By Howard Meyerson
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Scientists studying the health of Great Lakes coastal wetlands report that faucet snails have been found in many more waters than anticipated. The invasive snail, native to Europe, poses a threat to native snails and to waterfowl.
“These snails are extremely competitive with native snails,” said Neil Schock, a wetland technician with the Institute for Great Lakes Research at Central Michigan University. “They outcompete and out-produce and they are hosts to three different intestinal flukes (parasites) that cause mortality in waterfowl.
“Here in Michigan we haven’t seen that (dead ducks) as much, but Minnesota has had die-offs and they have been seen in (other parts of) the Midwest. One I know of killed 4,000 to 9,000 waterfowl, a good portion of those were scaup.”
The parasites, called trematodes, caused massive waterfowl die-offs in Minnesota and Wisconsin waters that are part of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that 22,000 to 26,000 birds have died from them on northern waters in the refuge dating back to 2006. The four-state refuge lies within the Mississippi Flyway where nearly 40 percent of the continent’s waterfowl migrate.
“The magnitude of the impact is yet to be seen, but I expect to see some impact,” said Donald Uzarski, director of the CMU Institute for Great Lakes Research. “I anticipate we will see further and rapid spread of the snail. Continue reading