The Sacramento Bee today posted an online story detailing the deaths of several dozen birds believed to be from avian botulism. California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials are asking the public to remain on the lookout for sick waterfowl. Because there is such a lack of water for these birds to use this time of year due to the drought, those that are in the Central Valley end up congregating together in close proximity, helping spread the disease.
From the Bee:
“At this time of year, particularly with these dry conditions, there are just not as many natural places for the birds to go, so they tend to concentrate,” said Krysta Rogers, an environmental scientist at the department.
She said 10 to 20 dead birds were collected Tuesday in the Pocket Canal near Portuguese Park in Sacramento. Botulism is the suspected cause of death, although this still must be confirmed through testing. Other outbreaks have been reported recently at a city pond in Hesperia, in San Bernardino County, and at Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge near the Oregon border.
The problem is expected to worsen later in the year as natural water supplies dwindle further. Millions of waterfowl migrate to the Central Valley for the winter and will begin arriving as soon as mid-August.
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