Windermere Wetland Update


Staff member
Feb 15, 2004
The Beach Strip
From the office of Chad Collins


I am sending this message to identify a situation that has been observed in the Windermere Basin this year that is affecting the resident duck population. This information may be useful to you if any residents have questions based on their own observations from the public viewing area accessible from Eastport Drive.

During a site visit by both City and Cole Engineering staff to the Windermere Wetland back in September, a number of diseased and deceased ducks were noted. While observation of deceased waterfowl are normal at the site, the high numbers of diseased ducks were of concern. Based on the symptoms of the diseased ducks, avian botulism was suspected. As a result, we contacted the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) to notify them of the issue. CWS staff, with the assistance of Cole Engineering staff, collected sample duck specimens and delivered them to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) laboratory, Department of Pathology at the University of Guelph.
Preliminary findings from the laboratory suggest that avian botulism is the most likely cause of the problem. Furthermore, nothing was found in the specimens that suggested any infectious diseases or algal toxins were present. CWHC is currently undertaking further tests to confirm the presence of the botulism toxin. Avian botulism outbreaks typically occur in August, September or October during hot and dry conditions as experienced in 2016.
According to CWHC and available literature, there is no risk from avian botulism to people working or visiting the area and that handling the sick or dead birds presents no particular risk to people. Eating the uncooked duck could expose a person to botulism, but this is unlikely at the site. Furthermore, there is limited public access to the site as the main entrance is through Pier 24 Gateway Road, which is controlled by and requires an access permit via the Hamilton Port Authority.

Further details are provided in the attached memo prepared by Cole Engineering, who are the City’s specialized consultant for the monitoring and operations of Windermere Wetland.

Based on the events, Eric Matthews of Public Health Services has also been notified

Please contact me should you have any questions or require further information.

Mark Bainbridge
Acting Director
Hamilton Water
City of Hamilton, Public Works Department
77 James Street, North
Hamilton, ON L8R 2K3
T: 905.546.2424 ext. 5929
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