Scientists Examine Bird Deaths on Great Lakes
By Matt Pitts
Published November 15, 2007
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Environmental experts suspect that more than 100 loons and other migratory birds found dead on Great Lakes
shores in the past week were poisoned by botulism after feeding on invasive mussels and fish.
State Department of Environmental Conservation scientists say Type E botulism has been causing die-offs on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario for several years.
The birds, which are believed to travel from Canada, become paralyzed and die after consuming the quagga mussel and a fish called the round goby. The D-E-C estimates that Type E botulism has killed 41,000 migratory birds on Lake Erie since 2000 and 10,300 on Lake Ontario since 2002.
Agency scientists track the deaths through shoreline surveys of both lakes during fall migration and say they have seen rapid rises
in bird deaths on Lake Ontario, where round gobies have proliferated in recent years. There have been no reports of human illnesses associated with the annual outbreaks though people are warned not to eat birds or fish that appear sick.