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In the state of Ohio, approximately 200 dead geese have turned up along the shores of Lake Erie last month, stumping wildlife officials in a year already plagued with bizarre wildlife deaths. Other geese in the area are so sick that they cannot hold up their heads, fly, or control their motor functions. State wildlife investigators are puzzled and for now, are awaiting results on tests that a national wildlife laboratory in Wisconsin has been doing on some of the dead birds. “They will fall out of the sky and have trouble staying upright,” said Dave Sherman, a biologist at the Crane Creek Wildlife Research Station the Ohio Department of Natural Resources operates in Ottawa County. Two or three weeks before the dead geese were found, symptoms were first noticed with mallards.
Now, it has spread and is affecting mostly geese. Wildlife officers are transporting many sick birds to wildlife rehabilitation facilities. Wildlife officials report getting at least a dozen calls a day about the dying birds. “They’re throwing their heads back. They’re losing all balance and literally almost all back-somersault and have a seizure,” according to Laura Zitzelberger, operations director at Nature’s Nursery. At least eight or nine of about a dozen geese that were brought to Nature’s Nursery either died or had to be euthanized.
Two ducks and one of the geese that exhibited symptoms appear to have recovered. Another goose is struggling, she said. At Back to the Wild animal rescue, 18 of 23 geese dropped off for treatment have died, nearly all within the past three days, said Sarah Langdon, Back to the Wild supervisor. Of the remaining five, three are “acting like normal geese again” and may be released soon, she said. Officials continue to wait on test results to determine what is harming the birds.