The recent survey to our membership confirmed that swimmer’s itch is a high priority. The “itch” has increased to alarming rates on many neighboring lakes, and we are concerned that our interventions could be losing some of their effectiveness.
Last year the number of Common Mergansers residing our lake increased significantly. Given the state is not issuing permits to live trap Mergansers from lakes until required studies are completed (expected in 2017), we will be implementing the following measures in 2016:
Significantly strengthening our duck harassment program
Currently, our control of swimmer’s itch centers on the harassment of the Common Merganser duck. Thanks to a generous donation from a GLA member, we have doubled our spring harassment program effort. Harassment is not a permanent solution, but it is the best control option currently available.
Improving reporting of swimmer’s itch cases
We need to better document cases of swimmer’s itch on our lakes. Better documentation will help target harassment efforts and quantify the extent of the itch problem, essential to seeking future public/private funds to address it. We need everyone’s help in this regard. Please report cases of swimmer’s itch here (it’s long, but necessary) and please remember to let us know if you were using any preventatives.
Exploring the effectiveness of “itch” prevention creams
There are several products people use to try to avoid swimmer’s itch including Swimmers’ Itch Guard, Bullfrog (sunscreen), and Sea Safe sunblock (new to this list based upon people’s experience on Crystal Lake). GLA is not endorsing these products, but you are welcome to try them and provide us feedback on your experience.
Continuing snail research
Last year we funded and cooperated with Oakland University to collect water samples, as part of snail research for swimmer’s itch control. We will continue this research in 2016.
Supporting statewide efforts for funding swimmer’s itch research
As of this writing, funding for swimmer’s itch control is being proposed by the state legislature within the DNR budget. We are actively supporting this legislation, and — if funded — Glen Lake will probably be one of four control sites.
At the end of the summer season, we will evaluate these efforts and use this information to determine our strategy for 2017. If the problem is getting much worse, we may have to significantly increase resources dedicated to the problem. Lakes where the problem is severe are incurring significant costs for comprehensive, multi-year control programs funded by public and private sources.