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Kalamazoo River oil spill will impact habitat for years
The oil spill that dumped up to a million gallons of crude into the Kalamazoo River is expected to cause long-term damage to at least a 30-mile stretch of once pristine marshes along the river, destroying habitat for resident geese, ducks, frogs, herons, muskrats and swans for possibly years to come.

Federal and state officials whose usual job is measuring the health of wildlife are instead taking part in a sad wildlife safari along the river, rescuing as many animals as they can find. At least a dozen boats are involved in the effort, with some of the crew going on foot.

Some creatures are lucky, such as a 10-inch turtle rescued Friday whose body was layered in oil as thick as tar, except for two tiny holes for its nose and two eye slits. But fish and birds have fled, and the insects, mussels and frogs that are the base of the food chain for them have died, suffocated by the oil.

When the fish and birds return, they may have nothing to eat. The spill's damage is a double whammy for migrating birds, such as the endangered lesser scaup, which stops in the area in the fall on its way to winter grounds in the Gulf of Mexico, hit by the BP oil spill.

"I'm not going to sugarcoat it," said Mark Durno, deputy incident commander for the Environmental Protection Agency. "Much of the shoreline east of Battle Creek is trashed. We will be here for months, not weeks, cleaning this up."


 
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