Pelicans, cormorants and gulls are dying on several Minnesota lakes this summer, apparently from a viral disease that flares up every two years. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported Thursday that birds have died from Newcastle disease on Vermilion, Leech, Lake of the Woods, Wells and Marsh lakes. More than 1,000 gulls, 1,000 pelicans and 500 cormorants have perished. "We were doing a pretty massive cleanup effort on Marsh and Vermilion,'' said Erika Butler, DNR wildlife veterinarian. The dead birds are burned using charcoal to avoid passing on the disease.
The amount of toxic mercury in Minnesota walleye and northern pike has been going up since the mid 1990's, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reported Tuesday. The unexpected increase in mercury was found in an analysis of 25 years of fish from 825 Minnesota lakes by the PCA and published last week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The increase surprised scientists because mercury levels in fish had been slowly but steadily declining in recent decades. "It's surprising.