PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The killing of more than a dozen ducks and geese at a park in Pascagoula has sparked a strong reaction from some of you.
As we first reported on Friday, the birds were euthanized by the USDA because they represented a public health concern. We have new information about the health threat the birds posed to a nearby naval facility.
Some Canada geese and Muscovy ducks still live on the lake at I.G. Levy Park. That's where at least 19 such birds were killed after posing a health threat to the nearby Lakeside Naval Support facility. Navy public affairs spokesman, Rob Mims, told me the birds have been damaging property by defecating outside the main entrance and along a breezeway. The health concern comes from personnel and visitors tracking the feces inside the buildings.
"There's nothing wrong with these ducks," says Colleen McGehee.
She and Jesus Alvarez, frequently feed the birds.
"Almost every day. Every day we go to WalMart and get the bread they mark down and come out here and feed it to 'em," she said.
She was shocked to learn about the killing of more than a dozen birds.
"That's, that's a shame. Because these ducks and geese are not hurting anybody. I mean, this is their land, it's not the government's land."
WLOX News spoke with state veterinarian, Dr. Jim Watson, who said yes, in fact, these animals can sometimes disrupt the environment and can pose a very real risk to health and safety. He talked about the diseases that can be carried in these animals' feces and anyone who may contact the fecal matter. Diseases like salmonella, E-Coli and of course, bird flu.
Those same concerns were echoed by Dr. James Askew at Saucier Veterinary Hospital.
"Anytime you have a large number of birds in one area, you're going to have an increase in all kinds of pathogens, you're going to have water quality that's going to be compromised. There's a million things that can go wrong. Not to mention the fact these birds are coming from all over the country. They can bring anything in from avian influenza. So many different diseases that are out there," said Dr. Askew.
One more thing we learned about the ducks that were killed: They were Muscovy ducks, a non-native duck that is actually considered an invasive species by U.S. Fish and Wildlife.