Serious Health Issues For California Waterfowl Amid Water Shortages


Water wars and disease outbreaks are making for a miserable time for California waterfowl. Here’s more from the Sacramento Bee:

The federal government threatened to shut off water deliveries this spring, prompting local farmers and their allies to rally in a miles-long tractor protest. The Trump administration sent local farmers some water so they could grow the crops they’d already planted, but there was hardly any left to go to the refuges.

Sump 1A on Tule Lake was drawn down to its lowest levels in decades, exposing to the sun much of its nearly 14-square miles of thigh-deep mud, covered in a sheen of water. There wasn’t enough water for refuge managers to flood other ponds on the two refuges to help draw birds away from Sump 1A’s botulism mudflats. Clostridium botulinum — a type of bacteria — is found in the mud at the bottom of the Klamath Basin marshes.

When the mud is exposed to the sun in low water levels and high heat, the bacteria emerge from dormancy. The microbes release a neurotoxin that’s absorbed by various types of invertebrates. Maggots are the real killer. As carcasses quickly decompose in the summer heat, flies land on them and lay eggs, which grow into wriggling maggots, some of which float away.

As birds eat those maggots, they get poisoned and their bodies shut down. In less than 24 hours, their wings and legs stop moving, then they can’t pick up their heads. Then they drown.

Read more at:

It’s a really powerful read overall.