Epizootic mortality in several geese species, including cackling geese (Branta hutchinsii) and Canada geese (Branta canadensis), has been recognized in the Willamette Valley of Oregon for over a decade. Birds are generally found dead on a body of water or are occasionally observed displaying neurologic clinical signs such as an inability to raise or control the head prior to death. Investigation of these epizootic mortality events has revealed the etiology to be accidental poisoning with the rodenticide zinc phosphide (Zn3P2). Gross and histologic changes are restricted to acute pulmonary congestion and edema, sometimes accompanied by distension of the upper alimentary tract by fresh grass. Geese are unusually susceptible to this pesticide; when combined with an epidemiologic confluence of depredation of specific agricultural crops by rodents and seasonal avian migration pathways, epizootic toxicosis may occur. Diagnosis requires a high index of suspicion, appropriate sample collection and handling, plus specific test calibration for this toxicant. Interagency cooperation, education of farmers regarding pesticide use, and enforcement of regulations has been successful in greatly decreasing these mortality events since 2009.
Additional Publication Details
A review of episodes of zinc phosphide toxicosis in wild geese (Branta spp.) in Oregon (2004−2011)