DWR warns waterfowl hunters about harmful algal blooms in Utah waterways

Brook Ivie shows off some of the ducks she harvested during the 2018 season. The state's waterfowl hunts have begun in the and the Division of Wildlife Resources wants hunters to beware of algal blooms that can be harmful to dogs.

SALT LAKE CITY — Although many of Utah’s waterfowl hunts have begun, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and The Utah Division of Water Quality want to warn hunters there is danger to their dogs lurking in some of the Beehive state’s waters.

USU Extension documented the harmful algal blooms on Mantua Reservoir

As of the first of the month, DWR said there are 14 lakes, reservoirs and other bodies of water currently under warning advisories across Utah. Of those 14 waterbodies only Mantua Reservoir in the Cache Valley and Box Elder County area is listed as having harmful water due to algal blooms.

The DEQ monitoring team found the harmful algal bloom at the Day Use Dock at Mantua reservoir and in July a dog died from an algal exposure.

On Oct. 31, the Utah Division of Water Quality (DWQ) will stop monitoring for harmful algal blooms as temperatures continue to decrease and weather conditions worsen during the fall and winter,” said Faith Jolley DWR spokesperson. “However, despite some notions that harmful algal blooms only occur during hot summer weather, they can persist throughout the fall and winter and continue to pose a potential threat to humans and pets.”

Kate Fickas, the recreational health advisory program coordinator for DWQ, said most active advisories will be lifted by the end of the month, and signs and website posts will be removed.

“It’s essential to know that these blooms can continue in colder weather,” she said. “People should know what to look for, and when in doubt, keep your pets and hunting dogs out of the water.”

Blooms form when naturally occurring cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, multiply to high densities and form visible water discoloration, scum and mats. Harmful algal blooms can look like pea soup, spilled paint, grass clippings or water that has a green or blue-green hue.

A Utah State University Extension paper on algal bloom said that as global temperatures increase, scientists have noticed the blooms are increasing.

Dogs can make water fowl hunting a lot more enjoyable, The Division of Wildlife Resources wants to remind dog owners to be careful of algal blooms in some of the state’s waterways.

Nitrogen and phosphorus are the common pollutants that cause the problem, but algae can also come from sewage treatment plants, erosion and urban and agricultural runoff.

Hunters should also keep their dogs away from waters that have shown characteristics of a harmful algal blooms, as the toxins have proven to be fatal in dogs and other pets that swim in the waters.

Canines can be exposed to toxins by swimming or laying in water contaminated with cyanobacteria or toxins, when swallowing water or by licking the water off their fur or hair.

If anyone suspects their pet has been exposed to a harmful algal bloom, seek immediate care from a licensed veterinarian. Even with proper veterinary care, most exposures are fatal. Prevention is the best way to protect your pet.

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