Drought promotes duck die-off

Published On: Aug 28 2013 01:28:42 PM PDT
Grants Pass, OR -

The drought that has forced irrigation shutoffs at cattle ranches in the upper Klamath Basin is also causing hardship for waterfowl on national wildlife refuges in the region.

Thousands of ducks are dying from a disease called avian botulism on the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge south of Klamath Falls due to overcrowded marshes.

While the Tule Lake refuge gets water running off a federal irrigation project that's getting water, current management plans allow none this summer for the Lower Klamath Lake refuge, which is practically dry. That leads to overcrowding at Tule Lake, which promotes the spread of the disease.

The refuges are a key stop on the Pacific Flyway, and biologist Dave Mauser says the outlook for this fall is not good.