Killer whales display personality traits similar to those of humans and chimpanzees, such as playfulness, cheerfulness and affection, according to new research.
For the first time in seven years, rural America’s population is growing. The annual U.S. Department of Agriculture report “Rural America at a Glance” found the increase — only 0.08 percent — mainly in scenic rural areas like the Rocky Mountains, more densely populated rural areas and rural communities that are within about an hour’s drive of a major city. Essentially, places where people still have access to urban amenities or can go hiking, biking, fishing or skiing.Rural Midwestern counties continue to lose people, and are getting older. Jon Cromerty, one of the USDA report’s lead authors, said these things are connected.With some rural communities, he said, folks are aging in place while younger people keep leavinga. Fewer people means fewer jobs to keep other young people around. And to top it off, there’s a shrinking labor pool as residents retire, making it difficult to attract new businesses.
n the heart of central Florida lies Silver Spring State Park—a large patchwork of forests and wetlands with a spring-fed river flowing through it. One of Florida’s first tourist attractions, the park was once known for its scenic vistas and native wildlife. But for the last 80 years, the park’s biggest draw has been its monkeys.That’s right—Silver Spring State Park is home to at least 300 rhesus macaques, a monkey native to south and southeast Asia. The animals are breeding rapidly, and a new study estimates that the monkey population will double by 2022 unless state agencies take steps to control it.The study, published October 26 in the journal Wildlife Management, claims that such an increase could put the health of the park and its visitors in serious jeopardy—because, among other problems, the monkeys carry a rare and deadly form of herpes virus called herpes B. It’s extremely, extremely rare for herpes B to spread from a monkey to a human, but when it does, it can be fatal.
Both nature and humans share blame for California’s devastating wildfires, but forest management did not play a major role, despite President Donald Trump’s claims, fire scientists say. Nature provides the dangerous winds that have whipped the fires, and human-caused climate change over the long haul is killing and drying the shrubs and trees that provide the fuel, experts say.“Natural factors and human-caused global warming effects fatally collude” in these fires, said wildfire expert Kristen Thornicke of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.Multiple reasons explain the fires’ severity, but “forest management wasn’t one of them,” University of Utah fire scientist Philip Dennison said.
In states where Republicans won close governors’ races, rural GOP support was a big part of the pattern. The Democrats who won gubernatorial races in Wisconsin and Kansas made rural more of a contest and protected their metropolitan advantages.The performance of Democratic candidates in Wisconsin and Kansas looked quite different than the races in Florida and Georgia. In Wisconsin (see graph at the top of the page), Democrat Tony Evers beat incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker 2 to 1 in the core counties of major metro areas. Evers also won medium-sized metropolitan areas. Although Republican Walker managed to win a solid lead in the small metros and rural areas, his performance lacked the sharp rise in popularity as counties became more rural.The Kansas gubernatorial contest also lacked the characteristic Republican rise in popularity among rural voters. Democrat Laura Kelly won major metropolitan counties (both core and suburban), the suburbs of medium-sized metropolitan areas, and the rural counties located farthest from metropolitan areas.
Without a doubt, rural voters lean right: two-thirds of rural residents (68%) consider themselves to be conservative or moderate, over 50 percent (52%) approve of Donald Trump’s job performance, and when it comes to generic House candidates, Republicans hold a 10 point margin (43-33). However, polling also strongly suggests that small-town folks feel the system is rigged for the powerful and wealthy, and a clear majority (77%) of rural residents think Congress is giving tax breaks to the wealthy instead of investing in rural areas.Over 75% think politicians blame new immigrants or people of color to divide and distract from the real source of our problems instead of delivering for working people.Two out of three (67%) support offering free tuition to local community colleges and trade schools, and a similar number (64%) want Medicare to cover all Americans. Over half (54%) back an increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and only 38 percent support outlawing abortions.But despite the popularity of progressive policies among small town voters, a majority of rural Americans (55%) don’t think Democrats are fighting for their community.
The Show Me State elected a Republican U.S. senator and, by roughly the same margins, turned around and approved ballot initiatives that reform elections, raise the minimum wage, and legalize medical marijuana.
The ability to be resilient is a practical necessity for residents of rural areas. But the long-practiced goal of self-sufficiency now has a broader definition that calls on residents in the region to adapt to change, regional planning experts note.Resiliency could be be applied to land use practices, according to a proposed regional program, such as expanding maple sugar operations and the ability to grow new varieties of fruit trees. Called the “Rural Resiliency Community,” the program was discussed Wednesday with members of the Northwest Hills Council of Governments.Regional planner Joanna Brown presented draft information to the members, which included a vision statement and a 16-item action plan. It calls on regional governments and residents to “implement strategies to manage change while maintaining and celebrating its rural character.”Strategies could be applied to changing weather patterns, which affect farming, the management of natural resources or the simple act of neighbors helping neighbors, Brown noted in the proposal.
Deputies in Kansas City, Missouri serving an eviction notice on Wednesday morning got quite the surprise when they found some illegal animals at the home. A six-foot, 150-pound alligator, three pythons, a rabbit and several “domesticated” animals, including cats, were found at a home in the Kansas City, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxycontin, put the sales pressure on doctors who already wrote more opioid prescriptions. That steered the pill away from black, rural counties and toward regions with greater numbers of whites. A noticeably lower overdose rate across the rural Deep South may be one result. Rural counties in the South with a high percentage of African Americans tend to have lower drug-overdose rates, leading to speculation that racism may have had the unintended consequence of insulating blacks from some of the opioid epidemic.“Across the rural South and into the Delta region, where you have very large proportions of rural African American populations, the overdose rate is actually relatively low,” said Michael Meit, co-director of the Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis, which released a map of county-level overdose deaths earlier this fall.