For Immediate Release
February 9, 1999

Contact: Tom MacKenzie
404/679-7291

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE INVESTIGATING
WILDLIFE DEATHS AT LAKE APOPKA, FLORIDA

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the deaths of a number of fish and more than 200 birds at Lake Apopka, Florida. Found dead since January 31 were 23 endangered wood storks, approximately 200 white pelicans, several egrets, and a variety of fish.

"We're very concerned over the loss of these birds," said Sam D. Hamilton, the Service's Southeast Regional Director. "We are also worried about the many other waterfowl species, like herring gulls, and fish that may also be at risk."

Hamilton said that biologists have, based on initial studies, ruled out known wildlife diseases. He added, however, that he wanted to assure the public that the Service was doing everything possible to insure a proactive, positive, and swift response to this threat.

He noted that the that bird carcasses were being necropsied and the results should pinpoint the cause of death, and hopefully, help identify a solution. The Service is working in cooperation with the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Audubon Society, the St. John's River Water Management District, and the wildlife disease labs of several universities on this issue.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries and 78 Ecological Services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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Release #: R99-016


1999 News Releases

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