Geese die-off in Oregon – 02/05/2005

  • October 1, 2013 at 10:53 pm #636

    Geese die in droves in Keizer; experts baffled

    Bodies of water don’t appear to be the cause
    Statesman Journal by Crystal Bolner
    February 2, 2005

    KEIZER — Geese are literally falling from the sky in and around Keizer, and wildlife experts don’t know why.

    About 150 Canada geese were found dead Friday at a private pond off Wheatland Road owned by Morse Bros. rock products in rural Marion County. Thirty or so other dead birds were discovered three months ago near Staats Lake, a private lake in Keizer.

    State wildlife officials visited both sites to investigate. The officials suspect that the birds may have died from something they ate, because it doesn’t appear that anything in the pond or lake killed the birds.

    “Reports of one bird here or one over there is not cause for alarm,” said Will High, a wildlife biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “But when you have 10 or 20 or 30 or 100 of them all of a sudden die in one day, well, that’s just not normal.”

    Only cackling Canada geese, a small subspecies of the larger Canada goose, were affected, High said.

    Other varieties of birds, including ducks, gulls and three other species of geese were alive and well in both bodies of water.

    The dead birds were found floating in the water. They appeared to swim with their heads under water, High said. Others were found on dry ground lying on their stomachs with wings flared out.

    The goose carcasses have been sent to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis., to be tested.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency that regulates migratory birds, also was notified.

    Five years ago, large numbers of dead geese were discovered in Staats Lake. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife studied the problem, but couldn’t track down the cause. Tests showed that the birds weren’t dying of infections or disease; the results were inconclusive about whether the birds died from something they ate.

    Bruce Nopp, 60, who lives on Swingwood Court in Keizer, said he had a goose crash land in his driveway three months ago.

    “It was very unusual. … At first, we thought it had been shot or his wing broke,” Nopp said. The goose appeared to be dead, but then it began convulsing, he said. “It seemed to me, it looked like it probably got poisoned. … It was kind of sad to see a poor little thing like that so sick.”

    Kathy Andrews, 52, who lives near Staats Lake, said she counted about 26 dead geese one day while she was exercising around Staats Lake.

    “That really raised my level of concern. They were floating in the water against the shore. … I was startled, and I hoped it wasn’t because our lake was polluted,” Andrews said.

    Wildlife officials said that in recent weeks, large numbers of dead geese also have been found in Monmouth and McMinnville. They don’t know if the incidents are related.

    cbolner@… or (503) 589-6967

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