Beware of harmful algae blooms when hunting waterfowl


With waterfowl season opening in parts of Idaho on October 2 and the rest of the state just two weeks late, Fish and Game is reminding hunters to beware of harmful algae blooms and to protect themselves and their canine companions by following the recommendations of the Department of Idaho. of Environmental Quality and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

As of Friday, Oct. 1, there were 19 active advisories statewide regarding harmful algal blooms, according to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality website. Among these is Cascade Lake, where waterfowl season opens on Saturday, October 2.

In general, when a health advisory has been issued, DEQ recommends avoiding exposure to water where algae blooms are harmful and taking extra precautions to ensure that children, pets and livestock are not exposed to water where blooms are present. .

Here is some additional information on harmful cyanobacteria / algae blooms provided by DEQ specifically with waterfowl hunters, their hunting dogs and others who may be near a body where they are present.

What are cyanobacteria?

Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic bacteria found naturally in lakes and rivers in Idaho. Many of us have heard of “blue-green algae” in school, but these algae are actually bacteria that photosynthesize like plants. Photosynthetic structures within the bacterial cell contain the blue-green pigments that give cyanobacteria their color and name.

Where and when do cyanobacteria blooms occur?

Cyanobacteria are found in almost every body of water, but they usually exist in too few numbers to cause problems (sight, smell, and cyanotoxins). However, various environmental conditions influence the growth of the cyanobacteria population. Warm and warm weather conditions can allow cyanobacteria populations to “bloom” in sufficient numbers that a variety of toxins, called cyanotoxins, are produced in amounts that can be harmful to humans and animals. These ideal conditions include warm temperatures, low or slow water flow, high nutrient levels, strong light, and calm weather.

What do they look like?

Algal blooms harmful to cyanobacteria (flowers) in Idaho can vary in appearance, often resembling bright green water or pea soup, pollen, grass clippings, spilled paint, carpet, green or blue-green moss or dense surface scum. The flowers can vary in color from bright blue and green to brown, red and even white. Some flowers can produce a foul odor.

How dogs are exposed

  • Swim, wade or drink in lakes, ponds, rivers or reservoirs that have potentially harmful algal blooms. Dogs can also be more vulnerable because they clean their fur by licking and ingesting any potential cells or toxins that have attached to the dog’s coat. Dogs can also be exposed by collecting birds known to swim in algae blooms.
  • Dogs can also be exposed by eating and ingesting cyanobacteria mats or algae mats containing cyanobacteria. This includes benthic mats that have loosened from the ground and have floated to the surface, where dogs are more likely to eat them.

How hunters can protect themselves and their dogs

  • Check to see if a body of water has an active notice for cyanobacteria.
  • Make a visual observation of the water you intend to hunt in before letting your dog in. If you are still not sure if an overgrowth may be present, always be careful and avoid using water.
  • Do not allow your dog to swim, wade, drink, or retrieve birds in a body of water that has an active flowering.
  • Don’t let your dog eat mats of seaweed or scum along the shore or river banks.
  • Avoid eating or allowing your dog to eat the entrails, skin, or fat of harvested waterfowl in an area where algae blooms are harmful. Properly cooked and trimmed meat is safe to eat.
  • Bring drinking water for your dog as an alternative drinking water source while recreating yourself near water bodies with active flowers.
  • If your dog ends up in water, be sure to wash him with clean water before he can clean himself.

What are the signs of cyanotoxin poisoning in dogs?

  • Symptoms vary and can appear within minutes to days. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficulty breathing, seizures, and death.
  • If your dog exhibits symptoms after exposure, contact your veterinarian immediately.

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