Botulism has killed several thousand ducks along the shores of the Great Salt Lake over the past month, the Division of Wildlife Resources reports.
Biologists have removed waterfowl carcasses from dikes on the Ogden Bay, Harold Crane, Howard Slough and Bear River Bird Refuges, said state waterfowl biologist Joel Huener.Conditions this summer have been especially conducive to a botulism outbreak, Huener said. High temperatures and low water flows have led to an anaerobic situation at many swamps.
Botulism occurs when hot, stagnant conditions cause a natural bacteria to produce a deadly toxin to birds, he said.
"We consider the outbreak significant," he said. "A major cleanup operation has been conducted by DWR to control the disease."
The carcasses are removed to keep maggots from feeding on the tissue and spreading the toxin. The disease will subside with cold weather and fresh water flows, he said.
Waterfowl hunting season opened Oct. 6, and Huener recommends that hunters harvest only free-flying birds.