Today I received some news about the dead ducks. The DNR in Michigan has done some testing and determined that the ducks have died due to malnutrition.
I also heard that there were a number of dead ducks at Erieau yesterday. There are always a number of ducks that expire each winter, but this year seems to be worse than usual.
Below is a news release from the DNR (Department of Natural Resources):
To: DNRWIRE@LISTSERV.MICHIGAN.GOVSubject: Large Duck Die-Off in Lake St. Clair Pegged to MalnutritionFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 12, 2008Contacts: Ernie Kafcas 586-465-7214 or Mary Dettloff 517-335-3014 Large Duck Die-Off in Lake St. Clair Pegged to Malnutrition
A combination of approximately 600-800 canvasback and redhead duckshave turned up dead along the St. Clair River and Lake St. Clairshorelines, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Thedie-off likely has been caused by malnutrition, as toxicology tests onthe ducks have ruled out other causes, DNR wildlife biologists said."We are receiving reports from several spots along the St. ClairRiver and Lake St. Clair shoreline of lethargic acting and dead ducks,and expect more reports as the weather warms up and more carcasses arerecovered," said Tom Cooley, wildlife biologist at the DNR'sWildlife Disease Lab. "The Lake St. Clair area is a wintering area forlarge numbers of these duck species, and every year we see more and moreducks in the area, which is making for greater competition for availablenatural food."Wildlife biologists along Lake St. Clair have collected samples of thedead ducks for disease and toxicology testing. The biologists have notedthere are more canvasback ducks being affected than redheads. Cooleysaid that last winter, various waterfowl species were found dead in thesame areas, and those deaths were attributed to malnutrition as well.Lake St. Clair is a primary wintering spot for both canvasback andredhead ducks due to its large expanse of water and availability offood, such as wild celery. Some waterfowl do leave the lake and migrateeither to the East Coast or to the Gulf of Mexico; however, DNRbiologists have observed that there were a larger number of waterfowlstaying the entire winter this year. "Normally, we see 20,000 to 30,000 ducks spending the winter on thelake," said DNR Wildlife Biologist Ernie Kafcas, stationed at the LakeSt. Clair Fish Research Station. "However, this winter, we are seeing30,000 to 40,000 ducks staying because the waters stayed open later thiswinter and did not experience a hard freeze until after mid-January.Ducks that go into the winter with low fat reserves and have to competefor food in extreme late winter conditions are more prone to deaths dueto malnutrition." Residents concerned with the die-off should contact the nearest DNRoffice to report any ducks or other species of shore birds that theyfind dead in the area.