Monday, 15 July 2024

Officials will assess duck die-off situation today

NORTHSHORE – Extra State Department of Fish and Game (DFG) staff rolled back into Lucerne Monday night, air boats in tow, in preparation for an assessment today of the situation on the lake following last week's avian cholera die-off.

DFG veterinarians ruled last week that the thousands of ruddy ducks that have died over the past week and a half, interspersed with grebes and other waterfowl, succumbed to avian cholera. That disease commonly affects wild birds during the winter months, the agency reported.


Collecting dead animals is critical to keep the disease from spreading, according to DFG.


Last week 13 DFG staff using five boats collected nearly 5,000 dead birds, according to Lynette Shimek, a local DFG game warden.


Over the weekend, a small crew composed of Shimek, fellow warden Loren Freeman, wildlife rescue group SpiritWild and other volunteers continued the collection effort.


Shimek said on Monday evening that they didn't go out on the lake Saturday due to foggy conditions.


They also decided it would be good to give sick birds a chance to rest and keep them from moving toward other bird populations.


On Sunday the fog only left the volunteers a four-hour window of time to collect animals, Shimek said. In all, they found 120 birds, bringing the collection total to more than 5,000.


Although the number of birds found has decreased dramatically – there were days last week when DFG collected 1,000 birds – Shimek said a smaller DFG crew has returned to take a look at the situation and decide if more staff is still needed.


Six staff members and three boats will be on the lake today, she said. By day's end, she added, they'll know if more staff will once again be required.


Despite finding fewer birds, Shimek reported that the outbreak is still having affecting the birds.


“There's still birds dying,” she explained, recounting finding sick and dying birds during Sunday's collection.


Still, she is receiving only scattered reports from area residents finding dead animals, and few reporting more than one or two at a time.


One resident did, however, report seeing numerous dead birds near Rattlesnake Island. Shimek said they'll head over that way first thing today to look for the dead waterfowl.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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