Bird botulism in Utah – 10/07/2006

  • November 25, 2013 at 3:38 am #1311

    Birds Dying in Great Salt Lake Botulism Outbreak
    October 4th, 2006 @ 9:46pm

    ANTELOPE ISLAND STATE PARK, Utah (AP) — About 15,000 birds have died
    in a botulism outbreak at the Great Salt Lake, the worst the lake has
    had in nine years.

    “It’s worse than average, but certainly far short of maximum,” said
    Tom Aldrich, waterfowl coordinator for the state Division of

    Thousands of dead shorebirds and ducks have been washing up on the
    causeway that connects Antelope Island with the mainland.

    Aldrich said the latest estimate is 15,000 dead birds and counting.

    In 1997, the worst avian botulism outbreak in recent history killed
    an estimated 500,000 birds, according to wildlife officials.

    Up to 3 million ducks are expected to pass over the lake this fall,
    so the outbreak isn’t expected to have a significant impact on the
    overall population. But the dead and dying birds are a gruesome

    “Unfortunately, with botulism it takes a long time for them to die,”
    said Leslie McFarlane, disease specialist for the Division of
    Wildlife. “It causes paralysis, and they starve to death. It takes
    several days for them to die from it.”

    The disease spreads as birds die and begin to decompose. Maggots feed
    on the carcasses, then are washed away and eaten by other birds.

    “The maggots become little botulism power pills, basically,” said
    John Luft, avian biologist for the Great Salt Lake ecosystem project.

    Biologists are not sure what started the original outbreak, which
    first appeared in July in Farmington Bay. Both were near where sewer
    systems empty into the bay.
    Information from: Standard-Examiner,

The forum ‘Strange Animal Deaths’ is closed to new topics and replies.