Environment

A look at the natural world around us.

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This part of the nation has long been a hub for pork.  The world’s largest producer, Smithfield, is based in the Commonwealth, and there are as many pigs as people in North Carolina.

In fact, you can trace the history of ham and bacon back to the 1600’s, when settlers arrived from England, but raising pigs in the 21st century is a whole new game.

When Americans think about pig farming, they might think fondly of the children’s classic Charlotte’s web - a tale told on film by the beloved animator Hannah Barbera.

Smithfield is the world’s largest producer of pork in the world – a Virginia-based company with farms and packing plants in the U.S., Poland, Romania along with joint ventures in Mexico. Each year the firm raises 16 million animals, and it buys another 14 million from independent farmers to supply the world with bacon, ham and other products made from pigs. 

For many families, ham is part of a holiday tradition.  The nation’s largest producer – Smithfield – is based in Virginia, and this state is home to more than a quarter of a million pigs.  This story is the first in a five-part series looking at the impact of a growing industry on the environment, on the animals and on public health.

https://swvawildlifecenter.org/

Most owls are nocturnal and we're lucky to see them. We usually hear them.
That's the great horned owl with a "Who! Who!" we associate with owls. But these are the other owls in Virginia.

(owl sounds)

That was the Barn, Eastern Screech, and Barred Owl.  According to Sabrina Garvin, Executive Director of Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center, those four raptors are not only majestic but vital:

Lyme Disease in Winter: If You Can See Mud...

Mar 3, 2016

One of the nice things about winter? You can go for a walk in the woods and not be besieged by insects.  But not all bugs are dormant during the cold months.  As soon as the ground temperature gets above freezing, the tick that carries Lyme disease becomes active.  If you can see mud, there could be hungry deer ticks out looking for lunch. 

Anne Zajac is professor of parasitology at Virginia Tech.  Her specialty is studying earthworms, but a couple of strange discoveries soon had her doing a ground breaking scientific field study about a different species.

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