The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Letters

August 20, 2013

Bees, bats and bass

(Continued)

Today those numbers are measured in the dozens not thousands.

It has been well-documented that beginning in 2005, the smallmouth bass population on the main stem of the Susquehanna River has been on a steady decline with current bass populations depleted. By 2005, the population of rock bass in the river had already declined by 90 percent (sound familiar). These bass suffer from three distinct problems: fatal skin lesions on young of the year bass, inter-sexing of male bass and Black Spot Syndrome.

We have established names for each of the conditions affecting the bass, bees and bats, but the cause for all of this mass devastation remains unknown. The research in all three cases suspects chemical compounds in the environment introduced through pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, pharmaceutical waste or other industrial waste compounds that all contribute to the breakdown of the immune systems of these and other mammals, fish and insects. Why don't we find the cause and fix it, lack of priority, lack of funding and lack of political will. If this paper were titled, Cats, Cattle and Children, and we suffered 90 percent population declines of each we would know the cause before this year was over.

For years the political battle in Harrisburg has been over declaring the Susquehanna River as impaired -- shouldn't our goal be to demand the science to declare our river safe. Isn't it odd that state and federal agencies do not have an official designation of safe? Our environment is assumed safe until designated otherwise. Designations like troubled, threatened or impaired require detailed scientific studies, but safe can be based on an assumption.

The public has been programmed to default to safe when other scientific evidence is lacking. There are and never have been any scientific studies that support DEP's claim of a safe river. Don't we deserve better science then that?

Jim Charles,

Selinsgrove

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