Wednesday, April 22, 2015

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFFS: Disaster Precursors And Warnings From Mother Nature – The Latest Incidents Of Strange Animal Behavior, Migratory Patterns, Attacks, Deaths, And Appearance Of Rare Creatures!

April 22, 2015 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

Dead humpback whale found on Fire Island, New York

A dead humpback whale washed up Tuesday afternoon, April 21, 2015 near the east end of Fire Island, according to Fire Island National Seashore.  
© Fire Island National Seashore

Authorities said a dead humpback whale washed up near the east end of Fire Island.

A spokeswoman for the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research & Preservation told Newsday that the organization was making plans to do an on-scene necropsy.

The whale was discovered Tuesday afternoon in an area not easily accessible. She said the necropsy has to be done on the scene at low tide.

Heavy equipment will be needed to pull the whale away from the surf on Wednesday, the spokeswoman said. A thunderstorm is expected Wednesday afternoon.

Humpbacks are endangered.  - 7 Online.

Delays on M74 after dog 'drives' on to carriageway

Don escaped with little more than a fright
Delays were caused on a busy stretch of the M74 motorway after reports of a dog "taking control of a tractor".

The incident - highlighted on Twitter by Traffic Scotland - took place at J13 at Abington, South Lanarkshire.

It later emerged that a sheepdog called Don, owned by farmer Tom Hamilton, had leaned on the controls of his utility vehicle, taking it on to the road.

Police and Mr Hamilton later recovered Don, who was unhurt, and the vehicle, from the central reservation.

Mr Hamilton told BBC Scotland that he was out on his off road pick up checking lambs in a field above the M74 near Abington.

Farmer relieved

As always he was accompanied by his Collie sheepdog Don, who was sitting beside him in the passenger seat. Don escaped with little more than a fright

While Mr Hamilton was examining a lamb he turned round to see the Gator utility vehicle crashing through the fence and heading down an embankment on to the northbound lane of the M74 with Don still sitting in it.

The vehicle stopped after hitting the central barrier, smashing the windscreen.

Mr Hamilton said he feared that he had not pulled the handbrake properly and was extremely relieved that no drivers were hurt.

The farmer was also relieved that Don escaped with little more than a fright.

The episode caused a stir on social media when it was reported by Traffic Scotland at about 08:45 on Wednesday.

Dog puns

The transport body tweeted: "M74 (N) J13-RTC due to dog taking control of tractor... nope, not joking. Farmer and police at scene, vehicle in central res."

Shortly afterwards Traffic Scotland provided the update: "M74 (N) at J13 - Route is clear from earlier incident and dog is fine. Has to be the weirdest thing we have ever reported! No delays in area."

Police said the vehicle had gone through a fence near the motorway at about 08:15.

The incident led to plenty of dog puns as people responded to Traffic Scotland's tweets.

Tony T wrote: "Police investigating, so far no leads," while Beverley Friend added: "This is barking."

Michelle Muirhead asked: "Will the dog have points on his licence? Was he breathalysed? Did police arrest him?" - BBC.

Zebras escape pen to run loose in Brussels, Belgium

The zebras also passed Neder-over-Heembeek on their way to Brussels. © Twitter/@ludovicbytebier

Brussels residents got the shock of their lives when they looked out of their windows earlier today after three zebras escaped from their pen in Koningslo near Vilvoorde. The zebras caused considerable disruption on the roads, as you can imagine, but fortunately the animals were swiftly recaptured, first one, and then the other two.

The zebras escaped from Koningslo, south-west of Vilvoorde and immediately made for Schaarbeek before arriving at the City of Brussels.

In an impressive effort, police, fire services and animal welfare officers were mobilised to ensure the animals could be caught, but this turned out to be more difficult than initially thought. Police actually had to chase the animals in a police van for several kilometres, as these proved quite fast.

WATCH: Zebras On the Loose Galloped Through Brussels!

Story comes to an end in Vilvoorde City

Having headed south towards Brussels initially, the animals changed their minds and returned to Vilvoorde. One of them was caught at the Schaarbeeklei, while the other two enjoyed their liberty just a bit longer, until they got stuck in a private parking lot that could be closed with a gate. This was in the centre of Vilvoorde in Cyriel Buysse Street, named after the famous Flemish writer. A vet was called to the scene to calm down the animals.

Originally, four zebras had escaped, but one could be caught very quickly in a nearby park. The owner said that he installed two fences around his zebra farm (called Ranch Ste Ann), but one fence was not ready yet after renovation works. The animals managed to squeeze through a hole in the first fence.  - Deredactie.

Take this cage and shove it: Wolverine at Newark Airport is an unwilling rider

Kasper the wolverine: You can keep your steenkin' cage.  © Ole Martin Buene/Kristiansand Zoo

If there were a manual for transporting wolverines, Rule No. 1 would probably go something like this: Make sure the wolverine cannot get out of the cage.

At Newark Liberty International Airport on Tuesday, it became clear that this precaution had not been taken.

A 40-pound male wolverine named Kasper was being shipped from a zoo in Norway to a conservation park in Alaska. At around 3:30 p.m., he arrived in Newark to change planes and go through United States Customs.

It was there that the animal's handler, Sarah Howard, noticed there was a hole in Kasper's cage.

"His head was sticking out,"
said Ms. Howard, a curator for the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, the wolverine's intended new home. She had flown to Newark to meet him.

The cage was made of metal, said Joseph Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport. "It's believed he chewed a hole in it."

Wolverines, which look kind of like small bears but are actually the largest members of the weasel family, are legendarily vicious. With long, sharp teeth, they have been known to kill animals many times their size, including caribou and white-tailed deer.

Kasper remained in his cage, but Ms. Howard was alarmed.

"She said it was growling and stuff like that, but maybe they do that all the time, walk around and make noise," Mike Miller, executive director of the conservation center, said.

A wildlife officer and a Port Authority police officer were summoned to Terminal C.

The cage was carefully placed in a transport van, Mr. Pentangelo said, "just to add another level of security, so that the wolverine wasn't a threat to himself or the public."

A new, uncompromised cage was procured from the Bronx Zoo, as was a wild animal veterinarian. The cages were put face to face and Kasper was encouraged to walk into the new one.

"He balked," Mr. Pentangelo said. "He did not want to go. He made it very clear."

The veterinarian administered a shot of ketamine, a tranquilizer. Kasper dropped off to sleep. The cage transfer was accomplished. And after an overnight stay at Terminal C, Kasper resumed his journey.

Kristiansand Zoo in Norway, which had sent Kasper, was closed on Wednesday evening when a reporter called, and no one there could be reached.

A decent life awaits Kasper in Alaska, where the conservation center sits on a 170-acre spread in the mountains about an hour southeast of Anchorage, in Portage.

He will get three acres, at least. That is not a lot by wolverine standards — they can range over 200 square miles — but it is enough to roam around.

And if all goes well, Mr. Miller said, he will have a mate.

"There's another facility, in Sweden, that is sending us a female," he said. - New York Times.

Baby loses half her face as stray dog enters house and attacks in Haimen, China

Recovering from surgery: Little Qingqing, who is just ten weeks old, has bandages around her damaged face

A baby girl has been badly disfigured in a dog attack at home after her parents left her by herself while they worked in nearby fields.

Ten-week-old Qingqing is currently in a critical condition in hospital in eastern China, following emergency surgery to repair her mauled face.

Her mother told the People's Daily Online: 'We left after our baby girl fell asleep. Who knew this would happen?'

The woman, named only as Ms Li, said that on the day of the attack, she and her husband fed their daughter then went to work near their house in Haimen City, eastern China.

But Ms Li could not stop thinking about her daughter so returned home after just ten minutes.

When she arrived, a white dog with blood around its mouth came running towards her, she said.

She dashed to the bedroom where she had left Qingqing - and discovered that the little girl had been dragged from her bed by the dog, which is believed to be a stray.

Ms Li said: 'I nearly fainted. My baby girl was lying face flat on the floor, with blood all over.'

The right side of Qingqing's face had been shredded and her eyelid torn off. She was carried to a local clinic by her mother but her injuries were too severe to be treated there.

She was then transferred to the larger Nantong City No.3 People's Hospital, where she was operated on. She is recovering from the surgery but is suffering from a fever that is concerning her doctors.

Her plastic surgeon, Dr Sun Jiyie, said: 'This is the youngest child with the most severe injuries we have seen from a dog bite.

'If she could safely power through the critical period, we will be planning more plastic surgery. But she is so young and the injuries are so severe, the operations will no doubt be very difficult.'

Mrs Li, who is keeping a vigil at her daughter's bedside, said she and her husband only recently moved to Haimen after working at a greenhouse farm in another province for three years.

Last night Dr Zhao Xianzhong, the director of the hospital's burns and plastic surgery department, reminded all parents never to leave their babies and children alone.

He also issued a general warning about dogs - saying attacks in China are more common in spring and summer.

The hospital currently treats around 20 people a day for dog bites but the figure is expected to increase in the coming weeks as temperatures rise.

'When summer arrives, people wear less fabric, and dogs are only interested in exposed skin,' explained Dr Zhao. 'Girls should be more aware when they are wearing short skirts and shorts.' - Daily Mail.

On mass animal deaths and human anxieties

Dead starfish line the shore of the German island of Sylt. Mass wildlife die-offs have been interpreted as omens of an impending environmental collapse. 
© Daniel Friederichs/Picture-aliance/DPA/AP

At first light on June 4, 2013, Steve Fradkin, a National Park Service ecologist, led a small team down a gravel strand called Beach 4 on Washington's Olympic coast. The group's destination was a rocky bench known—fatefully, it would turn out—as Starfish Point. There it would carry out an annual count of intertidal life forms as part of a long-term survey of the Pacific shore. Conditions were perfect, the sea calm beneath a blue sky dotted with cotton-ball clouds.

The day's beauty ended at Starfish Point. "It was a horror show," Fradkin told me. Instead of the usual spangling of purple, orange, and brick-red on the rocks, many of the starfish, which are known to biologists as sea stars, were contorted, marke­d with white lesions, or seemingly melting into goo. "They were missing arms," Fradkin said, "and there were even instances of arms walking around by themselves."

The team's observations are considered the first official record of an ongoing outbreak of a sea-star wasting disease that has killed millions of starfish from Baja California to southern Alaska, typically wiping out more than ninety per cent of each population it strikes. It's the greatest wildlife mass-mortality event, or "die-off," of the present day.

Mass-mortality events are sudden, unusual crashes in a population. On the spectrum of death—mortality's rainbow, if you will—they fill the space between the cool regularity of background death rates and the hot flare of species burning out into extinction. If you think that you are hearing about them more often these days, you're probably right. (Elizabeth Kolbert described frog and bat die-offs in a 2009 article; her subsequent book won a Pulitzer Prize this week.) Even mass-mortality experts struggle to parse whether we're witnessing a genuine epidemic (more properly, an epizootic) of these events. They have also raised another possibility: that we are in the throes of what one researcher called an "epidemic of awareness" of spooky wildlife deaths.

Die-off reports are fertile ground for latter-day anxieties. The events they describe tend to elude explanation, encouraging the notion that our private theories about why they happen are as legitimate as those of the baffled scientists. Of course, mass death also looks like seriously bad news. While we are bombarded with stories of environmental doom and gloom, many of the problems are effectively invisible. It's mainly mathematical models, for example, that tell us an extinction crisis is underway, mostly involving little-known species in little-known places. In an atmosphere of pervasive human guilt, if not eco-grief, it is easy to assume that wildlife mass-mortality events are cinematically graphic manifestations—melting starfish, birds falling from the sky—of the powerful foundational forces that drive more abstract challenges such as climate change.

The Internet has offered a wellspring of speculation about mass wildlife deaths. A case in point: more than four thousand red-winged blackbirds are found dead on New Year's Day, 2011, in Beebe, Arkansas. As the story spreads, news of other die-offs is reported from around the world. Dead jackdaws in Sweden. Dead velvet swimming crabs in the U.K. More dead blackbirds in Louisiana. Dead snapper in New Zealand ("many with their eyes missing"). Five days after the initial event, a Washington Post blogger dubs it "the Aflockalypse." The name sticks, and so does the implication. The Web is soon abuzz with commentators linking these occurrences to end-is-near prophecies, secret government experiments, and the threat of ecological collapse. The National Wildlife Health Center ultimately diagnoses the probable cause of the die-off as avian panic, most likely triggered by loud noises—possibly fireworks—too close to the birds' nighttime roost. Of course, nobody can say for sure.

Wildlife die-offs are an ancient phenomenon. One fossil site in Chile revealed recurring mass marine-mammal deaths, most likely from toxic algae blooms, dating back at least nine million years. Aristotle, in his "Historia Animalium," in the fourth century B.C., remarked on mass dolphin strandings as simply something that the animals were known to do "at times." The earliest written record in American history, from 1542, by the Spanish explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, appears to indicate that Native Americans on Tampa Bay, in Florida, understood fish die-offs—which still occur in the area today—as typical of certain seasons.

At least in some quarters, the sudden death of large numbers of wild animals has been read as a dire message to humanity: scientists have pointed out that the first biblical plague of Egypt, a fish die-off in a blood-red Nile, is an apt description of the effects of the acidification of the river's water. Yet the widespread interpretation of such events as signs, whether ecological or divine, that humankind's abuse of the planet has gone too far appears to be relatively new.

Even oddball mortalities of the type that trigger apocalyptic anxiety today don't appear to cause much stir in the historical record. In 1884, hundreds of tons of dead fish bellied up in the lakes that surround Madison, Wisconsin, requiring daily burials by a crew of up to thirty-eight men with horse teams. During the "great bird shower" of 1904 in Minnesota and Iowa, millions of sparrow-like Lapland longspurs fell from the night sky, most of them dead but some hitting the ground as snowballs that then "hatched" live birds in the morning sun. Detailed reports of both events exist; they document public curiosity and conjecture, but very little sense that these die-offs represented any judgment on society.

Even thirty years ago, the public response to an unusually extreme mass-mortality event wasn't particularly fraught. In 1983, long-spined sea urchins, then a common Caribbean species, began to waste away; their bony casings soon littered shorelines from Panama to Florida. The species had been abundant for a long time, possibly hundreds of thousands of years, but within thirteen months its population had declined by ninety-eight per cent. Even today, the urchins number not much more than ten per cent of their former plenitude. Haris Lessios, a senior staff scientist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, in Panama, studied the urchin crash from the outset. He recalls little news coverage—indeed, the New York Times reported on the die-off only once, a year after it began—and no public interest beyond local residents, who were happy not to contend any longer with the urchins' painful sting. "I don't think anyone was particularly worried," Lessios told me. "I wasn't. I thought that within a few years things would be back to normal."

Like the urchin die-off, the 2013 sea-star-wasting-disease outbreak had a terrible impact over an enormous geographic range. By contrast, however, references to melting starfish and their detached zombie limbs appeared everywhere from National Geographic to Fox News to the End Times Prophecy. Starfish are a beloved ocean icon, and the public reaction was twofold: expressions of sadness, often accompanied by offers of help (observations by "citizen scientists" contributed to what is probably the largest data set ever assembled about a marine-animal disease outbreak), and generalized concern that human beings must be responsible—and might be next.

Pete Raimondi, a University of California, Santa Cruz, marine biologist who is the principal investigator with a research group studying the event, said that, after the news broke, he responded to hundreds of reporters and "volumes and volumes" of calls, e-mails, blog posts, and personal contacts from citizens. "That's the highest level of anxiety I've ever seen," Raimondi said. "People were not only worried about the environment, they were worried about themselves." Online, speculation about the cause of the die-off soon focussed on radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant, which had been badly damaged by the tsunami that struck Japan in 2011. Raimondi recalled a phone call in which a fearful soon-to-be father asked whether he should immediately move his family away from the West Coast. It was one of many similarly heartfelt calls. Researchers have found no evidence of a link between the ongoing Fukushima disaster and the starfish die-off, Raimondi said—"very massive sampling" indicates that the outbreak began before waterborne radiation reached the coast. Many members of the public remain unconvinced.

Broadly speaking, however, the gap between the public perception of die-offs and the scientific interpretation is not so wide. Until recently, most biologists tended to look at mass-mortality events as isolated incidents with case-specific causes. As a result, it has been the convention among major media sources to present die-offs as at once mysterious and alarming, but also ordinary and even natural. The pattern is not unlike telling ghost stories to children while scolding them for being afraid. Several disquieting tales have already made the 2015 news cycle, most notably hundreds of dying sea-lion pups that began turning up on California beaches in January, and two thousand snow geese that dropped out of the sky to die in Idaho in March. Such phenomena really are relatively commonplace.

At the time of this writing, the National Wildlife Health Center had recorded fifty-six mass-mortality events in the U.S. so far this year, among them the sudden deaths of fifty black vultures in Ascension Parish, Louisiana; thirteen hundred waterfowl in Humboldt County, California; and two thousand bats in Pierce County, Wisconsin.

Yet recent research suggests that the perception of wildlife die-offs as more frequent and alarming than ever might have some basis in fact. In January, the first study ever to attempt to track trends in mass-mortality events was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; the authors found that die-offs appear to be increasing in both number and magnitude, even after attempting to correct statistically for the fact that mass deaths are more likely to be documented today than they were in the past. Bird die-offs, for example, have historically been among the best represented in the scientific literature. The study's authors had expected that an increase in the reporting of such events would add a larger number of less dramatic cases—in which fewer birds die—to the over-all data set, bringing down the average number of deaths per occurrence. Instead, they found the opposite. The typical number of bird deaths per reported die-off has risen, from about a hundred in the nineteen-forties to some ten thousand today. The over-all number of bird die-offs also seems to have increased. "That paper supports a lot of what many of us have been suspecting," Jonathan Sleeman, a wildlife epidemiologist who heads the National Wildlife Health Center, said. "I do think we're seeing more catastrophic events."

Every biologist I spoke with who is researching mass-mortality events said that many wildlife die-offs today really could be signals of serious problems with the ecological fundamentals of the planet. Last year, a team of scientists found that sea-star wasting disease is caused by a virus-size organism (and therefore probably a virus). Given that similar, though lesser, outbreaks have occurred in the past, the current epizootic could be perfectly natural, nothing more than a particularly dangerous strain of a virus. Yet sea stars are known to be maritime canaries-in-the-coal-mine: "They're always the first ones to go," Raimondi said. Radiation from Japan may have been ruled out as the epizootic's catalyst, but a long list of other big-picture environmental stressors are under investigation for possibly having made the sea stars more susceptible to disease, among them temperature spikes (which may be related to climate change), ocean acidification, pollution, or some combination of the above or other pressures. It's not crazy to think that mass deaths of wildlife are telling us something about the state of the world, Raimondi said, but it remains important to let the evidence speak case by case. "If they're going to be stressed, then they should be stressed about things that are real," he said.

If the starfish die-off proves to have been exacerbated by human causes, could it be a warning of an imminent ecological catastrophe? The answer may depend on your definition of catastrophe. "You're not going to go from these really healthy, stable ecosystems to collapse," Raimondi said. "That's not to say that things aren't going to change."

When the long-spined sea urchin crashed in the Caribbean in 1983, it led to what scientists call a "phase shift" in the marine environment. The urchins were important grazers of seaweed. With the urchins gone, seaweed surged, overgrowing coral reefs. Caribbean reefs had already been under duress from overfishing, pollution, and other factors, but the urchin die-off appears to have been a tipping point. The most visually spectacular shallow-water reefs in the Caribbean today are less impressive than even an average reef of thirty years ago.

Oddly, what Raimondi called the "worst-case scenario" for the sea-star die-off is the opposite of what happened in the Caribbean. On the Pacific coast, the big, habitat-forming structures are not coral reefs but underwater "forests" of seaweed. Starfish eat sea urchins; without them, urchins may mow down the kelp forests. That in turn can call up a roster of changes that range from more frequent eagle attacks on seabirds to higher waves striking the shore: not the end of the world, but a different world—and, ecologically speaking, a poorer one.

It might not happen that way, of course. Nature is full of surprises. Observers on the West Coast this spring are reporting more baby starfish, many no bigger than a fingernail, at more sites than at any time in the past fifteen years. The best current explanation for this supernova of cuteness is that the onset of wasting disease triggered starfish to reproduce intensively before dying. "If they survive, it means recovery may be underway," Raimondi said of the tiny sea stars. "If they grow up and start wasting away, well, that's a different story." These days, this may qualify as hope. - The New Yorker.

Man survives second bear attack in 4 years at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington: 'I just had this deja vu'

Dead bear

The chances of being attacked by a bear are extremely slim. It's even less likely it would happen twice. But the victim of an attack last week also came face-to-face with an aggressive bear four years ago. And both times, it was a fight for his life.

"Multiple attacks on my shoulders, he bit me on my head, my arms, my hand," said Bob, who asked us not to use his last name.

Bob describes receiving more than 40 bites, severe claw swipes and deep bruises in a black bear attack last week.

"It would whip around, do this 180 and go for my leg, my shoulders, my head, and just come in and bite me again, and I would just try to nail it when it came in," he said.

Bob says he was running on a well-used trail in the woods surrounding Joint Base Lewis McChord when his dog Abby spooked the bear. As it charged in his direction, Bob grabbed a four foot long tree branch and readied himself for a fight.

It was a rare scenario. But remarkably, not for Bob.

WATCH: Bear attack in Washington.

"It was just running straight for me. The dog went running by me, and I just had this deja vu," he said.

Four years ago - running on the same trail, with the same dog - Bob was attacked by a bear.

"It sort of jumped at me, grabbed my by my belly and my rear end and took me down, bit me and mauled me a couple times," he said of the 2011 attack. "I just rolled up in a ball and stayed still."

Eventually the bear left, but Bob still has scars from all the bites and scratches.

Even seasoned Wildlife Officers are stunned.

"The odds of being attacked once are very slim," said Sgt. Ted Jackson of WDFW. "The odds of being attacked twice, I would say it's impossible, last week. But it happened. I just can't even calculate the odds of being attacked once, let alone twice."

Wildlife officers never found that first bear. For six straight days, a team of agents has been pushing through the woods, determined not to let this one slip away. They wanted to match the DNA before killing the bear. But when some hounds got the bear's scent, it turned on them. They couldn't get the bear cornered to safely tranquilize it and decided they needed to shoot to kill.

They successfully took down the 300-pound bear. Agents will run tests, but they're confident it's the right one. Bob wonders if it could even be the same bear attacked him four years ago. Either way, he is relieved this is over.

"He was definitely after my head. So I was trying to protect everything up here and I was holding onto that stick and that was about the only thing that saved me," he said. "I still say it. My friends are still saying it. "Why me?"

There's no answer. There also won't be a third time.

"I love it up there," Bob said of the woods around JBLM. "But no. I'm just getting too old to fight 'em anymore, to tell you the truth." - KOMO News.

Sloth bear severely mauls 50-year-old woman in Dahod, India

Sloth bear

A 50-year-old woman was mauled by a sloth bear near Dhanpur taluka in Dahod district on Sunday morning. Rauli Baria was rushed to SSG Hospital with severe injuries to her face and skull.

Rauli and her husband Varsan Baria are farmers and residents of Jojgam village. The incident occurred when the couple had gone to their fields to collect mahua flowers. The bear was hiding behind the thicket fencing and it attacked Rauli, who was close by. A scared Varsan fled from the spot.

The bear tore into her skull damaging a major part of her brain. Sources in the hospital said Rauli's eyes and nose has been irreversibly damaged. She has also suffered wounds on her neck, back and abdomen. She was admitted in a critical condition and is still in danger. Her husband suffered minor abrasions and was discharged after first aid.

The farm where they were attacked is near Ratanmahal Sloth Bear Sanctuary. District forest officials said that while two bear attacks in the area were registered in March, this is the first severe attack of the year.

- The Times of India.

60,000 birds to be killed due to new outbreak of avian flu in Wisconsin, United States

In this Nov. 2, 2005 file photo, turkeys are pictured at a turkey farm near Sauk Centre, Minn. AP

A bird flu that’s deadly to poultry was confirmed to have been found in a northern Chippewa County farm Tuesday, county officials said.

The latest outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N2 strain has been identified at an undisclosed turkey farm housing 60,000 birds. All of the remaining birds will be killed to prevent any spread of the disease.

Authorities have stressed there has been no risk to public health and no danger to the food supply from the Avian flu outbreak.

Jen Rombalski, director-health officer for the Chippewa County Department of Public Health, said the department was notified Tuesday by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection about the bird flu being on the farm when test results came back from the lab.

She said in cases such as this, all bird farms within a 10-mile radius will also be quarantined. She said that amounts to two other farms, both of which are in Chippewa County.

“This is a sad situation for the farm owner, and a concern for many people,” she said, noting however that "this particular strain has not crossed over into humans.”

She said the DATCP classifies it as “a very low risk to the general public,” but it is not termed no risk. Rombalski said the individuals at the farm will be closely monitored, and they have been working closely with the public health department. As a precaution, they will be taking medication to prevent them from becoming sick.

State agriculture officials this month detected the virus for the first time in Wisconsin. It has been found in three flocks affecting tens of thousands of chickens and turkeys.

This past week the outbreak was discovered at a farm with 126,000 turkeys in Barron County, at a farm that belongs to Jennie-O Turkey Store.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the Barron County case was the same H5N2 strain that has cost Midwest and Ontario, Canada producers more than 2 million birds since early March.

“We aren’t really sure how this farm became contaminated. It’s not near the one in Barron County,” Rombalski said.

She said that if someone were to see any sick or dying birds, they are asked to report it by calling 800-572-8981.

Chippewa County Administrator Frank Pascarella said the county’s Public Health Department, Land Management along with a state agency have been informed about the outbreak. He said the departments will follow a protocol in destroying animals infected with the Avian flu, which he said the departments will monitor.

On Monday, Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency, authorizing the Wisconsin National Guard to assist authorities responding to the bird flu in Jefferson, Juneau and Barron counties. That includes helping with the response and clean up once the infected birds are killed.

Walker says the state must act “quickly and efficiently to contain the outbreak and protect domestic poultry.” - Lacrosse Tribune.

Large amount of dead fish washing ashore on Lake Champlain in Vermont, United States

The seasonal die-off of alewives usually happens after the melting of ice at Lake Champlain. Alewives may be ill-equipped to handle
the instabilities in the lake's temperatures.  (Photo : Ken Lund | Flickr)

This is not the first time that a great number of small alewives are floating up dead or washing on the shorelines of Lake Champlain in northwest Vermont. This will not be the last as well.

These seasonal die-offs of alewives on the shores usually happen after the melting of ice at Lake Champlain.

"I think it's kind of disgusting," commented Vanessa Fleming, a regular visitor from Milton, Vermont who likes to spend time on Lake Champlain. "It makes you feel discouraged coming down here and seeing dead fish everywhere."

Shawn Good, a fisheries biologist at the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, noted that neither the water nor any form of pollutant is the culprint. The biology of the alewife itself is the cause of its death.

Good explained that alewives are not native to Lake Champlain. One theory as to how the fish colonized the lake is through human intervention. Someone must have utilized alewives as bait years ago, and now the population has become uncontrollably abundant.

Alewives may be ill-equipped to handle the instabilities in Lake Champlain's temperatures, particularly in the colder months, Good said. When this invasive species die, it creates "a void in the fish community in terms of other fish having something to eat."

Good sees the die-offs of alewives from previous years as a "warning sign" and an obvious reminder that the public should never illegally transport fresh fish from its natural environment into a different body of water just to create fishing opportunities. Additionally, the human-aided migration of living fish can have major impacts on natural ecosystems.

The trout and salmon in Lake Champlain have become dependent on these small invaders as an important source of diet. Recreational fishing can be deeply affected if the salmon and trout cannot hunt the alewives for food any longer because of the die-offs.

"We haven't seen that here," Good told New England Cable News. "It's just something we have witnessed in the Great Lakes, and we hope it doesn't happen here."

On Tuesday, fish and wildlife officials were in Milton supplying Lake Champlain with fresh salmon, as part of an ongoing scheme to restore the fish populace in the freshwater lake. - Tech Times.

Hundreds of dead fish washing ashore in the waters of Hulan, China

Recently, the Harbin Hulan area fish farmers to the local environmental protection departments, which are connected with the Hulan River waters suddenly turned black stinking of fish ponds, cause of massive fish kills in ponds. 20th, the local environmental protection department water quality sampling inspections of polluted waters, and said it would investigate the sources of these pollutants.

"Now, a nets caught nearly all dead fish, where muddy waters and closed nearby fish pond water quality in great contrast. As soon as this situation continues, the consequences would be unthinkable, near waters but also suffered many fish-eating animals may disappear. "As far as Mr fish huxiao introduces, this referring to the Hulan River in fish ponds, many years production has been very good, half a month ago, he found that the water becomes more and more cloudy, then there are a lot of fish were killed, in recent days the water color and darker, and loud smell dead fish attracts many water birds to Peck. According to Hulan EPA staff told, they followed raised fish households came to near Hulan old of Hulan two River bridge sections, distance a at tens of thousands of square meters of ponds also has a distance, will can smell to water distributed out of stench flavor, arrived in Waterside Shi, found this should clear of water has into black, in Waterside and water Shang has many died fish, these fish maximum of has half meters more.

Hulan District Environmental Protection Bureau said that water quality sampling in this Council in the last quarter area found no problems as regards the sources of these contaminants, nails will be determined after collecting water samples for testing, and investigating pollutant sources, together with relevant departments, the polluters are punished accordingly. - Ifeng. [Translated]

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.3 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Off Solomon Islands - Poses No Tsunami Threat! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

Location of the earthquake. Earthquake 3D

April 22, 2015 - SOLOMON ISLANDS
- A strong earthquake off of the Solomon Islands Wednesday afternoon, but does not expected to pose a tsunami threat to Hawaii.

The preliminary magnitude 6.3 temblor hit 98 miles south-southeast of Lata, Solomon Islands at 12:57 p.m. at a depth of 45 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Location of the earthquake. Earthquake 3D

There were no advisories issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

No injuries were immediately reported.

The Solomon Islands are a sovereign country consisting of a large number of islands in Oceania, lying to the east of Papua New Guinea and covering a land area of 28,400 square kilometers.

USGS shakemap intensity.

They are located on the eastern margin of the Australia plate, which is one of the most seismically active areas of the world due to high rates of convergence between the Australia and Pacific tectonic plates. - Star Advertiser. [Edited]

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the Eastern Margin of the Australia Plate

The eastern margin of the Australia plate is one of the most sesimically active areas of the world due to high rates of convergence between the Australia and Pacific plates. In the region of New Zealand, the 3000 km long Australia-Pacific plate boundary extends from south of Macquarie Island to the southern Kermadec Island chain. It includes an oceanic transform (the Macquarie Ridge), two oppositely verging subduction zones (Puysegur and Hikurangi), and a transpressive continental transform, the Alpine Fault through South Island, New Zealand.

Since 1900 there have been 15 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded near New Zealand. Nine of these, and the four largest, occurred along or near the Macquarie Ridge, including the 1989 M8.2 event on the ridge itself, and the 2004 M8.1 event 200 km to the west of the plate boundary, reflecting intraplate deformation. The largest recorded earthquake in New Zealand itself was the 1931 M7.8 Hawke's Bay earthquake, which killed 256 people. The last M7.5+ earthquake along the Alpine Fault was 170 years ago; studies of the faults' strain accumulation suggest that similar events are likely to occur again.

North of New Zealand, the Australia-Pacific boundary stretches east of Tonga and Fiji to 250 km south of Samoa. For 2,200 km the trench is approximately linear, and includes two segments where old (greater than 120 Myr) Pacific oceanic lithosphere rapidly subducts westward (Kermadec and Tonga). At the northern end of the Tonga trench, the boundary curves sharply westward and changes along a 700 km-long segment from trench-normal subduction, to oblique subduction, to a left lateral transform-like structure.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 60 mm/yr at the southern Kermadec trench to 90 mm/yr at the northern Tonga trench; however, significant back arc extension (or equivalently, slab rollback) causes the consumption rate of subducting Pacific lithosphere to be much faster. The spreading rate in the Havre trough, west of the Kermadec trench, increases northward from 8 to 20 mm/yr. The southern tip of this spreading center is propagating into the North Island of New Zealand, rifting it apart. In the southern Lau Basin, west of the Tonga trench, the spreading rate increases northward from 60 to 90 mm/yr, and in the northern Lau Basin, multiple spreading centers result in an extension rate as high as 160 mm/yr. The overall subduction velocity of the Pacific plate is the vector sum of Australia-Pacific velocity and back arc spreading velocity: thus it increases northward along the Kermadec trench from 70 to 100 mm/yr, and along the Tonga trench from 150 to 240 mm/yr.

The Kermadec-Tonga subduction zone generates many large earthquakes on the interface between the descending Pacific and overriding Australia plates, within the two plates themselves and, less frequently, near the outer rise of the Pacific plate east of the trench. Since 1900, 40 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded, mostly north of 30°S. However, it is unclear whether any of the few historic M8+ events that have occurred close to the plate boundary were underthrusting events on the plate interface, or were intraplate earthquakes. On September 29, 2009, one of the largest normal fault (outer rise) earthquakes ever recorded (M8.1) occurred south of Samoa, 40 km east of the Tonga trench, generating a tsunami that killed at least 180 people.

Across the North Fiji Basin and to the west of the Vanuatu Islands, the Australia plate again subducts eastwards beneath the Pacific, at the North New Hebrides trench. At the southern end of this trench, east of the Loyalty Islands, the plate boundary curves east into an oceanic transform-like structure analogous to the one north of Tonga.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 80 to 90 mm/yr along the North New Hebrides trench, but the Australia plate consumption rate is increased by extension in the back arc and in the North Fiji Basin. Back arc spreading occurs at a rate of 50 mm/yr along most of the subduction zone, except near ~15°S, where the D'Entrecasteaux ridge intersects the trench and causes localized compression of 50 mm/yr in the back arc. Therefore, the Australia plate subduction velocity ranges from 120 mm/yr at the southern end of the North New Hebrides trench, to 40 mm/yr at the D'Entrecasteaux ridge-trench intersection, to 170 mm/yr at the northern end of the trench.

Large earthquakes are common along the North New Hebrides trench and have mechanisms associated with subduction tectonics, though occasional strike slip earthquakes occur near the subduction of the D'Entrecasteaux ridge. Within the subduction zone 34 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900. On October 7, 2009, a large interplate thrust fault earthquake (M7.6) in the northern North New Hebrides subduction zone was followed 15 minutes later by an even larger interplate event (M7.8) 60 km to the north. It is likely that the first event triggered the second of the so-called earthquake "doublet".

More information on regional seismicity and tectonics


MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Increasing Global Volcanism - Chile's Calbuco Volcano Erupts For The FIRST TIME IN AT LEAST FOUR DECADES, Sends Massive And Thick Plume Of Ash MILES Into The Sky; RED ALERT Issued By Local Emergency Office; MASS EVACUATION Of 1,500 People Underway! [STUNNING PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

Puerto Varas, Chile, as the Calbuco volcano erupts on April 22, 2015. (AFP Photo / Giordana Schmidt)

April 22, 2015 - CHILE
- Volcano Calbuco in southern Chile erupted for the first time in at least four decades on Wednesday, sending a thick plume of ash and smoke several kilometers (miles) into the sky, local television images showed.

Chile's Onemi emergency office declared a red alert following the eruption, which occurred about 1,000 km (625 miles) south of the capital Santiago near the tourist town of Puerto Varas.

Hundreds of people are being evacuated in southern Chile following a massive eruption of the Calbuco volcano.

The government has declared a red alert, as thick clouds of ash and smoke shot up several kilometers into the sky.

The volcano is located near the tourist location of Puerto Varas, about 1,000 km (625 miles) south of the nation’s capital Santiago.

A total of 1,500 people are reportedly being evacuated from the affected area.

“There are a lot of people out in the streets, many heading to the gas stations to fill up on gas,” a resident of Puerto Varas, Derek Way, told Reuters.

About 1,500 people were being evacuated, authorities said.

"The eruption happened about half an hour ago. There are a lot of people out in the streets, many heading to the gas stations to fill up on gas," Derek Way, a resident of Puerto Varas, told Reuters.

WATCH: Calbuco erupts in Chile.

Chile, on the Pacific 'Rim of Fire', has the second largest chain of volcanoes in the world after Indonesia, including around 500 that are potentially active.

In March, volcano Villarrica, also in southern Chile, erupted in spectacular fashion, sending a plume of ash and lava high into the sky, but quickly subsided. - Yahoo.

History of the Calbuco volcano

Calbuco is a stratovolcano in southern Chile, located southeast of Llanquihue Lake and northwest of Chapo Lake, in the Los Lagos Region. The volcano and the surrounding area are protected within Llanquihue National Reserve. It is a very explosive andesite volcano that underwent edifice collapse in the late Pleistocene, producing a volcanic debris avalanche that reached the lake.

Calbuco viewed from the north alongside Road 225 on the shores of Llanquihue Lake.

Calbuco has had at least 10 eruptions since 1837. The most recent eruption was April 22 2015, the first since 1972. One of the largest historical eruptions in southern Chile took place there in 1893–1894. Violent eruptions ejected 30-cm bombs to distances of 8 km from the crater, accompanied by voluminous hot lahars.

Los Lagos, Chile

Calbuco viewed from  Osorno volcano. (28-Jul-2006)

Strong explosions occurred in April 1917, and a lava dome formed in the crater accompanied by hot lahars. Another short explosive eruption in January 1929 also included an apparent pyroclastic flow and a lava flow. The last major eruption of Calbuco, in 1961, sent ash columns 12–15 km high and produced plumes that dispersed mainly to the SE and two lava flows were also emitted. There was a minor, 4-hour eruption on August 26, 1972. Strong fumarolic emission from the main crater was observed on August 12, 1996. - Wikipedia.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across North America - Man Injured After Falling Into Sinkhole In Buffalo; 40 By 20 Feet Wide Sinkhole Opens And Swallows Trees In Marietta, Georgia; Fire Engine Rescued From 15-Foot Deep Sinkhole In Brooklyn, New York; One Person Suffers Minor Injuries After Van Falls Into Toronto Sinkhole; Homeowners File Federal Lawsuit Over Sinkholes Issues In Easley, South Carolina; Sinkholes Develop After Rainy Season In Warren County, Kentucky; Northern Kentucky Mayors Want Growing Number Of Sinkholes Fixed; And Louisiana To Include Sinkholes In Disaster Planning!

April 22, 2015 - NORTH AMERICA - Here are several of the latest reports of sinkholes across North America as monumental planetary transformations continue.

Man injured after falling into sinkhole in Buffalo

A man was injured Sunday after a sinkhole formed underneath him while he was walking.

Take a look at this video.

WATCH: Man says son fell into Buffalo sinkhole.

A city engineering employee says the man was walking across High Street when he fell into a hole that formed around him.

He was taken to ECMC for treatment.

No word on how serious his injuries were.

Crews are covering the sinkhole with a metal plate for the time being.  - TWC News.

Forty by twenty feet wide sinkhole opens in Marietta, Georgia; swallows trees

A 20-foot sinkhole in suburban Atlanta swallowed trees and threatened businesses.

WSB-TV reported the hole opened on private property in Marietta, about 80 miles west of Athens.

City workers say a loose connection between two pipes rusted and water rushed out, causing the hole to open. They estimate it is 40 by 20 feet wide.

The sinkhole is close to the street and several businesses.

City officials said on Monday that crews planned to work through the day to make repairs.  - Athens Banner Herald.

Fire engine rescued from 15-foot deep sinkhole in Brooklyn, New York

A fire engine had to be rescued in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

The stuck truck was parked on the street outside Brookdale Hospital in East Flatbush when a 15-foot-deep sinkhole opened up and swallowed its front right wheel around noon.

About a dozen firefighters stacked pieces of wood near the tire of the Engine Co. 257 truck to keep it from sinking deeper into Rockaway Parkway.

But one of the planks then sprang out and hit two of the emergency responders.

Both were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Puzzlingly, they were taken to Kings County Hospital instead of being treated at Brook­dale. Authorities could not immediately explain why.

© NYPost/Paul Martinka

© NYPost/Paul Martinka

FDNY Chief Stephen Moro of Division 15 said it's unclear what caused the sinkhole. "This is an odd one," Moro said.

A few hospital workers who witnessed the incident said it was frightening.

"It's scary because they just [repaved] this street after putting in new pipes," said Paulie Johnson, who works in the security office at Brookdale's Urgent Care Center. "It looks good from the surface, but we don't know what's underneath."

Another hospital worker, Alicia Headley, noted, "It's a very deep hole, and it could've been anyone stuck there.'' - NY Post.

One person suffers minor injuries after van falls into Toronto sinkhole

A van that fell into a sinkhole on Tangiers Road early Tuesday morning is shown.

One person was taken to hospital with minor injuries after a van fell into a sinkhole near York University during the Tuesday morning rush hour.

The van was travelling along Tangiers Road near Finch Avenue and Keele Street at around 7 a.m. when its front-right wheel fell into a giant sinkhole that had opened up on the street.

Police are urging drivers to avoid the area.  - CP24.

Homeowners file federal lawsuit over sinkholes issues in Easley, South Carolina

A sinkhole in the front yard of a home in Easley’s Oak Creek subdivision(Photo: Ron Barnett / Staff)
A homeowners group in Easley’s Oak Creek subdivision has filed a federal lawsuit against the city, claiming that the crumbling storm water drainage system in their neighborhood is causing a sewer line to fail.

The action comes just as the city has inked a $1 million contract to install a new drainage system to fix gaping sinkholes that have plagued the neighborhood for decades because of legal questions over who was responsible.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Anderson, asks that the court issue the city civil penalties of at least $1 million under the federal Clean Water Act.

It also seeks an injunction to “prevent any work on the storm water system that is not fully in compliance with the laws, regulations and standards of the USA.”

Easley Mayor Larry Bagwell said on Monday he hasn’t seen the lawsuit and couldn’t comment directly on it.

He said, however, that the city, along with Easley Combined Utilities and the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, did tests using underground cameras and found no sewer leaks.

Cassandra Harris, a spokeswoman for DHEC, confirmed “No sewer line breaks or leaks were found” in camera tests done on March 2.

A pollution-testing station downstream has reported that bacteria levels are within acceptable limits, DHEC said.

Luc de Gaspe Beaubien, leader of the homeowners group that filed the lawsuit, said camera tests are not sufficient to detect sewer line leakage. Smoke tests and electrical conductivity tests, he said, are needed to determine that.

The lawsuit includes as an exhibit a request from the city in 2010 to borrow $2.5 million for Oak Creek sewer and drainage improvements from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, a low-interest funding source administered by DHEC.

In answering what water quality parameters the project would address, the city listed “fecal and storm water runoff pollutants.”

The application says, “The existing corrugated metal storm drain system has failed, causing subsurface erosion that is jeopardizing the existing sewer line, causing failure in that pipe resulting in contamination and degrading the water quality…”

DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley said the city notified DHEC in 2012 that it “had changed the scope of the project and decided to self-fund, therefore the lending process did not go any further.”

City officials questioned Monday said they couldn’t remember the specifics of the application.

Bagwell said the city last week approved a contract for $1,080,000 with Stone Excavating of Anderson to rip out the old storm drainage system and replace it with concrete piping, and to repave everyone’s driveway that the project cuts through.

After years of wrangling, all 21 homeowners — except de Gaspe Beaubien — have agreed to the city’s terms, which include giving them a voucher to repair landscaping damage to their front yards.

According to condemnation documents filed at the Pickens County courthouse, the city intends to pay de Gaspe Beaubien $2,600 for damages to his property, a figure he says is far below the actual value.

The condemnation proceedings won’t hold up the project, the mayor said.

Residents who have been at odds with the city for years over the issue are skeptical that the project the city plans will solve the problem.

“Personally I’m just going to wait and see how the chips will fall, and I’ll believe it when I see it,” said Jodie Dudash, who lost a legal fight with the city over the issue in 2006.

At the root of the legal morass is the question of who is responsible for fixing the problem.

The developer died years ago. And although the city accepted the streets into its system, the drainage system runs through private property and isn’t owned by the city.

The city’s plan calls for replacing the leaky 1,548-foot pipe along Creek Drive with a 48-inch concrete pipe that city officials say should be sufficient to drain the worst storms in a 10- to 25-year period.

The lawsuit claims that the proposed repair job, “does not meet federal nor state nor county requirements and guidelines; to include the 100-year flood plain requirements.”

Bagwell and Tommy Holcombe, city building official, said they believe the project the City Council has approved will solve “the immediate problem” and could be upgraded if needed.

“He is wanting a Cadillac and we’re wanting a car with good gas mileage,” Bagwell said. - Greenville Online.

Sinkholes develop after rainy season in Warren County, Kentucky

A pothole caused by rain is repaired on Monday, April 20, 2015, on Gotts Hydro Road. (Austin Anthony/

The rainy season in Warren County has again led to troubles with sinkholes, though as of yet, no Corvettes have been endangered.

Both the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 3 and the city of Bowling Green have had road closures this week because of sinkholes opening.

The state Department of Highways closed a section of Gotts-Hydro Road in Warren County between Goshen Church South Road and Carl Jordan Road on Monday after a small sinkhole formed.

The road was reopened Monday afternoon after the sinkhole was repaired.

The city of Bowling Green closed a portion of Chestnut Street on Monday because of a sinkhole collapse. One lane will be closed to through traffic between Third Avenue and Short Street through Friday, according to a city news release.

Wes Watt, public information officer for the state Department of Highways, Bowling Green office, said he has rarely seen sinkholes that required road closures.

But the rainier the season, the more likely it is that sinkholes will develop, he said.

“It definitely could be an issue, especially given our history with sinkholes in this entire area,” Watt said.

In February 2014, a sinkhole opened under the Skydome at the National Corvette Museum, swallowing eight Corvettes on display.

Josh Moore, Warren County Public Works director, said the county hasn’t received an abnormal number of calls about sinkholes this season, but they tend to be unpredictable.

The county only repairs sinkholes that are along county rights-of-way or on a drainage easement, he said. That policy went into effect in June.

An exception is if the sinkholes have previously been repaired by the county or were in the process of being repaired, Moore said.

The county has one large sinkhole-related project that needs to be completed, which is the repair of a series of sinkholes that opened in a retention basin in the Ewing Ford Place neighborhood, he said.

The county has another 10 to 15 small sinkholes to be filled in, Moore said.

Bowling Green has 17 work orders associated with some type of sinkhole report, said Bobby Phelps, public works operations manager with the city.

He said the amount of rain in the area, coupled with a high rate of rainfall, means drainage structures can be overwhelmed. That can accelerate the sinkhole problem.

Bowling Green City Commission will consider accepting a bid of $53,000 from Fletcher Excavation LLC of Bowling Green tonight for sinkhole repairs.

Phelps said city workers have prioritized some of the worst sinkholes and hope the private contractor can decrease the number of sinkholes that have yet to be repaired.

In addition to sinkholes, road departments in the region are working to fill in potholes caused by harsh winter conditions.

Watt said District 3 crews have been busy patching potholes, but some of that work has been delayed because of wet weather.

Potholes can be reported by calling the district office or going to the district website, he said. The Bowling Green office can be reached at 270-746-7898 or online at district-3/Pages/default.aspx.

Jerry Young, Warren County Road supervisor, said county road crews are patching potholes every day. Potholes can be reported by calling 270-843-8328.

Jeff Lashlee, city public works director, said the city has a road crew that repairs potholes on a regular basis. - BG Daily News.

Northern Kentucky mayors want growing number of sinkholes fixed

A group of mayors in northern Kentucky are seeking a solution to the growing number of sinkholes along streets caused by crumbling underground sewer lines.

The Kentucky Enquirer ( reports the Kenton Mayors Group met Saturday and approved a resolution that asks Sanitation District 1 to restart a program it ended in July 2013 that helped repair crumbling sewer laterals and streets.

The mayors say in the resolution that the sinkholes, the lateral breaks and the crumbling streets are matters of public health and safety.

Residents have been responsible for repairs since the service ended, but street fixes haven't been consistent.

Sanitation District Director David Rager said the service was eliminated due to budget cuts.

"We did do the repairs for about five years," Rager said. "We averaged about 75 repairs a year across Campbell, Boone and Kenton counties." He said the program cost the district spent about $600,000 annually.

Covington City Manager Larry Klein said the city has so many sinkholes caused by the lateral line problems it has run out of steel sheets to cover them.

Although it has been harder hit because it has more older homes, some mayors said they expect the issue to spread.

"This will eventually be an issue for everyone," said Independence Mayor Chris Reinersman, who noted his city has a fair share of older homes as well as new. "I feel like there is too much risk to the individual property owners, as well as the taxpayers in general, to leave repair of sewer laterals in the right of way up to the property owner."

Rager said officials are currently discussing budget projections for next year. - Kentucky.

Louisiana to include sinkholes in disaster planning

A Bayou Corne sinkhole, shown here, prompted the evacuation of residents. A new hazard mitigation plan would map the 2-mile radius
around salt domes to help predict sink holes.
(Photo: AP)
Sinkholes will be recognized as threats in the state’s updated hazard mitigation plan.

The the state is working on a five-year update to its hazard mitigation plan, which must be in place to receive federal money after natural and man-made disasters.

For the first time, the state will map salt domes and their surrounding 2-mile radius in each parish.

“That’s the best way they can predict if a sinkhole might happen within the parish,” said Lauren Stevens, a project manager with the Baton Rouge-based Stephenson Disaster Management Institute, which is compiling the plan.

Salt domes are pockets of salt deep in the ground that are sometimes drilled out and used to store crude oil, natural gas or other material.

A failed salt dome cavern is suspected of causing a 29-acre sinkhole to form in Bayou Corne in Assumption Parish in August 2012.

When it was discovered, 350 residents were advised to evacuate.

There are 16 salt domes identified in Lafourche Parish.

Local governments will now have to mitigate for those potential sinkholes under the new plan, said Chris Boudreaux, the parish’s director of homeland security and emergency preparedness.

Boudreaux learned about sinkhole causes and their aftermath by helping his brother, John Boudreaux, who is the director of homeland security and emergency preparedness in Assumption Parish throughout the disaster.

There is not much government can do to prevent existing salt domes from becoming sink holes because the drilling has already taken place, he said.

The hazard mitigation plan also covers threats from floods, levee breaks and coastal erosion.

Officials are looking for input on the plan from residents in each parish.

Stevens said the feedback helps parish officials know what risks residents are most concerned about and how they want to receive information about disasters.

“It gives them a better idea about what the community is looking for, what they’re worried about,” she said. - The Town Talk.

EXTREME WEATHER: Massive Wildfire In Florida's Miami-Dade County - Burns Nearly 2,000 Acres!

Wildfire scorches Miami-Dade County.

- Parts of Miami-Dade County's skyline was hidden from view Monday as smoke from a growing 1,850-acre wildfire loomed over portions of the Florida county.

What started as a nonthreatening and seemingly shrinking grass fire on Sunday, consuming fewer than 100 acres according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Al Cruz, grew to be more than 10 times that within the next 24 hours.

By Monday night, the fire had burned nearly 2,000 acres and was 50% contained, the fire department said.

High temperatures and gusty winds helped the fire spread, State Forester Jim Karels said.

Several fire units and a helicopter with the capacity to drop 400 gallons of water at a time were battling the blaze, Cruz said.

"The Florida Forest Service and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue have worked around the clock to protect Southwest Miami-Dade County," Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam H. Putnam said in a statement.

Early Monday night, officials were considering road closures, and one school, Lincoln Marti, was evacuated as a precaution, according to the Fire Department. - CNN.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: "The Flames Keep Shooting Up" - Film Footage Shows Fireball Exploding From Underneath Street In Shirley, United Kingdom!

Eruption: Flames explode 15ft from the manhole cover on the busy high street. © SWNS

April 22, 2015 - UNITED KINGDOM
- A tradesman walking to his local takeaway was suddenly confronted with a massive fireball which repeatedly erupted 15ft out of the pavement.

Lucky Shiraz Nawaz, 36, was strolling along the pavement when he heard buzzing from the ground just a few feet behind him.

He turned around just in time to see a massive plume of thick black smoke followed by huge orange flames shooting up from an open manhole.

The father-of-two managed to grab his phone just in time to film the astonishing incident on Stratford Road in Shirley, Solihull.

His footage shows plumes of dark smoke billowing up out of the charred ground, followed by repeated blasts of flames, reaching the top of the nearby shop fronts.

Miraculously nobody was hurt in the incident after Shiraz evacuated the nearby takeaway, told them to turn off their gas supply, and called the fire service.

WATCH: Terrifying footage shows huge fireball exploding from underneath street missing shopper by inches.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze, which they said was caused by a fire in an underground link box - which distributes electricity - below the manhole.

Shiraz, a former gas engineer who now fits kitchens and bathrooms, said: "To think that I had just walked over that.

"The flames kept shooting up - maybe five or six times.

"I'm a building contractor so I knew that when I heard the noises it was something to do with electrics. It was like a buzzing.

"I knew what it was but I didn't expect flames to come shooting out straight away or anything like that.

"I'm so lucky I didn't get burned. I had just walked over it - I think I used up one of my lives right there."

Shiraz was walking from his home to the Dixie Chicken shop around the corner from his home when he saw the flames at around 7pm on Monday.

He was just metres away when he grabbed his phone to record the fireballs before stopping to dial 999.

"I got my phone out because I heard the actual noise and I think I saw a flash," he said.

"I think I managed to get it on film just as the first real flames came up. It looked like it was coming from a manhole cover. It was quite shocking.

"I feel very lucky. Had it literally been a few seconds earlier I would have been walking right over it.

"I stopped filming because I felt guilty and I knew I had to call the fire service. - Daily Mirror.