GLRI has helped support Great Lakes piping plover species recovery efforts implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)
Preventing the Spread of Avian Botulism
in Piping Plovers
By Jack Dingledine
Over the past 10 years several piping plover individuals from the endangered population of the Great Lakes have died as a result of exposure to Type E Botulism.
Equivalent to food poisoning, Type E Botulism is caused by a toxin that, when ingested by birds, results in paralysis and ultimately death.
Although the exact cause of death was not determined in each case, evidence suggests at least six piping plovers have died over the last decade. With a population of approximately 60 breeding pairs, the loss of even a small number of birds is significant.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has allowed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s East Lansing Field Office in Michigan, the lead for Great Lakes piping plover recovery, to coordinate monitoring efforts with our partners at the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding has provided for education of plover monitors, preparation of outbreak response protocols and on-the-ground efforts at early outbreak detection, including the removal of carcasses, which can provide a potential pathway for the toxin.
For more information about U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service activities funded through GLRI, visit http://www.fws.gov/glri