You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2011.

One of the local residents

The mud turtle who lives in the swamp below my house was out for a stroll earlier this afternoon, reminding me it’s that time of year again when turtles are on the move. The females climb out of their waters and head for a sandy, sunny spot to lay their eggs. Often they have to cross a road or other wide open spaces to get there, exposing them to predators and other dangers, most notably vehicles.

People often see turtles stranded out in the middle of a road and stop to help. That’s okay with some cautions. You should wear gloves – they may carry salmonella. Also, move them in the direction they were going. Don’t always assume they were heading for water.

If it’s a snapping turtle, don’t handle it at all. Use a shovel or large limb to prod it along. They’re ill-tempered and have a quick, hard bite that and sever a finger or toe.

Years ago there was an elderly gentleman in my neighborhood who offered to pay me a dollar a turtle if I would bring some back for him, and 50 cents for every big frog (keep in mind this was in the early sixties). When I asked him what he wanted them for, he said turtle soup was a delicacy, and so were frog legs. I didn’t have the stomach to do business with him.

Today, most Massachusetts turtles are protected, though a few of the most common species aren’t.

This is a great time to get out and look for turtles, watch them for awhile. If you’re lucky enough to see where they lay their eggs, mark it and come back to check if they’ve hatched in the fall, usually in September. But whatever you do, please don’t eat the turtles.

Dead bats litter the floor of a cave

Word this week that White Nose Syndrome (WNS) has been found in two caves in western Maine is just more bad news for the disappearing bat population. While considerable progress has been made in identifying and understanding the killer fungus that’s driving the region’s bat population to extinction, little has been done to stop or even slow the plunge.

WNS was first identified in 2006 in two caves in upstate New York, after wildlife officials there reported mysterious die-offs among hibernating bats. Since then, the culprit has been identified as a previously unknown fungus, Geomyces destructans. Apparently it causes hibernating bats to wake up too early, when there’s no food around, and, already in a weakened state, they die.

Since it was first discovered, it has spread to 18 states and four Canadian provinces. WNS has killed more than a million bats, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

For those thinking good riddance to the creepy little critters, guess again.

In the ecosystem, they provide an important pest control service. Those million dead bats would have eaten something on the order of 3 million pounds of insects each year. In agricultural areas, this would have meant billions in savings on pesticides.

Last week, the USFWS announced a nationwide effort to slow and eventually stop the spread of WNS and restore the region’s bat population. Let’s hope it’s not too little, too late.

Nature Blog Network

Categories

RSS The Ecocryptic

  • Maine DEP update July 31, 2013
    Maine Department of Environmental Protection has reversed itself and will schedule a public hearing on proposed changes to the state's clean air standards. No date has been set.Environmental groups, legislators, and the general public were outraged when the Portland Press Herald reported yesterday that the state agency had tried to sneak through the cha […]
  • At Maine’s DEP, it’s the fox guarding the henhouse July 30, 2013
    What happens when you put an industry lobbyist in charge of environmental protection? Just take a look at what’s going on in Maine. According to an article in today’s Portland Press-Herald, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection wants to weaken the state’s clean-air regulations, and they don’t want anyone to know about it.No public hearings have […]
  • Northern Pass Rears Its Ugly Head (Again) July 15, 2013
    Despite massive public opposition, significantly over-budget, and three years behind schedule,  the CEO of the Northern Pass Project vows the controversial high voltage transmission line will be built.The project is a 180-mile power line that would bring power from Canada to New England. It first came to the attention of environmentalists and others when the […]
  • Stung by Criticism, Utilities Go on Tree-Cutting Rampage August 11, 2012
    Here in the northeast, we’ve been hit by a succession of “weather events” – ice storms, wind-storms, hurricanes, early snowfall, late snowfall. Each one offered the utility companies serving this area to demonstrate once again that they were completely unprepared. In each case, customers in the most advanced country in the world were left without power for w […]
  • Victory for the Blackstone: Court backs EPA, Worcester must stop dumping sewage into river August 7, 2012
    Score one for the Blackstone River, and all the people who care about it. The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals has lifted a stay of enforcement of an EPA order that will force upgrades at the Upper Blackstone Water Pollution Abatement district sewage treatment plant, according to an article in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.The problem is a simple o […]
  • NH Senate Denies Eminent Domain for Northern Pass – Or Does It? January 30, 2012
    Under intense public scrutiny, the New Hampshire Senate last week approved a bill that supposedly sets limits on the use of eminent domain to seize property for public projects and excludes using it for privately-funded projects. That would seem to exclude the controversial Northern Pass project, a proposed 180-mile transmission line that would bring hydroel […]
  • Northern Pass Developers Pushing State To Take Land By Force January 24, 2012
    Ever since the controversy began over the construction of a new transmission line to bring power from Canada into New Hampshire slicing through some of that state’s most scenic landscape, the backers of the project have been quietly lobbying for eminent domain powers to force reluctant landowners along the proposed route to sell.The issue gets its first real […]
  • The Balsams Landscape Has Been Saved! January 15, 2012
    Every once in a while the good guys win one.The Society for the Preservation of New Hampshire Forests has reached its goal of raising $850,000 to buy a 5,800-acre parcel of land near the famous Balsams Grand Hotel in Dixville Notch, NH. They made the announcement in a statement yesterday on their website.The land was considered a key piece on the proposed ro […]
  • Worcester officials cite city parks to defend continued pollution of Blackstone River December 29, 2011
    I was trying to find a short, pithy way of describing the gist of an article that appeared in today’s Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette.Here’s the story.The Blackstone River has its source in Worcester and flows through Rhode Island into Narragansett Bay. Since colonial times, residents and businesses have regarded it as their personal sewage system. […]
  • Slick media campaign hides the dark side of Northern Pass October 23, 2011
    The campaign to approve the billion-dollar plan to bring hydroelectric power from Canada to New England is in full swing. The home page for the project features pictures of all the things we like about New Hampshire, things like pristine lakes and woods. What it doesn’t show are the 140 miles of transmission lines criss-crossing the White Mountains, with 135 […]

RSS Martin Laine – Digital Journal

  • Giant tortoise species brought back from brink of extinction
    A species of Galapagos giant tortoises that numbered just 15 individuals 50 years ago, now has a healthy breeding population numbering over a thousand. The news is a rare bright spot at a time when the outlook for many species is increasingly bleak.
  • Stockholm’s backseat therapists to help battle ‘winter blues’
    As the months of extended darkness loom in the northern latitudes, so does the lethargy and depression known as “winter blues.” One Stockholm taxicab company is offering to have a therapist talk with their passengers during their ride.
  • New home colon cancer test goes on the market today
    Beginning today, a new home test for colorectal cancer will be available by prescription. The hope is that the millions of Americans who have been avoiding the unpleasant alternative testing methods will take advantage of it.
  • Heart transplant breakthrough could make more hearts available
    Surgeons in Australia have successfully transplanted hearts that had stopped beating, a major breakthrough in the process that had usually used only beating hearts. This could significantly increase the number of hearts available for transplantation.
  • Denmark rolls out the welcome mat for returning Jihadists
    While officials in many western countries are wringing their hands over what to do about those citizens who want to return after fighting with one of the extremist groups in Syria and Iraq, Denmark welcomes its returning Jihadists with open arms.
  • 'Let me survive this' says fugitive cop-killer lookalike
    Pity James Tully who has the misfortune of resembling Eric Frein, the object of a massive manhunt following the ambush shooting of two police officers six weeks ago, and who lives in Canadensis, Pa., the epicenter of the search.
  • Nine in Conn. ordered quarantined, monitored for Ebola
    Nine people, including a family of six, have been ordered to stay in their homes for the next three weeks while public health officials check for signs that they have contracted the Ebola virus. None of them have shown any signs of the illness so far.
  • Mass. stool bank offers donors $40 a poop
    Ever since the discovery that healthy human stool bacteria could be used to cure such debilitating diseases as colitis, the medical profession has struggled with two problems — collecting a sufficient supply and finding a way to get it into a patient.
  • Chinese officials scramble to find Putin’s tiger before poachers
    Kuzya, a 23-month-old orphaned Siberian tiger that Russian President Vladimir Putin helped release back into the wild in May, has crossed into China. The last thing Chinese officials want is for Kuzya to fall victim to poachers.
  • Trial raises questions over Navy's order for silencers
    What started out as an investigation into an alleged contract fraud scheme by a U.S. Navy directorate involving untraceable rifle silencers has raised questions about whether they were part of a secret mission or rogue operation.