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Iowa City area geese released after rehab for malnutrition due to winter weather

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) -- About 40 geese were released back into their natural habitat Sunday after recovering at various rehabilitation facilities in Iowa.

The Iowa Bird Rehabilitation group out of Des Moines shared the release through a Facebook live. A few dozen people turned out to see the animals set free.

More than 100 geese fell mysteriously ill towards the end of February and many were found dead near the dam of the Iowa River in Coralville. About 52 were taken in by the IBR while others went to the Iowa City Animal Center.

The working theory is extreme, winter weather lessened the normal food supply for the geese and they were forced to eat fish uncommon to their diet.

High shad diets have been linked to thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiencies in other species, leading to impaired brain function and death. We are waiting on additional diagnostics to confirm this diagnosis but we anticipate the situation on the ground to improve as temperatures warm and waterfowl regain access to other food sources and foraging sites.

Dr. Rachel Ruden, Iowa DNR Wildlife Veterinarian

The IBR posted Sunday that only 10 geese still needed more time to recover in their care. The group is treating them with fluids, warming pads, and vitamins to replenish what they've lost.

Those in attendance Sunday thanked the volunteers and staff with the various rehab groups, saying they were grateful for the awareness of the issue.

Donations can be made on the IBR's website.

More information from the Iowa City Animal Center can be found here.

There is a similar group in Black Hawk County, find more information on their services here.

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