Officials say more than 200 ducks and other birds have died because of an outbreak of avian cholera at a popular bird-watching spot in the San Francisco Bay Area. According to NBC News, laboratory technicians at a local US Fish and Wildlife office confirmed the bird deaths were a result of cholera on Monday, but authorities were already working on a solution. Officials expect the process will turn a few noses.
Avian cholera is caused by a bacteria that can be found in soil and water. Cholera affects domestic birds such as chickens, but are more commonly found in wild birds and waterfowl in particular. On average, infected animals die within six to 12 hours of contracting the bacterium.
“To mitigate what we can, we have heavy equipment ordered and coming in to try and keep the area as fresh as possible, but it is going to smell,” said South Bayside System Authority Manager Dan Child.
That means draining the seven-acre pond in Redwood City. CBS San Franciso reported the pond was once a part of the local wastewater treatment plant but had been intentionally flooded 15 years ago. The new pond naturally attracted large numbers of waterfowl, which in turn drew bird watchers. Over the years, a thick layer of bird excrement had been building on the bottom of the pond. Residents are already reporting nauseating odors as teams work to suction out the water.
“This has been a bird sanctuary for 15-plus years and the birds do their duty out there,” he said. “And there’s going to be an accumulation of bird droppings that we’re afraid are really going to cause some odors.”
Child expects the pond will be dried and refilled by fall at the earliest.
Image courtesy California Department of Fish and Wildlife