Archive | December 7, 2016

Thousands of snow geese die after ‘landing on toxic waters’ in Montana, USA

Several thousand snow geese have died after a snowstorm forced large flocks to take refuge in the acidic, metal-laden waters of an old open pit mine in Montana.
Mark Thompson, environmental affairs manager for mine company Montana Resources, said witnesses described the pit as like “700 acres of white birds” on 28 November.
Along with Atlantic Richfield, Montana Resources is responsible for Berkeley Pit in Butte.
Since 28 November, employees of MR and Arco had used spotlights, noise makers and other efforts to scare or “haze” the birds off the water and prevent others from landing.
The companies estimated that more than 90% of the birds had been chased off by 29 November, Thompson said.
Workers received some advance notice about the incoming flock from an off-duty Montana Resources employee about 25 miles away, who called to report there were about 25,000 geese in the air in Anaconda, Thompson said.
“I can’t underscore enough how many birds were in the Butte area that night,” Thompson said. “Numbers beyond anything we’ve ever experienced in our 21 years of monitoring by several orders of magnitude.”
The employees worked hard to save the birds, he said.
Typically, Butte sees between 2,000 and 5,000 birds all year, including spring and water migration, Thompson said.
The estimated death toll is based on drone and aircraft flights over the pit, which holds about 45bn gallons (175bn litres) of water.
Thompson said federal and state agencies were still confirming the number of dead geese. Nonetheless the company expected the total would be many times more than the 342 that died in 1995, prompting a mitigation effort that seeks to protect birds from the toxic water.
The companies would investigate to try and determine what circumstances led to “this kind of perfect storm”, with thousands of birds making a late migration and then facing a snowstorm at a time that Berkeley Pit had the only open water in the area.
University of Montana Western professor Jack Kirkley, who specializes in ornithology, told the Montana Standard that recent milder winters were not encouraging birds to head south as early and, in some cases, were causing some to stay in places where they had never stayed the winter before.
He noted there were 4m to 6m snow geese on the continent and there were some concerns that the population was too high.
MR and Arco could be fined if the EPA determines the companies were not in compliance with the bird hazing program, but Thompson said he was confident the efforts were adequate.
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3.4 MILLION poultry killed due to bird flu in various areas of South Korea

Bird Flu
Twenty days after a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus was first detected in South Korea, the epidemic shows no sign of abating. Nearly 3.4 million poultry had been culled as of Monday morning. 
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, some 2.5 million chickens, 790,000 ducks and 71,000 quails have been slaughtered nationwide as part of the quarantine, after nearly 70 farms were confirmed or suspected of having avian influenza, or bird flu, outbreaks.
Most of the ducks were culled at farms in Eumseong and Jincheon in North Chungcheong Province, two of the hardest hit areas. Those two places account for more than half the farm ducks in North Chungcheong Province.
So far, 69 farms in seven cities and provinces have confirmed H5N6 cases since Nov. 16, when the H5N6 strain of bird flu was first reported at a chicken farm in Haenam, South Jeolla Province. 
Over the weekend, a chicken farm in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province, also tested positive for the highly pathogenic strain of the virus. 
It was the first time the virus outbreak had been confirmed in Gangwon Province, since the outbreak was mostly reported in towns by the west coast and throughout Gyeonggi Province.
The Gyeongsang provinces remain unaffected by the virus, but experts warn it is just a matter of time until it spreads there.
Farmers worry the damage is so widespread it may have a lasting impact on the nation‘s poultry business. 
“Even if the authorities have the situation under control, the economic damage is already too severe to calculate. It will take a long period of time for the region to recover,” a farmer said. 
According to the ministry’s emergency guideline for bird flu outbreaks, the movement of stockbreeders at flu-hit poultry farms is banned for 30 days after they complete the slaughtering process of affected poultry. 
In 2014, when the country’s worst bird flu outbreaks hit North Chungcheong Province, the movement ban was lifted 88 days after the first virus case was detected. Nearly 1.8 million poultry were culled. 
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700 geese found dead, due to avian flu in Lubuskie Province, Poland

Bird Flu
An outbreak of avian flu has been reported at a goose farm in Lubuskie province, western Poland, where around 700 birds have been found dead.
Samples of dead birds have been sent to the State Veterinary Institute, which confirmed an infection by the H5 virus, commonly known as bird flu.
The detected strain, H5N8, is not considered to be harmful to humans.
As required by European Union legislation, the Lubuskie province governor ordered a 3-kilometre protection zone and a 10-kilometre outer surveillance zone to be imposed around the farm to prevent the spread of the disease. The quarantine is to last 20 days.
Other measures will entail a cull of several hundred other live birds on the farm.
In early November, avian flu was detected in five wild ducks and a seagull found dead in a lake near Szczecin, north-western Poland.
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5,000 ducks killed due to bird flu in the Tarn Department, France

Bird Flu
A duck farm in France is the latest casualty of the outbreaks of H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza that have been spreading around Europe and beyond in recent weeks.
Two thousand ducks died from the disease out of a total of 5000 raised on the farm, in the town of Almayrac in the Tarn department. The rest of the ducks will now be culled and a 3 km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone have been set up around the farm.
The same H5N8 virus was detected for the first time in France on November 27 on wild ducks in Pas-de-Calais.
The French authorities told the public in a statement that the outbreak is not related to the outbreaks last winter in the south west of France. However, the outbreak does prevent France from declaring itself free from avian flu, which was planned to take place on the 3 December. The new H5N8 outbreak took place on the 2 December.
Tarn is also situation in France’s south-western fois gras producing region, which was hit hard by the previous outbreaks and the subsequent restrictions.
Rules in place from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) allow regionalisation of countries, which means exports of poultry products should be able to continue from other regions.
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Mystery as thousands of fish wash up on Cornish beach, UK

Dead fish on Pentewan Sands
Bad weather could be to blame for thousands of dead fish washing up on a beach, experts have said.
Visitors to Pentewan Sands, Cornwall, said the beach was covered in herring, sardine and mackerel on Saturday.
Experts described the event as unusual, especially for the time of year, but suspect recent windy weather could be a factor.
The dead fish have attracted huge numbers of gulls to the bay on the county’s south coast.
James Wright, curator of the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, said events like this one usually happen in the summer months when fish, particularly mackerel, are following their prey into warmer waters, and then in turn are hunted by something themselves.
“It’s quite unusual for fish to want to leave the water, it’s usually a result of panic, because of a predator, but at this time of year that would be unusual”, he said.
He suggested the weather could be a factor: “It is possible they were all caught in particularly bad weather when they were near the surface and washed up by the waves.”
Mr Wright said the fish did not appear to have been affected by pollution, but people should not take them home and eat them.
Courtesy of BBC News

540,000 chickens killed due to bird flu in Niigata, Japan

Bird Flu
The Niigata Prefectural Government completed the culling of 540,000 chickens at two poultry farms Sunday to contain an outbreak of the highly virulent H5 strain of bird flu.
About 230,000 chickens were killed at a farm in Joetsu, following the completion of a similar procedure to eradicate 310,000 chickens in the village of Sekikawa last week.
The outbreak has triggered restrictions on the transport of chickens and eggs within a 10-km radius of each poultry farm. Four farms in Sekikawa and two in Joetsu have resumed shipment of eggs and other products after passing inspection tests in accordance with national rules on epidemic prevention.
Further north in Aomori Prefecture, meanwhile, a culling operation to eliminate 4,720 ducks at a farm outside the capital was completed Saturday after it and another farm nearby were also found infected by the H5 strain. The Aomori Municipal Government had already culled 18,000 ducks at the latter farm.
The Aomori Prefectural Government has restricted traffic on a road connecting the farms and is disinfecting vehicles within a 10-km radius of them.
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Thousands of dead fish continue to wash ashore, ‘reason unknown’ in Nova Scotia, Canada

Schools of dead herring have been washing up on beaches in Digby County. (Submitted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
Waves full of dead herring have washed up on more and more beaches in Digby County, N.S., over the past week and a half as the mystery continues about what is killing the fish by the thousands. 
First discovered in St. Mary’s Bay on beaches near Weymouth, scores of herring carcasses have now turned up in the Annapolis Basin.
Ted Leighton, a retired veterinary pathologist, estimates he found 4,000 herring washed up behind his house in Smiths Cove.
“My beach is a direct recipient of a northeast wind, and things tend to pile up,” said Leighton. “So they were very dense on my beach.”
No other species of fish have been reported dead in the area.
“No one has a clue how many fish are involved in this mortality event,” said Leighton. “What we see on the beach is just a partial window on what’s going on somewhere out on the water.”
There are a number of theories about why the fish are dying, ranging from predation to parasites and viruses.
Just what is killing off large numbers of herring is a question scientists are trying to answer.
“With these mass mortality events like the one that’s going on here, what is the impact on the greater ecosystem?” said Shawn Craik, an assistant biology professor at Université Sainte-Anne in Church Point, N.S.
“It could be significant, especially if it goes on for a long period of time or if it happens more frequently.”
A Department of Fisheries and Oceans lab in Moncton, N.B., will try to determine what killed the fish. The department said results could take three weeks. Dead fish have also been sent for testing to the Atlantic Veterinary College in P.E.I.
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Massive fish kill, ‘state of calamity’ declared on lake Buhi in Camarines Sur, Philippines

Fish Kill Alert
Lake Buhi in Camarines Sur has been declared a state of calamity due to massive fish kill, a television report said.
Citing local officials, GMA News’ Unang Balita reported Thursday morning that up to 1,000 fish cage owners have been affected by the fish kill.
Authorities said fish kill usually occurs after continuous rain for several days, adding that chemicals from fish feed also cause deaths of fish.
They said an estimated P500,000 in local revenue has been lost because of the fish kill.
Buhi government officials had met with Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources experts and civilian volunteers to discuss ways to address the problem. 
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300 blackbirds found dead, ‘a mystery’ in Stow Creek Township, New Jersey, USA

Authorities are still investigating what killed an estimated 200 to 300 red-winged blackbirds in this rural township.
The dead birds were found near Frank Davis Road on Nov.  22, according to Cumberland County Department of Health Director Megan Sheppard.
The were found on the road, in farm fields and in wooded areas. Some of the dead birds were also found on some nearby roadways.
There has been no cause yet determined as to what killed them.
As for humans, Sheppard says there appears to be no threat.
“Not at this time, we don’t have any concerns,” she said Wednesday, noting no unusual illness has been reported in humans or pets in the area.
The area where the dead birds were found is an agricultural area not far south of the Stow Creek’s border with Salem County.
The dead birds have been cleaned up, Sheppard noted.
She said that in the same area about a half a dozen blackbirds were found dead at the beginning of November, too, but nothing on the scale of what was discovered last week.
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Spokesman Larry Hajna confirmed Wednesday his agency has become involved in helping to determine what killed the birds in this latest incident. He noted the state Department of Agriculture is playing a role in the probe, too.
“Necropsy results have been inconclusive,”Hajna said. “No pesticides or toxins were detected in the first round of testing.”
Sheppard suggested that a final answer through toxicology tests “could take weeks.”
Officials said the unidentified farmer around the land where the birds were found has been cooperating with the investigation.
There was a similar bird kill in the Millville area in the summer of 2012.
It was later determined that the kill was caused by a farmer’s proper use of pesticides to get rid of the birds, which destroy crops.
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Thousands of ‘strange jelly like’ creatures washing ashore in California, USA

Thousands of strange sea creatures have washed ashore in the O.C. Take a look at this photo of the critters that washed up on Huntington Beach and Huntington State Beach.
People have some wild theories as to what the jellyfish-like-invertebrates may be and where they come from.
Now while we don’t know for sure what they are, the little gelatinous-pods apparently can slither a bit and dig into the sand.
Whatever you call them — they’re stirring up conversation on social media.
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