Dozens of dead birds in Keokuk raise concern

Watch the news story here:

When Greg Washington has time, he goes to the Mississippi River to do some fishing.

"Today I was just enjoying the beautiful day, and the wondrous, serenity of the river," Washington said.

While pulling his boat out of the water, Washington said he's noticed dozens of dead birds on the river bank.

Clearly, there's a problem, but what's the cause?

While still unconfirmed, Wildlife Manager Rick Tebbs with the Lee County Conservation Board said Avian Botulism is the likely culprit.

"Botulism is a natural occurring bacteria found in the soil and the water, and in this time of year when we have warmer water temperatures that allow the bacteria to survive," he said.

The disease attacks a bird's ability to fly, walk, hold its head up and even limits muscle movement, causing the birds to drown or starve to death.

Avian Botulism is most often found in water and soil, and can survive by attaching itself onto dead fish in the form of larvae.

Tebbs urges fisherman to properly dispose of their catch, otherwise birds can eat those fish and become infected.

He also asks anyone who notices dead birds to quickly contact your local DNR or Health Department so the bird can be tested to find out the exact cause of death.

Washington hopes fishermen dispose of their catch not only for the birds' safety, but the river as well.

"They need to be more mindful of that because we have to be the custodians of the creacher on this planet, it is very important because the land also takes care of us."

Avian Botulism is not the confirmed cause of death because the birds that have been found so far have been too decayed to test, which is why the Lee County Conservation Board is asking for your help in spotting them.

For humans to avoid any kind of botulism, be sure to cook food thoroughly.