Game and Fish to test dead ducks found on Lake Havasu

A group of more than 30 dead ducks were spotted just south of Cattail Cove State Park Tuesday morning, and specimen samples are set to be analyzed by Arizona Game and Fish officials in Phoenix.

A couple who went fishing early Tuesday morning said they saw dozens of dead ducks floating in mats of blue-green algae around 7 a.m. and reported the find to Game and Fish.

Suzanne Ehret, Lake Havasu wildlife manager with Game and Fish, confirmed the couple’s find and said she counted 32 dead eared grebes when she went to check out the report. She collected three specimens, and said they will be shipped to wildlife health specialists at Game and Fish headquarters.

Ehret said it was too early to theorize on a cause of the die-off, and said she didn’t see any other signs of wildlife mortality in the area and saw three flocks of between 50 and 100 individuals of the same species near the site of the dead ducks.

“I don’t know what it is,” Ehret said of the cause. “It was the only place where there was mortality, and other birds and wildlife were behaving normally.”

Deanna Simpson and her husband reported the dead ducks this morning. She said they passed through while bass fishing at around 5:30 a.m. and didn’t see any problems – other than the fact they weren’t catching any fish – but began to notice groups of the dead ducks as they went back to the ramp at Cattail Cove. Blue-green algae lined most of the shore stretching from the park south at least a mile.

“It was a horrible sight,” Simpson said. “It was really, really concerning me.”

The blue-green algae, which has become more prevalent on Lake Havasu in recent years, is potentially toxic and has been known to kill wildlife like ducks that ingest it and, in some cases, in short periods of time, according to research from South Dakota State University, a state that has seen the algae in some of its bodies of water.

A sample of blue-green algae from Lake Havasu tested by University of Arizona scientists late last year did not register any toxins levels. Scientists that study the lake have said they don’t fully understand the causes of the increase in the algal blooms of late, but some have hypothesized the invasive quagga mussels could play a role, providing a competitive advantage to the blue-green algae by consuming other types of algae. (The blue-green algae aren’t actually algae at all; they are cyanobacteria.)

Ehret asked that anyone who sees dead wildlife in or around Lake Havasu report the sighting to Game and Fish by calling the all-day hotline at 1-800-352-0700.


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