Dead Waterfowl Found on Beaches at Sleeping Bear Dunes

Around 300 dead birds were found along the beaches at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Empire, MI this weekend.  Most of the birds were migratory waterfowl including long-tailed ducks, mergansers, and loons.  The cause of the deaths was likely an outbreak of avian botulism, a disease caused when waterfowl ingest invertebrates and small fish infected with bacteria that produce the botulism toxin.  Avian botulism outbreaks have been reported in the Great Lakes region since the 1960s, but the outbreaks have been more frequent since the early 2000s.  Park officials remind visitors not to touch wildlife and to keep pets away from sick or dead birds.  Guidelines on how to report sick, injured, or dead birds found at Sleeping Bear Dunes can be found here.

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