Biological Hazard – North-America – USA

EDIS Number: BH-20120330-34712-USA
Date / time: 30/03/2012 03:22:47 [UTC]
Event: Biological Hazard
Area: North-America
Country: USA
State/County: State of California
Location: [Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex]
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: N/A
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: N/A


The newest volunteer opportunity in the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex is picking up bird carcasses stricken by a deadly avian cholera outbreak killing birds as they migrate north. The refuge, which spans the California/Oregon border, has already logged more than 10,000 deaths this spring. "It can take a bird very quickly. You can look at a bird in the morning and it seems completely healthy and that bird may be dead in a couple of hours," said Ron Cole, Refuge Manger for Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. Over 2 million birds migrate through the refuge in the spring, but snow geese and northern pintails seem to be hit hardest by the sickness. What's causing this fatal illness? Lack of water in the Klamath basin wetlands and the concentration of birds in a smaller space. The Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges is part of the Klamath Reclamation Project, which doles out water to all users in its jurisdiction. The refuges are the lowest priority; they haven't gotten any water since last December. "We were about 50% of normal of what we would hope to have for wetlands flooded at this time of year," explained Cole. "That concentrated the birds. When they are concentrated they tend to spread the disease more quickly," he added. Cole says more water in the basin would help alleviate the concentration. In the meantime, he and his volunteers are trying to scoop up carcasses as fast as possible so that fluids from the dead birds don't contaminate the other birds. "We think the outbreak is slowing down," Cole says, but not before in his estimate 15,000-20,000 birds will have died. That's a small portion of the 2 million that migrate through in a spring, but far more deaths than the Refuges usually see. Even worse, if the Refuges doesn't get more regular water this type of outbreak is likely to happen again.

Event updates:
Situation Update No. 1 on 2012-04-09 at 17:56:31.

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