Initial findings show goose, duck illness, deaths in Coralville due to extreme winter weather

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 5:59 PM CST
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CORALVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) - State wildlife officials said on Monday that the recent extremely cold weather in eastern Iowa may be to blame for the death of dozens of geese along the Iowa River in Coralville.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources said that the initial findings of its investigation into the incident, discovered late last week, lead them to believe that reduced food supply due to cold weather is the cause of a condition leading to illness and death among waterfowl. Dr. Rachel Ruden, a veterinarian with the agency, said that over 100 Canadian geese had been affected and at least one mallard duck, with half of the geese affected dying due to the condition.

Officials said that a lack of food supply due to the extreme winter conditions led the waterfowl to feed on a freshwater fish called shad, as observed by wildlife managers and biologists. That particular species of fish have high concentrations of the enzyme thiaminase, which can lead to a thiamine, or vitamin B1, deficiency for the animals that ingest the fish. A deficiency in vitamin B1 can cause impaired brain function and death in birds.

Local wildlife rehabilitation partners will work to help the surviving waterfowl.

More confirmatory evidence is needed in order to be certain about the cause, according to Ruden.

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