Botulism Seen In Upper Peninsula Bird Deaths

GULLIVER, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – Authorities say they’ve found the bodies of about 700 water birds along a stretch of northern Lake Michigan shoreline in the Upper Peninsula.

The Mining Journal of Marquette says authorities suspect that the birds died of Type-E botulism.

The 694 dead birds were found in Schoolcraft County near the unincorporated village of Gulliver. They include 247 common loons, 152 horned grebes, 98 red-necked grebes, 73 long-tailed ducks and 64 white-winged scoters.

Authorities say there also were smaller numbers of ring-billed gulls, double-crested cormorants, red-breasted mergansers and herring gulls.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says Type-E botulism bacteria cause a toxin that paralyses birds and fish. Similar die-offs happened in the Upper Peninsula in 2007 and near Sleeping Bear Dunes National lakeshore in northern Lower Peninsula in 2006.

According to the DNR, affected  birds may be lethargic, have difficulty holding their head  out of the water, or be unable to fly.

Michigan water foul hunters are urged to harvest only waterfowl that act and look healthy; wear rubber, plastic, or disposable gloves while field dressing, skinning, or butchering waterfowl; and wash hands, utensils, and work surfaces before and after handling any meat. (More tips for hunters here – .pdf format).

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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