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LIfe and Death at KMHRP.

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  • mjbbirds@aol.com
    Dear Calbirders, I am hoping that you might be able to answer some specific questions that might help us determine why we are having a continuing bird and fish
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 6 11:12 PM
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      Dear Calbirders,
      I am hoping that you might be able to answer some specific questions that
      might help us determine why we are having a continuing bird and fish die-off
      at Ken Malloy/ Harbor Regional Park in Harbor City/Wilmington, Los Angeles,
      CA.
      First I should note that the park is open, the birding is good and the kill
      has to date mostly affected feral and abundant scavenging species. There
      have been somewhat sensationalized reports on television and radio, but the
      local paper, The Daily Breeze, published a fairly accurate article on July 4.
      We are hoping to determine the cause of mortality before/in case it spreads
      to include sensitive species or takes any more of our more common regular
      species.
      To date, virtually all feral ducks (approximately 260 mallards, Muscovies and
      Pekings) have died, as have a large number of coots, most of the gulls that
      were feeding at the lake, and most of the larger (all non-native and formerly
      stocked) species of fish. Virtually unaffected are feral geese, rock doves,
      gadwalls (which are present with juveniles), large numbers of ruddy ducks,
      pied-billed grebes (with juveniles), Ardeids, and so on. Today, least terns
      were present feeding on Gambusia, swallows of 5 species were flying over the
      lake (all but the bank swallow were accompanied by juveniles) and there were
      numerous tricolored blackbirds in the Icterid/starling flocks.
      Aside from the rock doves and geese, the affected birds are the ones most
      often fed lakeside by park visitors. Huge volumes of bread are brought to
      the lake daily, and we believe that bakeries may be dumping their "day old"
      bread at the lake as well.
      My specific question is, is there any evidence that toxic molds or bacteria
      on bread could be responsible? Perhaps the fish are dying because they are
      eating the bread, too, or are scavenging poisoned birds who die on/in the
      water?
      We have narrowed the field somewhat, and if another possibility seems
      plausible please let me know.
      The lake is certainly a candidate for eutrophication and the consequent
      mortality, and precedents for this have certainly been set in the past.
      Botulism poisoning, chemical poisoning by a toxic substance, and viral or
      bacterial pathogens are other possibilities we are considering.
      However, several points argue against any one of these being the primary
      cause of mortality (although in combination, they could certainly be
      contributing factors)
      1. the kill has been selective, not affecting fish eaters, species that avoid
      humans or even the smaller fish (Gambusia).
      2. The County (LA), Fish and Game and USFWS have taken samples, with
      inconclusive results. However, limited dissolved oxygen and pH testing
      showed no problems. Also arguing against eutrophication is the fact that
      there have been no visible signs of an algae bloom, water clarity has not
      diminished substantially, there has been no noticeable odor, etc. We believe
      that the extensive Ludwigia mats growing along the shoreline do a fairly good
      job of removing dissolved nutrients from the water. Water level has dropped,
      and no water has been entering the lake for quite a while. With the nutrient
      load from the bread, potentially anaerobic conditions would seem to set the
      stage for mortality due to lack of dissolved oxygen and/or botulism. But it
      seems a eutrophic event would not be nearly as selective and would be much
      more evident.
      3. Necropsy results have not been returned to us, and we are not sure if and
      when we will get them, but we are told (on the basis of chemical tests??)
      that botulism is not involved. My initial suspicion was botulism, because a
      park garden supervisor described symptoms of dying birds that were
      consistent with the neurotoxic effects (inability to walk or fly, "rubber
      neck" posture, etc.)
      The County Hazmat guys immediately ruled out accidental or intentional toxic
      chemical loading of the Lake, on the basis of some of the preceding.
      Intentional poisoning of the bread cannot be ruled out, however.
      Bacterial or viral pathogens that crossed such taxonomic gaps (e.g., ducks,
      coots, gulls and even fish) yet did not affect closely related species
      (gadwalls, ruddy ducks, terns) seem unlikely.
      In any case, any insights, preferably documented rather than anecdotal, would
      be appreciated.
      As an end note, I know that individuals in the humane community may be upset
      at me for saying this, but without the huge contingent of feral and
      scavenging species, the lake has a quiet and serene beauty that provides a
      long-absent sense of wildness there. It is nevertheless important that we
      determine the cause of mortality so as to determine how to cope with the
      regulatory agencies and public park users regarding park management methods,
      and of course, determine whether it will run its course before killing other
      species at the park.
      The park is open to the public, and if you desire, please visit on your own
      or come to my next public walk there (Sunday July 14, 8 AM, meet in the lot
      between Anaheim St. and Vermont) In addition to the surviving species
      mentioned above, there is at least one chat south of the dam and hopefully,
      our least Bell's vireos are still present and nesting. Our nesting least
      bitterns become more visible in July and August.
      Martin Byhower
      __ /\ __ Martin Byhower, Lomita, CA
      / ___\/ \/___\ Director, BIRDING SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
      \| |/ Private guiding, & more
      /\ Email: mbinrbc@...
      ///\\\ WEBSITE: http://www.qi-whiz.com/birds
    • snorkler@juno.com
      Interesting questions. It looks to me that the common link is eating aquatic vegetation. The ducks and geese that died eat aquatic vegetation, while gadwall
      Message 2 of 5 , Jul 7 10:11 AM
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        Interesting questions. It looks to me that the common link is eating
        aquatic vegetation. The ducks and geese that died eat aquatic
        vegetation, while gadwall and Canada Geese are lawn grazers. Ruddy Ducks
        eat animal matter. The unaffected species are terrestrial feeders and
        species that eat animal matter.

        Darrell Lee
        Alameda, CA
        snorkler@...

        On Sun, 7 Jul 2002 02:12:37 EDT mjbbirds@... writes:
        > Dear Calbirders,
        > I am hoping that you might be able to answer some specific questions
        > that
        > might help us determine why we are having a continuing bird and fish
        > die-off
        > at Ken Malloy/ Harbor Regional Park in Harbor City/Wilmington, Los
        > Angeles,
        > CA.
        > First I should note that the park is open, the birding is good and
        > the kill
        > has to date mostly affected feral and abundant scavenging species.
        > There
        > have been somewhat sensationalized reports on television and radio,
        > but the
        > local paper, The Daily Breeze, published a fairly accurate article
        > on July 4.
        > We are hoping to determine the cause of mortality before/in case it
        > spreads
        > to include sensitive species or takes any more of our more common
        > regular
        > species.
        > To date, virtually all feral ducks (approximately 260 mallards,
        > Muscovies and
        > Pekings) have died, as have a large number of coots, most of the
        > gulls that
        > were feeding at the lake, and most of the larger (all non-native and
        > formerly
        > stocked) species of fish. Virtually unaffected are feral geese,
        > rock doves,
        > gadwalls (which are present with juveniles), large numbers of ruddy
        > ducks,
        > pied-billed grebes (with juveniles), Ardeids, and so on. Today,
        > least terns
        > were present feeding on Gambusia, swallows of 5 species were flying
        > over the
        > lake (all but the bank swallow were accompanied by juveniles) and
        > there were
        > numerous tricolored blackbirds in the Icterid/starling flocks.
        > Aside from the rock doves and geese, the affected birds are the ones
        > most
        > often fed lakeside by park visitors. Huge volumes of bread are
        > brought to
        > the lake daily, and we believe that bakeries may be dumping their
        > "day old"
        > bread at the lake as well.
        > My specific question is, is there any evidence that toxic molds or
        > bacteria
        > on bread could be responsible? Perhaps the fish are dying because
        > they are
        > eating the bread, too, or are scavenging poisoned birds who die
        > on/in the
        > water?
        > We have narrowed the field somewhat, and if another possibility
        > seems
        > plausible please let me know.
        > The lake is certainly a candidate for eutrophication and the
        > consequent
        > mortality, and precedents for this have certainly been set in the
        > past.
        > Botulism poisoning, chemical poisoning by a toxic substance, and
        > viral or
        > bacterial pathogens are other possibilities we are considering.
        > However, several points argue against any one of these being the
        > primary
        > cause of mortality (although in combination, they could certainly be
        >
        > contributing factors)
        > 1. the kill has been selective, not affecting fish eaters, species
        > that avoid
        > humans or even the smaller fish (Gambusia).
        > 2. The County (LA), Fish and Game and USFWS have taken samples, with
        >
        > inconclusive results. However, limited dissolved oxygen and pH
        > testing
        > showed no problems. Also arguing against eutrophication is the fact
        > that
        > there have been no visible signs of an algae bloom, water clarity
        > has not
        > diminished substantially, there has been no noticeable odor, etc.
        > We believe
        > that the extensive Ludwigia mats growing along the shoreline do a
        > fairly good
        > job of removing dissolved nutrients from the water. Water level has
        > dropped,
        > and no water has been entering the lake for quite a while. With the
        > nutrient
        > load from the bread, potentially anaerobic conditions would seem to
        > set the
        > stage for mortality due to lack of dissolved oxygen and/or botulism.
        > But it
        > seems a eutrophic event would not be nearly as selective and would
        > be much
        > more evident.
        > 3. Necropsy results have not been returned to us, and we are not
        > sure if and
        > when we will get them, but we are told (on the basis of chemical
        > tests??)
        > that botulism is not involved. My initial suspicion was botulism,
        > because a
        > park garden supervisor described symptoms of dying birds that were
        > consistent with the neurotoxic effects (inability to walk or fly,
        > "rubber
        > neck" posture, etc.)
        > The County Hazmat guys immediately ruled out accidental or
        > intentional toxic
        > chemical loading of the Lake, on the basis of some of the preceding.
        >
        > Intentional poisoning of the bread cannot be ruled out, however.
        > Bacterial or viral pathogens that crossed such taxonomic gaps (e.g.,
        > ducks,
        > coots, gulls and even fish) yet did not affect closely related
        > species
        > (gadwalls, ruddy ducks, terns) seem unlikely.
        > In any case, any insights, preferably documented rather than
        > anecdotal, would
        > be appreciated.
        > As an end note, I know that individuals in the humane community may
        > be upset
        > at me for saying this, but without the huge contingent of feral and
        > scavenging species, the lake has a quiet and serene beauty that
        > provides a
        > long-absent sense of wildness there. It is nevertheless important
        > that we
        > determine the cause of mortality so as to determine how to cope with
        > the
        > regulatory agencies and public park users regarding park management
        > methods,
        > and of course, determine whether it will run its course before
        > killing other
        > species at the park.
        > The park is open to the public, and if you desire, please visit on
        > your own
        > or come to my next public walk there (Sunday July 14, 8 AM, meet in
        > the lot
        > between Anaheim St. and Vermont) In addition to the surviving
        > species
        > mentioned above, there is at least one chat south of the dam and
        > hopefully,
        > our least Bell's vireos are still present and nesting. Our nesting
        > least
        > bitterns become more visible in July and August.
        > Martin Byhower
        > __ /\ __ Martin Byhower, Lomita, CA
        > / ___\/ \/___\ Director, BIRDING SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
        > \| |/ Private guiding, & more
        > /\ Email: mbinrbc@...
        > ///\\\ WEBSITE: http://www.qi-whiz.com/birds
        >
        >
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        >

        Darrell Lee
        Alameda, CA
        snorkler@...


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      • redhead457@aol.com
        The most likely cause would be a bacterial infection in warm water -- from a combination of overly heated water, bacteria from sewage, animal waste and
        Message 3 of 5 , Jul 7 12:09 PM
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          The most likely cause would be a bacterial infection in warm water -- from a
          combination of overly heated water, bacteria from sewage, animal waste and
          stagnated water. The water should be tested immediately when this kind of
          die off happens.

          Linda Corey
          Stockton, CA


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Bruce Deuel
          The Department of Fish and Game has been plagued for years by die-offs of domestic ducks at parks where people feed them. The usual cause is duck viral
          Message 4 of 5 , Jul 8 8:34 AM
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            The Department of Fish and Game has been plagued for years by die-offs
            of domestic ducks at parks where people feed them. The usual cause is
            duck viral enteritis. It is especially hard on muscovies. It doesn't
            often kill the wild ducks present, but does sometimes and that's been
            the concern - that the disease would get into the wild populations. I
            have never heard of it killing fish, though, so in this case it could be
            something else, or there could be multiple causes. If it does turn out
            to be DVE, there will probably be a public relations nightmare, since
            the only thing that stops the outbreak is to remove all the domestic
            ducks!

            Bruce Deuel
            Red Bluff

            >>> <mjbbirds@...> 07/06/02 11:12PM >>>
            Dear Calbirders,
            I am hoping that you might be able to answer some specific questions
            that
            might help us determine why we are having a continuing bird and fish
            die-off
            at Ken Malloy/ Harbor Regional Park in Harbor City/Wilmington, Los
            Angeles,
            CA.
            First I should note that the park is open, the birding is good and the
            kill
            has to date mostly affected feral and abundant scavenging species.
            There
            have been somewhat sensationalized reports on television and radio, but
            the
            local paper, The Daily Breeze, published a fairly accurate article on
            July 4.
            We are hoping to determine the cause of mortality before/in case it
            spreads
            to include sensitive species or takes any more of our more common
            regular
            species.
            To date, virtually all feral ducks (approximately 260 mallards,
            Muscovies and
            Pekings) have died, as have a large number of coots, most of the gulls
            that
            were feeding at the lake, and most of the larger (all non-native and
            formerly
            stocked) species of fish. Virtually unaffected are feral geese, rock
            doves,
            gadwalls (which are present with juveniles), large numbers of ruddy
            ducks,
            pied-billed grebes (with juveniles), Ardeids, and so on. Today, least
            terns
            were present feeding on Gambusia, swallows of 5 species were flying
            over the
            lake (all but the bank swallow were accompanied by juveniles) and there
            were
            numerous tricolored blackbirds in the Icterid/starling flocks.
            Aside from the rock doves and geese, the affected birds are the ones
            most
            often fed lakeside by park visitors. Huge volumes of bread are brought
            to
            the lake daily, and we believe that bakeries may be dumping their "day
            old"
            bread at the lake as well.
            My specific question is, is there any evidence that toxic molds or
            bacteria
            on bread could be responsible? Perhaps the fish are dying because
            they are
            eating the bread, too, or are scavenging poisoned birds who die on/in
            the
            water?
            We have narrowed the field somewhat, and if another possibility seems
            plausible please let me know.
            The lake is certainly a candidate for eutrophication and the consequent

            mortality, and precedents for this have certainly been set in the
            past.
            Botulism poisoning, chemical poisoning by a toxic substance, and viral
            or
            bacterial pathogens are other possibilities we are considering.
            However, several points argue against any one of these being the
            primary
            cause of mortality (although in combination, they could certainly be
            contributing factors)
            1. the kill has been selective, not affecting fish eaters, species that
            avoid
            humans or even the smaller fish (Gambusia).
            2. The County (LA), Fish and Game and USFWS have taken samples, with
            inconclusive results. However, limited dissolved oxygen and pH testing

            showed no problems. Also arguing against eutrophication is the fact
            that
            there have been no visible signs of an algae bloom, water clarity has
            not
            diminished substantially, there has been no noticeable odor, etc. We
            believe
            that the extensive Ludwigia mats growing along the shoreline do a
            fairly good
            job of removing dissolved nutrients from the water. Water level has
            dropped,
            and no water has been entering the lake for quite a while. With the
            nutrient
            load from the bread, potentially anaerobic conditions would seem to set
            the
            stage for mortality due to lack of dissolved oxygen and/or botulism.
            But it
            seems a eutrophic event would not be nearly as selective and would be
            much
            more evident.
            3. Necropsy results have not been returned to us, and we are not sure
            if and
            when we will get them, but we are told (on the basis of chemical
            tests??)
            that botulism is not involved. My initial suspicion was botulism,
            because a
            park garden supervisor described symptoms of dying birds that were
            consistent with the neurotoxic effects (inability to walk or fly,
            "rubber
            neck" posture, etc.)
            The County Hazmat guys immediately ruled out accidental or intentional
            toxic
            chemical loading of the Lake, on the basis of some of the preceding.
            Intentional poisoning of the bread cannot be ruled out, however.
            Bacterial or viral pathogens that crossed such taxonomic gaps (e.g.,
            ducks,
            coots, gulls and even fish) yet did not affect closely related species

            (gadwalls, ruddy ducks, terns) seem unlikely.
            In any case, any insights, preferably documented rather than anecdotal,
            would
            be appreciated.
            As an end note, I know that individuals in the humane community may be
            upset
            at me for saying this, but without the huge contingent of feral and
            scavenging species, the lake has a quiet and serene beauty that
            provides a
            long-absent sense of wildness there. It is nevertheless important
            that we
            determine the cause of mortality so as to determine how to cope with
            the
            regulatory agencies and public park users regarding park management
            methods,
            and of course, determine whether it will run its course before killing
            other
            species at the park.
            The park is open to the public, and if you desire, please visit on your
            own
            or come to my next public walk there (Sunday July 14, 8 AM, meet in the
            lot
            between Anaheim St. and Vermont) In addition to the surviving species

            mentioned above, there is at least one chat south of the dam and
            hopefully,
            our least Bell's vireos are still present and nesting. Our nesting
            least
            bitterns become more visible in July and August.
            Martin Byhower
            __ /\ __ Martin Byhower, Lomita, CA
            / ___\/ \/___\ Director, BIRDING SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
            \| |/ Private guiding, & more
            /\ Email: mbinrbc@...
            ///\\\ WEBSITE: http://www.qi-whiz.com/birds


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          • Charles Bragg
            ... Anyone wanting to read about DVE can see our March 1994 newsletter at http://home.att.net/~cgbraggjr/v17n7.htm The duck symptoms are close to what
            Message 5 of 5 , Jul 8 9:51 AM
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              At 08:34 AM 7/8/2002 -0700, Bruce Deuel wrote:
              >The Department of Fish and Game has been plagued for years by die-offs
              >of domestic ducks at parks where people feed them. The usual cause is
              >duck viral enteritis.

              <snip>

              Anyone wanting to read about DVE can see our March 1994 newsletter at http://home.att.net/~cgbraggjr/v17n7.htm The duck symptoms are close to what is happening at Harbor Park, but the species dying and living are mystifying.

              The articles in the newsletter cover all sides of the enormous controversy over analysis and treatment in the Venice Canals in Spring 1993. It was nasty.
              Here is the clinical description of DVE:

              DUCK PLAGUE (DUCK VIRUS ENTERITIS)
              Cause: A herpes virus.
              Host: Only ducks, geese, and swans. There is variation in species susceptibility to this virus. For example, blue-winged teal are most susceptible, while pintails are least.
              Transmission: Direct contact with affected birds or contaminated surfaces, ingestion of food or water contaminated with infected feces or oral discharges, inhalation of viral particles and vertical transmission from female to forming egg.
              Clinical Signs/Field Signs: Rapid death in previously healthy appearing birds. Sick birds are seldom seen but may seek cover and have ruffled feathers, extreme thirst, loss of awareness, droopy head and wing, inability to fly, sensitivity to light, blood around the vent or bill, and prolapsed penis.
              Lesions: Bands or disk shaped areas of hemorrhagic or yellow/tan tissue distributed in or on the esophagus, intestinal wall and cloaca. Blood in the digestive tract. Small white spots on the liver and hemorrhages on the heart.


              -- Chuck


              ========
              Chuck Bragg, Pacific Palisades, CA
              Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society:
              http://smbas.cjb.net
              ========
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