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Environment | local

Rains Should Wash Away Avian Botulism Threat At Smith And Bybee Lakes

Recent rains should end a month-long bird die-off at a popular bird-watching area in North Portland. The outbreak of avian botulism has already killed thousands of birds.

Avian botulism is not considered a threat to people, but it’s been killing birds at Smith and Bybee Lakes since early September.

The lakes have been closed to boats since the die-off was first noticed.

Wildlife veterinarian Julia Burco says more than 2500 bird carcasses have been recovered, though she suspects there were thousands more they didn’t see.

Burco says the worst should be over, because the rain ought to clear out the bacteria over the next several days.

“But we will be going out just to make sure that there’s a decline in sick birds observed, and dead birds as well. We’d expect that the colder weather, and the rain, both aren’t very conducive for botulism to perpetuate,” Burco says.

Metro officials have drawn down water levels – even destroying a beaver dam. Metro has also used cannons and lasers to shoo away the birds, mostly ducks.

Julia Burco says about 70 birds have been rehabilitated and released, with the help of the Audubon Society.

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