Raccoons in your attic? Snakes in your walls?

Raccoons having babies in your attic?

Snakes in your walls?

Check out this news release from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources:

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky is blessed with a diversity of wildlife – some 74 species of mammals, 380 species of birds, and 112 species of reptiles and amphibians.

Many of the state’s outdoor enthusiasts encourage wildlife on their property and spend countless hours and considerable sums of money, to get close to nature and its wild creatures.

But, when a family of raccoons takes up residence in the attic, or an opossum spends more time in your garage than the family car does, it doesn’t take long for these uninvited guests to become a nuisance.

That’s when it’s time to call the local Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator.

“They are permitted to take and transport wildlife causing damage or threatening public health and safety,” said Chad Soard, a wildlife biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “At the present time, we have 106 licensed Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators in Kentucky.”

Operators are typically small business owners — men and women working in Kentucky cities, suburbs and rural areas. Operators charge fees to remove nuisance wildlife and operators they work year-round, often outside legal hunting and trapping seasons.

Based on the annual reports submitted by operators, the raccoon is the number one nuisance wildlife species based on the annual reports. A majority of the raccoons captured live in the state’s three largest metropolitan areas – Louisville, Lexington and northern Kentucky.

“During the 2008-09 license year operators captured 4,723 raccoons, 3,016 squirrels, 1,854 opossums and 878 skunks,” said Soard. Other nuisance wildlife species that operators encountered included bats, woodchucks, coyotes, muskrats, beavers, chipmunks, birds, foxes, snakes, river otters, turtles, rabbits, mink and bobcats.

Robert Chilton, who operates Wildlife Animal Control in Henry County, said problems with nuisance wildlife change with the seasons.

“In January and February, when skunks are breeding, the females are seeking out dens, and that’s when you get problems with them digging under porches,” said Chilton. “The males are fighting over females and they do a lot of spraying.”

In May, there can be a spike in calls when raccoons begin to bear their young, and decide to set up a home in somebody’s attic. “They walk on the roof and find a way to get in from under the eve,” said Chilton. “Squirrels will do that too. They like to go through air vents.”

The telltale sign that something is living in the attic is when homeowners hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet running across attic joists.

In mid-summer, snakes can become a nuisance when they shed their skins. “They want to get away, where there isn’t any activity. They are vulnerable when they molt,” said Chilton. That’s why snakes try to come inside garages and out buildings and sometimes crawl between walls in houses.

With the onset of cold weather, squirrels seek out warmth in attics. Squirrels have a bad habit of actually working their way downstairs into houses. “They follow the light and gnaw their way through gaps in the plywood, where a pipe goes through a wall, the ceiling or into a closet,” said Chilton. 

While many homeowners ask that the animal taken from their property unharmed, Soard said relocating nuisance wildlife is not always the best option. “The primary threat is the spread of disease to new populations,” he said. “Also, relocated animals often die soon after release due to natural mortality factors — starvation from not being able to find food, or injury from fights with animals they encounter, when attempting to establish a new territory.”

By law, injured or diseased wildlife must be euthanized.

Nuisance wildlife control operators are permitted to deal with native wildlife under state jurisdiction, but they can’t capture and transport federally-protected species unless they get a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Federally protected species include song birds, birds of prey (such as hawks and owls) and migratory waterfowl.

Resident Canada geese only migrate during periods of severe cold and snow and are a problem in urban areas, where they live around lakes in city parks, golf courses, and suburban neighborhoods. Goose droppings create a mess on sidewalks and driveways, and at times the big birds can be aggressive.

The name and telephone number of Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators, and the counties in which they work, are posted on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s website at fw.ky.gov.



If fireworks shoot or explode, they’re illegal

Still thinking about buying fireworks?

You might be interested in this news release from the Kentucky State Fire Marshal’s office.

 “The Kentucky State Fire Marshal’s office has uncovered attempts by those selling fireworks to skirt state laws in order to sell otherwise illegal fireworks.

“William Swope, Jr., Kentucky’s state fire marshal, says his office has been given waivers that some sellers are handing to customers who wish to buy illegal fireworks. The waiver, to be signed by the customer, states the customer “is admitting that you will not set off, use or detonate these fireworks in the state of Kentucky, but rather that you will transport these fireworks outside of the state of Kentucky for lawful retail sale or use in another state.”

“Anyone purchasing illegal fireworks, signing these waivers and knowingly disregarding Kentucky laws by re-selling or detonating the fireworks in Kentucky is committing fraud,” said Swope. “By inducing the consumer to purchase and use the fireworks illegally, the seller is also committing fraud.”

“The waivers are being seen more frequently as the Fourth of July celebration weekend approaches. While most licensed fireworks vendors comply with the law, those that do not can be cited and fined.

 “To reinforce our earlier message regarding fireworks safety, the law permits only certain ‘Class C Safe and Sane’ fireworks. If a firework explodes or shoots in the air, it’s illegal,” added Swope. “Many communities will be hosting professional firework shows this weekend. Please take your family to see these displays rather than risk permanent injury to yourself or a loved one.”

OMU customers demand electricity, water

Last week’s extended heat wave drove up electricity usage in Owensboro. Last Wednesday, when the temperature hit 95 degrees with high humidity keeping conditioners humming, OMU’s native load demand reached 192.4 megawatts, the peak so far for this year.
OMU’s all-time peak for local demand was set on Aug. 7, 2007, when it hit 203.4 megawatts. It was 99 degrees in Owensboro on that Tuesday.
But OMU customers weren’t just demanding a lot of electricity last week. They also used a lot of water. On Wednesday, the same day the electricity peak was set, OMU pumped 16.1 million gallons of water to its local customers and the Daviess County water districts it serves. That was this year’s peak for water usage.

Why does road department need a crossbow?

When Daviess Fiscal Court paid the bills last week, there was a $154.71 item for the road department marked “crossbow.”

So why does the road department need a crossbow?

Planning to shoot some groundhogs?

No, it seems Crossbow is a brand of herbicide weed and brush killer.


Ben Hawes getting new golf carts

Ben Hawes Golf Course and Park operates a fleet of 60 Yamaha gasoline-powered golf carts, built in 2005. As early as July, they will be gone, probably replaced by 72 new electric carts, course manager Chris Cary said Tuesday.

“We’ll start the bidding process this week, and we’ll probably go with electric,” he said.

Electric carts are less expensive to operate and quieter, Cary said. But they have to perform, he said.

“We want them to go 36 holes (without recharging) and be able to go up No. 7.”

The seventh hole has the steepest hill on the course.

Golfers will be seeing plenty of other changes at the course, which the city took over from the state this week. The pro shop will have much more golf merchandise, Cary said, including apparel. A  bar and grill will be installed in the old house (former pro shop) near the putting green.

As for the course itself, some of the tee boxes will be lengthened to provide tees closer to the holes for players who prefer shorter distances. Walking bridges on the par-3 course will be repaired soon and both courses will be sprayed for mosquitoes.

The lights on the par-3 course will be turned on for the first time in about 10 years, as soon as they are repaired. Night play will be allowed until 10 p.m.

Lobbying is a growing business

Lobbyists have spent more than $8.4 million in Frankfort during the first four months of 2010, the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission reports.

Here’s the article from the commission’s May newsletter, The Ethics Reporter:

Final spending reports for lobbying in the 2010 General Assembly show the amounts spent on lobbying in Kentucky have grown significantly over the last 12 years, much like lobbying activity in other states and in Washington, D.C.

 In Kentucky’s recently completed Regular Session, lobbyists and their employers spent $8.4 million communicating on legislation with legislators, top executive branch officials, and staff.  More than $7 million of that total was compensation paid to lobbyists by the businesses and organizations which employ them.

 Over $1.2 million of the total was spent on employer and lobbyist expenses such as phone banking, office expenses, and lobbyists’ travel to and from Frankfort.  About $148,000 was spent during the session on receptions, meals or events to which groups of legislators were invited. 

 The total for the first four months of 2010 already exceeds the $8.1 million that was spent on lobbying in the entire year of 1998.  That 1998 total was more than doubled two years ago when 2008 lobbying spending hit $16.9 million, and spending is on track to go even higher this year.

 There were 656 employers registered during the 2010 legislative session, and 667 lobbyists.  That’s an average of about five lobbyists per legislator.  By comparison, in the 1998 General Assembly, there were 480 employers and 531 lobbyists registered.

 Three years ago, The Center for Public Integrity gathered the total number of lobbyists in each state and divided it by the total number of legislators.  On average nationwide, there are five lobbyists for every state legislator.  In the states surrounding Kentucky, Illinois had 12 lobbyists per legislator, Indiana averaged four per legislator, Ohio had 10, West Virginia had three, Virginia had seven, Tennessee had three, and Missouri had five lobbyists per legislator.  

 As in Kentucky, total lobbying spending in Washington, D.C. has more than doubled in recent years, from $1.56 billion in 2000 to $3.49 billion in 2009, according to calculations by the Center for Responsive Politics, based on data from the U.S. Senate Office of Public Records.

 Likewise, the number of lobbyists registered to lobby Congress has increased from 10,403 in 1998 to 13,754 in 2009.  

Lobbying Spending for the 2010 General Assembly

A breakdown of the $8.4 million spent on lobbying in the 2010 General Assembly shows that businesses and organizations employing lobbyists spent almost $7.9 million of the total. 

 Additionally, lobbyists spent about $536,000, mostly on office expenses ($518,000), along with receptions, meals, and events to which groups of legislators were invited ($18,000).  Lobbyists reported no money spent on meals for individual legislators. 

  The organization that spent the most on lobbying in the session was the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), representing businesses which manufacture or market non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines. 

 CHPA registered to lobby on March 8, and spent over $311,000 in the last month of the session, including $303,000 on phone banking.  CHPA represents several companies which employ lobbyists in Kentucky, including GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Pfizer, and Purdue Pharma, but CHPA was last registered to lobby in Kentucky in 2005.

  The second biggest spending employer in the 2010 session was Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco.  Altria employed 31 lobbyists and spent $170,000 lobbying on House Bill 296, which would have changed the excise tax on moist snuff and other tobacco products.  Included in Altria’s total is $27,000 spent on phone banking.  Altria’s 2010 spending was over two and one-half times more than the company spent in the 2008 General Assembly.

  The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce spent over $105,000 on lobbying in the 2010 session, compared with $92,000 in the 2008 General Assembly.

  Other top-spending employers for 2010 include Kentucky Retail Federation ($83,900); Kentucky Education Association ($81,800); Kentucky Medical Association ($77,000); Wellpoint – Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield ($72,700); Kentucky Bankers Association ($72,300); Kentucky Hospital Association ($70,700); Kentucky Association of Health Plans, Inc. ($64,000); and University Health Care, Inc. ($61,700).

  Wellpoint-Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield ($40,100 in 2008) and the Ky. Association of Health Plans ($17,600 in 2008) significantly increased spending in the 2010 session compared with the last 60-day session.  The other top-spending groups spent similar amounts in both years.

  Of the 656 employers registered with the Ethics Commission for the 2010 General Assembly, 90 employers reported that they paid no compensation to any lobbyist during the 2010 session.  Among those which registered, but apparently did no lobbying in the session:  Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association, Inc.; Communications Workers of America; DaVita, Inc., (one of the biggest spending employers in 2008 and 2009); Food With Wine Coalition; Kentuckians For Better Transportation; Kindred Healthcare, Inc.; Kentucky Oil & Gas Association; LifeLock, Inc.; Museum Plaza, LLC; Novartis Pharmaceuticals; Time Warner Cable; and United Mine Workers of America.

Libertarian Party condemns Rand Paul

News stories about Rand Paul, the Republican Senate nominee from Kentucky, frequently refer to his Libertarian background. But the Libertarian Party of Kentucky issued a statement Tuesday distancing itself from Paul.

Here’s the statement:

Independence, Ky. – The Libertarian Party of Kentucky strongly condemns the hurtful comments of Republican senate candidate Rand Paul.

Rand Paul belongs to the Republican Party of Kentucky, an association which he makes of his own free will.

Dr. Paul’s sole libertarian credentials come from Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, former adversary Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson, and many in the mainstream media.

 In an effort to clear our good name, we make this public statement.

Rand Paul is not a libertarian. There are clear differences between the Libertarian Party, including the philosophy upon which is it based, and the philosophy and campaign rhetoric of Rand Paul.

While the Libertarian Party shares some stances traditionally associated with the Republican Party, the LP also shares common ground on positions traditionally associated with the Democratic Party, and not always for the same reasons.

We are an alternative to the two party system, not constrained by the model that defines both major parties.

Libertarians want a complete repeal of the PATRIOT Act, closure of Guantanamo Bay, and an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rand Paul has stated that he wants to continue military detentions at Guantanamo Bay, a retroactive official declaration of war by Congress, and has denied that he seeks to overturn the PATRIOT Act.

In further contrast, libertarians want to provide a mechanism by which non-traditional couples can receive equal protection under the law. Rand Paul has voiced his support of the discriminatory “one man, one woman” definition of marriage and his opposition to any other civil contract option.

In 2009, social conservatives in Kentucky outlawed adoption by anyone not living in a traditional, legally-recognized marriage – a concept so extreme that even family counselor and conservative talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger has opposed it. The Libertarian Party stood in strong opposition to this legislation. Rand Paul has acknowledged that he agrees with his party in this, squarely placing himself at odds with the Libertarian Party of Kentucky and libertarians nationwide, who have a strong record of fighting these inequities.

 The Libertarian Party of Kentucky has primarily avoided being involved in the race for US Senate to date, other than to defend our party and the philosophy upon which it is built, and we intend to continue avoiding involvement.

Rand Paul’s statements regarding all forms of discrimination are not consistent with, nor do they reflect the views of, the Libertarian Party of Kentucky. Rand Paul does not speak for us or for our party. We condemn all bigotry based on any and all factors.

 The Libertarian Party of Kentucky is the official state affiliate for the Libertarian Party, America’s third largest political party. Founded in 1971, the Libertarian Party prides itself on a history of fighting for oppressed members of society and the rights of all citizens. More information is available on our website, http://www.LPKY.org.