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Roaches won't take the bait

by Don Gammill Modified: June 5, 2013 at 2:10 pm •  Published: June 5, 2013
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Don’t you just love those news items that maybe don’t make the big headlines but cause you to take a second look when you see them?

From the recent “In the News” files come  these items that might have caught your attention recently. At the very least, they’re worth thinking about.

The Ada News carried this story (http://tinyurl.com/mq2rhdl) from The Yomiuri Shimbun (seriously) that might make you a bit uncomfortable. It seems scientists at North Carolina State University have found that some cockroaches have evolved to the point that they are now immune to the lure of a sugary bait in roach traps.

Specifically, they determine that a German roach test subject has mutated to the point that it doesn’t care for the sweet enticement and therefore simply walks away from the danger.

The story notes that “many roach traps are laced with glucose, a common form of sugar, to attract cockroaches. However, such traps are believed to have become less effective over the past 20 years.”

Why?

The researchers found that cockroaches “are able to ‘sample’ their food before eating through ‘taste hairs’ around their mouths.”

The investigators, get this, studied nerve cell responses of more than 7 ,000 coachroaches.

How?

By feeding them substances such as glucose and salt.

It seems the researchers noticed that some roaches “found glucose to taste bitter, while others were only able to taste sweet.”

It’s bad enough we have to deal with these pesky bugs. But now, we learn they have the ability to pick and choose their meals?

 

The Alva Review-Courier was among those news outlets to publish this Associated Press report about changes occurring in Washington state after voters decided last fall that marijuana should be legalized. http://tinyurl.com/mge8gb9

It seems that police departments in Bremerton, Seattle and Bellevue quickly realized that if it was going to be legal, then having dogs that sniff it out was a waste.

In fact, the story points out, the newest drug-sniffing dog on the Bremeton police force is one of the few in Washington NOT trained to point out pot during searches. He was doing exactly what his handler hoped.

So, these departments began looking for ways to retrain their dogs to ignore the pot and just focus on finding the bigger stuff, such as meth and cocaine. An interesting turn-around from years ago when departments in most areas of the country were trying to determine of their budgets could handle purchase of a dog trained to find the pot.

The newest drug-sniffing dog on the police force in Bremerton, near Seattle, is one of a few police dogs in Washington state that are not trained to point out pot during searches. Other police departments are considering or in the midst of re-training their dogs to ignore pot as well, part of the new reality in a state where voters last fall legalized marijuana use.

 The Bremerton officer who handles the dog noted in the story told The AP: “We wanted to train our dog on what was truly illegal substances, that would be heroine, methamphetamine and cocaine.”
And his canine cop colleague has been most successful. Just recently, he found five pounds of meth during a search.
Another interesting point: police told AP that having a dog that doesn’t alert on pot lessens the number of challenges to getting search warrants. The reason? The dog doesn’t alert on possible legal amounts of the drug.

You can bet there will be those keeping a close eye on how the drug dogs react, just like there will be on how states react to the changes in the law.

 

 


by Don Gammill
General Assignment Editor and Columnist
Don Gammill is general assignment editor and columnist. A native of Ponca City, he graduated from Central State University (now the University of Central Oklahoma). While in college, he was a sports stringer for The Oklahoma City Times....
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