Thursday January 23, 2020
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Living Fossil in Illinois Waterways: Disappeared from 1990’s Water, Fish “Alligator Gar” is back in US Rivers

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Illinois' Powerton Lake was stocked with alligator gar in 2011, to re-establish a population and offer a challenge to sport fishermen. VOA
  • The Alligator gar is considered to be the second largest freshwater fish in North America
  • The origin of the fish dates back to Early Cretaceous period, over a 100 million years ago
  • Biologist Randy Sauer believes that with the return of the Alligator gar in Illinois waterways, post a long disappearance since the 1990s, will restore the ecosystem

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is reintroducing a living fossil into its waterways. The alligator gar is a fish so old, it’s thought to have evolved during the Early Cretaceous period, more than a 100 million years ago.

Alligator gar are the second largest freshwater fish in North America. Illinois fisheries biologist Randy Sauer says they disappeared from the state’s waterways in the 1990s, although they continued to thrive in southern U.S. rivers.

“We want to restore the ecosystem because it is important to have top predators to balance the species below them in order to keep a check on some more abundant species,” he said.

“It was pretty much extirpated out of its range because of misconceptions about it eating sport fish,” he said. “People would target it and put bounties on it.”

Everything is on the menu

The alligator gar is an opportunistic feeder, meaning it will eat whatever it encounters — from an occasional turtle or small duck to invasive species such as Asian and silver carp. Sauer hopes the re-introduction program will help the state’s efforts to control the carp.

Alligator gar fingerlings about to be released into an Illinois river.

Because gar can live up to 60 years, this program is going to take decades to fully expand.

“The (female) alligator gar does not sexually mature until 11 years, and the male not till 6 or 7 years,” Sauer said, “so at the outset of this project we’re probably going to stock more heavily than 10 or 20 years down the road when hopefully these fish will find each other and start doing the job on their own.”

The transponders scientists use to track the released gars are just a little bigger than a grain of rice.

To date, 7,000 alligator gar fingerlings have been fitted with tiny transponder tags so that they can be tracked and then released into Illinois waterways. As it rains and floods, biologists expect some of the fish to follow the rivers all the way down to join other populations in Louisiana and Texas. (VOA)

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Know About this New Law in Illinois that Allows People to Buy Marijuana Legally

Illinois becomes latest US state to legalize recreational pot

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Recreational marijuana sales in Illinois in Chicago
Customer Elise Swopes makes a purchase at Sunnyside Marijuana Dispensary. VOA

Illinois started the new year on a high note Wednesday, becoming the latest U.S. state to legalize recreational marijuana as the governor pardoned thousands for past low-level cannabis convictions.

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act will allow residents 21 and older to legally purchase marijuana and will expunge thousands of individuals’ criminal convictions throughout the state.

“We are restoring rights to many tens of thousands of Illinoisans. We are bringing regulation and safety to a previously unsafe and illegal market. And we are creating a new industry that puts equity at its very core,” Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said in a statement.

On Tuesday night, Pritzker granted 11,017 pardons for people with low-level cannabis convictions, the first round of a planned total of more than 700,000.

According to the statement, the new law will use 25 percent of the state’s cannabis revenue to help “the communities hit hardest” by the earlier crackdown on marijuana.

“Today we took another step toward justice, as we continue to address the failed war on drugs and the disproportionate impact it had on communities of color,” Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx said in the statement.

Illinois residents age 21 and older will now be allowed to legally possess 30 grams of cannabis, five grams of cannabis concentrate or 500 milligrams of THC — the main active ingredient of cannabis — contained in a cannabis-infused product.

Non-residents are allowed to carry 15 grams of cannabis under the bill, which will also create a licensed growing and dispensary system.

Marijuana Illinois
A long line of people brave the cold as they wait to be the first in Illinois to purchase recreational marijuana at Sunnyside dispensary . VOA

CDC study

Illinois is the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana, along with Washington, D.C. Thirty-four states and the federal capital permit medical cannabis treatment.

But the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration still considers marijuana a dangerous substance alongside LSD and heroin.

A study by the federal Centers for Disease Control published in August found that states that legalize recreational marijuana see a reduction of at least 20 percent in fatalities linked to opioid overdoses.

Also Read- 30% Working Professionals Suffer From Mental Health Issues: Study

Marijuana legalization has also been shown to improve a state’s economic activity, creating jobs and bringing in new tax revenue. (VOA)