The death count of pelicans and other birds at the Salton Sea in California’s Imperial Valley is approaching 4,000 and officials say they cannot yet pinpoint the cause.
Preliminary findings show that the birds died of avian botulism, which has been known to be present in the 380-square-mile Salton Sea south of Palm Springs. Whether the outbreak can be linked to agricultural pesticides remains unclear.
Devoid of a source of clean fresh water, the Salton Sea, which is 10 times saltier than the Pacific Ocean, is dependent on agricultural and industrial runoff to avoid disappearing through evaporation.
Environmentalists have complained that the sea is nothing but a sump for the surrounding fields, with a brew of potentially deadly pesticides lurking at the bottom.
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