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Over the past decade, there has been an increased incidence of bird deaths in Lake Michigan due to Type E avian botulism. Over 6,500 dead birds have been documented within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore alone. Scientists from the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have been conducting a collaborative research project to determine the causes of these botulism outbreaks — work that includes underwater research in Good Harbor Bay.

Over the past decade, there has been an increased incidence of bird deaths in Lake Michigan due to Type E avian botulism. Over 6,500 dead birds have been documented within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore alone. Scientists from the National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have been conducting a collaborative research project to determine the causes of these botulism outbreaks — work that includes underwater research in Good Harbor Bay.

Volunteers are being sought to assist with the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s avian botulism beach monitoring program. An informational training program for prospective volunteers will be held from 1-4 p.m. on Thursday, June 2 at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) Visitor Center, 9922 Front Street, in Empire.

Avian botulism returned to Lake Michigan this year, killing more species and lasting longer than other recent outbreaks, according to state wildlife officials and researchers. The increase came after a two-year lull. The outbreaks first hit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Benzie and Leelanau counties in 2006. The die-offs rapidly spread across northern Lake Michigan shorelines and killed an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 birds in 2007.