Peterborough’s Judy Raymond is used to seeing a flock of mallard ducks walk up Evans Avenue from a nearby pond. She says they gather on her front lawn to eat bugs and new shoots of grass.
She saw them arrive Sunday morning but soon realized something was wrong. A number of the birds appeared to be asleep and when a neighbour approached them, they didn’t stir. They were dead.
“None of them acted sick, it was just ‘I’m robust, I’m healthy, I’m happy, I’m eating the grass, BOOM. I’m dead,'” said Raymond.
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Raymond and her sister took two surviving ducks to Shades of Hope Wildlife Sanctuary in Pefferlaw.
There, manager Cathy Stockman says the symptoms the ducks presented made her think they had been poisoned. They were very lethargic and unable to stand up so she says they started treatment right away.
“We gave them fluids, subcutaneously, then we put them into an indoor pond, and they were able to swim, there was less pressure on their legs, takes them less balance to swim than to stand, and they have steadily improved,” said Stockman.
She says she saw the same symptoms in a pair of turkey vultures brought into the sanctuary a short while ago, almost dead and unable to stand.
After giving a course of rehydration, they recovered and were released. Stockman is confident the two ducks will survive and will be released back into the wild.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has launched an investigation into what caused the birds to die.
–With files from Jesse Thomas