Hunters voice fears over fate of Lake Koroneia

THESSALONIKI – The Macedonia-Thrace Hunting Federation fears a repetition of previous mass deaths of birds on Lake Koroneia if similar conditions that caused the deaths of up up to 28,000 birds in the area over a 10-day period in September recur. There is a 50 percent chance of these conditions (which include temperature changes, the presence of toxic blue-green algae, a reduction in the volume of water and an increase in a deadly type of bacteria) recurring, according to the federation’s forestry scientists. At a press conference recently, the federation warned that the lake had received no real protection, despite the some 48 studies having been carried out and large sums spent for the purpose of saving the lake as a habitat. «The declaration of the lake last March as a national park sounds like a joke,» said one scientist. The federation presented evidence that over 30,000 birds belonging to 39 different species and an unknown number of six species of fish had fallen victim to «human indifference.» It was recently confirmed that the deadly toxins that had killed them had been due to Clostridium botulinum – an anaerobic, spore-forming rod that produces a potent neurotoxin type C botulism that affects birds but rarely humans. The increase in the presence of this bacteria was due to the effects of urban waste from the Langadas region during the 1980s and excessive drilling for ground water in 2,300 agricultural wells. According to the federation’s president, M. Mailianis, and forestry scientist and game expert Periklis Birtsas, the bacterial pollution began last summer, but dead birds were seen up until just a few weeks ago. The hunters suggested ways to systematically monitor the lake’s waters, restrict the organic matter flowing into it and avoid fluctuations in the water level.