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Sound Bites: Fireflies are threatened by climate change

Fireflies outside Nevis, N.Y., in June 2021. "A microbrewery just opened up directly next door this summer and this location might be lost," Mauney lamented. "I lose locations every year to lighting — and I am always on the search for new ones."
Pete Mauney
Fireflies outside Nevis, New York.

Good morning. Researchers hope to identify and protect fireflies before they flicker out. 

The New York Natural Heritage Program recently finished a three-year project, surveying the state’s firefly populations on Fishers Island. The survey led to a base understanding of the state’s firefly biodiversity on the remote island at the eastern edge of Long Island Sound. 

It found that 30 rare species are threatened by climate change, habitat loss and light pollution. Artificial lights confuse fireflies who use their light to attract and find mates. Some species haven’t been seen for over 20 years, including the dot-dash firefly. However, others are more resistant to environmental changes, such as the big dipper firefly, the most common firefly in North America.

Here’s a bite-sized look at what else we are hearing:

A three-year-old girl was shot from a stray bullet from a shootout between Suffolk County Police and a homicide suspect Tuesday night. The suspect killed himself after the shootout began at his Ridge apartment complex home. Police say they did not return fire. The girl and her family were neighbors. She was transported to a nearby hospital and is in stable condition.

Police officer terminations are on the rise in New Haven, Connecticut. Seven officers lost their jobs so far this year, a near 50% increase compared to 2021. Police Chief Karl Jacobson told Hearst Connecticut Media that the fallout from the Randy Cox case and national increase in police accountability was the reason for the firing escalation. In 2022, Cox was left paralyzed after being poorly secured in a police van; four of the officers involved were fired.

Long Island libraries are struggling to cover repair and upgrade costs. Last week, the New York State Education Department awarded $34 million to nearly 200 libraries statewide, of which $4.3 million went to libraries in Nassau and Suffolk counties. According to the state library system, these libraries would need a combined total of $160 million to complete necessary repairs and renovations by 2025. Seventy-five percent of Long Island libraries are over 50 years old.

A federal bill could help conserve, restore and recreate the Connecticut River. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced The Connecticut River Watershed Partnership Act to unite Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont in protecting wildlife habitats, safeguarding drinking water sources and enhancing flood resilience. It will also expand access to public spaces along the river for excluded and marginalized communities.

Nassau County's largest public employee union approved a new contract after a six-year-long stalemate. The contract will increase over 4,000 employee wages by 25% by 2036 and ensure employees won’t have to pay for healthcare premiums. Most of the Civil Service Employees Association, Local 830 members work for the Nassau Health Care Corp. The contract will cost the county an estimated $810 million.

There’s an overflow of incoming students at Quinnipiac University. Dozens of undergraduates are being roomed in lounges instead of typical dorms. A spokesperson cites exciting events such as the 2022 NCAA hockey championship win for the overflow. Lounge students will have the opportunity to transfer to dorms later in the year once other students decide to commute or exit the college.

The Suffolk County Water Authority has added treatment systems in Huntington. The systems take groundwater and remove dangerous contaminants in order to provide residents with safe drinking water. Advanced oxidation processes degrade organic chemicals in pesticides and gasoline, while activated carbon filters emerging contaminants, like PFAS.

Old Saybrook spent nearly $50,000 to keep police criticism under wraps. In 2021, former police officer Justin Hanna criticized Police Chief Michael Spera’s management during a “potentially embarrassing and humiliating” exit interview. Hanna requested a copy of the interview to determine if it was altered and made available to the public but the town denied his request. Spera attempted to conceal the interview, but the case was brought to the Freedom of Information Commission and state Supreme Court.

In August, nearly two dozen people died in car crashes on Long Island. Last weekend three people died in car crashes at Brentwood, Farmingville and Port Jefferson Station. Officials have begun installing traffic lights on local roads to address speeding cars. According to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management & Research, an average of 18 people die every month on Long Island roads.

The Eastern Connecticut Hospital Network owes over $1.6 million to the towns of Manchester, South Windsor and Vernon in back taxes. Prospect Medical Holdings, the network’s parent company, owns additional facilities in these municipalities. Eastern Connecticut Hospital is still reeling from a cyberattack and looking to land a $400 million deal to sell to Yale-New Haven Health.

Bridgeport’s historic Barnum Museum has become a National Historic Landmark. Built in 1893, the museum is dedicated to the life of Barnum & Bailey circus founder P.T. Barnum. Over 60,000 artifacts are housed in the museum, featuring life and culture in the city of Bridgeport in the 19th century.

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Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.