It’s not just humans who are feeling the effects of a long, harsh winter.

Biologists say it’s also taken a toll on ducks.

That’s because the ducks need to dive for their food, but many lakes and waterways are still frozen.

Researchers in Port Rowan have been bagging and freezing ducks that have died on the shores of Lake Ontario, near Pickering.

Dr. Scott Petrie is the executive director at Long Point Waterfowl, a conservation and research facility. He says in the 17 years he has studied waterfowl he’s never seen this many birds die in one season.

“All of the sudden you get a harsh winter and there just isn’t enough food for these ducks to make it through,” he says.

Dead ducks have been found around Lake Ontario, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.

Dr. Petrie says more than 90% of the Great Lakes are covered in ice. That means mute swans and red-breasted mergansers also can’t dive to find food.

“These birds have had so little food for so long that they consumed their own muscle mass to stay alive and they get to a point that there is no muscle mass to stay alive,” says biologist Ted Barney.

Researchers say they don’t expect the deaths to have a major impact on the overall duck population however they will be keeping a close watch on all waterfowl.

Dr. Petrie says people shouldn’t feed the ducks. That’s because they become dependent on humans to feed them.