Monday, April 7, 2008

Week of April 6, 2008

Updated April 10

Trees treated for beetles in New Jersey and New York

NEWARK, N.J. - Nearly 80,000 trees in New Jersey and New York are being treated to protect them from a deadly beetle infestation. The Asian longhorned beetle has destroyed more than 30,000 trees since it arrived in the country about a decade ago.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said treatments began last week around New York City. They'll start April 21 on Staten Island and in New Jersey's Middlesex and Union Counties, where the beetles were discovered in 2002.

If unchecked, the invasive species could threaten the nation's lumber, maple syrup and tourism industries, according to the Agriculture Department.

The Asian longhorned beetle first appeared in New York City in 1996, after apparently hitching a ride from China in the wood of shipping crates. Subsequent infestations in New Jersey were discovered in 2002 and 2004.Agriculture Department spokeswoman Suzanne Bond said the agency has been treating trees since 2001 to eradicate the beetle from the continent.

The beetles measure about one to one-and-a-half inches long and have a shiny black exterior with white spots. They attack hardwood trees like maple, willow, ash, poplar and elm, usually in the early summer when the female makes an indentation in the bark and plants eggs.

To kill off the beetles, workers inject tree trunks and soil during the spring with an insecticide called imidacloprid, which is also used to kill lawn grubs and pet fleas. The chemical makes its way into the leaves during the summer, which are eaten by newborn beetles emerging from the bark. Article

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press.


Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Florida, is vulnerable to exotic plants, animals


Leaving the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary boardwalk for a trip through the back country is a little like playing “Where’s Waldo?”.

You look out into a busy green landscape dense with cypress, cabbage palms, live oak, wax myrtle, slash pine, palmetto, and, suddenly, there’s Waldo. Only it’s not a goofy-looking guy in a red-and-white striped shirt; it’s a thick mat of Old World climbing fern or an impenetrable wall of Brazilian pepper or a blanket of water hyacinth or a feral hog rooting up the countryside.

Welcome to exotic Corkscrew.

But note: “Exotic” here doesn’t mean “interesting” or “something we don’t see back in Ohio.” In this context, “exotic” means “non-native” — Old World climbing fern, Brazilian pepper, water hyacinth and feral hogs are all exotics — and in Florida, “non-native” often means “bad.”

While Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is often called “pristine” — a state Web site proclaims, “Visitors to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary find a gentle, pristine wilderness” — it is not.

“I drive through the back country, and I don’t even see the natives,” sanctuary resource manager Mike Knight said. “What I see is exotics popping up.”

If a “pristine wilderness” such as Corkscrew has problems with exotics, no place in South Florida is safe.

Corkscrew officials have identified nine Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council Category I plant species at the sanctuary (Category I plants are “invasive exotics that are altering native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or ecological functions, or hybridizing with natives”).

Two others are Category II species (“invasive exotics that have increased in abundance or frequency but have not yet altered Florida plant communities to the extent shown by Category I species”).

The exotic primrose willow is not listed by the council but is considered a nuisance at Corkscrew.

In addition, several exotic animal species have made a home in the sanctuary.

“It never ends,” sanctuary manager Ed Carlson said. “New stuff comes in all the time. That’s the curse of being in the subtropics.” Full Article


Feral cats vs. endangered birds on Long Island


Every spring, as birds flock back to Long Island in droves, Eileen Schwinn wonders whether this will be the season the cats get the last remaining pair of piping plover at Mount Sinai's Cedar Beach. Schwinn, president of the Eastern Long Island Audubon Society, is racked with emotion over what she says is a "dramatic decrease" in species such as plover, bobwhites and ovenbirds threatened by the claws of stray cats.

But Cedar Beach's 30 or so feral cats have a powerful ally in a smorgasbord of animal rights groups, some of whom say Long Island's strays - estimated to be in the tens of thousands Islandwide, according to one rescue group - have as much right to the beach as birds.

The controversy in Mount Sinai reflects a battle playing out from Atlantic Beach in western Nassau County to Sammy's Beach on the South Fork - birders and cat lovers at loggerheads over what to do about feral cats believed to be preying on bird species as common as the tern and as rare as the ground-nesting piping plover.

The plover, a Long Island icon that has been on the endangered species list since 1986, has emerged as the touchstone in the battle. And no pair of creatures is more exemplary of the controversy than the two plover that state Department of Environmental Conservation officials say have been the last nesting pair at Cedar Beach since 2001, if not longer.

In some cases, including Cedar Beach, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has threatened heavy fines if local governments fail to act to protect birds. Brookhaven, which has jurisdiction over Cedar Beach, has worked to reduce feral cat populations, but the town faces long odds because of the prolific nature of feral cat reproduction.

The San Diego-based Feral Cat Coalition estimates that a pair of unaltered cats, combined with their reproducing offspring under optimal conditions, could exponentially produce up to 420,000 kittens in seven years.

"I don't know if we'll ever get the last of them out of there," said Charlie McGinley, director of the Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter, who estimates that his shelter and other agencies have removed as many as 90 cats from Cedar Beach in the last six years. In the past, rescue groups spayed or neutered many of the cats and returned them to the colony, he said.

Feral cats - strays either abandoned or born in the wild - have galvanized activists around the country, who seek a humane way to reduce the estimated 30 million to 60 million nationwide. Many animal rights groups offer the TNR solution - "trap, neuter, return" - in which the cats are lured with food, trapped in cages, spayed or neutered, and taken back to where they were found.
Animal activists began caring for a colony of feral cats at Cedar Beach, a narrow spit of sand and pine trees on Suffolk's North Shore, more than 10 years ago. The animals were likely dumped there by former pet owners, activists said.

The cat lovers supplied food and shelters. But in 2002, a year after the DEC found cat prints all over an area where two piping plover and a nest of chicks disappeared, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ordered Brookhaven to get rid of the cats.

At first, the town partnered with cat activists, McGinley said. Activists trapped the cats, the town shelter spayed or neutered them, and activists relocated the animals to private, plover-free property.

A few months ago, a rift formed between McGinley and the activists, including a group called Caring for the Animals and Recovery of the Environment, when, McGinley said, town workers found more than 20 shelters and food that would encourage the cats to stay at Cedar Beach. A representative from Caring for the Animals and Recovery of the Environment denied the group was responsible for setting up the shelters.

The rift deepened in February when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, aware the plover would be back soon, told Brookhaven to work harder to remove cats from Cedar Beach or face a fine of $15,000 per day.

Bird lovers, including the Audubon Society's Schwinn, said many members of her group are torn because they support the rights of cats and birds. But she said the Cedar Beach plover deserve special attention. They have not successfully fledged a chick in at least seven years, a DEC spokeswoman said. The birds, which typically return to Long Island in March or April, have not been spotted this year, a DEC spokesman said. Full Article


Maryland DNR proposes crayfish bait ban

By Karen Gardner News-Post Staff

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is asking fishermen to help stop the spread of the rusty crayfish in the Monocacy River.

The DNR planned a public hearing for Wednesday April 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Greenbrier State Park Visitor Center to discuss proposed regulations for inland fisheries. One proposal calls for a ban on crayfish as bait in the Monocacy and Susquehanna rivers starting in 2009.

The rusty crayfish are an invasive species that crowd native crayfish out of their natural habitat. The rusties, as aquatic biologists call them, also have the same aquatic diets as many game fish.
That means less food for smallmouth bass and channel catfish, game fish that are popular with local fishermen.

Because it's hard for even trained biologists to tell rusties from native crayfish, DNR is asking fishermen to stop releasing any crayfish in their bait buckets into the Monocacy.

Rusty crayfish have found their way into the Susquehanna and other rivers in upstate New York and Pennsylvania. The DNR is also trying to stop the spread of rusty crayfish along the Susquehanna. Full Article


University of North Carolina student body president J.J. Raynor tackles invasive plants

By Lindsay Ruebens, Staff Writer -

When Student Body President J.J. Raynor was compiling her ideas for running student government, she turned to sustainable campus groups for advice. One of the first environmental initiatives Raynor hopes to tackle is the prevention and removal of invasive plant species on campus.

"The time is right for environmental issues on campus," Raynor said. "They're issues of our generation, and it's time to deal with it, and I hope student government can be a resource for that." Full Article


1 comment:

Bird Advocate said...

"Every spring, as birds flock back to Long Island in droves, Eileen Schwinn wonders whether this will be the season the cats get the last remaining pair of piping plover at Mount Sinai's Cedar Beach."

I am crying!