New York Sea Grant and Pennsylvania Sea Grant organized the workshop “Botulism in Lake Erie-Binational Workshop,” sponsored by New York State Assemblyman Richard Smith, in Buffalo on February 28th. The workshop addressed the question of why increasing numbers of birds and fish have been dying along Lake Erie. Birds and fish known to have died from Type E botulism have been collected along the Lake’s American and Canadian shores since 1998.
The goal of the workshop was to interest federal and state legislators in funding research and public outreach programs. The research agenda for 2002-2003 established at the Buffalo workshop includes researching the links between round gobies, quagga mussels, and botulism-infected fish, how low water levels and warmer lake temperatures affect the activation and transfer of botulism, and how botulism relates to broader ecological and human health concerns. Partners in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Canada are expected to cooperate on research projects and the dissemination of information to the public.
Although botulism cannot be prevented, the overall objective of the current research is to minimize or reduce bird deaths. Research efforts are focusing on the impact of botulism on populations, ecological causes of outbreaks, and effectiveness of management practices such as the collection and removal of dead birds.
For more information, contact Helen Domske, Coastal Education Specialist, New York Sea Grant, (716)-645-3610, or Eric Obert, Pennsylvania Sea Grant, (814)-898-6420, or visit their website atwww.pserie.psu.edu/seagrant/seagindex.htm.