Hydrilla has been known to be a hospitable environment for algae, and in the southern United States a newly identified deadly neurotoxin has been found on the underside of the plant. The neurotoxin- which has been linked to bald eagle deaths in Arkansas, Georgia, Texas and South Carolina- has also been confirmed in North Carolina's Lake Surf and Coachman's Trail Lake.
And local wildlife biologists are on guard. "It's been a challenge for all the conservation partners," said John Stanton, supervisory wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Division of Migratory Birds in Columbia, N.C. "We don't know anything more about how it spreads and why it spreads."
And while bald eagles have been declared "recovered" since their near-extinction 50 years ago, the neurotoxin has been responsible for 160 eagle deaths since the mid-1990s (160 reported deaths, the numbers are probably higher).
Showing symptoms of the disease AVM (avian vacuolar myelinopathy) the eagles, even with care, rarely survive exposure. "Even with rehabilitative efforts within 24 hours, the eagle dies," said Susan Wilde, assistant professor at the University of Georgia.
For the full, in-depth article from the Coastal Review, click here or on the link available below.