Ducks are dying slow deaths in a California park

Dozens of ducks in a city centre park have died
Dozens of ducks in a city centre park have died (Picture: Getty)

‘Heartbreaking and concerning’ is how visitors to a city centre park have described the possible poisoning of its ducks.

Dozens of the birds have washed up on the edge of Hollenbeck Park lake in LA in recent days, leading locals to fear they are being deliberately poisoned.

However, an expert has warned there are a number of possible causes, but did not include bird flu on the list.

‘Unfortunately, it looks like someone has been poisoning the ducks, I think, because they are dying slow,’ said local resident Margarito Garcia, speaking to KTLA news.

He added on one occasion he saw a goose appearing to protect a dying duck.

Another resident saw the numbers of dead and dying ducks increase across the weekend.

‘I usually come running here around the lake and, you know, sometimes you’ll see birds, but there’s just any number of them, like at least 15 or so just washed up on the shore,’ she said.

The woman, who did not wish to give her name, said she saw more dead animals the following day, Sunday.

KTLA reported that several locals have reported the issue to animal control but received no response, possibly due to the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Howie Berkowitz, founder of bird sanctuary the Duck Pond of Lake Elsinore, proposed two main theories.

An Egyptian goose stands over a sick duck
An Egyptian goose stands over a sick duck (Picture: KTLA 5)

‘One is that the water is actually contaminated and that could be either through someone has done that,’ he said. ‘The other possibility is that there is poisonous algae out there, especially during the summer when the water gets hot.’

Toxic blue-green algae blooms are known to harm animals, but is not technically an algae – it is actually a type of bacteria that releases toxins.

However, other types of algae can also cause welfare issues. Earlier this year an unspecified algae caused the death of dozens of ducks in a Salt Lake City park.

Mr Berkowitz said animals that had ingested any form of toxin needed immediate veterinary treatment.

Dozens of ducks have now died in the Hollenbeck Park lake
Dozens of ducks have now died in the Hollenbeck Park lake (Picture: KTLA 5)

‘The faster they can administer some activated charcoal, the faster it’ll stop the problem,’ he said.

Activated charcoal is a common emergency measure for poisons in animals. The charcoal absorbs the toxins in the stomach, reducing the volume absorbed by the animal and lessening the effects.

KTLA also reported a second expert believed avian botulism, a lethal bacteria, could be causing the deaths. The bacteria are easily spread after being ingested as maggots and flies feed on the duck’s carcass and are then eaten by other birds, continuing the cycle.

However, until investigations are carried out into the park’s water and on the ducks themselves, the cause of the mysterious deaths will be unknown – and untreated.

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