Great Lakes Syringes, Again (and Again)

This wouldn’t be so damn annoying if it weren’t so damn common. Great Lakes beach-goers are being warned to avoid … muck? No. E. coli bacteria? No, not this time. Syringes? Yes, syringes, from Milwaukee.

“The Department of Natural Resources and Environment has received recent
reports of syringes washing up on Lake Michigan-area beaches from Shelby to Arcadia,” officials said in a news release issued today. “It is suspected that the syringes are from a major combined sewer overflow that occurred in the Milwaukee area on July 25.”

July 25? Today is Aug. 12. Thanks for the quick notice.

“Wind and lake currents are suspected to have carried the syringes and other waste across the lake, resulting in the waste washing up on the Michigan shoreline. The U.S. Coast Guard has also been made aware of the incident and is investigating its source.”

Awesome. This isn’t the first time I’ve come across such a warning.

Check out this news release from April 2006, issued by then-Michigan Department of Environmental Quality:

“The return of warm weather means that people across Michigan will be headed back to our beaches and parks, and enjoying time on the water. With this increased outdoor activity, there are also increased hazards that can be encountered including finding used syringes in the water or on the shore.”

What? Who was investigating back then? The DEQ. More than four years ago.

“Improper disposal of multiple syringes may be related to illegal management of medical waste by a doctor or veterinarian’s office, a clinic, or a tattoo facility,” the release said.

Milwaukee also sent us some syringes in 2008, notes the Lansing State Journal.

So, here we are in August 2010, still warning people about syringes on Great Lakes beaches. I look forward to a release detailing penalties for depositing this garbage on our beaches, Milwaukee. Which is, according to Alice Cooper, Algonquin for “the good land.”

— Photo via LegalJuice



Were government flies released to combat caterpillars?

My bug bites have bug bites. After four days in northwest Michigan near Traverse City, I’m home, inside, and enjoying the air conditioning. One thing is still bugging me, though. The story that my brother, Scott, told me about black flies. Word in the woods is that the flies, which land on you every 3 seconds this time of year, were released by the Michigan DNR (now DNRE) to control tent caterpillars.

Sounds like a rumor. But usually rumors start out as truths, if you get my drift. According to a posting on UpNorthLive, with a Traverse City dateline, there’s an increase in black flies this year due to an increase in caterpillars. Black flies eat caterpillar larvae.

Which makes you wonder, what’s causing the caterpillar population to grow? And would the DNRE admit to releasing black flies for caterpillar control if the project went haywire (as in, annoying the hell out of people)?

David Lemmien, a DNRE unit manager, says his Traverse City office has been getting lots of calls about the fly-caterpillar scandal, but the DNRE hasn’t released flies to manage the outbreak of forest tent caterpillars.

Let’s take David at his word. Other words in this story aren’t as believable, such as “In fact, the DNRE doesn’t even have the means to raise flies.” Really? That’s laughable. Anyone with a checkbook has a means.  The story also circulated in New York in 2007, though, so it seems pretty mythical.

And there is a way to control black flies — a tip that comes courtesy of the nice cashier at the Village Market in Alden. Rub a dryer sheet on your skin and they’ll stop landing on you. It works. Too bad you can’t rub sheets on trees.

— Image via  Fat Man of the Mountains.


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