Record water levels are threatening thousands of ducks

The backlog of ducks stuck on boats near Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as a result of high water levels could reach more than 5,000 birds.

The window of opportunity for the resourceful birds to migrate to warmer inland areas is closing rapidly as water levels in the Rouge River increase this week, reports John White of the Detroit Free Press.

As of Thursday morning, the federally run refuge on Lake Huron at Monroe, Mich., was listing 4,234 Lake Michigan ducks as “missing,” White said. The Ducks Unlimited estimated that 3,450 Lake Michigan ducks were stranded on boats near Marquette, Mich., on Tuesday.

“On the lake, water temperatures are already very low in Lake Huron, so the dampness in the water is affecting water production,” White said. “While the air temperature is above freezing, it’s hard for ducks to maintain their life cycle on the lakes.”

The flocks are easily transported to Ontario or other inland areas by water trucks, but Cammisa Ladd, a supervisor for the National Wildlife Refuge System in Canada, said flocks typically are stuck on the vessels for a week, and she worries that their dehydration could prove to be fatal.

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