Waterfowl to be trapped on Crystal Lake as part of Swimmer’s Itch battle

BENZIE COUNTY — For the second consecutive summer the Crystal Lake & Watershed Association has contracted with Swimmer’s Itch Solutions to trap and remove broods of common merganser ducks from Crystal Lake in Benzie County.

Hatching normally begins in early June, and the trapping team is ready to begin as soon as broods appear on the lake.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has granted CLWA a permit to conduct this work. The local community can assist by reporting sightings of merganser broods via the CLWA website, www.CrystalLakeWatershed.org, where a link from the home page opens a special SIS reporting form (also used for reporting swimmer’s itch cases).

Crystal Lake & Watershed Association has contracted with Swimmer’s Itch Solutions to trap and remove broods of common merganser ducks from Crystal Lake. (Courtesy photo)

Crystal Lake & Watershed Association has contracted with Swimmer’s Itch Solutions to trap and remove broods of common merganser ducks from Crystal Lake. (Courtesy photo)

This science-based procedure removes the avian host of the parasite that causes swimmer’s itch, thus breaking the parasite’s life cycle and reducing the incidence of swimmer’s itch-causing parasites in the water body. The birds are relocated to waters lacking the essential snail host so that swimmer’s itch cannot be disseminated. Higgins Lake has shown success with this technique, which it began in 2015.

Last year’s program successfully removed all 14 broods from Crystal Lake, a total of 126 birds. While breeding hens normally return to their habitual nesting site, the ducklings are expected to imprint on their new location and not return, thus reducing the local merganser population.

In 2016, a research team carried out a lake-wide assessment of Crystal Lake snails (the other host for the parasite) to determine what percentage was infected. A limited reassessment this year will determine whether the infection rate has been reduced.

SIS is headed by Curtis Blankespoor, a second-generation researcher and expert on swimmer’s itch. This summer he will be training two local individuals – Tim Reznich and Tom Thorr, teachers of science and health in the Benzie County public schools – in the trap-and-relocation methods, qualifying them to undertake this work in the future.

For more information on the CLWA and its programs, visit its website: www.CrystalLakeWatershed.org.

 

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