Friday, August 22, 2014

Black-legged tick threatens to expand Lyme Disease risk in Ohio

Just when you thought it was safe to take a walk in the woods this summer comes another threatening critter that can strike those unaware of the danger.

We're not talking bears, coyotes, rattlesnakes or even velociraptors here. This threatening  bug IS a bug. Or at least what many people think of as bugs.

The teeny-tiny critters at black-legged ticks. Practically non-existent in Ohio only five years ago, the black-legged tick has now become somewhat common and and an equally unwanted commodity.

Nor is it just the "bite" from a tick and the resulting welt that woods-walkers need fear. As small as the black-legged tick (Not a whole lot larger than a poppy seed) is, it is carrying something even tinier and more incidious.

Thing is, the black-legged tick joins its cousin the deer tick in being a significant carrier of Lyme Disease.

Consequently, both The Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Health are calling the rapidly expanding range of the black-legged tick in Ohio as "an emerging public health issue."

“Ohio had a low incidence of human Lyme disease, which is largely attributed to the absence of the transmitting vector, the blacklegged deer tick, in the state,” said Glen Needham, professor emeritus of entomology in the university’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

“However, evidence presented in this study suggests that the black-legged deer tick is becoming established in certain areas of Ohio.”

Ticks are not bugs, of course, so anyone thinking of straightening me out on that one can rest easier.  All tick species - including the black-legged tick - are small arachnids that hang out along woodland edges, in woods, tall grass, weeds and underbrush, Needham says.

And like the also-despised mosquitoes, ticks feed on the blood of birds, reptiles and mammals. Mammals are us, too. As such ticks can transmit a variety of diseases; among them being Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.

Trust me since I speak from experience about the impact of dealing with Rocky Mountain spotted feaver. You most difinately do no want take the potent antibiotics needed at arrest this disease let alone Lyme Disease.

I've done so and at the time of going through the treatment I often wondered if the cure was worse than what the antibiotics were working overtime to kill.

As for the protocols of how the Lyme Disease gets from there to here, The Ohio State University explains that the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi is found primarily in the white-footed mouse. A black-legged tick picks up the disease-causing agent from the mice and then the disease culprit travels up the mammalian chain of  command, as it were.

 Oh, and the ticks are especially active in the spring and summer, favoring wooded areas. Not surprisingly then hunters and those persons who process game meat are among the highest at-risk population segments. And more so from September through December, Needham says.

Nor is the threat from the tick - a Modern Day buggy Typhoid Mary if ever there was one - is not something that will go away over time in Ohio. The black-legged tick has established a beachhead and is moving quickly in expanding its range.

“It is important that the public and health professionals become aware of the increased risk for contracting Lyme disease in Ohio, and that preventive measures are taken to limit exposure to ticks when going outdoors,” Needham says.

For further information about ticks and Lyme disease, including tips for prevention, is available at http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/; http://www.odh.ohio.gov/ticks; http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/species-and-habitats/ticks-in-ohio; and http://tickencounter.org.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

4x4s, pick-ups favored by sportsmen are popular with thieves, too



Some of the most popular go-anywhere motor vehicles for sportsmen are also some of the favored picks of car thieves, too.

And just in Ohio, either, but nationally, as the non-profit National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has just released its preliminary “Hot Wheels” motor vehicle theft data for 2013.

This information – and supplied by Mitch Wilson of the Columbus-based Ohio Insurance Institute -indicates that the Number One stolen motor vehicle in Ohio last year were 1994 full-size Chevrolet pick-up trucks.

To say that such Chevy pick-up trucks are coveted by hunters (especially) but also by anglers who need a good tow vehicle.

Owners of full-size Ford pick-up trucks ought not to become too smug. In Ohio last year, the Ford’s 2004 full-size pick-up truck ranked as the third most stolen motor vehicle.

Likewise, Ford’s 2002 Explorer was a favored flavor of both sportsmen and thieves. For 2013 this vehicle brand and model year ranked ninth on Ohio’s most-stolen motor vehicle list.  All, in spite of the Explorer having a reputation for being something of a gas-thirsty lush, too.

The Jeep badge didn’t exactly come across as a vehicle that thieves desired to avoid in 2013. Far from it, to be precise, and if you want to really know the low-down on this series of 4x4 vehicles.

Last year in Ohio the 1998 model year for the Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee was Number Four on the list. It is sandwiched between the previously mentioned full-size Ford pick-up truck and the 1996 Buick Century.

Nationally, Wilson says, the rankings are mostly shuffled a bit in a shell game as to the various vehicles’ popularity with car thieves.

Again, nationally in 2013 the third most stolen vehicle - and regardless of model year-  was Chevrolet’s full-size pick-up truck. In all and nationally last year a total of 27,809 Chevy full-size pick-ups were hot-wired, never again to be seen by their lawful owners.

Right behind at Number Four was Ford’s full-size pick-up truck. Nationally last year, thieves drove away 26,494 full-size Ford pick-up trucks.

Dodge’s full-size pick-up trucks get to share some of the snatched vehicle limelight, unfortunately. Last year car thieves made off with 11,347 such models.

I’m not sure if owners of Jeep-branded Cherokee/Grand Cherokee should be glad or embarrassed by this next bit of news. Owners of this up-scale series of Jeeps can take note that in 2013 9,272 such vehicles were stolen, ranking the series as Number Eight nationally in motor vehicles high-jacked by car thieves.

However, more soccer mom Dodge Caravans were stolen nationally than were the status-symbol and countrified, bling-detailed Jeep Cherokees. For the record, nationally last year thieves hustled off with 10,911 Dodge Caravans.

Of course, many hunters and anglers do appreciate the Caravan’s spacious interior which can haul everything from one of Ohio’s acclaimed monster bucks to a boat load of fishing poles, apparatus, and even an outboard engine. So long as the car gets cleaned out in time for the kids’ soccer game, of course.

As for where vehicles are most likely to be purloined Ohio, the score is not even close as last year 2,008 motor vehicles were pilfered from Cleveland streets and driveways. Also, NICB’s Elyria-to-Cleveland Metropolitan Statistical Area is being ranked 52nd nationally in terms of total stolen vehicles in 2013.

A distant second was Akron with 303 such thefts in 2013; and hardly a blip on NCIB’s statistical ranking for stolen vehicles and ranking just 229th.

To close things out, a quick state-by-state review of popularly stolen vehicles clearly demonstrate a demand for pick-ups and SUVs in states typically seen as being rural with a decided bent to appealing to outdoorsy types like hunters and anglers.

View the data for states such as Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Texas, North and South Dakota, and Wyoming all point toward thieves coveting vehicles high on off-road or hunter/angling-hauling capabilities.

Meanwhile, car thieves in such Yuppie states as Rhode Island, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, and Hawaii all seem to go for the poodle-carrying models like Honda Accords, Nissan Altimas, Toyota Corollas, and (I’m not making this up, either) Subaru Legacys.

Mercifully even thieves seem to shun the Toyota Prius. This status symbol of the Hollywood elite and the Ralph Nader Greenies thankfully was nowhere to be found.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net


Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

$2 million improvements to Painesville Township Park to also aid Lake Erie shore anglers



After more than 100 years of providing outdoors recreational opportunities, Painesville Township Park in Lake County stands to gain from a major makeover.

And that’s good news for shore-bound Lake Erie anglers. The park’s lakefront property had long been a popular go-to destination for steelheaders as well as fishers seeking smallmouth bass, white bass, and even walleye.

Now the 37-acre park – acquired by Painesville Township in 1911with a history that includes a former Ohio governor and a timeline dating to 1807 – will remain under the management of Lake Metroparks for another 25 years while the township’s park board retains property ownership.

A revised lease renewal deal between Lake Metroparks and the Painesville Township Park Board was signed and delivered August 13. The county parks system will continue to look after the park for another quarter century.

Along with that administration commitment the Lake Metroparks system will pour an already budgeted $1.5 million worth of improvements into the park. The county parks system’s township counterpart will kick in $500,000. These latter dollars will come from the state’s local government fund account.

What users of the park will see is a total – and very much needed – refurbishment of 800 linear feet of breakwater, yanking out an ineffective and collapsing steel bulkhead. In its place will go a strategically placed and marine engineered concrete buttresses along the same length.

This substantially improved shoreline protection enhancement will help ensure that further erosion of the park’s lake-facing sloping bluff is arrested, said Paul Palagyi, Lake Metroparks’ Executive Director.

Along with the shoreline reinforcement will come a set of people-friendly stairs down to the shore-lake meridian as well as a handicapped-accessible switch-back trail. This trail will enable those people who utilize mobile vehicles to enjoy the same shoreline access as those people without physical disabilities, Palagyi says.

“Two years ago we had to close off access to the shoreline because the bulkhead was collapsing into the lake and the old pier had become just too unsafe,” Palagyi said, and who added everything should be in place by early 2016.

It is the planned improvement’s second phase that will excite anglers most of all. The plans call for the construction of a 150-foot long, 20-foot wide steel-reinforced pier.

A belt of interlocking steel will hold in the required fill of stone, the whole being finished with a topping that will allow visitors to safely walk the length of the promenade; and give anglers a platform to cast from where they can easily hunt for roaming fish.

Among the targeted fish species being walleye, smallmouth bass white bass, and steelhead trout.

However, the pier will not link directly with the shoreline. Instead, a 50-foot long bridge will span the gap. Yet the bridge serves a practical purpose even more than it does as an esthetically pleasing one, Palagyi says.

“The bridge will allow for water to freely flow underneath and that will help break up the wave action which in turn will help ease the threat of erosion,” Palagyi said.

The angling here can be exceptional, too. Unlike much of the rest of Lake County’s near shore lake bottom which consists of sand, mud and muck, that is not the case off Painesville Township Park.

Rock, stone, pebbly gravel all are found in abundance here. This substrate attracts the smallmouth bass and white bass during the day and the walleye in the evening until well after dark.

As for the steelhead, fishers once determined that the now-dilapidated concrete pier provided an outstanding location for the annual autumn ritual of migrating steelhead trout. The fish would cruise along the shoreline until they homed in on the nearby Grand River. And the pier offered the perfect ambush pincher point.

Taking the anglers’ needs into account even further, Lake plans call for the placement of one fish-attracting structure on either side of the pier and well within casting distance.

Thus the announcement of the new pier and bridge arrives as welcome news to area steelheaders, including Mentor’s Bob Ashley who is requesting an additional angling amenity.

“This is really good news because the fishing is so good there,” Ashley said. “But I hope they add some lighting along the pier or even from the shore and aiming out into the lake.”

The reason for Ashley’s plea is that such lighting striking the lake’s surface at night attracts bait fish which pulls in their predatory nemesis, the walleye.

“I can just picture now the glowing eyes of walleye underneath the light and looking for bait fish,” Ashley said.

For both Lake Metroparks officials and those associated with the Painesville Township Park Board the lease renewal and the planned expenditure of $2 million in enhancements and improvements is a striking example of two sides coming together for the good of the community.

“I see this as an investment for a very important resource,” said Dennis E. Eckart, Lake Metroparks’ park board president. ‘”This is a legacy park, and it’s the sort of project that people will judge us on long after we are gone.”

Agreeing is Bob Sidley, a 10-year township park trustee.

“This is a tremendous partnership and we are really excited about the project,” Sidley said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net


Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

If built, interceptor missile system likely won't shut off Ravenna Arsenal controlled deer hunts



The prospects of a high-security anti-ballistic-missile-missile system being located at Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center ought not to interfere with the 21,418-acre reserve’s controlled deer hunts.

Of concern to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife and the sportsmen and sportswomen who apply to hunt here is that such a system would close off access to Camp Ravenna, more popularly called Ravenna Arsenal.

Annually several thousand applicants submit to a random lottery drawing for an always meager number of permits. This year, for example, 4,798 men and women applied for only 176 available slots.

Yes, the opportunity to hunt deer within the high-fence arsenal attracts such large numbers of applicants.

And this year the reserve will hold just three hunts: two for adults and one in which lottery-selected women are considered the primary hunters. Those women selected are allowed to harvest any deer while their partners are limited to taking antlerless deer only.

Success varies according to the number of participants selected, which varies each year. Only after joint consultations between the Department of Defense and the Wildlife Division are held does approval come about for the number of approved hunting slots.

Over the past three years the tally of deer harvested has ranged from 219 in 2011 to 216 in 2012 and 232 in 2014, said Tom Rowan, assistant chief for the Wildlife Division.

This year’s Camp Ravenna deer herd is estimated to be around 1,100 animals. As such the reserve needs to keep its deer population in check, and the most efficient method is through the lottery drawing and adherence to both a management plan and a strict set of hunting rules.

Consequently, the hunts almost certainly will go on, even if Camp Ravenna is plucked from a field that includes three other candidates for a much-talked about silo-based anti-ballistic missile interceptor system that could cost upwards of $5 billion.

“We don’t believe such a system will impact the hunts, in part because the silos would be off-limits,” said Tim Morgan, the Environmental Supervisor for Camp Ravenna.

Agreeing is Jeff Westerfield, a biologist with the Division of Wildlife’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) office in Akron.

“I’d really be surprised if they shut down deer hunting entirely there,” Westerfield said.
Westerfield said as well that the only time he remembers Camp Ravenna’s controlled hunt being scrubbed was following the al-Qaeda terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.

“We wanted to get it open again as soon possible because the hunts are much more than just providing recreational hunting opportunity; it’s for wildlife management there,” Westerfield says.

As for the interceptor missile system, Morgan says initial speculation calls for setting aside 600 acres of Camp Ravenna. Within this small enclave would be installed up to 20 interceptor missile silos, their existence a component of the Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency.

Each of these silos would likely contain a 55-foot long, 25-ton, $50 million interceptor killer missile that would be ushered toward in-coming ballistic missiles careening from outer space and programmed to strike somewhere within the United States.

These interceptor missiles would not explode, per say. Rather, they would physically strike the arriving ballistic missiles, each projectile traveling at several times the speed of sound, obliterating one another on impact.

Estimates are that such a Star Wars-type, stationary Iron Dome-defense set-up could cost between $1 billion and $5 billion.

Two such systems are already in place; their job intended to combat a threat from such rogue régimes as those found in Iran and North Korea.

Currently one working interceptor missile system is at Fort Greely, Alaska and another is at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Thing is, this whole shooting match is one big “If.”

While Congress has approved conducting environmental impact studies of Camp Ravenna and the other three potential sites – Fort Custer, Mich., Fort Drum, NY, and the Navy-operated Portsmouth Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Training Area near Rangley, Maine – no final missile installation commitment is included, Morgan says.

And part of the reason for this stems from opposition in the first place to such a system’s effectiveness as well as its 10-figure cost.

 “All it is right now is a call for a preliminary environmental assessment of each of the four sites, and that’s going to take another 18 months to two years,” Morgan said.

Thus a decision to install a missile interceptor complex at Camp Ravenna - or at any of the other three candidate sites - is nowhere near at hand, Morgan says.

In the end then, sports hoping their lottery number will come up in the annual drawing to hunt deer at Camp Ravenna still have a chance of being picked, even if the odds are stacked against such luck.

“There’s no need to worry; we’ll certainly be hunting deer at Camp Ravenna,” Morgan says.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.