Dozens of dead geese recovered from Canyon Lake area, avian flu suspected

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Rapid City Parks and Recreation staff have recovered dozens of dead geese in the Canyon Lake area in the last week.

The birds are probable victims of avian flu, and Parks and Recreation has been in contact with Game, Fish and Parks officials, who indicate some of the geese have been sent off for testing.

Geese at Canyon Lake

GFP officials have reported significant cases of avian flu in snow geese and other migrating waterfowl in the state in recent weeks, and they encourage the public to report dead or sick birds, which is documenting the mortality numbers. Local GFP officials are aware of the instances at Canyon Lake and encourage the public to contact the agency if they encounter unusual behavior in waterfowl or other birds such as raptors in other areas of Rapid City or the region. The public can report cases to the agency’s Outdoor Campus West facility at 605-394-2310.

“Cold weather and freezing conditions this time of year concentrate migrating waterfowl and create ideal conditions for the spread of avian influenza,” said Nick Harrington, Communications Manager for South Dakota GFP. “Mortalities are occurring wherever these birds are staging, much like they did this spring. We expect this will continue until migrating waterfowl leave South Dakota or enough birds have been exposed to reduce transmission.”

Individuals do not need to be concerned about infection, but should always follow common sense practices when handling any game like:

  • Wearing disposable latex or rubber gloves when handling game.
  • Avoiding eating, drinking, or smoking while cleaning game.
  • Washing hands with soap and water immediately after handling game, alcohol wipes are also a great idea in the field.
  • Thoroughly cleaning equipment and surfaces used to clean game before moving it from one site to another.
  • Thoroughly cooking all game to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rapid City officials also advise the public to not approach or feed the geese and other waterfowl and do not touch the carcasses.

“Even before the avian flu outbreaks, the public has been advised not to approach or feed the waterfowl,” said City Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Biegler. “We are not discouraging the public from enjoying Canyon Lake. We are making the public aware they may encounter waterfowl carcasses or unusual behavior among some birds, and also advising precautions and actions they can take.”

Biegler said Parks and Recreation staff will be monitoring Canyon Lake daily and retrieving any deceased birds, and they are taking proper safety precautions.

Categories: Local News