Pet Owners Should Be Aware of Blue-Green Algae

PIERRE — As the “dog days” of summer roll on, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) officials would like to warn pet owners of blue-green algae blooms appearing in ponds and lakes across the state.

“Blue-green algae blooms happen every year when summer really gets hot,” said GFP regional fisheries manager Mark Ermer. “It’s nearly impossible to tell if algae in a pond or lake are poisonous or not, so we recommend not letting dogs swim in a body of water that has a visible layer of thick, floating algae on the surface. Even one drink of water that has a blue-green algae bloom can be fatal for dogs.”

Though most often a blue-green color, the algae can also be blue, green, reddish-purple or brown.

“Blue-green algae blooms are caused by cyanobacteria, which grow particularly well in slow-moving or stagnant water with high phosphorus or nitrogen content,” said Mendel Miller, South Dakota Assistant State Veterinarian. “Some of these cyanobacteria may produce dangerous toxins which, if ingested, can lead to liver or nervous system damage in animals. These toxins cause serious damage quickly, so prompt medical care is critical following potential exposures.”

Because it is not easy to tell if an algae bloom is producing toxins, it is best to avoid all water where cyanobacteria appear to be present.

“If you think you or your pet has come into contact with blue-green algae, contact your doctor or veterinarian immediately,” Miller said. “Symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning include, lethargy, the inability to walk, hyper-salivating, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, pale gums, shock, seizures, loss of appetite, tremors and difficulty breathing.”

The toxins can also be present in fish caught during a bloom, though research has shown the concentrations of toxins are higher in the organs of fish than in the muscle tissue or fillets. Toxin levels decrease after an algae bloom has ended, but fish consumption from lakes experiencing a high algae bloom should be limited.

Anyone observing what they believe is a harmful algae bloom should contact their local GFP office or the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources at 605.773.4729.

Outdoor University This Weekend In S.F.

SIOUX FALLS — Join us this weekend for the 9th annual Outdoor University in Sertoma Park! From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 3. Come to the Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls to pet a frog, shoot a bow, go fishing, watch a rescue dog in action, go on a treasure hunt and try all kinds of outdoor activities.

“The entire Riparian Trail loop will be filled with outdoor activities,” said Thea Miller Ryan, Director of the Outdoor Campus. “That’s about a mile of reptile and amphibian touch tanks, fishing, kayaking, archery, bb guns, paintball, activities and games for the whole family.”

This year, the event also features a free class on shotgunning techniques with Dan Griffith, and another on predator calling, including free coyote calls. Visitors can learn fish cleaning techniques in the pond tent, see hunting dog demonstrations and even watch rescue dogs in action from the grandstand.

“There’s more to do than ever before,” Ryan said. “All kids will get a free 100 Years of Outdoor Tradition t-shirt and can take their photo in front of the State Parks Volkswagon bus tent. Visitors can meet the people behind the Mesonet weather station here on the grounds, use a mining sluice, climb in a conservation officer’s truck and learn about predator control methods.”

The event is free and open to the public. No registration is required. The Outdoor Campus is part of SD Game, Fish and Parks and a joint project with the City of Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation. Find more information on The Outdoor Campus Facebook page @outdoorcampus.

Night Sky Is Topic Of Wildcat Hills Program

GERING, Neb. — Attendees of a program at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area will observe and learn about the night sky. The program gets underway at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3.

The presenter is Tom Robinson, a Western Nebraska Community College instructor who teaches astronomy.

Robinson said attendees will meet at the nature center for an introductory video provided by Hyde Memorial Observatory of Lincoln, then move to the east end of the park to observe celestial objects through telescopes.

The program, which was moved up a week from its original scheduled date to capitalize on better viewing opportunities, is an installment of the Wildcat Weekends series of events at the park. It is open to the public free of charge, but a Nebraska park entry permit is required for vehicles.

Hypothermia Safety Class For Waterfowl Hunters Set For Aug. 4

LINCOLN, Neb. — Waterfowl hunters are invited to attend a class on hypothermia safety on Aug. 4 at Niobrara State Park.

The class covers basic facts of hypothermia, different scenarios hunters might encounter, and how to respond. Then participants will head to the park swimming pool to practice water safety in a controlled environment.

Niobrara State Park superintendent Mark Rettig developed the class in response to the numerous hypothermia-related rescues of hunters he sees.

The class will take place from 10 a.m. to noon. Participants are asked to bring their chest waders, hunting gear and a lifejacket. The class is free to attend.

For more information, call the park at 402-857-3373. A park entry permit is required.

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