duck die-off in Lake County, California – 02/01/2007
Duck die-off continues; officials continue cleanup
Written by Elizabeth Larson
Wednesday, 31 January 2007
LUCERNE – The numbers of dead ducks collected by state Department of Fish & Game (DFG) officials continued to climb Wednesday.
The ducks have died from an avian cholera outbreak on the lake, according to DFG veterinarians.
Dead and dying animals were first reported nearly two weeks ago, and since then DFG biologists, wardens and volunteers have worked to collect the dead birds to curb the die-of.
Most have been ruddy ducks, DFG reported, but small numbers or grebes and other water birds have been found as well.
DFG Game Warden Lynette Shimek said Wednesday that 856 dead ruddy ducks were collected that day, bringing the grand total of dead birds found since the outbreak began to 6,801.
During sweeps of the lake Wednesday Shimek said they found several birds that had recently died, as well as pockets of birds that had been dead for some time.
“Still no end in sight, but we’re just hoping for warmer weather,” Shimek said.
That’s because the ruddy ducks, which like to remain in the open part of the lake, huddle together during winter. That makes the birds more susceptible to catching avian cholera, which travels through the air and close contact, according to DFG biologists.
In warmer weather, Shimek said, the birds don’t huddle together as tightly.
The ducks continue to be found mostly in the open area of the lake, straight out from the Lucerne harbor, said Shimek. Area residents, she added, continue to diligently report any dead birds found on the shoreline.
This year’s avian cholera outbreak is only the second biologists have recorded on Clear Lake. In size, it’s quickly approaching the scope of the first outbreak, which occurred in January 2004, and killed more than 7,000 ruddy ducks and other water birds.
Dead birds can be reported to Shimek at her office, 275-8862.