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Volume 15, Issue 21 ~ May 24 - May 30, 2007

Way Downstream

In the midst of National Hurricane Awareness Week (May 20-26), we learn the names we may come to rue. The first 21 tropical storms and hurricanes of the 2007 season will be named Andrea (who already smacked Florida and Georgia) Barry, Chantal, Dean, Erin, Felix, Gabrielle, Humberto, Ingrid, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, Noel, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien Tanya, Van and Wendy.

Preparing for all that fury, Anne Arundel County is scheduling a Community Disaster Preparedness meeting from 7-9pm June 5 in Room 101 of the Thomas E. Florestano Building at Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold …

Another disaster, the emerald ash borer, has staked its claim to May 20-26 by proclamation of Gov. Martin O’Malley. As you’ve been reading in Bay Weekly, the Chinese invasive jumped ship in the Great Lake states, then hopped to Maryland, where a three-month campaign to stop the bug where it landed, in parts of Prince George’s County, chopped and chipped some 25,000 ash trees. Campers can support the quarantine by buying wood at their destination, not bringing it in. The Bowie Baysox are helping save the wood used for baseball bats, starting with a promotion at their May 26 game …

Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer’s promotion to House Majority leader has made him a Big Man on Campus. Hoyer gave commencement addresses this month to graduates at both St. Mary’s College of Maryland and University of Maryland, his alma mater …

In Virginia, the Texas company that is “harvesting” millions of menhaden and thereby threatening the Chesapeake’s aquatic food chain also is poisoning the Bay with ammonia. Omega Protein Inc. agreed last week to pay a $12,600 fine for leaking ammonia from its Reedville plant into a creek along the Chesapeake, the Virginian-Pilot reported. It was the sixth such violation; the company also has discharged cyanide into the Bay waters …

Around America, wildlife groups had warm and fuzzy news to celebrate on Endangered Species Day, May 18. Animal comebacks — including the American bald eagle, peregrine falcon, gray wolf, grizzly bear, humpback whale and more — became top news for the day. Every other day of the year, grimmer statistics overshadow the comebacks. Polar bears, penguins, coral, migratory birds, salmon and frogs must adapt quickly or face extinction from global warming pressures. The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that 20 to 30 percent of animal and plant species face risk of extinction, with up to 60 percent of species vulnerable to loss in marginal areas if global warming continues …

Our Creature Feature comes from China, which is building on its history of unorthodox methods to get rid of rats. In the 1950s’ Four Pests campaign, Mao exhorted citizens to take to the streets to kill rodents.

Now, the Chinese are training wolves, foxes and eagles to go after packs of marauding rats, Reuters reports. Large plains rats bred uncontrollably in western China over the warm winter and now are threatening people as well as the environment. About 200 foxes are being trained to seek out the rats, and perches have been built for 50 eagles, with authorities calculating that an eagle will eat 10 rats every day.

“The rat populations in areas where the foxes make their homes are much smaller than in other areas,” a Chinese official observed.

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