April 26, 2015

Wild turkey hunters urged to help prevent spread of avian flu

TurkeysWith a third avian flu outbreak confirmed in Iowa, turkey hunters are being urged to take special care to halt the spread and not to shoot a bird that might be sick. Kevin Baskins, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says turkey hunters need to help minimize the risk of spreading the disease, which has already forced the euthanizing of tens of thousands of turkeys and millions of chickens in the state.

“We’re advising turkey hunters to avoid any commercial types of flocks like chickens or turkeys,” Baskins says. “Once that virus gets into a confinement situation, it will spread very rapidly and probably throughout the entire operation.” Hunters need to be vigilant for any birds that have died in the field or that appear sick. Signs include: ruffled feathers, swollen wattles, discoloration of the feet and impaired balance.

Baskins says if a dead or sick bird is spotted, hunters should mark the spot using GPS if possible and notify the DNR right away. They should not touch or try to move the birds. The avian flu is believed to be spread by migrating flocks of wild waterfowl, specifically, ducks and geese. “We don’t expect to see a lot of avian flu in turkeys,” Baskins says. “Turkeys tend to be more solitary. They move around in smaller groups. If there is an outbreak, it’ll be fairly isolated. It’s not like a confinement situation where we have commercial flocks and once it gets into a building, it spreads from bird to bird very rapidly.” Between the shotgun and archery seasons, turkey hunting will be underway in Iowa through May 17th.

Baskins says turkey hunters should follow some common sense precautions, like washing their hands with soap and water immediately after handling game — or if they’re in the field, use alcohol wipes. “We advise that you dress your game birds in the field whenever you can,” Baskins says. “Make sure you’re using the same tools, whether in the field or at home and that you don’t use those tools around other poultry or pet birds. Make sure you double-bag the internal organs and feathers so once you dispose of those, any virus that might be in there is contained.” For more tips, visit the website: www.iowadnr.gov.

There is no food safety concern, according to Baskins. Game meat should be thoroughly cooked, he says. Poultry should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill disease organisms and parasites.

Three avian influnza outbreaks are confirmed in northwest Iowa in the past two weeks. The latest case involves 34,000 turkeys that will have to be euthanized at an operation in Sac County. The other cases are in Buena Vista and Osceola counties. The Osceola County case involves an egg-laying operation and 3.8 million hens will have to be destroyed.


Advice for backyard chicken growers to avoid bird flu

ChickenFederal officials say it’s critical for any Iowans with backyard chickens to take every precaution to protect their flocks from the latest outbreak of avian influenza. Catherine Woteki , an undersecretary at the U.S.D.A., says Iowa’s already seen three large commercial operations severely impacted by H5N2 in the past two weeks and the virus is clearly spreading around.

Woteki offers a few tips for Iowans with backyard coops. “Make sure you use a dedicated set of boots,” she says. “Be sure to wash your hands before and afterwards. Keep your backyard flock separated from wild birds.” It’s believed the bird flu is being spread by wild waterfowl, like ducks and geese. Woteki says Iowa bird owners need to keep very close tabs on their flocks and let a veterinarian know if something’s amiss.

“It’s very important that sick animals and any unexpected deaths be reported just to check up and see if there is an exotic disease that’s causing a problem and so the rest of the backyard flocks will be protected,” she says. Bird flu is reported in at least a dozen states since the start of the year. A turkey farm in Buena Vista County had to euthanize 37,000 turkeys last week after being confirmed with the disease, while a much larger loss was reported in Osceola County.

That egg-laying operation was forced to euthanize three-point-eight million hens due to an outbreak. A third case was announced late Thursday involving a flock of 34,000 turkeys in Sac County.


UNI closing only all-female dorm for renovation

UNI photo of Lawther Hall.

UNI photo of Lawther Hall.

The University of Northern Iowa is temporarily closing its only all-women dormitory for updating.

UNI vice president Michael Hager told the State Board of Regents at their meeting in Council Bluffs today that because enrollment is down, the timing is right to shutter the residence hall for at least two years.

“The University is going to temporarily close Lawther Hall, our only only all-women residence hall, and completely renovate it,” Hager says. “It was built in 1938 and 1950 and it’s time to bring it up to contemporary standards.”

Female students during the next two years will be living in UNI’s coed dorms. Hager anticipates re-opening Lawther Hall in the fall of 2017.


Counselor: Scrub social media accounts before launching a job search

Social Media IconsThousands of young Iowans are about to graduate from college and they’ll be flooding the internet with their resumes over the next few weeks as they begin job hunts.

Susan McBroom, a vocational rehabilitation specialist in Urbandale, says before you type the first letter on your resume, check Instagram and all other online accounts to make sure there’s nothing in text or photos that could affect your future employment.

“Large and small companies do frequently check social media of job applicants before they conduct the interview,” McBroom says. “This would mean any pictures of parties or any pictures that might have a bad reflection on that individual. They really need to micromanage their MySpace, Facebook and Twitter accounts.”

Other tips include: limit your resume to two pages, be sure objectives are clearly stated and note volunteer and internship experience. Apply for at least five jobs a week, McBroom says, and use multiple websites.

“USA Jobs, or the federal websites, be sure if you do apply for a federal job to review the application process with the resume because there’s a specific format to follow,” McBroom says. “You’ve also got Monster, CareerBuilder and Indeed is the biggest website for a variety of jobs that people can look through.” McBroom, a counselor at Compass Clinical Associates, says applying for jobs can quickly become a fulltime job in itself.

“Between 2014 and 2015, there’s going to be 1.8 million people graduating with bachelor’s degrees and 821,000 with master’s degrees and so on, so the competition is out there,” McBroom says. “If you’ve got a good resume and a good work history, you need to be aggressive and apply, call the employer a week later.” Even if the ad says “No calls,” she says to call anyway, just to be sure your resume was received and reviewed and answer any questions they may have.

Some careers and professions have a particularly bright future, McBroom says. Those include: all health and medical jobs, behavioral health jobs, mental health for the military and substance abuse.

“The biggest growth careers are in health care, obviously” McBroom says. “Projected growth is going to be about 10.8% so, anything in the health field such as nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, medical assistants, is going to be a green and growing job.”

In the years since the recession, she says the job outlook has improved and salaries are increasing. A recent study found high school graduates had a median income of $651 per week, while those with a bachelor’s degree earned a median income of $1,108 per week, and those with a doctorate earned a median income of $1,623 per week.


Ex-lawyer from Coralville, on most-wanted list, captured in Colorado

HandcuffsAn eastern Iowa man who was on the FBI’s list of most-wanted white-collar criminals is back behind bars.

Federal agents in Colorado arrested 50-year-old Dennis Bjorkland a few days ago, according to just-released documents.

Bjorkland was a lawyer in Coralville before he was indicted by a grand jury in 2010 on a list of more than a dozen federal charges, including for mail and tax fraud.

Bjorkland is accused of duping his clients who were facing drunk driving charges into donating money to a fake charity he’d set up. In exchange, they were told the contributions could bring a lighter sentence.

He’ll be extradited from Colorado to again face charges in Iowa’s Southern District.


Manning first to receive new SBA ‘Iowa Community of the Year” award



The west-central Iowa town of Manning is chosen as the first-ever Iowa Community of the Year by the Iowa office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Ron Reischl, of Main Street Manning, says the Carroll County town of nearly 1,500 is progressive yet slow-paced and offers a high quality of life. Reischl says, “There is a spirit within the community that we will thrive rather than survive and the community organizations work together very well.”

The SBA says more than 90-percent of Iowa’s businesses are considered small businesses, but Reischl says the percentage is much higher in his community. “All of our businesses would be considered small businesses,” Reischl says. “We do not have any chains in Manning except for Casey’s, so all of the businesses are locally-owned and mostly homegrown.” A news release from the SBA says this is the inaugural year for the Community of the Year award, which highlights community efforts to support small business. Reischl says Manning is also one of 52 Main Street Iowa communities.

“As we move forward and recruit businesses, we purposefully aim at businesses that have employees from ten to 30,” Reischl says. “That way, if there are layoffs or if a company moves out of town, it is not a major blow.” The award will be presented to Manning at the Iowa Smart Conference in Des Moines on May 7th, while the SBA plans to re-present the award at a ceremony in Manning later this spring.



Omaha zoo reopens exhibit after fixing window broken by gorilla (video)

GorrillaThe gorilla exhibit at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo is open again after one of the 375-pound primates went ape last week and hurled himself at the glass, shattering one of the panes. A short video of the incident has gone viral on YouTube with nearly 16-million views. The zoo’s general curator Dan Cassidy says this kind of thing occasionally happens.

“There was never any danger to the public or danger of the animal escaping,” Cassidy says. “It’s a three-layer laminated glass and only one pane broke.”

In the 12-second video, you can see a reflection of a young girl, beating her fists against her chest and grinning. In moments, the silverback gorilla throws himself at the window and large cracks appear as the kids and the camera operator scurry away. “The gorillas were interacting with each other, the way that they do and sometimes they like to make a lot of noise and show how tough they are,” Cassidy says. “Kigito, a 20-year-old male came up and hit the glass and it fractured.”

The incident has led to much speculation online about how safe the facility may or may not be, but Cassidy offers reassurance. “There have been occasions where they’ve hit it just right and it does break but again, we’ve never had an escape here,” Cassidy says. “There’s no reason to think that it’s not safe. I wouldn’t be standing here if it wasn’t.”