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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Another Mass Animal Death, Multiple Species, Birds This Time

Thousands of little blue herons, roseate spoonbills, snowy egrets, pelicans and other chattering birds were gone. Nests sat empty in trees; eggs broken and scattered on the muddy ground.
 "It's a dead zone now," said Vic Doig, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist. "This is where the largest bird colony on the Gulf Coast of Florida used to be."
stock here: What would cause birds to abandon their nests, scuttle their own eggs and throw them on the ground?    How about after detection of mutated offspring they are genetically programmed to kill it all off to prevent the destruction of their species, try again next year.
Finally, Doig said, recent years have seen an increase in night flights over the area by surveillance planes and helicopters used to combat drug runners. Although the planes' noise could be disruptive, Doig admits it's a longshot.
The abandonment concerns biologists because it could have a ripple effect: Many bird species here return year after year to the same nesting sites. The disruption provokes anxiety that this important island refuge could somehow be lost.
"Any rookery that's persisted for decades as one of the largest colonies is incredibly important," said Janell Brush, an avian researcher with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "It's quite a large colony. There had to be some intense event that would drive all these birds away."
Biologist also don't know how the disappearance will affect the island's other animals, some of which rely on the birds to survive. Cottonmouth snakes eat bird predators like rodents, and in turn the birds drop lots of fish and other nutrients from the trees to feed the snakes.
And on the other side of the country, more horrible fish news.

BETHEL – One of the worst returns of chum salmon on record has prompted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to shut down sport fishing for chums in the Kuskokwim River drainage.
The state announced Monday that any chum salmon caught unintentionally by people fishing for other species must be released immediately in the Kuskokwim-Goodnews Area. The closure took effect just after midnight Sunday and at this point will last until the end of August.
Sport fishermen can still target pink, red and silver salmon, with a daily total bag limit of three fish of those species. But they cannot use bait or multiple hooks.
Sport fishing for king salmon also is closed.

The weighted count for chum salmon at the Fish and Game test fishery in Bethel is the third lowest on record, according to the department. It said the  run “appears to be late, weak or both.”

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