Wednesday, 12 June 2024

Duck die-off appears to be slowing

LUCERNE – Department of Fish & Game (DFG) officials are reporting that after two weeks of dealing with a massive avian cholera outbreak on the lake, the numbers of dead birds are beginning to lessen substantially. 

Late last month thousands of birds, mostly the migratory ruddy ducks that visit Clear Lake during the winter, began to die. DFG veterinarians ruled it was a case of avian cholera, which caused a similar die-off in January 2004.

 

DFG Game Warden Lynette Shimek said she and fellow game warden, Loren Freeman, picked up 116 dead ducks on Sunday. Fog conditions on Saturday prevented collection efforts, she said.

 

Three DFG boats were on the lake Monday, Shimek reported, and picked up 232 dead birds.

 

The pockets of dead and dying birds appear to be becoming more scattered, Shimek said.

 

Late last month thousands of birds, mostly the migratory ruddy ducks that visit Clear Lake during the winter, began to die. DFG veterinarians ruled it was a case of avian cholera, which caused a similar die-off in January 2004.

 

DFG Game Warden Lynette Shimek said she and fellow game warden, Loren Freeman, picked up 116 dead ducks on Sunday. Fog conditions on Saturday prevented collection efforts, she said.

 

Three DFG boats were on the lake Monday, Shimek reported, and picked up 232 dead birds.

 

The pockets of dead and dying birds appear to be becoming more scattered, Shimek said.

 

That has led DFG to think that the worst of the die-off is over, said Shimek.

 

“The birds probably will continue to die over the next week or so,” she said.

 

Few ruddy ducks remain on the lake, Shimek noted; those that were still healthy have moved on in their migration.

 

So far, 7,500 dead birds have been collected, she said. Collection efforts are an important part of DFG's protocol in dealing with avian cholera, because officials report that it helps prevent the disease from spreading.

 

Last month Shimek said DFG was especially concerned about keeping the outbreak from reaching the lake's thousands of wintering grebes.

 

DFG boat crews will be back on the lake Tuesday morning, said Shimek, and will reassess the die-off situation in the early afternoon.

 

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

 

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