On October 15, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) staff received a report of multiple dead Cackling Geese at Fernhill in Forest Grove. A total of five geese were collected for evaluation by veterinary staff at the ODFW Wildlife Health lab. Since the initial report, Clean Water Services (CWS) staff have observed and collected approximately 20 additional dead geese daily.
After studying the deceased geese, the cause of death was determined to be aspergillosis, a non-contagious fungal infection. Aspergillus, is a type of fungus that is common in the environment, but can be a problem in wild birds that are stressed and/or exposed to large quantities of the fungus on moldy feed.
Cackling geese are the smallest species of wild goose that winter in Oregon, west of the Cascades. They migrate thousands of miles this time of year which may lead to increased stress and susceptibility to disease. Since the fungus can be encountered during migration it is difficult to identify where the infection occurred. Fungal spores are often found in crop fields and natural refuge sites.
For people with healthy immune systems, aspergillosis isn’t harmful and can’t be transmitted from animals to people. Oregonians should avoid contact with live wild birds as a general precaution and for the health of both humans and birds. If other clusters of sick or dead birds are found, the public can contact ODFW’s dead bird reporting hotline at 866.968.2600. For more information on what to do if you find a dead bird, visit the ODFW website.
CWS will continue to coordinate with ODFW to monitor, address the situation and report further sick or deceased waterfowl.
For more than 50 years, Clean Water Services has worked to protect public health, while enhancing the natural environment. Combining science and nature, we clean water and return it to the Tualatin River, so it can be used again. More than 600,000 customers enjoy clean water and healthy rivers and streams as a result of our innovative water management solutions, drainage management, water-quality and stream-enhancement projects, habitat protection and more.
District Wildlife Biologist
Education & Outreach