Scarce water spreads disease on waterfowl refuge

Published April 7, 2012 3:09PM (EDT)

TULELAKE, Calif. (AP) — Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge lies along the Oregon-California border on the dry east side of the Cascade Range.

Once known as the Everglades of the West, it has been hard-pressed for water in recent years, standing in line behind endangered fish and farms.

Over the winter, there was only enough water to fill about half the refuge's 31,000 acres of marshes, and an outbreak of avian cholera has killed more than 10,000 geese, ducks and other waterfowl.

The USGS National Wildlife Health Center says avian cholera appears to spread by bird-to-bird contact when they are crowded close together.

Heavy March rains have allowed the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to send the refuge all the water it can handle, but that will only flood about 4,000 more acres.

By Salon Staff

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