WABI (Channel 5), WLBZ (Channel 2), Portland Press Herald, Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal reported the University of Maine Cooperative Extension has taken over state tick identification from the Maine Medical Center Research Institute, which had operated the program for 25 years. UMaine Extension’s Insect and Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab, which identifies 3,000 plant, pest and insect species each year, will expand its services with the Tick ID Lab. The lab is expected to receive up to 1,300 additional tick specimens this year. Jim Dill, pest management specialist with UMaine Extension, said the lab is excited for the opportunity and is ready for the increased workload.
The Morning Sentinel reported the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will offer a six-class workshop on building, planting, maintaining and harvesting square-foot gardens in raised beds and containers. The first class is scheduled for May 1 at the UMaine Extension office in Skowhegan.
The Portland Press Herald reported Maine lawmakers are taking up a proposal for a $73 million bond package that would target investment in the state’s biotechnology and marine sectors and help the growth of small businesses. The package, called the “small business and innovations jobs bond,” includes a proposal of $8 million to renovate and improve a University of Maine Cooperative Extension lab that assists farmers and foresters and identifies pests, as well as plant and animal diseases.
The Morning Sentinel reported on two upcoming pruning workshops offered by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. On Saturday, April 12, Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District will host the UMaine Extension’s David Fuller who will discuss how to prune apple trees at the Extension office in Farmington. Walter Gooley, a conifer expert and retired Maine state forester, will also speak at the event. UMaine Extension will also offer a free apple tree pruning and grafting field day at Avalon Acres Orchard and Farm in Saint Albans on Saturday, April 19.
The health of Maine’s moose is a top priority for researchers and students at the University of Maine’s Animal Health Laboratory. The lab’s director, Anne Lichtenwalner, was approached five years ago by a Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IF&W) moose biologist who wanted to know what was causing occasional calf deaths.
In the past two years, Lichtenwalner, an assistant professor of animal science, and her students examined 150 sets of lungs from Maine moose. Many were infected with lungworms, winter ticks and lung cysts. Lungworms, which can cause pathology, pneumonia, and may even contribute to death, were found in about 24 percent, Lichtenwalner says.
Echinococcus granulosus (EG), the intermediate stage of a tapeworm, was found in the form of lung cysts. The form of EG found in moose is unlikely to affect humans, but it can still infect dogs, making it important to inform the general public, especially hunters and dog owners, about the parasite. The lab published information about EG online and informed state veterinarians to remind clients that tapeworm medication is advised for dogs that may eat infected moose meat or viscera.
The lab is also part of a two-year tracking study assessing the health of moose in Maine and New Hampshire. The lab conducts blood work and processes tissues from the 90 radio-collared Maine moose in the study to test for diseases and parasites.
UMaine operates the Animal Health Lab with support from Cooperative Extension as a service to the state’s veterinarians, livestock producers and animal owners. The lab is used to perform diagnostic services such as necropsy, microbiology, virology and pathology.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension is the new home of the state’s tick identification program. Portland’s Maine Medical Center, which handled the program for 25 years, eliminated the service last December due to funding deficits.
UMaine Extension’s Insect and Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab, which identifies 3,000 plant, pest and insect species each year, will expand its services to compensate for Maine Medical Center’s cut by creating the Tick ID Lab. The lab is expected to receive up to 1,300 additional tick specimens this year.
“It’s going to give the people a much better awareness of ticks and how to avoid ticks in the first place. That’s the big thing this portion of our lab will do,” says Jim Dill, pest management specialist at Cooperative Extension.
Last year, Maine had 1,349 confirmed cases of Lyme disease — a statistic that Dill says is increasing every year. By opening the Tick ID Lab to citizens as well as the usual doctors and veterinarians, Dill believes the lab can help provide peace of mind to Maine citizens.
The Tick ID Lab can help clients determine if they need to seek help from doctors. There are 14 tick species in Maine, not all of which carry disease. Dill adds the Tick ID Lab can help determine if the submitted tick is one of the disease-free species helping “ease your mind or the mind of your doctor.”
Tick identifications cost $10 — to cover supply costs — and can be submitted in person, by mail or through photos on the lab’s new website. The site also provides information on preventative protection from ticks, tick biology, tick removal and more.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
Leslie Forstadt, a child and family development specialist for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke to the Portland Press Herald for an article about Melissa Smith, the new CEO and president of South Portland-based WEX Inc., announcing her pregnancy to the company’s board of directors and executive leadership team, as well as through a memo to 1,400 employees. Forstadt said men tend not to disclose they are starting families and that as a female CEO, Smith “realized she was bucking the norm.” She added, “It would be great if it wasn’t news that people in positions of power are trying to balance work and family issues, but work and family integration is an ongoing discussion.”
Mitch Mason, the 4-H youth development educator for the University of Maine’s Cumberland County Cooperative Extension, was quoted in a Portland Press Herald article about Gorham resident David Smith, a well-known member of the area’s farming community whose cabinet shop was heavily damaged in a fire. Mason said Smith is very active in the 4-H program. He teaches children how to take care of their animals, hauls animals to fairs and clinics, makes house calls if children have questions, and teaches a woodworking class at an annual 4-H forum. “David’s one of those folks who’s always around, willing to volunteer,” Mason said.
The Morning Sentinel reported the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Franklin County will hold a workshop on hayfield and pasture management April 3 in Farmington. Richard Kersbergen, Extension educator from Waldo County, will lead the class for farmers and others who want to make their lands more productive and profitable.
The Kennebec Journal reported the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine Poultry Growers Association will offer a daylong school for poultry producers Saturday, April 5, at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield. The school is designed for farmers with a poultry enterprise and is appropriate for backyard keepers, bird fanciers and 4-H teenagers. Topics will include best management practices, bird health and disease prevention for egg layers and meat birds, poultry nutrition, poultry product quality and organic practices.