Public warned to avoid Hammond lake where waterfowl died

State environmental officials are warning the public to avoid a northwestern Indiana lake while authorities investigate the deaths of dozens of ducks and other waterfowl in the area.

The Indiana Department of Environmental asked the public Thursday to stay away from Wolf Lake in Hammond until the investigation is concluded and the birds’ cause of death is determined.

Multiple agencies began investigating after dead geese and ducks were discovered around the lake’s northern portion. IDEM said dead fish have also been reported at Wolf Lake, The Times of Northwest Indiana reported.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources began receiving reports of dead or sick waterfowl at the lake in mid-February, said James Brindle, the DNR’s director of communications.

Investigators have sent carcasses of the dead birds to a laboratory at the U.S. Geological Services’ National Wildlife Health Center, where staff are performing tests to determine the birds’ cause of death, he said.

Those test results will show whether the birds suffered any diseases or if there are chemicals in their carcasses.

Although the lake’s northern area does have industrial sites, officials said natural causes are also a possibility.

The DNR announced Tuesday that avian cholera had been confirmed among geese in southwestern Indiana’s Gibson County, where 176 snow geese have been found dead since early January.

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