Extreme cold, brutal winter has terrible impact on ducks

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The brutal winter we've all endured has had a terrible impact on many species of ducks along Milwaukee's lake shore -- and that has biologists looking for answers.

"A lot of the diving ducks need to go under the water to find food. That's really difficult when there's a lot of ice cover," said Dianne Robinson, a Wisconsin DNR Wildlife Biologist.

According to Robinson, the ice on Lake Michigan has created a problem for a number of species of ducks this winter.

"Lake Michigan was frozen all the way up to shore which is pretty irregular. That resulted in a lot of the ducks congregating in small areas, not really having the opportunity to find food," said Robinson.

Areas like the lagoon between Discovery World and the Summerfest grounds. But that area has also proven to be problematic for the feeding ducks.

"Right now there's a big influx of dead duck reports, mostly because people are actually starting to see the ducks that have been dying all winter," said Robinson.

Just yards off the path that goes through the lagoon, you can see dozens of dead ducks on the ice -- most likely for the same reason. Robinson says every winter, starvation will kill a number of ducks. But it's having a much greater impact this time around.

"It will be very interesting to see with the spring surveys and subsequent communications with other states and Canada and whatnot, what they see with their populations," said Robinson.

Robinson believes the diving ducks are the most affected. They need to go under water to get their food. Because of the ice cover, the water may be too deep for them to find that food.