[Tweeters] Strange Mallard Deaths at Gog-le-hi-te Wetlands Tacoma

mcharest at wamail.net mcharest at wamail.net
Thu Mar 8 19:55:47 PST 2018

On February 19th, I went for my usual after work walk at Gog-le-hi-te
and ran into Mary Pearse and Richard Smethurst. We had a very nice
conversation and watched 2 unusually bold Coyotes in the central meadow
feeding on something unseen near the small pond on the edge of the
meadow. After parting ways with Mary and Richard I continued my loop
around, when i came back around past the small pond, I noticed a dead
Mallard at the edge of the pond, then another, and another. Continuing
along the flooded ditch that is connected to the pond, I saw more. I
went down into the meadow to get better looks and ended up counting
between 35-40 dead Mallards. I have been walking this area for years and
have never seen anything like this before. I suffer from insomnia and
sometimes walk the wetlands at night looking for Owls and such, and I
know that mallards as well as Green-winged Teal roost in this pond when
it is flooded, but I saw no dead Teal.

Looking back, I should have reported this event but I didn't, I did
think about what could have been the reason for many days, but couldn't
come up with anything. I thought it was just one of those things that
happens in nature, and reporting it would fall on deaf ears. I was
wrong. Mallards were unusually scarce for several days, then some
returned and began pairing up in the flooded woods nearer the parking
lot. This happens every year about this time and baby Mallards soon
follow. However, today the absence of Mallards in the flooded woods was
noticeable compared to yesterday, and I saw several more dead Mallards
in the reeds in the flooded woods. I have no clue what is causing this
and it doesn't seem to affect the Teal.

As I was leaving today, a biologist from the Port of Tacoma and one from
the WSDFW showed up and were collecting the remaining dead birds and
putting them in a trash bag. They told me that someone did report the
deaths and we talked a little bit. They said the birds were being sent
off to try to determine the cause of death, I told them there were more
dead birds in the flooded woods that were not there yesterday, and the
paired up birds were all gone. So this is a true mystery and and I
learned the lesson that there are those who care and want to find the
reason if you ever see something like this. The Usual year round Mallard
flock has been reduced by many birds here and it seems to still be
happening... If any of you are connected with the WSDFW and eventually
find out what is causing this, or have seen anything like this before i
would be very interested to find out.

Thanks and Have a Great Day,

Michael Charest
Tacoma, Washington
mcharest at wamail.net

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