HUNTERS WARNED TO AVOID ATLANTIC BRANT
The New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife is recommending that hunters
do not shoot, handle or consume Atlantic brant until further notice.
About 450 dead Atlantic brant have been collected from the Brigantine
Unit of Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Atlantic County, according
to Refuge Manager Steve Atzert of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Tests
are underway to determine the cause of the die-off.
The Atlantic brant hunting season resumes in the coastal zones, where
most Atlantic brant are found, on Thursday, November 23, and runs through
Jan. 9. The season was open previously Nov. 4 - 14.
"We urge hunters to stay clear of Atlantic brant, especially those behaving
abnormally," said State Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn.
"As soon as we know the cause of these deaths, we will revise our recommendations
The principal site of the brant die-off at the refuge has been the impoundments.
They have been closed to the public, and all carcasses have been picked
up and burned on site to limit the potential spread of disease organisms.
Hunters, anglers, and the general public are asked to report the location
of any sick or dead waterfowl to Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge at
The cause of the die-off is still unknown, though pathologists have
ruled out chemical and pesticide contamination, according to Dr. Kimberli
Miller, a veterinarian with the US Geological Survey's National Wildlife
Health Center in Madison, Wisc. Preliminary tests for some bacteria were
negative, though additional tests for bacteria and viruses are underway.
The diagnostic effort is being conducted jointly by the New Jersey Division
of Fish & Wildlife's Office of Wildlife Health and Forensics, the National
Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, the New Jersey Department
of Agriculture, Division of Animal Health, and the US Department of Agriculture,
Atlantic brant is a small, brown, black and white maritime goose that
breeds in the Canadian arctic and winters along the Atlantic coast. On
average, 75 percent of the Atlantic brant population winters in New Jersey.
In January 2000, 157,156 Atlantic brant were counted in the Atlantic Flyway.
Of these, 120,225 were in New Jersey, mainly in the coastal salt marshes
In the 1999-2000 hunting season, close to 1600 brant hunters harvested
approximately 6,600 brant. Other species harvested this time of year include
ducks, Canada geese and snow geese, none of which appear to be involved
in the die-off.