Tech students tackle environment

HOUGHTON — The Portage Lake District Library hosted a public forum on environmental issues that affect us globally and locally.

The forum was presented Monday evening by Michigan Technological University students from the Communications for Natural Resources course.

The forum consisted of 10 presenters, each with an individual issue, split into four different categories. Between each set of presentations, there was an allotted time for quick question-and-answer sessons or time to get snacks.

The categories discussed were: Wildlife hazard, Invasive species and Tree disease; Wildlife diseases that may be coming to the U.P; Lions and wolves and bears, oh my!; and Plastics in our lakes and oceans.

Senior Cheyanne Boucher’s issue was White Nose Syndrome, specifically focusing on bats in the U.P.

The syndrome is caused by a white fungus that grows in the nose of hibernating bats. The infection causes erosion of their wings and increases carbon dioxide in the bat’s blood, leading to dehydration.

“The best thing a person can do to prevent this is by cleaning their shoes and equipment before and after entering any caves or mines, said Boucher.”

Boucher wants people to understand the good that the bats do and how this infection affects us all.

“I know when a lot of people think of pollination they think of bees and butterflies, but not really bats,” said Boucher. “Even though a lot of people don’t realize all the ecological goods and services that bats provide, they do a lot for us. Eating millions of insects a year, pollinating, and dispersing seeds.”

Other presentations discussed a number of other wildlife hazards, such as at airports, the invasion of Asian Carp, Beech Bark disease in the U.P., Chronic wasting disease in deer, cougars in Michigan, Black Bear hunting conflicts, declaring wolves as a game species, plastic pollution in the Great Lakes, and even plastic pollution in the oceans.

The presenters had brochures that had facts regarding each issue. The importance was to show how the issues directly affect communities, our entire ecological system, and how we can prevent them or fix them.

“The course gives us a bit of information about everything we can expect in our field,” said Boucher.

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