By the Numbers

Beyond propaganda and rhetoric, numbers tell the real story

Gray wolf
The gray wolf population has increased enough to warrant its removal from Michigan’s list of threatened species.

A recently released joint study by the Global Invasive Species Programme and the Nature Conservancy claims that damage from invasive species costs the world $1.4 trillion annually — about 5 percent of the global economy. Among the invasive species highlighted in the report are two proposed biofuel crops. The giant reed, a wildfire-prone plant from western Asia, is already establishing itself in North and Central America, while the African oil palm is encroaching on the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. According to the study, the United States spends $120 billion each year controlling damage caused by non-native plants and animals, including purple loosestrife, zebra mussels and emerald ash borers in Michigan.

For more information, visit invasivespecies/strategies/ art24885.html

Gray wolf and bald eagle populations have increased enough to warrant their removal from Michigan's list of threatened species, along with the osprey and two insect species. In the 1950s, only 412 pairs of bald eagles were breeding in the 48 contiguous states; today there are 515 nesting pairs in Michigan alone. The gray wolf's comeback is similarly dramatic, growing from just three in 1989 to more than 500 in 2007, though the species remains endangered federally. Currently, 40 animal species are designated under Michigan's Endangered Species Program, with another 41 listed as threatened. The state Department of Natural Resources is considering amendments shifting three threatened species to the endangered list. Forty-six other species — 30 of them mollusks — would be listed as endangered or threatened for the first time.

For more information, visit bald_eagle_gray_wolf_may_leave.html,1607,7-153-10370_12141_ 12168---,00.html

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first Ford Model T to roll off the production line. Though the gas-powered automobile premiered in Germany in 1885, the Model T was the first car to be mass-produced with interchangeable parts. According to the Henry Ford Museum, its 20-horsepower, four-cylinder engine allowed it to cruise at a top speed of 45 miles per hour with gas mileage of 13 to 21 miles per gallon. More than 15 million Model Ts were built from 1909 until 1927. During that time the price declined from $825 to $260.

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Researchers at Texas A&M University are hoping that hormonal contraceptives can reduce the population of wild hogs, which can cause millions of dollars in property damage and carry infectious diseases. Beginning at six months of age, swine can produce litters of four to eight piglets twice annually throughout their 15- to 25-year lifespan, meaning that a small population of pigs can increase their numbers significantly over the course of several years. The contraceptive addresses this by preventing the sow's eggs from maturing. According to the Department of Natural Resources, Michigan wild pig sightings have increased over the past several years, totaling 116 between 2001 and 2007. An additional 127 hogs were shot by hunters during the same period. The DNR says that pork from feral swine is safe for human consumption if it has been cooked to a temperature of 170.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

For more information, visit wildhogs_0519.html?cxntlid=inform_sr