Roadkill, climate extremes and GMOs

Published 9:26 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2017

By Susan and Biff Andrews

You can tell where you are in the U.S.A. by the roadkill you encounter.

Where are you if you see dead antelopes? Moose? Roadrunners? Turtles? Porcupines? Alligators? Elk? Jackalopes?

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Here we’re pretty much limited to possum, deer and raccoons. Question: Why did the chicken cross the road? Answer: To show the possum it COULD be done.

  • I defy you to eat in one slurp many of the oysters coming out of the mighty James.
  • We watched this morning as two yellow-bellied sapsuckers circled around a tree in a mating dance, which wouldn’t have been odd if we hadn’t seen three pileated woodpeckers dancing around a tree — two circling, one watching — the exact same way about three years ago.
  • There are certain plants and animals that are “indicator” species as to the health of our environment. The good news: The otter and lichen are everywhere in the Great Dismal Swamp. The bad news: There are fewer otters in Windsor Castle Park in Smithfield and fewer foxes, frogs, snakes and otters on Lake Meade in Suffolk.
  • 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded … until 2015 was the hottest year ever recorded … until 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded. Are we picking up a pattern here, climate-change deniers?
  • Speaking of climate extremes, 2016 was the second or third wettest year ever in our area.
  • I sure hope that in the coming year menhaden will come to be managed by scientists, not Omega Protein lobbyists. But I’ve been hoping that for decades.
  • Speaking of pro-business and anti-environmental attitudes, keep your eyes on the EPA — now being run by someone who has sued it many times to relax regulations. Keep your eyes on the National Parks for drilling rigs and the coastal plain for drilling rigs, much less the Arctic. Maybe Mr. Tillerson will just drill in Russia.
  • Love nature? Use the internet. Anytime we see something in the woods, on the beach, or on the water that we don’t understand, we research, research, research. What a wonderful tool is the internet.
  • We’re deeply conflicted about Encore azaleas and Knockout roses and other non-native species that are “improvements” on traditional species. They’re beautiful, convenient and pretty, but insects may not recognize them.

But then, that’s better than the poor honeybees that may land on Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn and die. Someday soon the United States is going to see why Europeans have pretty much banned such crops — perhaps when all the bee colonies have collapsed.

Susan and Bradford “Biff” Andrews are retired teachers and master naturalists who have been outdoor people all their lives, exploring and enjoying the woods, swamps, rivers and beaches throughout the region for many years. Email them at