Geese, pelicans found dead along river at Davenport

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Large numbers of geese and pelicans have been found dead along the Mississippi River in eastern Iowa, and wildlife biologists aren’t sure what’s killing them.

The carcasses of more than 20 Canada geese were recently discovered at Nahant Marsh along the river in Davenport, and more were found along the city’s South Concord Street, the Quad-City Times reported.

Also, about two dozen dead American white pelicans were found several months ago in the river around Bettendorf upstream from Davenport. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources collected many of the carcasses for testing, but DNR wildlife biologist Curt Kemmerer said nothing was conclusive.

“We found issues in a few, including most significantly, very elevated lead levels,” Kemmerer said.

The marsh, where a hunting lodge once stood, was cleaned of lead shot in the late 1990s, and marsh director Brian Ritter said said there hasn’t been any indication of lead in the area.

Some biologists say low river levels could be the culprit, noting that harmful bacteria and mold could grow in more shallow waters.

Ritter said the Iowa City area recently saw a high death count of migratory birds attributed to dead fish they were eating.

“We’re not quite sure what’s happened,” Ritter said. “The DNR said we may never know.”

The Natural Resources Department is asking bird watchers, hikers and others around the Davenport riverfront to report if they see six or more dead waterfowl in close proximity.