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Blue-green algae suspected in Fernhill wildlife deaths

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When a beaver and some geese were found dead recently at Fernhill Wetlands, the Clean Water Services employees who oversee the park suspected the culprit might be the microcystin toxin responsible for "blue green" algae.

According to CWS Public Involvement Coordinator Sheri Wantland, they ordered a water test which confirmed that hunch and are putting up temporary signs that say, "Avoid Contact with the Water" and go on to explain that toxins associated with blue-green algae blooms have been found at Fernhill.

"Algae blooms are a natural occurrence, and it is not known if the toxins caused wildlife mortality, but contact with the water should be avoided," the signs say.

"The Oregon Health Authority advises people and pets to avoid contact with water that is foamy, scummy, thick like paint, pea-green, blue-green or brownish red."

There are already signs at Fernhill prohibiting pets and telling people not to drink the water or swim, but because the microcystin toxin is so dangerous, CWS is taking extra precautions with these new signs.

In Oregon, a number of dogs in various parts of the state have sickened and in some cases died due to drinking or even just contacting water contaminated by blue-green algae.

"It’s likely the cooler weather and rain will take care of the algae problem, but we like to err on the side of caution," Wantland wrote in an email.