Beaver and muskrat have traditionally been consumed by Mohawk, and otter and mink have been included in EPA’s risk assessments for contaminate exposure due to their diet, habitat usage, and sensitivity to contaminants. The study looks at the contaminant concentrations in muscle tissue of muskrat and beavers to address the human health concern and Restrictions on Fish and Wildlife Consumption. Field sampling will be used to address Degraded Fish and Wildlife Population. Also, the study will look at contaminant concentrations in liver tissue of mink, otter, and raccoon (a surrogate species selected for the elusive river otter) to compare to reproductive health toxic thresholds to address Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproductive Problem. Finally, habitat assessments in the field for 50 sampling sites in 2011 and 2012 will provide qualitative information on the habitat condition inside and outside the AOC to address Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat. A reconnaissance survey was conducted in early fall 2011 of riverine habitat within the AOC and appropriate and comparable reference locations outside the AOC to obtain qualitative information on habitat and sampling sites for trapping. Two field seasons (2012 & 2013) will utilize an intensive riverine and trap line sampling effort to collect quantitative information on furbearer populations along the Grasse, Raquette and St Regis rivers, and habitat appropriate sites along the St. Lawrence River and associated watershed. Field monitoring efforts are targeted for NYS regulated fall trapping seasons for permitted taking of animals with appropriate licenses. In 2011, a total of 69 samples were collected, tagged, recorded and processed for population survey needs, and subsamples processed for tissue analysis (PCBs, Mercury, Pesticides and Dioxin) and observations of external abnormalities. Monthly winter tracking surveys were also conducted between January-March 2011, and January-March 2012 to support population studies, specific to mink and otter. Year two of collection will begin October 2012 and will be compared to the 2011 study.
The St. Lawrence River AOC begins above the power dam facilities and seaway locks at the Massena Village drinking water intake and flows downstream for approximately 15 miles along the international border to the eastern outlet of Lake Saint Francois, and includes portions of the Grasse, Raquette, and St. Regis rivers. The entire AOC is divided by the international border: jurisdiction in the United States portion is shared between the United States, New York State and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe; while jurisdiction in the Canadian portion is shared between Canada, Ontario, Quebec and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.