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Waterfowl Surveys – One Key to Unlocking the Mystery

Education, News June 17, 2019 No Response

For the last 30 years, controlling Swimmer’s Itch used to be more simple – one duck, one snail, one parasite. Break the life cycle of the parasite that uses Common Mergansers and Stagnicola snails and you’re on your way to having a respectable lake-wide control of Swimmer’s Itch.  

Unfortunately, based on last summer’s outbreak of itch despite our efforts, we now fear that itch on Glen Lake it is no longer that simple.
Key Questions:
– Are other ducks, geese or swans contributing to the itch by serving as hosts to multiple species of itch causing worms?  
– Are migrant waterfowl in the spring and fall contributing to the itch that undermines the effort of trapping and relocating resident merganser broods?

In order to unravel the mystery of the complex issues surrounding Swimmer’s Itch, we need to conduct weekly waterfowl surveys on Big and Little Glen lakes.
Waterfowl Survey Defined:
What does a waterfowl survey entail? Our surveys include weekly boat rides around the shoreline where we record the numbers and locations of any ducks, geese, and swans. Also, we attempt to collect fresh fecal samples of the waterfowl on docks, analyze the samples in the lab, and determine which parasite is in what bird (there are at least five different parasites that cause itch in our lake).  

Three surveys have been completed so far. The surveys will continue throughout the summer and end the first week in November. GLA has developed a three-member waterfowl survey team that includes Rob Karner, Watershed Biologist along with our summer intern Cecelia Denton and our GLA assistant for water quality studies Laura Wiesen. 

It is our hope that the waterfowl survey, together with the water sampling program that was mentioned in the last email blast, along with the help and expertise of Freshwater Solutions, the mysteries of Swimmer’s Itch will be solved. Stay tuned in December of 2019 for a full report of our findings and what it may all mean for managing Swimmer’s Itch in the future.

For more information, contact Rob Karner at


Cecelia Denton and Laura Wiesen are part of survey team.

Tom Porter to Speak at Legends Event June 27

Education, News June 13, 2019 No Response

With much enthusiasm the GLA shares the news that Tom Porter of the Sleeping Bear Dunes
Gateway Council/Citizens Council of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, will speak at the by invitation Legends* event on June 27. Tom will speak and take questions on the topic of gateway communities
such as Empire and Glen Arbor, in relation to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
As a founder of the Michigan Climate Action Network, Tom has been a leader in the push for clean energy solutions that promote climate sustainability. We hope Legends will mark their calendars and join us to hear this
notable speaker.

The event will be held at Dunn’s Farm on June 27, from 4:00-6:00 pm.
For more information, contact the GLA at

*Legends are individuals who have chosen to provide for the long-term financial health of the
organization by including the GLA in their estate plan.