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Dead geese left rotting in pool at Black Country park

By Dayna Farrington | Smethwick | News | Published:

Residents have been left horrified at dead geese left ‘rotting’ in a pond in the Black Country.

An aerial view of Victoria Park in Smethwick. The pool is bottom right. Photo: Google

The residents have said the Canada geese have been left dead in a pond in Smethwick’s Victoria Park for weeks – with some of them decomposing into skeletons.

It is claimed there are more than 10 dead birds in the water, with their carcasses giving off a terrible smell.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said they suspect the geese have died due to avian botulism.

While a Sandwell Council spokesman said they are working to remove the birds as quickly as possible – and one dead bird has been sent off for an autopsy to find out what is causing the deaths.

Tom Gasiorowski, who regularly visits the park, said: “There is an increasing number of dead birds, mainly Canada geese floating in the water or rotting just outside in the “wildlife pool” in Victoria Park in Smethwick.

"For the last couple of weeks, there have more and more dead birds in the water.

“The smell is terrible, the water is dirty as the bread is also rotting together with the dead birds in the water. Some of them are now skeletons."

Jean Wilkinson said: “These dead geese are floating in the water and they look like they have been there for a long time. I have never seen a pool so filthy.”

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Councillor Bill Gavan, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for leisure, said: “The council has found dead wildfowl at Victoria Park Pool in Smethwick and our partners Serco have removed these birds as quickly as possible.

"Some have unfortunately been difficult to reach. However a team from Sandwell Valley alongside Serco staff will be removing all the hard-to-reach ones.

“We have been liaising with the Environment Agency and the RSPCA and have sent a bird off for an autopsy to ascertain what is causing this problem. We are awaiting the results from DEFRA."

An RSPCA spokesman added: “We can confirm we did receive a call about geese and ducks dead and floating on the water in Victoria Park and we advised the person to contact the council, who are responsible for the park, as it is suspected to be due to avian botulism.

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“Botulism bacteria is present in the environment all the time but in hot weather the amount of bacteria builds up in the small water bodies like lakes, where there is depleted oxygen (largely due to falling water levels and an increase in algae), poorer water quality and a source of protein, such as dead insects and rotting vegetation.

“Whilst the RSPCA will rescue sick birds, the public are being advised to contact the park rangers or local authority if they find dead bodies.

“There is no real risk to humans but we would advise dog walkers to keep their pets away from the bodies and water as a precaution.”

Two years ago Canada geese were the focus of a controversial cull by Sandwell Council. Around 220 fowl were killed before a high-profile campaign, including a 4,000-name petition, convinced the authority to call a halt.

Dayna Farrington

By Dayna Farrington
Senior reporter based at Wolverhampton

Reporter for the Express & Star based at Wolverhampton.

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