The dead mallards from the northern Michigan Grand Traverse Bay had been carrying botulism, a disease caused by a bacterium living in the shallow waters of the lakes.
The Natural Resources officials confirmed the presence of the toxin after dead mallards were collected from the Grand Traverse Bay earlier in July.
A total of 70 mallards had been found dead, the cause being botulism. For over a week now, residents have been calling the police terrified, not knowing what have resulted in the death of the birds. The local police received no less than 100 calls.
The birds usually get infected by ingesting the toxin which naturally occurs in near water bodies. The rising levels of the Great Lakes have created a shallow-water environment that brought along the apparition of the bacteria.
The most vulnerable species are dabbling ducks and the shorebirds that feed in the sediments.
The experts said that the type C botulism is not dangerous to humans. However, pets could get the toxin if they were to eat one of the dead birds that were affected by the bacteria. The researchers advise pet owners not to leave their dogs out of their leashes and to monitor their activity.
The DNR reports that type C and type E botulism are reported annually in the Great Lakes region.
The type E botulism usually occurs in the birds who feed off fish from the open waters.
DNR recommends avoiding leaving food out for ducks or other birds because a congregation of animals in an area where botulism had been found may lead to more cases of sick birds.
The wildlife experts explain that it is important to stop the cycle, as dead birds may be consumed by other animals and the disease could spread quickly.
The residents are asked to dispose of any dead bird by using rubber gloves, either by throwing them into the garbage can or by burying them deep underground, so it can’t be dug up. Another option is to call the DNR, and they will handle the matter appropriately.
It is important to deal with the dead birds properly because other animals’, including dogs and pets, can feed off the sick birds’ carcasses and also get sick.
The Department of Natural Resources asks the public to report each case of dead or dying birds to their local DNR office.
Statistics say that up to 100,000 birds can die of botulism annually, while a massive outbreak could affect more than a million birds at once. Symptoms include muscle paralysis, and the death can occur in a matter of days.
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