Thurmond Lake toxin again threatens eagles

Experts try to halt outbreak at lake

Thurmond Lake eagles remain threatened
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A bird-killing neurotoxin linked to the aquatic weed hydrilla re-appeared this fall at Thurmond Lake, where at least one dead eagle has been recovered in Lincoln County.

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Ken Boyd holds a sample of hydrilla plants from Thurmond Lake. The plants can be host to a neurotoxin deadly to birds.   MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
Ken Boyd holds a sample of hydrilla plants from Thurmond Lake. The plants can be host to a neurotoxin deadly to birds.

Avian vacuolar myelinopathy is believed to be caused by an unusual algae that grows on the dense mats of hydrilla that are popular feeding sites for migrating waterfowl.

“We have been doing some preliminary eagle and waterfowl survey work and have seen fairly high numbers of both,” said Ken Boyd, a conservation biologist with the Army Corps of Engineers.

As winter begins, observers have seen lesser scaup, teal, redheads, canvasback, ruddy ducks, ringnecks and large numbers of coots.

Because coots feed heavily on hydrilla and are often eaten by bald eagles, the small birds play a major role in AVM outbreaks that have killed dozens of eagles at the reservoir since the invasive weed first appeared there in the mid-1990s.

University of Georgia scientists studying the disease visited the lake recently to observe bird activity and test captured birds for AVM.

“We have recovered a number of sick coots during this period, and there are thousands in the area all feeding on hydrilla,” Boyd said. “Unfor­tu­nately, with the low lake levels, more hydrilla is exposed and available.”

The first confirmed eagle death this season occurred the day before Thanksgiving. A Georgia Wildlife Resources Division official found the dead bird near Cherokee Boat Ramp.

The possible remains of a second dead eagle, a pile of feathers, were found earlier this month at Bussey Point, where a number of dead or dying eagles have been recovered in past years.

The disorder, which causes fatal lesions in the brains of infected birds, does not affect mammals.

One option under study to control the problem involves introducing grass-eating carp to the reservoir in hopes that the fish would eliminate the hydrilla, which in turn would reduce the likelihood of AVM outbreaks.

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Riverman1 12/23/11 - 12:58 pm
If there's a way to get those

If there's a way to get those weeds out of the lake and river, I'll personally do it. I mean I'll act like a carp and eat them if necessary. They are filling up the lake and river.

floridasun 12/23/11 - 01:56 pm
Well this is certainly not

Well this is certainly not good news
Need to find a solution to this

copperhead 12/24/11 - 07:20 am
This is just another attempt

This is just another attempt by conservatives to convince normal people that there are things amiss with the eco-system. HOGWASH! This is just the normal natural cycle of nature.

GaWildlifeRescueAssociation 12/24/11 - 12:33 pm
The Georgia Wildlife Rescue

The Georgia Wildlife Rescue Association supports wildlife rehabilitators throughout Georgia including those who work with waterfowl and raptors such as eagles, osprey, etc... We appreciate the scientific research being done by various state and federal agencies and universities in this area. One only has to put a boat in any number of lakes in Georgia to see that invasive weeds have impacted our waterways, particularly lakes or bodies of water where there is little or slow water flow. Again, this is science and not some vast conspiracy. It wasn't that many years ago when some thought the government was concocting a crazy story about that useful chemical DDT. Where would our national symbol be now if they hadn't intervened?

yu nah ee tah
yu nah ee tah 01/02/12 - 09:48 am
Step by step. 1.Google:

Step by step.


2. Read at the bottom of the paper:

"Field collected animals

In addition to the laboratory trials, researchers evaluated mammalian susceptibility using field collected animals. Neurologically impaired beavers were noted during a disease outbreak on Thurmond reservoir, but the brain results were inconclusive (Fischer et al. 2006). "

3. In Webster look up the difference between "inconclusive" and "negative."

4. Look and see if you have hair on your body and are therefore a mammal.

5. Beavers carry hydrilla in their mouths to build their snuggly little hidey holes. To my knowledge, and I talked to a beaver a few days ago, they don't consume hydrilla to get a big dose of the suspect cyanobacterium.

6. Google and read : Henri-Christophe was a mammal that got tangled up in the hydrilla.

Lucky 7. Decide for yourself if the food chain and now warped SE US ecosystem that began with the 1960's introduction of hydrilla is a threat to all us mammals.

Thank you for your time

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