Great Lakes: Botulism deadly to wildlife perils
By Matthew Daneman Democrat and Chronicle
Posted: 09/01/002) —
Parts of Lake Erie are a wildlife charnel house.
Fish and bird corpses by the thousands have been bobbing
in the shallows of the lake's east end and washing ashore
The killer is a poison, called type E avian botulism.
And its next victim, many predict, is Lake Ontario.
"As Lake Erie goes, so goes the Niagara River, goes Lake
Ontario, the Barge Canal and the Finger Lakes," said state
Assemblyman Richard Smith, D-Hamburg, Erie County. "That's
why we're very concerned."
In February, Smith put together a joint workshop of several
dozen U.S. and Canadian experts to discuss the outbreaks
of type E botulism that have killed swarms of wildlife
from Ontario, Canada, through New York and into Pennsylvania.
New York Sea Grant found traces of type E botulism in
Lake Ontario last month. And it is poised to become a
bigger problem in the Great Lake, perhaps as early as
this fall, according to some researchers.
More cases are likely as a fish, the round goby, makes
its way east to Lake Ontario and helps recreate the tangled
web of circumstances thought responsible for Lake Erie's
botulism problems, said Bill Culligan, head of the state
Department of Environmental Conservation's Lake Erie fisheries
U.S Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-East Amherst, Erie County,
has asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for
federal assistance to halt the spread of type E.
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