TUE AM News: SpayVac using vaccines to control wildlife populations; WMC says workers comp rate could drop 8.84 percent

— The founders of SpayVac-for-Wildlife say the answer to the growing problem of wildlife management might lie in birth control vaccines.

With the constant shrinking of habitats, many wildlife species — even endangered ones — suffer from the effects of overcrowding on their small territories. The overpopulation demands resources the environment often cannot supply. This can lead to not only starvation but also cases like the May 2018 death of nearly 200 wild horses that became stuck in mud as they were searching for water in Arizona.

Not only does overpopulation damage the overpopulated animals, but it also negatively affects their ecosystems by reducing biodiversity, spreading diseases, monopolizing resources and more.

A common example of wildlife overpopulation in North America is deer, which can damage crops, spread diseases and cause collisions between vehicles and animals. Fitchburg-based SpayVac works on controlling not only deer population, but also other animals where overpopulation is not as obvious, such as seals, elephants, donkeys and wild horses.

Many methods have been used before, such as culling, relocation, surgical sterilization and birth control pills, but birth control vaccines are proving to be the most efficient method, according to the founders of SpayVac.

CEO Tom D’Orazio will be a featured panelist today at the Wisconsin Technology Council’s Innovation Network luncheon meeting in Madison. SpayVac will be spotlighted along with UW-Madison researchers studying animal diseases.

See the full story and more on the event: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2019/spayvac-using-vaccines-to-control-wildlife-populations/

— Worker’s comp insurance rates could drop by 8.84 percent this year if the state approves a recently filed rate change request, WMC says

The request was filed by the Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau, which is responsible for setting those rates in the state. If approved, the rate change would take effect starting in October. WMC says approval is expected in July.

“Employers have invested great time and resources into keeping workers safe,” said Katie Yeutter, president of the Wisconsin Safety Council, an effort from WMC. “Thanks to those efforts, workplace injuries are the lowest they’ve been in decades, despite more people working in Wisconsin than ever before.”

Still, WMC says the cost of medical treatment in Wisconsin for worker’s compensation claims is 51 percent higher than the median U.S. state, based on findings from the Massachusetts-based Workers Compensation Research Institute.

Chris Reader, director of health and human resources policy for WMC, says the “incredibly high cost of health care for workplace injuries” is holding back Wisconsin’s worker’s comp program.

“Worker’s compensation is a government-mandated insurance product, and lawmakers have a duty to provide meaningful mechanisms for employers to control costs. Private employers are seeking help,” he said in a release.

See more: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2019/wisconsin-manufacturers-commerce-employer-safety-efforts-result-in-workers-compensation-insurance-rate-decrease/

— The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded the state DWD with $1.3 million in grant funding, supporting apprenticeship programs in Wisconsin.

The funding is just a piece of more than $73 million DOL is awarding around the country.

According to a release from the Department of Workforce Development, the grant funding will help the agency include more “veterans, military spouses, women, people of color and ex-offenders” into the state’s apprenticeship program.

The release shows Wisconsin has the nation’s oldest apprenticeships program, founded in 1911. Wisconsin Apprenticeship facilitates more than 13,000 registered apprenticeships in the state.

See the release: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/newsreleases/2019/190624_apprenticeship_funding_grant.htm

— AG Josh Kaul has joined 42 other states in releasing an unredacted complaint alleging some of the nation’s largest generic drug manufacturers colluded to limit competition, inflate prices and divvy up the marketplace.

Among the evidence released yesterday are emails between generic drug manufacturers coordinating and advising each other on actions during a congressional inquiry. Other messages include language like “fair share” and “playing nice in the sandbox” market allocation and “fluff pricing” strategy.

“More than 40 states, including Wisconsin, have alleged that 20 generic drug manufacturers engaged in price fixing, resulting in increased prices for medications,” Kaul said in a statement. “Companies that engage in unlawful anticompetitive conduct must be held accountable.”

This complaint, filed against Teva Pharmaceuticals and 19 of the nation’s largest generic drug manufacturers, is the second in a continual investigation. The first complaint filed in 2016 is still pending in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

See the release:


See the complaint:


— Researchers at UW-Madison have developed a new way to derive valuable chemicals from a residue that’s left behind when certain plant materials are used to create fuels.

Biorefineries can convert lignocellulosic plant materials, which include wood, switchgrass and other native prairie grasses, into alternative sources of fuels and other chemicals.

When these materials are used to produce ethanol or other biofuels, a liquid residue called stillage remains. That stillage contains organic materials that can be used to make valuable byproducts, according to an info sheet from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

In ethanol plants and other sites where lignocellulosic plant materials are processed, the residue is usually used to produce biogas, the info sheet shows. That biogas is combusted through a process that both powers the facility and creates excess electricity that can be sold. Biogas can also be converted into natural gas and used elsewhere.

Rather than using the stillage residue for biogas alone, researchers have detailed a method for turning some of that residue into more valuable materials.

Led by Daniel Noguera and Tim Donohue, two professors at UW-Madison, researchers found a way to convert leftover byproducts from the residue into a form that could be used to create other products, such as pharmaceuticals, dyes and rubbers.

According to WARF, the new method can create a product stream that’s “approximately 10 times more valuable” than current methods, and could reduce the minimum selling price of ethanol by 18 percent.

The info sheet shows part of the “stillage stream” would lead separately to a bioreactor that contains a specific mixture of microbes, which can turn part of that stillage into the useful byproduct chemicals. The rest of the stream would proceed through the biogas process.

See more: http://www.warf.org/technologies/summary/P170271US04.cmsx

See an earlier story featuring Donohue at a recent Wisconsin Technology Council event: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2019/currently-unused-biomass-could-be-used-to-make-valuable-fuels/

— Environmental advocates are cheering the state Department of Health Services for recommending new groundwater quality standards for dozens of pollutants, including two major PFAS compounds.

PFAS, or perfluorooctanoic acid, has been used in agricultural and industrial settings, and is now emerging as a public health concern. According to an info sheet from law firm Michael Best & Friedrich, the DHS recommendations include “very restrictive standards” for several PFAS chemicals.

DHS’ recommendations include standards for the widely used herbicide called glyphosate and other agricultural chemicals. And the agency has proposed adopting the federal drinking water standard for E. coli as the state’s groundwater quality standard.

“PFAS pollution is a threat to water quality and public health across Wisconsin that many communities are still learning about and not yet testing for,” said Carly Michiels, government relations director for Clean Wisconsin. “This proposed groundwater standard is a great first step to tackle this issue head on.”  

According to a release from Clean Wisconsin, 18 investigations are ongoing in Wisconsin related to PFAS pollution. For example, Clean Wisconsin claims chemical foam from a firefighter training facility in Marinette has contaminated nearby drinking water, leading to locals relying on deliveries of bottled water for consumption.

The Michael Best info sheet shows the DHS recommendation is just “the first step in a lengthy state rulemaking process” that must be completed by the DNR before the new standards would take effect.

See the Clean Wisconsin release: http://www.wispolitics.com/2019/clean-wisconsin-new-state-pfas-standard-will-protect-public-health/

See more on the topic: http://www.michaelbest.com/Newsroom/213122/Evers-Administration-Takes-First-Step-to-Establish-Controversial-Groundwater-Quality-Standards-for-PFAS-Substances-and-Glyphosate-in-Wisconsin

— Microsoft has made a $1.5 million donation to UW-Milwaukee’s Connected Systems Institute, which has previously received support from Rockwell Automation and A.O. Smith, as well as WEDC.

“We like to add rocket fuel to rockets that are going places, and this one is,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith, who was born in Milwaukee.

The donation includes $1.25 million in cash, $80,000 in hardware and $250,000 in cloud computing credits.

See the release: http://uwm.edu/news/microsoft-corp-president-announces-donation-worth-more-than-1-5-million-to-uw-milwaukees-connected-systems-institute/


# Before they were caught in a political battle, Blackwell students just wanted a better life


# Some Wisconsin companies seek tariff exemptions

# Five new hotels in Brookfield will open before DNC


# DHS sends groundwater recommendations to DNR, DATCP




– As Trump calls for immigration crackdowns, dairy industry worries about declining workforce


– Been a good laying year for Wisconsin chickens


– State cranberry growers benefiting from withholding part of 2018 crop



– Wisconsin Conservatory of Music to add event space, parking behind Prospect Avenue mansion


– Report: Poverty stagnant in Wisconsin, despite low unemployment



– Microsoft gifts $1.5M to UWM’s Connected Systems Institute



– Silverspot Cinema pushes back opening at The Corners of Brookfield to July


– Eagle Park Brewing Co. to add Muskego brewery, distillery



– Translating science into business


– Acuity plans new recreation center, parking structure at Sheboygan headquarters


– Blue Mangoes raising first investor round


– Downtown Milwaukee Drury Plaza hotel holding job fair, plans late August opening



– City staff: Essen Haus block proposal doesn’t meet Madison landmark standards



– Smith appointed to Natural Resources Board



– Silverspot Cinema sets opening date at The Corners of Brookfield



– Rev Up: EmOpti plans to double geographic reach this year


– Commentary: Deer District ideal for new museum

– Bill Berry: Farmers are paying attention to climate change — are politicians?


– Thomas Nelson: It’s time for the U.S. to adopt a national industrial strategy



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