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February 12, 2008

Cordelia, CA

Do you know who shot this goose?

Greylag Goose is on the mend at IBRRC; domestic bird needs a home

goose dart in head

This goose is recovering at IBRRC's Northern California bird center. (Photo: Marie Travers/IBRRC)

A domestic goose, shot through the head with a dart at the Vacaville Lagoon, is now in care at International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) in Cordelia. On February 9 the center received calls from the public that the bird was injured and in need of help. Animal control was notified but they could not find the victim. On Sunday, February 10, a rescue team from IBRRC was able to capture the bird. IBRRC is appealing to the public for information that might lead to the arrest of the person responsible for this senseless crime. Animal cruelty is a felony in California. According to animal control this is the second bird at the lagoon shot with a dart.

The dart was successfully removed and greylag goose is undergoing treatment at the center. Should it survive its ordeal, a good home with other greyleg geese would provide a happy ending for this homeless bird. The Vacaville Lagoon has become a dumping ground for unwanted domestic ducks and geese. Around this time of year, before Easter, pet shops and feed stores begin selling buying live baby ducks, chicks, goslings and rabbits. Unable to resist the cuteness, people buy these animals on impulse and then realize what they have gotten into.

Every year IBRRC warns of the dangers of buying birds on impulse and the CDC warns of the dander of children becoming ill with Salmonella poisoning from handling baby ducks and chicks. Bacteria carried in the chicks and duckling’s intestine contaminates their environment and the entire surface of the animal. Children can be exposed to the bacteria by simply holding, cuddling, or kissing the birds.

Not only is there potential harm to children from this tradition, but environmental havoc as well. Domestic ducks released into public parks, like Lagoon Valley Park in Vacaville, can transmit diseases to wild flocks.

The ducklings and goslings that are sold at Easter are domestic birds that cannot fly, and cannot “fend for themselves.” They can and do carry diseases that endanger wild ducks and geese. Domestic ducks also mate with wild ducks, creating hybrids. Wildlife rescue centers don’t typically take these hybrids, and animal shelters are not equipped to handle waterfowl.

“Not only is cruel for these baby animals to be sold without any regard for proper care, but it creates tremendous problems later, when the animals that do survive are either “dumped” in public parks or dropped off at local animal shelters,” said Karen Benzel, Public Affairs Director for International Bird Rescue Research Center.

Abandoned ducks and geese are typically staving, due to their inability to fly to find food. People mean well when they bring big bags of bread and crackers and it is difficult for them to understand that they are killing the birds with their kindness. Bread fills the birds up, swelling in their stomach, but providing no nutritional value. Birds that can’t fly can only go as far as they can walk. Stale bread from an occasional visitor may be their only meal.

For the complete article “No Escape from Harsh Reality” which explains in detail the differences between domestic and wild ducks and the issues domestic ducks face when forced to “fend for themselves go to IBRRC’s website at: http://www.ibrrc.org/abandoned_ducks_geese.html

IBRRC has specialized in the rehabilitation of waterfowl and aquatic birds since 1971 and manages two wildlife rehabilitation centers in California as part of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. The phone number for IBRRC in Northern California is 707-207-0380.  In southern California the number is 310-514-2573. More information and directions to the centers can be found at http://www.ibrrc.org/. Donations to help pay for the cost of caring for the birds may be sent to IBRRC, 4369 Cordelia Road, Cordelia, CA  94534 or on through the donation page on the website.

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