Dead as a Duck

Test results are pending to explain this puzzling and disturbing die-off of mallards along a small, remote Idaho creek. Bacterial or fungal agents are said to be suspected, but why only mallards susceptible?

Migratory mallards from Canada and their local cousins staggered and struggled to breathe before collapsing, Parrish said. He said every mallard in a radius of several miles has died–approximately 2,500, up from an earlier estimate of 1,000.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in 20 years here,” he said. “There were dead mallards everywhere–in the water and on the banks. It was odd; they were in a very small area.”

The massive outbreak is puzzling scientists because only mallard ducks are dying. Golden eagles, geese, magpies, crows and other birds in the area all remain healthy.”

Stay tuned.


About fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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