Weather Updates

No fowl play suspected in deaths of geese in city



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Updated: November 3, 2011 10:07AM

At least 20 geese have been found dead in Chicago park areas since Tuesday, officials said.

City park officials and other experts said they will not know what killed the birds for several weeks.

“More likely than not, it’s some kind of common disease event,” said Rod Domazlicky, a biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “Until we get the tests back, any speculation about poisoning without evidence is just that: speculation.”

Six dead geese were first spotted Tuesday in McKinley Park, said park district spokesperson Jessica Maxey-Faulkner. Ten more were found Wednesday near the lagoon, she said. The other dead geese also were found Wednesday at 3100 South Ashland and 1405 West 14th, which borders Adams Park.

In the past, geese have died from Avian botulism, a paralytic disease caused by bacterial toxin. Birds suffering from the disease are unable to move their wings, legs or neck muscles and often drown, according to the National Wildlife Health Center.

“It’s a very common, naturally occurring thing,” Domazlicky said. “Once in a while it rears up and causes a problem.”

Still, experts are not ruling anything out in the birds’ death.

If the geese were poisoned, pesticides or intentionally tainted food are potential causes, Domazlicky said.

Until the cause of death is determined, parkgoers who see any dead geese should avoid direct contact with carcasses, keep their pets away and contact animal control or the park district, Domazlicky said.

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