Killer Whales Fall Prey to Mosquitos; An Environmentalist Dies for His Cause

TreeHugger on dying killer whales, The Associated Press on an eco-martyr, The Los Angeles Times on a polluting  theme park, Fair Warning on tree poisoning and The Arizona Capitol Times on a scary new law.

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See full coverage on killer whale deaths at the hands of mosquitos. Not a happy story, to be sure, but pretty extraordinary that little tiny bugs caused the death of SeaWorld's mighty killer whales. According to Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, two killer whales kicked the bucket because of a mosquito-born illness from West Nile and St. Louis encephalitis. "I think it is safe to say that no one would have thought of the risks that mosquitoes might pose to orcas in captivity," Courtney Vail at WDCS says. "But considering the amount of time they unnaturally spend at the surface in shallow pools at these facilities, it is yet another deadly and unfortunate consequence of the inadequate conditions inherent to captivity.” [TreeHugger]

The AP on an environmentalist martyr. In a sad reminder of how speaking out can get you killed, the AP reports today that a Cambodian police officer killed a well-known environmentalist and then took his own life. "Chut Wutty had been taking photographs on Wednesday in a forest where a Chinese company is building a hydropower dam," the AP reports. "He refused to stop when an officer called In Ratana asked him to, military police spokesman Kheng Tito said." According to the spokesman, "When he learned that Chut Wutty died, he killed himself with his own weapon." [AP]

The Los Angeles Times on Six Flags polluting a river. According to LA Times reporter Tony Barboza, environmental groups say the theme park is dumping contaminated water into the Santa Clara River and subsequently the ocean. "The allegations were made in a letter sent to the Valencia theme park last week by a coalition of environmental groups, whose investigators say they found alarming levels of pollutants in water sloshing out of the facility's storm water outfalls into the nearby waterway during rainstorms," he writes. "The theme park came under scrutiny last year after a tip from a park employee who expressed concern that Magic Mountain's practice of washing down its midways, bathrooms and restaurants at the end of the day was washing pollutants into the river, the environmental groups said. Community members also complained about pollution and trash in the waterway." [LAT]

Fair Warning on criminal tree poisoning. There's a dark secret behind the world of roadside billboards. Some companies are poising trees if they threaten to block the view of roadside traffic. As Fair Warning's Myron Levin, Lilly Fowler and Stuart Silverstein explain, "Trees were the enemy if they spoiled the view of a billboard. On days of an attack, Barnhart, 27, would arrive by dawn at Lamar Advertising Co. in Tallahassee, Fla. After removing the magnetic Lamar logo from a company truck, he would set forth with a machete, a hospital mask and a container of what he described as a 'pretty gnarly' herbicide." He would poison the trees so they would wilt away—an offense that is now making his company subject of a criminal investigation. [Fair Warning]

The Arizona Capitol Times on Arizona's new anti-environment law. Hat tip to Grist for pointing this story out. The Arizona House of Representatives has submitted a new bill in the state and according to Sarah Laskow, it's going to have quite the far-reaching consequences for environmental regulation in the state.. The bill, SB 1507, "could prevent that state from doing even the tiniest smidgen of environmentally friendly work. Solar and wind projects that used a dollar of government funding would be made illegal. State universities could have to stop all sustainability-related research. State buildings wouldn’t even be able to use CFL lightbulbs." [Arizona Capital Times]
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