Goose is washed of oil
at IBRRC's Cordelia center.
n the morning of September 16th 2002, Carol
Frey of Auburn, California went to a local pond to feed the
abandoned ducks and geese.
Instead of running to greet her as they usually
did, they were either trapped on a small island, or sinking,
as if they were in quicksand. The entire pond was covered
with something that looked and smelled like oil. Carol quickly
found a phone and reported an oil spill.
Within hours, many people and agencies came together to start
rescuing the birds, determine the source of the spill and
begin the clean-up. Local vets were called but most didn’t
have experience with waterfowl, much less oiled waterfowl.
Dr. Virgil Traynor, felt compelled to try to help. The birds
were cold and dehydrated, so he administered electrolyte
solutions to help stabilize them. He knew they needed to
be washed, but how?
A call to IBRRC’s oil spill hotline quickly connected
him with the best solution for the birds; transfer to IBRRC’s
headquarters in Cordelia. Placer County’s Animal Control
officer, Audra Mackay, who helped with the rescue, was more
than willing to help drive the birds to the San Francisco
Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center, about 80 miles
Coleen Doucette, IBRRC’s rehabilitation manager, readied
the center to receive the oiled birds and began calling volunteers
and additional staff to come and help. Fearing that some
of the birds may have been hiding in surrounding shrubbery,
IBRRC’s Chris Battaglia and Wendy Sangiacomo, headed
to Auburn, where they would stay for three days rescuing
the rest of the birds, as well as hazing (scaring away wild
birds attempting to land on the pond). Karen Benzel fielded
media calls and knowing that the birds might be homeless,
began getting media support to alert the public to the birds’ plight.
Over the next several days, IBRRC staff and volunteers worked
14-hour days to intake, stabilize, medicate, feed, wash,
dry and rehabilitate the 26 geese and seven ducks, in addition
to caring for the many other birds at the center. One duck
and two geese were so debilitated from inadequate nutrition
and prior injuries that the most humane solution was to end
their suffering with a painless lethal injection. The rest,
although extremely malnourished, responded quickly to the
nutritious grains and greens their bodies craved, and after
being washed, they looked and most likely felt, like new
As it turned out, the oil was actually hydraulic fluid caused
due to a faulty sump pump at a county maintenance garage
down the street from the pond (located on private property).
The owner of the property acknowledged that the birds had
been abandoned there over several years. Since he didn’t
live there, he felt the best thing for the birds would be
to find proper homes for them.
Because the birds were featured in television coverage by
the ABC and NBC affiliates in Sacramento, as well as newspaper
stories in the Sacramento Bee, The Daily Republic and the
Auburn Journal, many people called offering homes. All the
ducks and geese now reside on safe spacious properties with
ponds and proper nutrition.
Abandoned: Ducks & geese left to fend for themselves
Ducks: News, info and fun facts about domestic
CA: City initiated
program to rescue abandoned domestic ducks and geese.
Oregon: Crime to abandon animals
and Oregon has banned the sale of exotic species.