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Parasite blamed for area duck deaths

La CROSSE, Wis. -- A parasite is again being blamed for killing hundreds of migrating ducks on Lake Onalaska and along the main channel of the Mississippi River near here.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff members have seen large numbers of sick or dead bluebills, ringnecks and coot. High river flows have brought the birds onto the main channel.

An intestinal parasite called trematodes or flukes are believed to be causing the kill. Trematodes were also blamed for similar die-offs in spring 2002 and fall 2004.

The die-off is expected to continue through the end of the month, when ducks quit migrating through the area on their way to breeding grounds farther north.

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