Oxygen for People, Alcohol for Bears and Wildlife Pesticide Poisoning

This short series of reports includes news on oxygen bars in Tokyo, Japan, bears becoming intoxicated from fermented corn, and a new poison patrol hot line for wildlife pesticide poisoning.


| March/April 1988



110-023-01

Wildlife deaths due to pesticide poisoning are on the rise. In an attempt to track the extent of the problem and substantiate the need for controls, Defenders of Wildlife has established a Poison Patrol hot line.


ILLUSTRATION: TOM OLIVIERI

News briefs on oxygen for people, alcohol for bears, solar speed record, consumer's handbook and wildlife pesticide poisoning. 

Oxygen for People, Alcohol for Bears and Wildlife Pesticide Poisoning

Hold That Soil 

Two environmentally identical farms near Spokane, Washington, are providing ideal conditions for studying the comparative effects of organic and chemical-based farming techniques on soil. One farm has been operated naturally, using only crop rotation to maintain native soil fertility, since it was first plowed in 1909. Directly adjacent to it, another farm, first cultivated in 1908, has been receiving the recommended amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides since 1948, when many farms made the switch to inorganic techniques. Studies of the two farms have shown not only that the organically farmed soil holds more moisture, has a softer surface crust, and contains higher levels of organic matter and soil microorganisms and enzymes, but also that the topsoil is on the average six inches thicker than on the neighboring farm. "All that change has taken place since 1948," says researcher John Reganold of Washington State University in Pullman.

Blotto Bears  

In 1985, a Burlington Northern train carrying corn to market derailed in northwest Montana. Railroad crews, in a hurry to repair the tracks, simply buried much of the corn—about 400 tons—under a layer of topsoil. But by last year, two years after the event, the corn had become well fermented and was sending out a sweet, pungent odor. Unfortunately, the site happens to be in the area with the highest density of grizzly bears in the contiguous U.S., and the bears—both grizzlies and blacks—hit the buried brew hard. The animals' drunken antics were a popular attraction along U.S. Highway 2 last summer, but possible consequences could be far from amusing. Intoxicated bears and people don't mix well. Flathead National Forest officials closed the area to the public, but even so two black bears were killed by poachers and four were hit by trains. In the fall, quick lime was mixed into the spiked soil to break down the corn and reduce odors, and wildlife officials are hoping the bears won't return to their watering hole when they emerge this spring from hibernation.

Flattened Fauna  





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