tried to raise the alarm with literally every level of government."

"We even got the federal, state, and city officials together to discuss a solution that could have included a cull of the population, and the federal government undertook an environmental assessment throughout 2015," Oddo wrote. "In fact, the USDA and State DEC were ready and willing to undertake a cull, similar to what has been done in other jurisdictions similar to Staten Island. This was stopped because the NYPD blanched, the City of New York refused, and activists were waiting on standby to bring lawsuits that some believe would have delayed any action for many years."

Oddo’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for additional comment. The NYPD, U.S. Department of Agriculture and state Department of Environmental Conservation didn’t immediately comment.

"Under the current integrated deer management plan, the City has been able to act as rapidly and humanely as possible to limit the future impacts of deer on Staten Island," Parks Department spokesman Sam Biederman said. "We have sterilized an estimated 90% of the male deer on Staten Island, enhanced driver safety measures and educational efforts, and taken aggressive action to protect Staten Island’s natural resources. And as Borough President Oddo says, awareness is key: Drivers in Staten Island must stay vigilant for deer during rutting season."

VASECTOMY EFFORT CONTINUES

An unrestrained deer herd can harm parks and private property, spread tick-borne illness like Lyme disease and wander into roads more often, increasing the risk for deadly vehicle collisions.

Manipulating deer fertility is only permitted by the state as part of scientific research. The state Department of Environmental Conservation, which regulates wildlife, approved the city’s vasectomy program last year.

Parks Department contractor White Buffalo will be paid up to $3.3 million by the city to perform vasectomies over the course of a three-year research program. The second year will be divided into two phases — from Aug. 15 and Oct. 20 and then in winter 2018.

The vasectomy effort is expected to eventually reduce the herd 10 to 30 percent annually, though some wildlife experts thought the plan won’t work because the city is ignoring basic deer biology and conventional herd management practices.

The Parks Department believes the herd is now growing mostly through reproduction, not migration, and sterilizing males instead of females is meant to be faster, cheaper and more humane.

There are between 1,918 and 2,188 deer across Staten Island, according to a estimate from White Buffalo using data from the vasectomy program.

That’s about four times the city’s last count and a 9,000 percent increase in the herd since 2008.

CITY REVIEWED MULTIPLE CONTROL METHODS

Before deciding on sterilization, city officials reviewed a variety of methods that could be used to manage New York state deer. They were outlined in a federal draft assessment prepared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Wildlife Services and released in November 2015.

Lethal solutions included shooting, hunting and euthanizing deer. Non-lethal methods included physically barricading or fencing deer, altering habitats, supplemental feeding to reduce crop damage, relocation, behavior modification with noise or visual stimuli, chemical pesticides or birth control.

De Blasio wouldn’t rule out killing the deer in March 2016, telling the Advance, "I don’t want to presume how we handle it yet until we finish the work of assessing the situation." That was two months before the city unveiled the sterilization plan.

Oddo has previously said lethal methods should be used to control Staten Island deer.

"Any deer management plan that does not take an integrated approach that includes lethal and non-lethal means is tantamount to kicking the can down the road and putting off the tough decisions. It is deciding by not deciding," Oddo said in a statement in March 2016. "Staten Island and Staten Islanders will pay a heavy price for that delay."

Oddo wrote Tuesday, "It seems no one is happy with the current deer situation."

"On the one hand, some want us to do nothing and leave them alone. Those folks cringe when they see bucks that have been tagged as part of the current male sterilization plan," Oddo wrote. "On the other end of the spectrum are those who want more aggressive action by government. Even those who favor the current male sterilization don’t really know what its impact will be."

NYC Hawk Killed By Rat Poison

Patch.com, April 21st, 2017

FULL TEXT:

LOWER EAST SIDE, NY — A red-tailed hawk died earlier this year after eating a rat that had ingested rat poison, according to the New York Daily News.

The hawk is believed to have eaten a rat poisoned in a New York City park. Bird advocates have repeatedly condemned the city’s use of rodenticide, which can be toxic for hawks and other animals. Birds of prey in urban areas, like the substantial red-tailed hawk population in New York City, often hunt rats for food. Rats that have ingested rodenticide can then poison hawks second-hand.

The Daily News reported on Thursday that a sick hawk was found in January in the Sara D. Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side. The hawk was treated by Dr. Katherine Quesenberry, a staff doctor at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan.

"This particular bird was extremely anemic, as they usually are when they’ve ingested toxins," Quesenberry said. "That’s why it was so easy to catch; they’re so weak they can’t fly."

The hawk was given a blood-transfusion but was too anemic for the transfusion to work, Quesenberry, an exotic bird and animal specialist, told Patch. The bird’s necropsy — an autopsy for animals — showed that it died after it ingested an anti-coagulant rodenticide, according to the New York Daily News. The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation was not immediately able to provide a copy of the necropsy to Patch on Thursday.

The hawk that died in January is one of dozens of known cases of New York City in which rodenticide has been linked to a bird’s death. Lima, the former partner of the beloved Central Park hawk Pale Male, was found dead in 2012. A necropsy found small amounts of the chemical components of rat poison in the bird’s liver.

Quesenberry, who has worked as a vet in New York City for more than 30 years, said each year she typically treats between two and three hawks who have ingested rat poison. Just one poisoned rat can be enough to cause a hawk to fall ill or even die, depending on how much poison the rat has ingested, she said.

"From a veterinary standpoint, you have to think about the type of rodenticides because they can be toxic to other species," she said. "In New York City it’s hard to say ‘don’t use them,’ but unfortunately it’s a toxicity that can happen. It doesn’t just affect the one species."

The city’s parks department doesn’t use rodenticide in city parks during the hawks’ breeding season, between March and August.

"It’s good that they’re not using it during the breeding season, but any time they’re in use it happen," Quesenberry said of inadvertent hawk poisoning.

A spokesman for NYC Audubon told Patch that the group wasn’t aware of a hawk nest at Sara D. Roosevelt park and learned about the bird’s death after the fact. Audubon tracks raptor nesting locations that are reported to it.

"It is very unfortunate and sad," the spokesman said in an email to Patch. "It is true that rodenticide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death among urban raptors such as red-tailed hawks. We advocate against the use of rodenticides in all places in the City, especially parks."

City parks department officials say they know of about 20 pairs of nesting hawks throughout New York City.

PROTECT STATE WATERBODIES

DEC ENCOURAGES HOMEOWNERS TO PRACTICE SUSTAINABLE LAWN CARE TO PROTECT STATE WATERBODIES

DEC launches “Look for the Zero” campaign to urge homeowners to purchase phosphorus-free lawn fertilizer

To protect water quality this spring, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today is urging New Yorkers to practice sustainable lawn care by going phosphorus free, using native plants and grasses, and reducing fertilizer use. DEC has launched the “Look for the Zero” campaign to encourage New Yorkers to purchase phosphorus-free lawn fertilizer, as more than 100 water bodies in New York State cannot be used or enjoyed as a result of too much phosphorus.

"The actions New Yorkers take in their backyards can have a big impact on the environment. By choosing sustainable lawn care, homeowners are helping protect water quality and public health,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Excess phosphorous is causing problems in many New York waterbodies, making them unusable for swimming, fishing, or as a source of drinking water. I urge residents to ‘look for the zero’ and buy phosphorous-free fertilizer this spring. By eliminating phosphorus and reducing pesticide use on lawns, New Yorkers can play an important role in addressing water quality impairments across the state."

New York’s nutrient runoff law prohibits the use of phosphorus lawn fertilizers unless a new lawn is being established or a soil test shows that the lawn does not have enough phosphorus.

Generally, only newly established lawns or those with poor soil need phosphorus. Phosphorus applied to lawns that don’t need it will not be used and can cause water pollution. Regardless of the location, excess phosphorus from lawns can wash off and pollute lakes and streams, harming fish and ruining boating and swimming.

Consumers should review bag labels for phosphorus content when shopping for fertilizer. Fertilizer labels have three bold numbers. The number in the middle is the percentage of phosphorus in the product, such as: 22-0-15. The state’s law requires retailers to display phosphorus fertilizer separately from phosphorus-free fertilizer and post signs notifying customers of the terms of the law.

Homeowners have several options to practice more sustainable lawn care. DEC encourages homeowners to choose native plants and grasses, which are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions. These plant species provide nectar, pollen, and seeds that serve as food for native butterflies, insects, birds, and other animals.

Organic lawn care can easily be implemented on any lawn. Safe and effective alternatives exist for most chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Organic lawn care treatments promote deep root systems, natural photosynthesis, and longer grass growth. Visit the DEC sustainable landscaping page to learn more LINKY.

Additional recommendations for sustainable lawn care include spreading a quarter inch of compost on the lawn to improve moisture retention and soil texture and add beneficial microorganisms and nutrients. Another suggestion is to allow grass to grow to three inches and then cut no more than one inch off the top. This is the "one-third" rule and helps to develop a deeper root system, which is a natural defense against weeds, disease and drought. Visit DEC’s Lawn Care web page for more information.

DEC also encourages homeowners to leave lawn clippings on the yard in order to improve the health of the lawn. Grass clippings are 80 percent water and contain 2- 4 percent nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients. Leaving clippings also saves homeowners time while mowing and reduces the amount of garbage thrown out. Grass clippings can account for as much as 10 percent of garbage.

DEC has posted a new video (WATCH HERE) to its YouTube channel that shows how phosphorus and other chemicals can run off lawns and enter our waterways. For more information, visit DEC’s Lawn Fertilizer webpage at LINKY.

The nutrient runoff law does not affect agricultural fertilizer or fertilizer for gardens.

###

Connect with DEC on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

Second Avenue Subway

If you look at all the ads, you would think the new subway was the best thing to happen to the Upper East Side since Gehrig was born there.

As a resident of the UES, I can tell you that is a joke. First of all, it goes from 96th Street to Time Square, so if you need to go to GCT to catch the 7 train, well you still can, but you’ll be catching it from Time Square.

And tonight when I needed a train home from Harold Square, it wasn’t running. Add to that the fact that I am hearing rumors of huge rent increases leading me to believe I’m going to have to move and I hate moving … this is not helping my depression … new Q train is a fucking joke.

Depression is

Depression is a fucking bitch. As I say that I hope the people who I told to not read my blog, are not reading it, because they would be offended at my language. After years of denial, I have to face the truth, my BFF told me, Girl, you are so depressed. And then I spent an evening crying over Facebook. Not what someone posted to me, my hateful posts back to him. Amazingly, he still talks to me. Maybe he understands.

 

The first thing people say when someone says they are depressed is “What do you have to be depressed about?” That comment kept me from realizing my own depression. I now know. Depression doesn’t depend on external forces, depression comes from inside. Even though I am ‘living my dream’, my brain …. is fucking me up. Telling me, I don’t deserve anything good that happens to me. And, you don’t deserve to be happy, you don’t deserve the friends you have. I can’t figure out why these people who have it made want me to be their friend. And friends who have left me, because I couldn’t explain … I don’t know what I’m saying, “Depression lies & my brain is sometimes an asshole”. That’s all I got.