Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources

Committee Chair(s)

Jessop B. Low


Jessop B. Low


Allen W. Stokes


Bliss H. Crandall


Purpose and scope

Each year thousands of western waterfowl succumb to disease, predators, mechanical injury and other decimating factors . Based on a review of records it is conservatively estimated that an average of 25,000 ducks have succumbed to botulism on western marsh areas annually.

In a recent study, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service valued each duck and goose at $8.00 (McLeod, 1950). Applying this value to the estimated annual numerical loss, a total of $200,000 has been lost each season in mortality of western waterfowl from botulism. Control of this malady would reduce annual waterfowl and monetary losses.

Prevention and cure are the only means of controlling botulism in wild ducks. At present, no economical preventative measure exists and control is based on curing stricken birds. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the cost of treatment and rate of recovery of birds stricken with botulism when treated by selected methods . The 4 treatments selected for evaluation were: (1) hospital inoculation, (2) fresh water, (3) field inoculation, and (4) no treatment or control . Research included a comprehensive evaluation of factors such as age, sex, species, body condition, degree of affliction, reaction to various amounts of antitoxin, and reaction t o selected treatment methods, thought to be pertinent in botulism control. This study was conducted during botulism outbreaks of 1953 and 1954, and was confined to state-owned marshlands of Utah.

Study areas

Three major areas provided sick birds used in this research: (1) Ogden Bay Refuge, (2) Farmington Bay Refuge, and (3) the Public Shooting Grounds . These man-made marsh areas are located on the saline flat lands adjacent to Great Salt Lake.

The majority, 1,979 or 89.3 percent, of sick birds were taken from Ogden Bay Refuge on the Weber River Delta. This state-owned waterfowl refuge contains approximately 13,700 acres of diversified habitat . Excellent conditions for the production and existence of Clostridium botulinum, type c, the causative agent of botulism, were apparently present throughout the area.

Farmington Bay Refuge, approximately 20 miles south of Ogden Bay Refuge in Davis County, Utah, was dried for improvements in 1953, but was traversed regularly during the 1954 season. In preparation for the hunting season, water was diverted into the north lake of Farmington Bay on October 1, 1953. A two-man crew picked up and disposed of approximately 2,000 dead ducks from approximately 20 acres of the reflooded marsh on October 6, 1953. This was the most serious outbreak of the study and indicated the rapidity with which sickness advanced. Few sick birds were noted, which indicated that the crisis had passed. Farmington Bay Refuge provided 121 of the 2,214 ducks treated during 1953 and 1954.

Not more than 12 sick or dead birds were seen on the Public Shooting Grounds, 8 miles west of Corinne, Utah, in 1953. During the 1953 season, 3 sick birds were transported from the area to Ogden Bay Refuge for treatment. In 1954 this state-owned shooting area supplied lll sick birds for treatment.

Other areas were observed during the study but did not provide sick birds for treatment. These areas consisted of : (1) State -owned lands beyond Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, and (2) Smith and Utah Lakes west of Provo, Utah.