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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2017 -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has named the rusty patched bumble bee an endangered species. Much of the natural habitat of the bees, grasslands and tallgrass prairies in the Upper Midwest and Northeast, "have been lost, degraded, or fragmented by conversion to other uses," states the agency. Increased use of pesticides, parasites and disease also suggest why the species has lost 87 percent of its population in the past 20 years and is now found in 13 states and Ontario, Canada, after having been found in 28 states.


Agri-Pulse reports, "FWS said that while it is 'difficult to pinpoint exactly when the species’ decline began, data show that the bee’s 'precipitous declines' became apparent around 1995 and continued into the early 2000s, a period that 'coincides with increased neonicotinoid use.'"

Bayer CropScience and CropLife America said "the decline began before neonics began to be widely used and that bees are, in fact, able to coexist with corn and soybeans," reports Agri-Pulse. "Bayer, for example, said that FWS did not consider field studies that 'have found no adverse effects when bees are placed near treated crops and allowed to forage naturally.' FWS acknowledged 'that there are studies that did not find adverse effects, but that 'the totality of data … suggests some insecticides kill bumble bees and others cause sublethal effects.'" Agri-Pulse is subscription only, but can be viewed by clicking here.

Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 1/11/2017 09:02:00 AM

 

Date: 12-20-2016

Lucky Lucky

This holiday season, a calf called Lucky will be celebrating with her Taylor County family the gift of being alive.

Lucky is a two-faced calf born on Sept. 16. Most animals like Lucky do not live long, and the McCubbins think the calf may have already set a record.

Lucky was named by the McCubbin’s daughter Kenley, who heard her mom Brandy say the animal was lucky to be alive. Brandy’s husband Stan had initially thought the new calf was twins.

The calf has four eyes, two noses and two mouths. Her middle two eyes share a socket.

The McCubbins see Lucky as a miracle and blessing. They are determined to give her the best life possible for as long as she can live.

The McCubbins, who have four daughters, even had a holiday photo made with the little calf.

Even though they are cattle farmers, they treat Lucky as a pet. Lucky lives in the basement and gets fed by bottle, until the McCubbins can determine if her cleft palate can be fixed. They are trying to raise $500 for a scan to see if that can be fixed so that Lucky can eat hay.

When Lucky tried to eat hay before, it became stuck in her palates and nostrils.

“Now that we’ve got her in the basement, (the couple’s daughters) go check on her,” Brandy McCubbin said. “Of course, Kenley, she takes her blankets down there and wants to sleep with her.”

When Lucky recently had a setback that took her off her feet for a few days, Brandy McCubbin took off early from Taylor County Elementary School, where she teaches, and spent extra time nursing the little calf. Lucky has balance issues because her double head is so heavy.

Two-faced births don’t happen only to cattle. Frank and Louie (also known as FrankenLouie) was what is called a diprosopus or craniofacial duplication, also known as being a “Janus cat” — a two-faced cat. Janus was a Greek god with two faces, because he was considered to look both to the future and the past.

Most Janus cats don’t survive for long. But Frank and Louie lived for 15 years. The Massachusetts cat behaved more like a dog than a cat, according to its owner, and walked on a leash and loved car rides.

Darrh Bullock, an extension professor in the department of animal and food sciences at the University of Kentucky, said that calves like Lucky are “extremely rare. It’s the first one I’ve witnessed.”

He said that Lucky’s two heads are not necessarily a genetic effect, but could have been caused by environmental influences such as hormonal imbalances or some sort of chemical that happened to get into the mother during the developmental stage of the fetus.

“It’s a splitting of the embryo that just doesn’t go very far,” Bullock said.

Fully splitting the embryo would wind up as identical twins.

Jonathan Beever, a professor of genetics, genomics and bioinformatics at the University of Illinois, recently worked on a project, primarily with Angus cattle, on “developmental duplications.” Such duplications appear to be an inherited recessive genetic condition.

Beever said a calf in Iowa was born with two heads and lived 16-18 months until it was sent to market.

“Even with that condition he was viable,” Beever said.

“There are 25,000 different genes that control how an animal develops,” Beever said. “When one of them gets disrupted, that allows things to happen that aren’t normally supposed to happen.”

Beever said that Lucky is probably not one of those mutations, “but it gives us insight that something happened during that developmental time period, probably day 18 to 25, during pregnancy. And the body decided to develop like that.”

Darrh said he sympathizes with the McCubbin family, which has dedicated itself to Lucky.

Because of the calf’s head weight and balance issues, “It’s going to be a hard life for the calf,” he said. “But once attachments are made … well, I have an animal-loving family, too.”

By Cheryl Truman
Lexington Herald-Leader

 marked queen oncom marked queen oncom

Bad News for Bees and the rest of us
Federal judge: Seed coatings with chemicals harmful to bees exempt from federal regulation
A federal district judge in Northern California ruled Monday that "seeds coated with neonicotinoid insecticides will continue to be exempt from regulation under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIRFA)," Stephen Davies reports for Agri-Pulse.

In response to a lawsuit by beekeepers and environmental groups, Judge William Alsup said he was sympathetic "to the plight of our bee population and beekeeper," but said that the Environmental Protection Agency should have done more to protect bees and it was the agency's responsibility to make policy decisions on regulations, not his.

Alsup, a Bill Clinton appointee, said "that pesticide-treated seeds cannot be regulated as pesticides under FIFRA as long as the seed coatings themselves are registered, and 'the pesticidal protection imparted to the treated seed does not extend beyond the seed itself to offer pesticidal benefits or value attributable to the treated seed'," Davies writes.

The pesticide industry cheered the decision, saying it will prevent more regulation, Davies writes. Plaintiffs said they "were disappointed, but also noted that Alsup 'dismissed the case on an administrative procedure basis, not on the fundamental question of whether the exempted seeds are harming honey bees'.”

Written by Tim Mandell