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Hail storm kills, maims more than 11,000 birds in Montana

August 17, 2019
This Aug. 11, 2019, photo provided by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks shows the carcasses of pelicans and double-crested cormorants killed during a hailstorm with winds up to 70 mph at Big Lake Wildlife Management Area, west of Molt, Mont. State wildlife officials say more than 11,000 birds were killed or maimed in the storm. (Courtesy of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks via AP)
This Aug. 11, 2019, photo provided by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks shows the carcasses of pelicans and double-crested cormorants killed during a hailstorm with winds up to 70 mph at Big Lake Wildlife Management Area, west of Molt, Mont. State wildlife officials say more than 11,000 birds were killed or maimed in the storm. (Courtesy of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks via AP)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Wildlife officials say a hail storm packing 70-mile-per-hour winds killed or maimed more than 11,000 pelicans, cormorants and other birds when it rolled over a central Montana lake and nesting area.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said Friday that the storm with 2-inch (5-centimeter) hail stones killed about 20 to 30 percent of the waterfowl at Big Lake Wildlife Management.

Some birds with broken wings and other injuries are not expected to survive.

Agency spokesman Bob Gibson says the lake northwest of Billings had attracted more birds than usual this summer after a wet spring.

Gibson says it’s not unheard of for hail storms to kill birds. He does not know how the toll from Sunday’s storm compares to other events.

Wildlife officials will monitor the lake for possible disease caused by rotting carcasses.

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