Denver Direct: Denver’s Wildlife Ecologist
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Denver’s Parks and Recreation seems to be undergoing major personnel changes these days. A new addition is Ashley DeLaup, as Wildlife Ecologist. She has identified herself as the point person within Parks and Rec for citizen concerns about the City’s wildlife, including those critters residing in our parks.
I emailed her a few of my concerns. She responded promptly. (For ease of reading, I’ve interleaved her answers with my questions.)
Q1. What were the results of the $20,000 study funded last fall to determine the cause of the duck deaths? Have they been made public?
A1: Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to get a hold of our DOW representative. The Department of Wildlife conducted the testing looking into the duck deaths and to the best of my knowledge that information has yet to be released. You can contact the DOW District Wildlife Manager for Denver at (303) 291-7137 for more information.
Q2. Metro Wastewater Reclamation District has issued a permit to Lowry Landfill Superfund Site to flush 13 million gallons yearly of sewage effluent containing 158 pollutants and 10 radionuclides into the intake of our recycling plant (the sewers) and thence onto our fields and lakes. Although an environmental impact study was requested at the time, none was done. Since the recycled water was started up in 2004, we have seen an overall decline in the environment at the Park. Are any metrics being systematically collected on the wildlife which would confirm or deny this decline? In other words, is there an environmental study currently underway? If so, is the data available to the public?
A2: In City Park Denver Environmental Health (DEH) department conducts annual monitoring of water quality, and all current testing has water quality looking good, but I do not have the numbers. No wildlife around the pond has been tested. I examined the area, in particular around Ferrill Lake, and actually found a great diversity of wildlife. The macro invertebrate numbers and variety were excellent. I saw a large number of fingerlings in the lake; I pulled a few and saw no problems in gross morphology. There were three species of wading birds, cormorants, and three species of ducks on the water. From a quick view of the wildlife in the area it seems to be a healthy habitat. I know there have been concerns with the algae, but algae is a naturally occurring phenomenon that happens when conditions are right on any body of water. With the extremely diminished influx of freshwater due to low rainfall, and the increased nutrient content in the water this is not unusual and does not affect the wildlife at this point.
Q3. Is fishing still allowed in City Park Lake? Have the fish been tested for heavy metals and other named pollutants? Are any environmental tests for radionuclides being conducted? Should such testing be started?
A3: Fishing is allowed in City Park. Since the lake was drained and restocked all fish have been there less than a year and are not yet of a catchable size. Testing the fish will be more useful after two to three years at which time DEH will recommend that Ferrill Lake have fish tissue assessment done.
According to the DEH, radionuclides have not been tested for. Additional parameters to the routine sampling list are being considered for this years sampling round.
Q4. Are you currently testing for plague? or do we wait until an animal dies?
A4: Regarding plague, no animal has tested positive for plague since June of 2007. Animal Control vector specialist examines every animal turned in. If there is a possibility of plague the animal is tested. This year very few deaths have been suspicious and all animals tested have been negative.
Thanks to Ashley for this information.
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