Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Midway duck kill update

A third of the endangered Laysan ducks at Midway Atoll have now died or were ill as a result of a suspected epidemic of avian botulism.
(Image: Laysan duck. Credit: J. Marks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

Of roughly 400 of the ducks two weeks ago, as of the most recent report from Midway Aug. 19, 122 had died and six more sick ducks were in an aviary being treated.

Most of the affected animals were from this year's crop of hatchlings.

The ducks occur on the two main islands within Midway Atoll, and Fish and Wildlife Officials said the disease is affecting them on both.

Of the dead animals, 100 came from Sand Island and 22 from Eastern Island.

Because the disease is believed to be growing in stagnant water, Fish and Wildlife Service crews have pumped fresh water into the seeps the ducks use on Sand Island. There is no source of fresh water on Eastern Island, and crews brought a 150-pound block of ice to one of the seeps there to attempt to change the stagnant condition of the water in it.

Wildlife officials said necropsies of some of the ducks seem to confirm the initial suspicion that avian botulism is the cause of the deaths. But that conclusion will not be confirmed until tests are complete at the National Wildlife Research Center later this week.

For more details see the earlier post at, at

For more information on Laysan ducks, see:

© 2008 Jan TenBruggencate

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