[mou] huge scaup dieoff/Lake Winnie

Robert_Russell at fws.gov Robert_Russell at fws.gov
Tue Nov 6 15:04:59 CST 2007

This was forwarded around the office today.  Another payback from exotic
organisms.  Bob Russell, USFWS
>  Thousands of bluebills dead since Thursday
> Sam Cook
> Duluth News Tribune - 11/06/2007
> Dan Markham and Noel Hill of Duluth were setting up to hunt ducks on Lake
> Winnibigoshish near Deer River on Saturday when they noticed a dead
> on shore. A quick walk along the shore turned up another three dozen dead
> bluebills.
> Waterfowl biologists with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
> estimate that as many as 3,000 bluebills, also known as lesser scaup, may
> have died along the west shore of Lake Winnie.
> The die-off began Thursday, said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist
> Bemidji. Biologists believe the cause is a microscopic trematode, a kind
> fluke, present in snails that the bluebills are feeding on.
> Cordts thinks the die-off could continue. "We're going to find a lot more
> dead," he said in a telephone interview Monday.
> Cordts and other DNR employees collected about 1,000 dead bluebills from
> stretch of shoreline on Friday. In the time it took to collect about 900
> those birds, another 30 to 50 had died in the same stretch.
> "This is potentially pretty bad because of this snail," Cordts said. "The
> trematode is likely brand new to the system. It could be along the whole
> stretch of the Mississippi River and could get into other lakes and into
> other species. It's way too early to speculate a lot."
> "We were just heartbroken," Markham said. "It's depressing."
> The die-off also has affected coots, Cordts said, although most coots
> already left Lake Winnie. He didn't know how many bluebills remained on
> lake.
> The snail that apparently is a host of the trematode is the banded
> snail, Cordts said. It was first documented on Lake Winnie eight years
> by fisheries biologists.
> "It's been concentrated on the west side [of the lake]," he said. "Its
> numbers have really exploded."
> Die-offs of waterfowl due to trematodes have occurred in the spring and
> since about 2002 on the Mississippi River near Winona, Minn., Cordts
> though not in numbers as high as those on Lake Winnie.
> DNR officials sent a few ducks to the National Wildlife Health Center in
> Madison, Wis., on Thursday. An initial inspection turned up the trematode
> identification in one duck, but DNR officials were waiting Monday for
> confirmation of that in other samples.
> Hunters or others should not eat any duck that appears to be obviously
> diseased, Cordts said. Hunters should use latex gloves when cleaning
> ducks.
> Cordts said he doesn't know of any other major waterfowl die-offs due to
> trematodes other than those near Winona. Controlling the snail that
> as a host would be "almost impossible," he said.
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