Even the animal kingdom reverberates with bad news these days.
Airplanes will spray Dallas with mosquito-killing chemicals tonight in the first wave of an emergency program to fight West Nile disease. Mayor Mike Rawlings declared the state of emergency and authorized the first aerial spraying of insecticide in the city in more than 45 years because more than 200 cases of West Nile and 10 deaths linked to the virus have been reported across Dallas County.
"The number of cases, the number of deaths are remarkable, and we need to sit up and take notice," Rawlings said. "We do have a serious problem right now."
Some Dallas City Council members worried that spraying might have bad health effects on humans and animals. But State health commissioner Dr. David Lakey supported the measure, saying half of all West Nile cases in the United States so far this year are in Texas.
In the Florida Everglades, wildlife officers captured a 17-foot, 7-inch Burmese python and discovered 87 eggs inside the beast. Researchers say this means the pythons are reproducing at an even more alarming rate than they had realized. Burmese pythons in the wild in Asia are known to reach 20 to 25 feet in length, so researchers fully expect that eventually someone will find a 20-foot Burmese python in Florida.
The great reptiles are not native to the state, which has the worst invasive species problems of any of the contiguous 48. No wonder Willard Romney recently canceled his scheduled campaign appearances there!
Unlike the Florida snakes, the wolves of Wyoming are in fact an indigenous species. But that makes no difference to the Department of the Interior, which plans to approve the mass slaughter of wolves in the state later this month.
Ken Salazar, the department secretary who wears goofy hats and an even goofier smile, is rushing the approval to ensure Wyoming's wolf kill plan will be carried out this fall even though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected a similar plan by Wyoming last year.
Wyoming's shoot-on-sight plan will promote the killing of at least 170 wolves and likely many more before the carnage is over. Wolves play an important, positive role in the biodiversity of the state, according to signs placed at various sites by Wyoming's own wildlife officials. Will the signs be removed now?
They're still killing wolves in New Mexico, too. These are Mexican gray cousins of the Rocky Mountain wolves in Wyoming, reintroduced to the southwestern United States after once being extinguished by hunting.
Like Salazar, southern New Mexico's multimillionaire Congressman Stevan Pearce is all for wolf eradication.
Skeeters that cause fatal disease in humans, non-native snakes that have no predators, and wolves that were here before we were -- they're all the same to Ken and Steve.
Like the Shrub that grew in the White House for eight years, they don't do nuance.