RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- It is true. Birds and fish are dying because of the water at Virginia Lake, more specifically, the lack of water.
The Reno Parks and Recreation Department confirms about a dozen dead birds have been picked up since early July. General Manager Jeff Mann said this happens every summer. However, the on-going three-year drought has exacerbated the situation.
The Department of Wildlife said the culprit is in the mud. When water recedes, temperatures rise, and oxygen is low, the bacteria in the soil becomes toxic for the birds. "Some of the invertebrates, the little bugs the ducks will eat, will have that toxin in them," said Chris Healy. "And [it will] give food poisoning to the ducks."
It is called 'Avian botulism,' and Healy said it is a reality of life in the desert. Drought has stopped fresh water from flowing to the lake.
Healy said there is not much that can be done to save the animals, except preventing an outbreak. "[Workers] make sure they pick up the carcasses of the dead ducks quickly, so you don't get that decay spreading the disease."
He adds that the algae bloom in the water causes a drop in oxygen in the water. Due to the poor water quality, fish will not be restocked this autumn.