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Hunter Alert: Ducks Hit With Avian Botulism

Fri., Oct. 3, 1997

Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists have the task of gathering up dead ducks after the discovery of a botulism outbreak on the American Falls Reservoir.

And they are advising hunters in the upcoming waterfowl season to watch out for their dogs.

The outbreak of avian botulism was discovered last week when dead ducks began appearing on the upper end of the reservoir, biologist Carl Anderson said Thursday. “This is a very potent toxin,” he said.

A large number of dead ducks also were discovered on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.

The birds begin to show symptoms soon after contracting the toxin, which is similar to botulism in spoiled food. The avian strain is not lethal to humans, however.

“According to our scientists, a human would have to eat 200 pounds of meat before feeling any effects,” Anderson said.

With the opening of duck season Saturday, Anderson advises hunters to take precautions with their dogs.

“I’m not certain how the toxin acts in other creatures other than birds,” he said. “I can say that the ducks that land among hunters’ decoys are perfectly all right. Infected ducks can’t fly.”

Tags: hunting

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