Headlines: December 2012

bats white nose syndrome

MARATHON MOM: Alexandria, Va.

Brooke Curran is a stay-at-home mother of three who suffers from asthma. But that hasn’t stopped her from running 51 marathons—the latest of which she completed in Denver this fall. Curran, who resides in the D.C. burbs, is attempting to run a marathon in all 50 states and on all seven continents to raise awareness for breathing problems. So far, the board member of the Allergy and Asthma Network/Mothers of Asthmatics has completed marathons on six continents, including Antarctica, and in 38 states. She plans to finish by October 2013.

MANMADE BAT CAVE: Clarksville, Tenn.

Approximately 5.5 million bats have been killed by White Nose Syndrome. The illness, caused by a deadly fungus, has decimated bat populations across North America. To combat the plight, the Nature Conservancy has built an artificial bat cave just outside of Clarksville. The cave can hold up 160,000 bats during hibernation, and it can be disinfected every spring to help eliminate the fungus. If successful, the cave could be a model for bat populations in other areas that have been greatly affected.


Zipline and canopy tours are exploding in popularity in the U.S., more than doubling in the last year according to word from the Association for Challenge Course Technology. Now that West Virginia has zipline options at 16 different resorts, state lawmakers have become concerned about safety. That has led to the Zipline and Canopy Tour Responsibility Act, a new law which requires zipline operators to face yearly inspections and meet specific safety requirements or risk being shut down.


The most recent fall allergy season was brutal, especially for many in Tennessee, where three cities—Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Memphis—recently landed in the top 11 of a poll ranking the 100 worst places to live with fall allergies. That’s why organizations like the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America are speaking out against proposed legislation that could make some current over-the-counter allergy medications only available by prescription. Some of the medications are used to make meth, another widespread Volunteer State scourge. In addition to sneezing citizens, Tennessee has some of the highest number of meth lab seizures in the country.


Just ahead of his retirement, pro cyclist and regional hero George Hincapie admitted to doping during his lengthy career, which included a record-breaking 17 Tour de France appearances and three national road race titles. As Lance Armstrong’s former teammate on the U.S. Postal Service team, the Greenville resident released a statement in October revealing his involvement in the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation of Armstrong’s doping and also admitted his own use of performance-enhancing drugs. In his statement he said: “Early in my professional career, it became clear to me that, given the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them.”

Beyond the Blue Ridge

STAY OFF THE SEA COW: Pinellas County, Fla.  

A joy ride on a manatee could turn into jail time and big fines for a 52-year-old Florida woman. Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez turned herself in, after authorities unveiled photos of her riding on the back of a sea cow at Fort De Soto Park. If charges are filed, Gutierrez could be on the hook for $500 or 60 days in jail. Manatee safety is taken seriously in Florida. The marine mammals—protected under both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the U.S. Endangered Species Act—are frequently injured or killed in Sunshine State waters, often by motorboats.


A Florida man died shortly after ingesting dozens of cockroaches and worms. The strange dietary choice was part of a contest being held at a pet store. Edward Archbold took first place but soon after collapsed and was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An actual cause of death was not immediately determined. Archbold was trying to win an ivory ball python.


A black bear cub entered an Arizona couple’s home and indulged in some chocolate cake sitting on the kitchen counter. After the orphaned cub scarfed the sweet treat, Game and Fish officers removed it from the home and provided a free ride to a nearby zoo. Arizona’s 2,500 black bears have endured a tough year, often displaced and searching for food as the state has battled wildfires and drought. •


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