Midwest Region
Conserving the Nature of America

Identifying Environmental Contaminants

Contaminant Biologists in Action in the Midwest

Kalamazoo River, Michigan

Photo of kayakers enjoying a natural stretch of the Kalamazoo RiverU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists knew that the Kalamazoo River environment was contaminated with PCBs, so they began monitoring the reproductive success of bald eagles nesting in the watershed. In the last 17 nesting attempts, bald eagles successfully raised young only twice. Biologists collected eggs that did not hatch and measured concentrations of PCBs in them. The concentrations were some of the highest ever observed in the Great Lakes.

Service biologists are now working with other trustees to assess damages to natural resources resulting from releases of PCBs in Portage Creek and the Kalamazoo River. As part of the damage assessment process they are also determining the amount of restoration needed in the area in addition to clean-up activities which will be required by the U.S. EPA and the State of Michigan.

Patoka River, Indiana,  National Wildlife Refuge

When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contemplated establishing a new National Wildlife Refuge along the Patoka River in southwestern Indiana, concerns arose about possible contamination in the water from agricultural runoff, mining, and oil production. Contaminants biologists from the Bloomington, IN, field office were called to the scene and determined that the water in fact was did not meet federal water quality criteria.

The Service has decided to proceed with acquisition for a new refuge, but has begun working with state and other federal agencies to address pollution problems in the watershed.


Last updated: September 24, 2012