Lead ammunition most often used by illegal hunters has brought a dramatic spike in wildlife injuries locally, spiraling into the destruction of prey animals which feed on the carcasses of lead-infected hunter victims, like hawks and vultures.
According to Dr. Jennifer Riley, who treats up to 2,000 mostly indigenous animals a year at the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center (BRWC) in Boyce, the number of animals – hawks, falcons, eagles, for example – taken in to date with gunshot wounds have increased ten-fold over any previous years.
In an article in “Wildlife News,” the BRWC newsletter, Riley recommends among other things against the use of lead ammunition – there is an alternative, though slightly more expensive – which ultimately leads to poisoning the environment. Scavengers prey on shot animals, ingesting poisonous lead and themselves dying horrible deaths from lead toxicity.
“To be clear,” Riley wrote, “we do not believe that licensed hunters are the cause of our increased illegal gunshot cases. Licensed hunters are frequently ardent conservationists and closely follow hunting regulations.
“They know better than to risk their license by shooting game animals out of season, or by hunting animals that are never legal to shoot at any time. We suspect that the illegal shooting issue is caused by individuals who are not licensed and do not know the laws. We would encourage law-abiding hunters and all wildlife lovers to report these wildlife crimes.”
In Virginia, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) regulates hunting and enforces the associated regulations, Riley advises. On its website, DGIF admonishes: “Don’t allow the actions of a few outlaws to tarnish the reputation of Virginia’s sportsmen and sportswomen!”
Despite the above, wildlife gunshot victims have fluctuated from 7% to 12% above previous years and due to the severity of gunshot wounds, less than 15% of the victims will ever be released back into the wild, or even survive.
Which led this wildlife veterinarian to mention three of her concerns when thinking about shot wildlife:
- Criminality. The majority of the animals were shot illegally.
- Cruelty. The animals… were dying slowly with horrific,painful wounds… before being delivered to the center.
- Non-target effect. The overwhelming majority of the animals are being shot with lead ammunition. This means that had the animal not been delivered to BRWC for care, scavengers would have found it, ingested it, and died a horrible death from lead toxicity.
Riley poses the question: Why are these animals being shot? In many cases, the hawks that are shot are Red-Tailed or Cooper’s Hawks, two species that will kill unprotected chickens.
“Though we love the thought of chickens wandering freely over rolling pastures, they must be protected by their owners to prevent attacks from raptors and other wildlife.” She points out also that if a hawk attacks a chicken, it is nevertheless illegal to shoot the hawk!
It turns out that the familiar Black and Turkey vultures that keep our roads and byways somewhat free of decaying wildlife – they commonly appear to get to the dead animal before the county – are the most commonly shot species, despite providing a community service. Also, however, they are often accused of killing livestock such as lambs, kids and calves. Mostly, however, they are scavengers and rarely kill for food.
Neighborhood residents who commonly attempt to relocate nuisance animals (ground hogs, for example) should be aware that relocating is illegal in Virginia as it often causes starvation and death of the relocated animal. “Encouraging the animals to move on naturally is the preferred method,” Riley wrote.
How to help?
- Report wildlife crimes to the appropriate wildlife agency. In Virginia call 1-800-237-5712 or email WildCrime@dgif.virginia.gov
- Switch to non-lead ammunition (and fishing tackle).
- Bury carcass remains.
Riley concludes: “We hope our alarming rates of gunshot victims and lead toxicity decrease over time but this will only be possible if humans change the way we (they) are treating the environment. Lead has long been accepted as a dangerous material… sadly, we’ve been slow to make the changes to protect our wildlife. If you use lead ammunition, please consider making the change today… please familiarize yourself with the laws and contact BRWC to discuss other options (540-837-9000) before resorting to lethal methods.”
Skyline High School Homecoming Parade
Warren County School Board Meeting October 16, 2019
Here is latest Warren County School Board meeting of October 16, 2019. Here is the link to view their agenda and supporting documents.
Watch this exclusive Royal Examiner video:
Related stories from the meeting:
Front Royal Elks donate $1,500 to Skyline High School Band
On October 9th, ER Dennis Henline and Lodge Secretary Jane Wine visited Skyline High School in Front Royal. They were fortunate enough to watch the Band practice. The Front Royal Elks found out that the band needed some funds to purchase some much needed band equipment. After practice, Dennis presented a check for $1,500 to the Band Director, Daniel Holland. The amount will cover the musical needs they currently have.
ER Henline also briefly addressed the band members. He said the Front Royal Elks have always supported the athletic teams, and he felt that the band also needed support, because of their hard work and commitment. He also reminded the seniors to make sure they applied for the college scholarships offered by the Front Royal Lodge and the Elks National Foundation.
Sunday evening house fire caused by improper heating of home
On Sunday, October 20, 2019, just after 3:00 pm, the Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services was dispatched to the 8000 block of Winchester Road for a reported residential structure fire.
Firefighters quickly arrived on the scene and reported a working fire in a two-story single family dwelling. Firefighters were able to verify that the sole occupant of the home had self-evacuated and removed 5 dogs from within the residence. The occupant, who was asleep at the time the fire occurred, was awoken by her dogs and discovered the fire. It took firefighters approximately 10 minutes to contain the fire. Crews were assisted on the scene by Warren County Sheriff’s Deputies and Animal Control Officers.
The cause of the fire was investigated by the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office. Investigators determined the fire resulted due to an upholstered sectional couch being placed too close to electric baseboard heater. The fire caused an estimated $60,000 in damages. The occupants, who were displaced from the home as a result of the fire, received assistance from the American Red Cross.
Fire Chief Richard E. Mabie stated “Heating of the home is the second leading cause of home fires nationwide. As the weather turns cold, we remind our community to utilize these safety tips to prevent the unthinkable”:
- Keep all flammables, like paper, clothing, bedding, drapes or rugs, at least 3 feet from baseboard heaters, space heaters, wood-stoves or a fireplace.
- Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended; turn off heaters and make sure fireplace embers are extinguished before leaving the room.
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, nonflammable surface, like ceramic tile, not on a rug or carpet.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over.
- Have your furnace and chimney professionally inspected annually and cleaned if necessary. Chimney tar buildup is a common cause of chimney fires.
- Dispose of hot ashes in covered metal containers placed away from the house.
This is also the perfect time to check your smoke alarm. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Test smoke alarm batteries every month and change them at least once a year. Consider installing a 10-year lithium battery-powered smoke alarm, which is sealed so it cannot be tampered with or opened. If you do not have a working smoke alarm in your home, contact us at 540-636-3830 to learn how to have them installed at free of charge.
School Board approves new head lice policy
Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) now has new regulations in place for managing pediculosis, commonly known as the infestation of head lice.
“It is the position of the school system that the management of lice should minimally impact students and minimally impact their attendance,” WCPS Director of Special Services Michael Hirsch told members of the Warren County School Board during their Wednesday, October 16 regular meeting. “So, we looked at our policy because we review all of our policies on a regular basis” to update them.
Hirsch outlined for School Board members what lice can and cannot do.
“They can’t hop; they can’t fly. The only way they transfer is by direct contact,” he said, adding that it’s “very, very uncommon” for lice to transfer between people via clothing, scarves, coats, hats and other personal items, like combs and brushes.
The most common way lice transfer is by head-to-head contact, said Hirsch.
“They can be a nuisance. They do not spread disease,” he said. “Personal hygiene and cleanliness in the home and the school has absolutely nothing to do with head lice.”
In reviewing the policies of surrounding school districts, Hirsch said WCPS was found to be the only school division with a no-nit policy, meaning if a student has live nits or lice, he or she must be sent home.
There are school divisions that allow live lice, while others permit live lice and nits, he said.
“That made us think very hard … about if we’re on target and supporting our students in the most effective way possible,” said Hirsch. “After a considerable amount of discussion with our nurse team, as well as the administration, we’re recommending that we do allow a nit policy for the students, but not a live lice policy.”
Hirsch recommended to the School Board a policy stating that if lice are suspected, a student will be sent to the nurse for diagnosis. If live lice are not present, then the student goes back to class. If there are some nits, then “our nurses are such caring, wonderful professionals, they’re going to get rid of them,” he said. “They do it every day. And they’ll contact the parent and talk about an action plan.”
Additionally, if there are live lice present, WCPS staff will ask the student to be sent home with both educational literature and free lice treatment kits, courtesy of WCPS and several of its community partners.
“We don’t want any financial burden to fall on the parents to have to deal with this,” Hirsch added.
Following treatment, the proposed policy states that a student may return to school and check in with the nurse. If there are nits, a new action plan will be created with them, but the student will be allowed to return to class.
“If a student has nits, we’ll try to get rid of them right there at the nurse’s office in a private, confidential way,” said Hirsch, “but we’ll allow the student to stay in school because we know that the best place for a student to be is in school.”
School Board Chairwoman Catherine Bower asked how much time infected WCPS students were missing school. Hirsch answered: “significant amounts.”
“There are a lot of various factors,” he said. “But it’s not hygiene; it’s not people being unclean. Sometimes it’s maybe just knowledge about how to get rid of them or the ability to follow through and get rid of them.”
“We just can’t have them missing school and that was the big impetus in having this conversation,” Hirsch added.
Bower said some parents were concerned about the current policy and how it compared to policies in other nearby areas.
Hirsch confirmed that WCPS did get some letters from “very informed and concerned parents about the policy and we take their concerns very seriously.”
A motion to approve the WCPS lice regulations change was made by School Board member James Wells with a second by School Board member Donna McEathron. The members unanimously approved the change, with Chairwoman Bower, along with board members Arnold Williams Jr., C. Douglas Rosen, Wells, and McEathron, voting yea.
Some facts about lice…
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses advocate that “no-nit” policies, which require a child to be free of nits before they can return to schools, be discontinued because:
* Many nits are more than ¼-inch from the scalp. Such nits are usually not viable and very unlikely to hatch to become crawling lice, or may in fact be empty shells, also known as ‘casings;’
* Nits are cemented to hair shafts and are very unlikely to be transferred successfully to other people;
* The burden of unnecessary absenteeism to the students, families and communities far outweighs the risks associated with head lice; and
* Misdiagnosis of nits is very common during nit checks conducted by non-medical personnel.
Who is at risk for getting head lice? Head lice are found worldwide. In the United States, infestation with head lice is most common among pre-school children attending childcare, elementary schoolchildren, and the household members of infested children. Although reliable data on how many people in the U.S. get head lice each year are not available, an estimated six million to 12 million infestations occur yearly among children ages 3 to 11 years. Infestation with head lice is much less common among African Americans than among persons of other races, possibly because the claws of the head louse found most frequently in the U.S. are better adapted for grasping the shape and width of the hair shaft of other races.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Candidate Forum: Warren County Clerk of the Court
The Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce hosted the first Candidate Forum on Thursday, October 17, at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School for Warren County Sheriff, Board of Supervisors and Clerk of the Circuit Court.
In this video will be the candidates for Warren County Clerk of the Court. There are three candidates running for this position: Janice Shanks, Angie Moore and Stephen Jerome.