Monday, 15 July 2024

DFG: Recent duck die-off could equal that of 2004

LUCERNE – State Department of Fish & Game officials will be out in full force on the lake again today after hundreds more dead birds were found Tuesday.


DFG veterinarians ruled last week that avian cholera was the cause of death for thousands of ducks on the lake this month.


Lynette Shimek, one of Lake County's DFG game wardens, reported Tuesday evening that 886 dead dead birds, mostly ruddy ducks, were collected that day by teams on three boats.


Game wardens Shimek and Loren Freeman led a small group of volunteers in picking up dead birds over the weekend while nearly a dozen other DFG staff returned to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.


However, Shimek said that rough weather prevented them from spending any time on the water Saturday; on Sunday, she added, they only had a four-hour window in which they could remain on the water.


The hundreds of birds found Tuesday, said Shimek, could have died over the weekend.


About 39 dead birds were found between Kono Tayee and south of Rattlesnake Island on Tuesday, said Shimek. DFG went looking for birds there after an area resident reported seeing numerous dead birds in the area.


“That was not as many as we had feared,” she said.


Most of the birds picked up Tuesday were found in the lake center, straight off from Lucerne, Shimek said. That pattern is consistent with DFG findings last week, and with the die-off patterns in the lake's first avian cholera outbreak in January 2004, in which more than 7,000 ducks and wild birds died.


Shimek, who is acting as the local incident commander, reported that DFG had sent more staff back in to help with collection by Tuesday afternoon. DFG has emphasized collecting the dead animals as a way of preventing the disease from spreading.


Four boats with a total of 10 DFG staff will be out again today, said Shimek, to continue collection.


Shimek said assessment of the situation won't be complete until they go out on the water again today and cover the same areas looking for new dead birds.


Tuesday's numbers bring the total of dead birds collected to about 6,200, said Shimek.


Andy Atkinson, a senior wildlife biologist who was on scene last week, has said he expects this die-off will equal the 2004 event, Shimek reported.


Atkinson has not returned to Lake County, said Shimek, because he has had to respond to other avian cholera outbreaks that now are taking place in the valley.


Shimek thanked local residents for their diligence in reporting dead animals, and also thanked local volunteers for their ongoing help in collecting the birds.


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



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