Archives February 2015

Southern Tier’s Wild Turkey Conservation Efforts Threatened Despite Decrease in NY Hunting Licenses

New York State families who enjoy having wild turkey as their Thanksgiving Day bird may not be able to gobble one up if the population continues to decline.

The Southern Tier’s wild turkey population is in decline despite continued conservation efforts.

The drop has been linked to a gradual decrease in habitat, an increase in natural predators, severe winters, and wet springs and summers — all of which can impact breeding and the survival of young turkeys. In addition, a virus found nearly five years ago causing tumors in wild turkeys may also be contributing to the population loss. While the virus is less deadly than first thought, researchers have discovered that it is widespread.

During the 1800s, New York State’s wild turkey population was completely eradicated due to over-hunting and forest clearing, however, wild turkeys were reintroduced in 1948 after a small, remnant population was discovered in Pennsylvania.

As abandoned farmland land slowly reverted to forest, New York’s wild turkey population flourished, reaching a high of an estimated 300,000 birds in 2001. The wild turkey population also boomed at the same time rabies significantly reduced the number of raccoons and other nest predators.

“There has been a gradual decline over the past decade, to about 180,000 statewide today,” said Mike Schiavone, a wildlife biologist who heads wild turkey research for the Department of Environmental Conservation. The wild turkey population is said to be at a 15-year low in New York.

This comes at a time when the state is also experiencing a decrease in hunting licenses. According to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the number of hunting licenses has fallen 15% since 2002. The US Fish and Wildlife service reports a 19% decrease.

“You have a much more urban population than say 50 years ago so people that grow up in the city tend to play video games and don’t come out to hunt and fish,” said David Simmons, President of the Onondaga County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs.

Simmons says continued urbanization and a decline in game such as wild turkey have also contributed to the drop in licenses.

Despite a decrease in hunting licenses, statistics reveal hunting is safer than ever in New York state, reporting less injuries from bows and firearms. Statewide, the drop in hunting-related accidents was dramatic, falling from 137 per year during the 1960s to just 22 last year. This includes injuries caused by rifles, shotguns, pellet guns, and bows.

In New York State as well as the rest of the U.S., hunters often wear camouflage clothing to disguise themselves from game while hunting. However, it’s common for hunters to also where reflective material, to alert other hunters of their presence.

Armstrong World Industries Splits in Two


Armstrong World Industries, Inc. announced today that they will be splitting the company into two separate businesses: one for flooring and one for ceilings. The separation will be completed early in 2016, and the new companies will be independent and publicly traded.

Armstrong Chief Executive Officer Matthew J. Espe told,“This separation is a continuation of the Company’s actions since emergence from bankruptcy to create long-term shareholder value … The time is right for this separation as these two businesses are well-positioned to deliver value as independent companies.”

Between 2009 and 2014, the flooring industry grew by 1.1% annually, and Armstrong Flooring generated $1.2 billion of revenue in 2014. Following the separation, they will continue to lead innovation in hardwood, vinyl, and laminate flooring. Armstrong flooring will continue to provide trusted brands in a variety of flooring types both in the United States and overseas. Armstrong Flooring will operate 17 manufacturing facilities with 3,600 employees worldwide.

The other company being formed from the separation will retain the title Armstrong World Industries, though it will be made up of the Armstrong Building Products unit. Generating $1.3 billion in revenue in 2014, Armstrong Building products is an industry leader in the production of suspended ceilings for residential and commercial use. It has 200 fewer employees than Armstrong Flooring, but will operate 22 manufacturing operations in eight countries.

With the announcement of the separation, Armstrong World Industries also announced their fourth quarter and full year financial results for 2014. Adjusted operating and net income both increased, by 7% and 8% respectively, and net sales of resilient flooring also increased.

“We anticipate improving market conditions in the U.S. will support modest sales growth despite some anticipated pressure from foreign exchange in our international operations,” Chief Financial Officer Dave Schulz explained to “While earnings are expected to be lower than 2014, the investments we are making will position our businesses to succeed as two independent industry-leading public companies and benefit 2016 and beyond.”

Ozarks Health Experts Take Medical and Therapeutic Approaches for Fighting the Flu

Prescription Drugs
Although the majority of Americans have turned their attention to the ever-expanding measles outbreak, residents in and around the Lake of the Ozarks still have another medical concern on their minds: the 2014-2015 influenza.

When U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy visited the Ozarks recently to discuss the region’s most important healthcare concerns, he discussed the importance of vaccinations for serious diseases, including the measles and the flu.

While the annual flu vaccine isn’t 100% effective at preventing the flu each year, it can ameliorate the symptoms and shorten their duration. Of course, this year’s flu vaccine hasn’t been as effective as originally planned; it’s estimated that anywhere between 5% and 20% of Americans get the flu each year, but for the 2014-2015 season, that percentage will probably be closer to the 20% mark.

In the Ozarks, although KSPR 33 notes that flu cases are abnormally low this year, still states that an estimated 2,200 area residents have contracted the virus so far.

One of the more frustrating aspects of viruses like the common flu is that there are neither preventative strategies that can be administered early to prevent contracting the virus (unlike the vaccines for the mumps and measles, which are incredibly effective as preventative strategies), nor are there ways to “treat” the flu after someone has contracted the virus.

Instead, many people have begun turning to therapeutic preventative measures, like the Bodywork and Energywork massage therapies offered by the spa and massage therapy service Healing Hands Mobile Massage, located right here in the Lake of the Ozarks.

Although these services are not easily measured or tested through scientific studies, countless patients argue that a more therapeutic approach to health — one that addresses both physical healing and mental strength — has very real physical effects on the body that bolster the immune system against viruses and infections.

Until a vaccine is created that is 100% effective at preventing the flu, perhaps these therapeutic treatments are the Ozarks’ best shot at staying healthy.

Department of Environmental Protection Schedules Meeting to Debate Use of Drilling Byproduct in Tioga County


Despite controversy regarding oil and gas drilling, especially near populated areas, some companies are making an effort to recycle byproducts of the drilling process.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has scheduled a public meeting to discuss one such proposal, which would allow Clean Earth Inc. to use treated natural gas drill cuttings (broken rock material removed from boreholes) to expand Johnson Airport in Tioga County.

The meeting, which will be held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 25 at the Wellsboro Fire Department, will give members of the public the opportunity to give oral testimony of up to five minutes. Alternatively, residents may submit written testimony of any length. The permit application is available for public review at the Tioga County Conservation District office and the DEP’s North-Central Regional office.

Equivocal Evidence

A lull in drilling for oil and natural gas, largely driven by low fuel demand, is giving officials and conservationists in Tioga County time to assess the pros and cons of drilling methods, and to make plans for the future.

Critics of drilling, and in particular the controversial method known as fracking, say that methods disrupt both the environment and area inhabitants. On an immediate level, the drills, pumps and trucks associated with drilling operations can cause noise disturbances for residents (simple methods such as planting trees can mask unwelcome sounds by about 50%, but residents often feel this is inadequate with the decibel levels in question).

Other activists worry about longer-lasting impacts such as contamination of groundwater, methane emissions and radiation exposure. Evidence is still coming in on both sides; a study released Jan. 15 by the Pennsylvania DEP, for example, states that there is “little potential for harm to workers or the public” from radiation exposure associated with drilling for oil and natural gas (including exposure to drill cuttings such as those Clean Earth Inc. proposes to use). However, numerous citations have been issued to drilling sites. The 640 active wells in Tioga County alone have accumulated 497 environmental violations since 2009.

Planning for the Future

Conflicting evidence is prompting a question environmentalists are struggling to answer: Is there such a thing as safe, environmentally responsible drilling?

Jim Weaver, Tioga County’s environmental planner and a biologist, told the Washington Post Jan. 16 that plans to protect groundwater have, to date, been effective, and that negative repercussions of drilling in the area have been minimal.

However, he points out, there’s a difference between ameliorating effects as they come and truly being proactive as to the local area’s energy future.

“As a culture, we’re not going to rest until we burn every drop of oil we can get our hands on,” Weaver told the Post. “And when we’re done with that, we’ll burn all the natural gas. And when the gas is gone, we’ll start on the trees. And the trees are starting to go already. And when the trees are gone, we’ll start burning the furniture. So if we don’t start a furniture preservation program right now, we’re not going to have a place to sit.”