DNR: Drought killing thousands of fish, birds

CREATED Jul 12, 2012

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HORICON MARSH - The severe drought is having a major impact on the state's wildlife system, officials with the Dept. of Natural Resources said Thursday.

As of Wednesday, DNR crews had discovered tens of thousands of dead fish in the Rock River system, within the Horicon Marsh.

"They're dying from botulism and then decomposing," DNR District Wildlife Supervisor Eric Lobner told Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Wisconsin's Afternoon News.  "As a result, waterfowl and shorebirds are also affected by the bacteria and dying.  It can spread very rapidly."

In an attempt to prevent a botulism outbreak, crews are combing the Horicon Marsh for dead carcasses. 

"We're collecting these dead animals and removing them from the system," Lobner explained.  "But we don't have access to many of these areas.  It's a big challenge."

It's too early in the process to measure the impact a botulism outbreak could have on the wildlife system, according to Lobner.

"We're in the beginning stages, he said.