Animals

Monday, May 19, 2014

Lake Champlain Fish Die-Offs the New Normal, According to Biologists

Posted By on Mon, May 19, 2014 at 3:02 PM

COURTESY VERMONT FISH & WILDLIFE'S FACEBOOK PAGE
  • Courtesy Vermont Fish & Wildlife's Facebook page
When 22-year-old Natalie Wheating headed to her Milton lakeside cabin last weekend to open up the camp for the season, she was startled by the sight that greeted her: "Hundreds, if not thousands" of dead fish were floating along the shore of the Lake Champlain.

Her first thought? "I just thought that something was being pumped into the water," said Wheating. 

The reason for the die-off, according to Vermont Fish and Wildlife, is a little less dramatic: Fisheries biologist Bernie Pientka said that mass deaths among alewives, an invasive species of herring, are normal in Lake Champlain at this time of year. Biologists believe the die-offs are a result of temperature fluctuations, food limitations and stress on the fish population following the winter season. 

"They're just not used to rapid temperature changes," said Pientka of the alewives, which first arrived in Lake Champlain in 2003. Alewives cause several problems for Lake Champlain. They outcompete native fish, such as rainbow smelt, and eat the eggs and larvae of other fish species. Alewives also cause major reproductive failure in landlocked lake trout and salmon. 

While the die-offs are "perfectly normal," Pientka said they're still worrisome for fisheries biologists. They point to the problem of invasive species in Lake Champlain, and act as a reminder of what can happen to an ecosystem put off kilter by invasive species. 

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Vermont Dignitary Visits Seven Days, Avoids Questions

Posted By on Tue, May 6, 2014 at 11:49 AM

COREY GRENIER
  • Corey Grenier

In a devastating blow for office productivity in Burlington's South End, a moose showed up today. And did stuff. That people could take pictures of. When they weren't busy scurrying away when it changed directions and headed for them.

The moose, which appeared to be quite young, ambled along the bike path, walked the railroad tracks, took a brief dip in Lake Champlain, scurried up Battery Street, and took over the Twitter feeds of pretty much everyone who was close enough to take a picture, or knew someone close enough to take a picture. Like, for example, this one.
LOGAN PINTKA
  • Logan Pintka


Local office workers (including almost everyone at Seven Days, not that it's our production day or anything), taxi drivers, television crews, passersby — basically, everyone stopped and stared. And occasionally retreated behind something large.

A police officer on the scene said that nobody at his department or Vermont Fish and Wildlife was interested in capturing the moose and plan to simply let it find its way home. Officers fanned out across the area, however, to make sure curious observers didn't get too close or do anything too stupid.

The first sightings of the moose came in South Burlington this morning, police said. Local dispatchers say they have been swamped by calls, and urged people to stay the heck away.

(Seven Days staff members Corey Grenier, Sarah Cushman, Alicia Freese, Ethan de Seife, Ashley Cleare, Don Eggert, Colby Roberts, Andrea Suozzo, John James, Alice Levitt, Aaron Shrewsbury, Bobby Hackney, Diane Sullivan, Michael Bradshaw, Robyn Birgisson, Cheryl Brownell, Julia Atherton and Logan Pintka contributed to this report.)

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

This Week's Issue: Hunting Trouble, Prison Sex and an M.I.A. Delegation

Posted By on Wed, Oct 30, 2013 at 5:11 PM

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While you're putting together your Halloween getup tonight — bonus candy for anyone in a homemade F-35 costume — give this week's news and politics stories in Seven Days a read. Here's what you'll find.

Pick up this week's issue in print, online or on the app. Finally, go Sox.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This Week's Issue: Methadone, Molly and More

Posted By on Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 5:13 PM

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Grab your favorite pumpkin-flavored coffee drink — that little chill in the morning means fall is here, and the first Seven Days of the season hit the streets today. Here's what you'll find for news and politics this week:

Pick up this week's issue in print, online or on the app.

This week's cover image by the late Stephen Huneck is courtesy of the Stephen Huneck Gallery. See this week's cover story about the future of Dog Mountain.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

The Scoreboard: This Week's Winners and Losers

Posted By on Fri, Aug 9, 2013 at 4:00 AM

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Who won and lost the week in Vermont news and politics?

Switch-bumpers, snake-haters, calculators, power companies, TV stations, defense attorneys, creepy travel writers and more!

Here's the Scoreboard for the week of Friday, Aug. 9: 

Winners:

Brooks McArthur — The Burlington defense attorney played some serious offense this week on behalf of his client, Burlington Police Department Deputy Chief Andi Higbee. When the Vermont State Police refused to give the Burlington Free Press a copy of a cruiser cam video of Higbee's July DUI arrest, Brooks took it upon himself to hand over a copy. A savvy way to score points with Freeps transparency czar Mike Donoghue and shift the conversation to why Higbee was pulled over in the first place. 

WPTZ-TV — Last month WCAX-TV announced that, come September, it would expand its news coverage to weekend mornings. But the station's main competitor, WPTZ-TV, beat Channel 3 to the punch, launching its own weekend news programming last weekend without fanfare. What's more? Channel 5 will feature four full hours of news coverage — twice as much as Channel 3's promised.

The Timothy Szad Beat — The recently-released sex offender is back in town after a brief trip to California. And that's got the state's cops and courts reporters in a tizzy reporting his every last move. Public service journalism or tabloid reporting?

Patrick Leahy — Because the U.S. Senate President Pro Tem's got some very special friends in the entertainment, defense, telecom, legal, tech and beverage industries.

Peter Welch — A BuzzFeed puff piece on the Vermont Congressman's bipartisan street cred netted something even better for Welch: a glowing editorial from the Saint Albans Messenger's Emerson Lynn echoing Welch's — ahem, BuzzFeed's — talking points.

Losers and tie score after the jump...

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Boa Constrictor Found at Burlington's Leddy Park

Posted By on Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Wasn't expecting to see this in the pile of media releases in my inbox this morning: A report of a five-foot-long boa constrictor at Leddy Park. OMG.

Per the Burlington Police Department:

On August 5th, 2013 at approximately 1727 hours, Burlington Police responded to the area of Leddy Park for the report of an exotic snake. Upon arrival in the area, officers discovered a large domesticated snake, not native to Vermont, on the southeast corner of the parking area.

Animal experts from the Vermont Wildlife Refuge Center were contacted, and were able to respond to the scene and assist in the capture of the snake. The snake was reported to be in good health and will be cared for by the Refuge Center. 

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

This Week's Issue: We Go Ape for Animals!

Posted By on Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 3:03 PM

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Pick up this week's print issue of Seven Days and behold .... animals! Cute. Fuzzy. Ridiculously Adorable. Animals.

But there's still plenty of news — about animals, of course. And about other stuff.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ag Agency Loosens Rules for On-Farm Slaughter — Slightly

Posted By on Tue, May 28, 2013 at 5:34 PM

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On-farm slaughter has long been a contentious issue in Vermont.

Vocal consumers, farmers and their advocates have campaigned hard for the right to raise an animal, then slaughter it and buy and sell its meat all on the same farm. But Vermont's Agency of Agriculture has resisted that pressure, contending that farmers needed to provide a "custom" slaughter facility if they wanted to process animals close to home.

The fear, agency meat inspectors explained, was that the state could lose out on U.S. Department of Agriculture funding if Vermont ran afoul of federal food safety standards.

Well, meat inspectors have changed their tune — slightly. And thanks to new language in this year's ag housekeeping bill (H. 515), farmers will be allowed to butcher and sell a small number of animals directly from their farms. 

Is it a big win for farmers? Not exactly, says Rural Vermont executive director Andrea Stander. 

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

John McClaughry: Free-Market Conservative and…Champion of Frogs?

Posted By on Thu, Apr 4, 2013 at 1:02 PM

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John McClaughry has never been shy about offering his opinions on just about anything done by the state or federal government. An ex-state senator, former speechwriter and senior policy advisor to President Reagan, and founder of the free-market think tank, Ethan Allen Institute, McClaughry made a career out of wading hip-deep into the weeds of public policy matters. 

Perhaps all that time spent in bureaucratic swamps explains McClaughry's personal fondness for frogs.

Evidently, though, McClaughry is shy about admitting to his secret, 50-year side gig as champion of croaking amphibians. Beginning in 1961, McClaughry, under the pseudonym Nestle J. Frobish, dubbed himself "Chair-Creature of the Worldwide Fair Play for Frogs Committee." In that role, he launched a campaign to skewer the political aspirations of a then-California state assemblyman, then later U.S. congressman, named Jerome R. Waldie.

Waldie's damnable offense? As a freshman Democratic lawmaker from Antioch, Calif., he introduced a one-line bill in the California State Assembly that read, "Frogs may be taken using slingshot." At the time, McClaughry was a college student at UC Berkeley — another difficult concept to wrap one's head around. McClaughry describes his alter-ego Frobish as "an outraged liberal who thought this invasion of the rights of the frog was wholly unconscionable and embarked on a crusade that eventually came to victory 44 years later."

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Quiz: Know Your Vermont State Symbols

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 4:11 PM

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Should kale be Vermont's official state vegetable? State Senators Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington), Bill Doyle (R-Washington) and David Zuckerman (P/D-Chittenden) recently introduced a bill to make it so. The leafy green has gained prominence locally as a result of Bo-Muller Moore's "Eat More Kale" shirts and stickers — and subsequent trademark troubles. (No word on whether Chick-fil-A and Healthy Choice yogurt are planning to lobby against kale's selection.)

That's not the only point of emblem business this session. A group of House Reps are sponsoring a bill that would make Vermont's state reptile the painted turtle — which is odd, as the painted turtle already became the state reptile thanks to the efforts of Cornwall Elementary School students in 1994.

You might not know that Vermont has an official state soil (Tunbridge soil series), state fossil (white whale) and three state rocks (granite, marble and slate). After the jump, we've embedded a quiz to test your knowledge of 12 state symbols.

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