Chronic wasting disease was first discovered in deer in the Rocky Mountains in the 1960’s. Since then, its spread to the Midwest, Canada and a few eastern states, and there has been ongoing debate about the best ways to keep the disease from infecting more deer. CWD, which is 100% fatal and incurable in deer populations and has been in Illinois for the past decade. According to new research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the state is doing something right when it comes to managing the disease. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Nohra Mateus-Pinilla, a wildlife veterinary epidemiologist for the Illinois Natural History Survey, and Jan Novakofski, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and a Professor of Animal Science, about the disease, how it affects deer and why we should be concerned with keeping it from spreading. We’ll also talk about managing diseases that have epidemic potential in wildlife populations.
Patients who can see outside from a hospital room often heal faster than those who can't, and even a little exposure to the natural world has been shown to decrease symptoms of ADD. If we all spent a little more time outside, what other benefits might we see? And, can you really credit those benefits solely to spending more time outside?
This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with author and journalist Richard Louv about what he calls “the nature principle.” Louv argues many of us are plagued by “nature-deficit disorder,” but says there are seven basic concepts that can help. We'll talk with Louv this hour about nature deficit disorder, why he says its so problematic and what we can do about it.
The US Agriculture Department said yesterday that the honey bee population declined by more than 30 percent last winter, continuing a decrease in honey bee numbers that began in 2005. That’s a problem as more than 20 billion dollars worth of annual harvests rely on bees for pollination. No one really knows exactly why bees are disappearing, although many speculate it’s due to what scientists are calling colony collapse disorder. Researchers have pointed to pesticides, stress and microbial organisms as possible causes but conclusive answers have so far been elusive.
This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with May Berenbaum, Professor of Entomology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign about colony collapse disorder, what it is, and what might be causing it. According to new research, high fructose corn syrup could also play a role. We’ll also hear from David Burns, a Master Beekeeper and owner of Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in Fairmount.
Are you a bee keeper? Are you a concerned farmer or gardener? We want to hear your story. Post in the comments section below!
Controversial legislation to regulate the fracking industry in Illinois written by both energy officials and environmental group leaders is being considered at the statehouse. Policy makers in other Midwest states that have yet to regulate their own fracking industries say that the way the legislation was written could serve as a model, both for its strict regulatory standards and for the voices that had a say in writing the regulations. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Allen Grosboll, Co-Legislative Director for the Environmental Law and Policy Center, Representative for Illinois 11th District Ann Williams who is Chief Co-Sponsor of the bill, and Tom Wolf, Executive Director of the Energy Council at the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, part of the GROW-Iliinois, a group that has been working in support of fracking in Illinois.
Amanda Vinicky, Statehouse Bureau Chief for Illinois Public Radio, also joins us with the latest news about the bill.
Next week on Focus, we'll talk with one of the pioneers in the reserach of happiness about how he got the pscyhological science community to take him seriously, how computers could soon change the way we talk about prescription side effects and how environmental groups came together to work with energy companies to write state regualtions for hyrdraulic fracturing.
Bats are notorious in popular culture, but they play a vital role in our eco-system. Of the more than 1,000 species that exist worldwide, 13 can be found in Illinois, and six of those species are now being threatened by white nose syndrome, a poorly understood disease that's responsible for mass die offs of hundreds of thousands of bats nationwide. During this episode of Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Ed Heske, a mammalian ecologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, a part of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois, about bats, why they’re important and why white nose syndrome is so scary, especially for farmers.
During this episode of Focus, we talk about the benefits of planting native plants and wildflowers in your yard and garden. Sherrie Snyder, a master naturalist and the President of Illinois Prairie Wild Ones, a non-profit that promotes the use of native plants in landscaping, joins us to talk about how wildflowers don’t have to look wild and how native plants don’t have to look unkempt. We’ll talk about what native plants draw what kinds of native wildlife and find out the best flowers to plant if you want butterflies and birds in your yard.
During this episode of Focus, host Jim Meadows talked with author David Toomey about his new book, “Weird Life: The Search for Life that is Very, Very Different From Our Own.” He tells us about organisms that live off acid rather than water, those that reproduce without DNA and thrive in temperatures and pressures so extreme that they really shouldn’t be alive in the first place. Meadows also talked with Toomey about our fascination with exotic life forms here on Earth and why we’re so fascinated with the possibility of the discovery of life in the rest of the universe.
The Truth… about insects, is out there. At least that’s May Berenbaum’s position on the matter. This hour on Focus, host Craig Cohen talks with Berenbaum, University of Illinois Professor of Entomology, about this year’s Insect Fear Film Festival. We’ll ask her about this year's X-Files theme, and the character from Season 3 of the X-Files who is named for her. Bambi Berenbaum, an entomologist who appears the episode “War of the Coprophages,” is named for May. We interviewed Chris Carter Tuesday, February 19 on Focus and asked him about it. Find the podcast here.
Cohen also talks with Berenbaum about conspiracy theories surrounding UFO’s and her upcoming article in American Entomologist about how UFO’s are most likely insect swarms. Then, we'll discuss what’s in the future for cyborg insects, robotic bugs equipped with transmitters, cameras and recording devices.
Do you have questions about insects… real or robotic? Join our conversation! Connect with the show on Facebook and Twitter or post in the comments section below.
Winter is here. You ready?
Guest: Ed Kieser, Meteorologist, American Electric Power, Columbus, OH; Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Journalism at the University of Illinois
It's been one of the the warmest years on record, but that doesn't mean the Midwestern winter won't bring it's own challenges. On the first Monday of meteorological winter, we'll talk with former WILL meteorologist Ed Kieser about how to prepare for and what to expect from winter weather. We'll also offer you an opportunity to win a prize suitable for stocking stuffing in our Focus Winter Weather Preparedness quiz!