Monday, June 30, 2008

Week of June 29, 2008

Emeral ash borer confirmed in Quebec

OTTAWA, June 26, 2008 – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed the presence of the emerald ash borer (EAB) in the Montérégie region of Quebec.

EABdoes not spread quickly on its own. In fact, it is most commonly spread when people move materials which it has infested. Moving these materials even just a few kilometres away can spread the emerald ash borer to new areas.

We all have a responsibility to protect Canada’s forests and area residents can play a key part in helping to control the spread of EAB by not moving firewood, logs, branches, nursery stock, chips or other ash wood.

The Government of Canada is working hard with provinces and municipalities to limit the spread of the emerald ash borer and safeguard our valuable forests.

CFIA will be carrying out increased surveying of trees in the area to determine the extent of the infestation and affected property owners will be notified. Regulatory measures to control this pest will be taken based on information obtained through the surveys. CFIA continues to work with its partners and stakeholders toward the goal of slowing the spread of this destructive pest.

Additional information is available on the CFIA web site at or by calling 1-866-463-6017.

For more information, contact:

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Media Relations: 613-228-6682


Northern snakehead fish found in creek in Orange County, NY

In late May 2008, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Fisheries staff responded to a report by a local fisherman of an invasive species in Catlin Creek near Ridgebury Lake in the Town of Waywayanda, Orange County. Subsequently, DEC conducted an investigation and verified the presence of the Northern Snakehead (Channa argus), a species native to Asia.

While the Northern Snakehead is not a threat to human health or safety, it is an aggressive predator that has the potential to prey on and compete with native fishes throughout New York State.

DEC has taken immediate action to contain its spread by erecting fish barriers in Catlin Creek. In addition, DEC has determined that swift action to eradicate this species is essential to protect native fish populations and prevent any possible expansion of Northern Snakeheads beyond the headwaters of Catlin Creek.

To ensure complete removal of this invasive species, the Department proposes to treat the infested waters of Ridgebury Lake and Catlin Creek above the County Route 6crossing, including DEC mapped Wetland MD-26, with the aquatic pesticide Prenfish. Prenfish is a specially formulated product developed for eradication of fish from lakes, ponds, streams and reservoirs and has been used for many decades to restore aquatic ecosystems throughout the United States. The active ingredient, Rotenone, is an extract from several different tropical plants and breaks down rapidly after application with no lasting toxicity. The proposed application will be undertaken by DEC staff trained and certified as aquatic pesticide applicators.

DEC sent letters to all riparian (waterfront) landowners and those with user rights notifying them of the possible use of this aquatic pesticide. DEC is also holding a public meeting Tuesday, July 8 from 7:00 - 9:30 P.M. at the Waywayanda Town Hall, 80 Ridgebury Hill Road, Slate Hill, NY to present information about the Northern Snakehead fish, discuss alternatives to stop the spread of this invasive species and take public comments.


Unlikely Heroes: Goats Rescue N.Y. Bog Turtles

By John Nielsen, NPR, All Things Considered

The last of New York's wild bog turtles live in swamps that have long been sunny, mucky places full of low green plants and waist-deep mud pits. But an invading foreign weed threatens to transform the swamps and wipe out the turtle population.

The old-fashioned way to save endangered species such as the bog turtle was to build a fence around them to keep people and farm animals away. That method has been turned upside down in New York's Hudson River Valley, where domestic goats and cows are instead trotting to the rescue of the turtles and their murky swamp home.

The mud pits that fill the region's swamps are actually a mess of hidden streams that the bog turtles use like freeways, says Jason Tesauro, who works for the Environmental Defense Fund.

"This is the female we always find at this site," he says, pulling a turtle out of a mud puddle. The small adult bog turtle rests in the palm of Tesauro's hand. It is mild-mannered, he observes, as the head re-emerges from the 3-inch shell.

"That's as big as they get," says Tesauro. "You can see she has an orange neck patch. That's sort of diagnostic. And she's old. You can tell from the smoothness of her back. That's from the abrasives in the soil."

It's likely that bog turtles live for more than 80 years in sunny swamps like this one, he says.

But a giant foreign weed has invaded many of these swamps and threatens that bright future. Known as phragmites, or the common reed, it grows quickly into dense thickets that steal the sunlight and dry out the soil.

"It seems to be moving at a good 10 feet a year," says Tesauro, who has worked in the swamps for five years.

Mowing is not a solution because the weeds grow back quickly. However, Tesauro says he rarely sees phragmites in a well-grazed pasture.

Which helps explain why John Addrizzo, the owner of a company called New York State Meat Goat Associates, has a tractor-trailer full of goats parked on the far side of the thicket.

Goats to the Rescue

Addrizzo drove the trailer up from New York City. As he opens the trailer's doors, the goats bound out, straight into the foreign phragmites patch. The goats will eat all of the plants they can find in the swamp — Addrizzo calls it browse — and then find more, he says.

"Goats prefer browse to anything else," he says. "So what happens is that they'll eat all the browse and when that happens they'll start to girdle the trees. They bite around the edge, and it just kills them."

Addrizzo says the thought of using goats to save endangered turtles used to seem ridiculous to him. Then the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is working in collaboration with the Environmental Defense Fund and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, started paying him to do it. Now it seems like a crazy plan that just might work.

"It's a unique project," he says. "Plus they fertilize the area, so there's a little give and take."

The native plants devoured by the goats tend to bounce back in a hurry, says Tesauro. But the big phragmites thickets cannot survive the constant grazing.

"They will knock down all the standing biomass within a season," he says. "If you were to come back here two months from now, we could stand here and see the back line of that fence — and we can't see any of it now."

The Turtles Return

A neighboring swamp several miles up the road is a model for the environmental effect that goats or other livestock can have. A year ago, the area was one big, dried-out weed patch, says Tesauro. Now, after a herd of hungry livestock devoured the phragmites, it's a sunny swamp again.

The rare bog turtles are returning and laying eggs on dried-out dirt mounds, he says.

"The turtles actually said this is a pretty nice nesting habitat," he says. "We're doing good here for sure."

This neighboring swamp was actually cleared by local dairy cattle and not goats shipped in from New York City, says Tesauro. He hopes to continue to use cattle to devour phragmites after the federal funds that pay for the goats run out in a few years. However, he says that plan depends on the small farmers who own the cattle remaining on their farms — an uncertain future, as more and more of them sell their farms to wealthy people from New York City. Story


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