Wednesday, 12 June 2024

DFG: Duck die-off appears to be over

LUCERNE – State Department of Fish & Game officials say that the avian cholera outbreak that has killed thousands of waterfowl on the lake in the past few weeks appears to be ending.

DFG Game Warden Lynette Shimek said because of rainy weather crews ceased collecting dead ruddy ducks and birds on the lake on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the day of “last big push,” Shimek said three boat crews picked up 150 dead birds.

That's down significantly from the early days of the die-off, in which DFG was collecting about 1,000 dead birds a day.

Shimek said DFG believes that the die-off is over. “There will be a few residual birds that will die from it,” she said.

The large flocks of ruddy ducks that winter on the lake have left now, she said. Officials are hoping that with the warmer weather and rain, conditions that helped the die-off – particularly the animals' close proximity – are over, Shimek added.

The die-off, which began more than two weeks ago, has so far claimed about 8,000 ruddy ducks and other water birds, said Shimek. That's the same amount of birds that died in the first avian cholera outbreak on the lake in January 2004, she said.

“That seems to be the magic number,” Shimek added.

The additional DFG crew members brought in from the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area near Gridley – almost a dozen in all – have returned home, said Shimek.

If, however, many more dead birds are found after the rain stops, Shimek said DFG might bring additional staff back to finish collection.

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


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