Montana hailstorm maims, kills more than 11,000 birds
BILLINGS, Mont. — An August hailstorm has killed over 11,000 waterfowl and wetland birds at the Big Lake Wildlife Management Area northwest of Billings, Montana.
According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, employees picked up dead ducks and shorebirds with “broken wings, smashed skulls, internal damage and other injuries consistent with massive blunt-force trauma” following an Aug. 11 storm.
Baseball sized hail and 70 mph winds also broke windows, damaged roofs and flattened crops in the area.
FWP officials estimate that between 11,000 and 13,000 birds were killed — or are still alive, but will not survive their injuries.
Biologist with FWP are now concerned that the rotting carcasses, which have mostly washed ashore, may cause diseases such as botulism that could further damage the bird populations.
Dozens of species, including ducks, Canada geese, double-crested cormorants, shorebirds, gulls, pelicans and other waterfowl, nest at the lake and wetland area in Big Lake WMA.
FWP officials say that while about 20-30 percent of the birds living at the lake were killed or injured, there are still many that survived the storm and are ‘alive and healthy.’