Hundreds of ducks dying in Michigan, harsh winter to blame

(WXYZ) - Hundreds of dead ducks are turning up across Michigan after the brutal winter we experienced. This is a part of thousands of dead ducks turning up in states around the Great Lakes region.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources tells 7 Action News they are noticing hundreds of dead ducks across Michigan, saying it's because of ice coverage issues and what they call "diving ducks."

When the ducks returned to the state, the ice covered the waterways, which put them in some trouble.  After running tests on the dead birds, the DNR noticed they have high levels of the heavy metal selenium, ranging from 1,100 to 1,500 parts per million. The safe levels are around 10-15 parts per million.

Officials believe the ducks have been eating zebra mussels and quagga mussels, which are invasive species to the Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair. They think the mussels have the selenium in them, which accumulates in the ducks at toxic levels.

Most of the ducks were found on the west side of the state along Lake Michigan, as well as in Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. They expect the numbers to keep coming in, as the ice is breaking up and water currents are washing the birds in.

The winter was not good to other animals, and the DNR anticipates seeing a high number of fatalities for both deer and turkey this season. The weather was good for moose and grouse, which both thrive in harsh conditions.

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