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March 22, 2005

Easter animals can be deadly

IBRRC warns of dangers of buying live baby ducks, chicks, goslings and rabbits at Easter

E very year, children become ill with Salmonella poisoning from handling baby ducks and chicks, typically sold only during Easter. Not only is there potential harm to children from this tradition, but environmental havoc as well. Domestic ducks released into public parks, can transmit diseases to wild flocks. Animal shelters, stretched to their limits with unwanted dogs and cats, become overwhelmed with rabbits when the novelty wears off and reality sets in.

“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. “This is a public education issue, and the media can perform a tremendous public benefit by reporting on the serious consequences that can occur when baby animals are purchased on impulse.”

The ducklings that are sold at Easter are domestic ducks that cannot fly, and cannot “fend for themselves.” They can and do carry diseases that endanger wild ducks and geese. In 1993, an outbreak of duck plague, duck virus enteritis (DVE), occurred when an infected domestic duck was released into the canals in Venice, California. Hundreds of birds were killed by wildlife authorities to prevent the virus from spreading. 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.

The CDC has issued an alert warning that “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. Others at increased risk include persons with HIV/AIDS, pregnant women, the elderly and other immunocompromised persons.”

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” please go to IBRRC's website.

More information:

DVE outbreak details at: http://home.att.net/%7Ecgbraggjr/v17n7.htm
CDC complete alert: http://communitydispatch.com/artman/publish/article_598.shtml

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Media contact:

Karen Benzel, Public Affairs Director (IBRRC), karen@ibrrc.org
Office: (831) 622-7588

IBRRC is a proud member of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) a legislatively mandated program within The California Fish and Game, Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) which strives to ensure that wildlife exposed to petroleum products in the environment receive the best achievable treatment by providing access to permanent wildlife rehabilitation facilities and trained personnel for oil spill response within California.


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