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    Thousands of dead birds wash ashore in Ontario

    NewsBird NewsTuesday 25 October 2011
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    Canada

    As many as 6,000 dead birds have washed up on the shores of Georgian Bay, in southern Ontario.
     
    The province's Ministry of Natural Resources, which will begin cleaning the shorelines of dead birds Monday, suspects botulism might be behind the massive die-off.
     
    Hundreds of fish started dying off in late August, and now thousands of carcasses of loons, mallards, grebes, gulls and Canada geese litter the shoreline.
     
    The three-kilometre stretch of the bay on Lake Huron is part the area's popular summer cottage sites.
    Ministry spokesperson John Cooper said fresh samples were sent last week to the University of Guelph to test for fish and bird diseases, including the Type E botulism toxin.
     
    The bacterium naturally occurs as harmless spores in lake bottom sediment.
    Under certain conditions - rich nutrient source, lack of oxygen and optimum temperature - the bacterium begins producing the toxin, which then enters the food chain.
     
    If it botulism, Cooper said, it will stop naturally.
     
    "There doesn't appear to be any long-term concern for the fish and wildlife in (this) area."
    However, the bacteria becomes active in dead organisms, so the ministry is advising people to keep their pets away from dead animals on the shoreline.

    Source: London Free Press

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