November 25, 2013 at 3:38 am #1311MikeKeymaster
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, http://www.standard.net
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