Birds Dying, Reason Unknown

Birds Dying, Reason Unknown

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John Hollenhorst ReportingA number of birds have died mysteriously in the last few days in a West Valley Pond. Some fish have also died. There's disagreement among experts about why it's happening, but one thing they agree on--it's almost certainly not the West Nile Virus.

It's an artificial pond, part of the landscaping for a business park. Geese, ducks and other birds are a delight to people who work in the area. Particularly a brood of young mallards orphaned earlier this year when their mother was hit by a car.

Ricky Kendall/Business Park Worker "When the first one died I thought well, not bad, one out of seven, considering they lost their mother when they were little. And then they all just started dropping."

He says at least six of them died in the last few days, plus few scattered fish and several starlings. A County Health investigator suspects a typical outbreak of a common disease, avian botulism.

But other experts say it’s unusual for starlings or fish to be affected by botulism. And it seems too early in the summer for that disease. They suspect contamination or poisoning.

Steven Beach/S.L. Valley Health Dept.: "We look for a totally different type of bird for West Nile. The West Nile doesn't affect the ducks like this. So it's not our target at all"

Whatever the cause, Ricky Kendall says it's an awful death.

Ricky Kendall/Business Park Worker: "They lose the use of their wings, their legs, and pretty soon they can't even hold their heads up anymore. Basically their head falls into the water and they drown."

As bird die-offs go, it's relatively small. But Ricky Kendall says for him it's like losing part of his family.

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