"A Rough Patch for Western Waterfowl"

"Federal Fish and Wildlife Service officials say that a drought-induced bird die-off in the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge along the California-Oregon border has ended. But they warn that unless proposals to reconfigure water distribution along the Klamath River are enacted, the problem could recur."

"The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, which manages water out West, said it was a record-breaking dry winter in the basin, with snow pack that was far below normal. As a result, the bureau instituted water-rationing. But laws, contracts and legal settlements assign endangered species, farms and tribal lands a higher priority than the refuge in terms of water allotments.

Until March, when the weather suddenly got wetter, only half of the 30,000 acres of marshes in the refuge were wet. That meant the roughly 1.5 million birds that migrate through the refuge were crowded together and more susceptible to avian cholera. The Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that nearly 10,000 birds died, including many snow geese and American white pelicans."

Leslie Kaufman reports for the New York Times' Green blog April 19, 2012.

Source: Green (NYT), 04/20/2012