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Daisyville Ducks

Module by: Amy Barnes. E-mail the authorEdited By: Amy BarnesTranslated By: Amy Barnes

Summary: This is an interactive case study involving ducks that are dying at the dam they frequent, and the residents who are concerned. This case study asks the question "what happened to the ducks"?


Jake, Holly, Adam, and Judy were all residents of Daisyville who visited the Strudal Dam in December. What they saw there was both horrifying and disturbing. Several ducks appeared to be near-death, or were already dead.

The Story

Judy (city spokesperson)- Citizens! Please calm down! I know we are all concerned about the ducks at Strudal Dam! But let me assure you, the situation will be monitored by Daisyville’s environmental resource management. Now, who would like to begin describing exactly what they saw? How about…..the gentleman with the hat.

Adam (city road and stormwater area manager)- Hello Judy. My name is Adam, andI just happen to be a manager of the roads here in Daisyville. Earlier this month, during my inspections, I had reported that there seems to be a trend with these birds. They seem to die approximately every two years in the summer. So…perhaps that reason is why these ducks have been dying here in December.

Judy- Thank you Adam, who else would like..

(Holly quickly speaks up, cutting Judy`s sentence short)

Holly ( resident)- That dam is a death pond! I am a resident of Daisyville, and I visited Strudal last week, and was absolutely appauled at what I saw! Ducks dying along the sides, and in the water, ducks experiencing some sort of paralysis, ducks not even able to eat! Something most be done! How are we suppose to tell our children that they can`t feed the ducks because they can`t eat or walk…or live!!!!

(Jake shouts)

Jake (frequent visitor of Strudal Dam)- Maybe that’s the problem!!

(Holly is offended)

Holly- Excuse me?!

Judy- Young man, why don’t you explain yourself.

Jake- Thank you Judy. Did you guys ever think that maybe what you guys have been feeding the birds down at Strudal could be the cause for their demise? Maybe if you haven’t been feeding them all these years, they wouldn`t forget how to feed themselves!

Holly- They didn`t forget! They appeared to be sick, not lazy! Did you even see them?

Jake- Ma’am, I visit that dam often. I saw at least 30 ducks, lying there dead. Well, of course they are dead if they haven`t eaten anything! The poor birds are malnourished! I also saw some geese over there who had some difficulty walking, when I visited on Monday. Did you and your family fatten them up as well?

Adam- I don`t think giving birds bread would cause them to behave like that. We do periodically drain the dam for inspection, maybe that has something to do with it.

Judy- What do you mean, Adam? How could inspecting the dam cause problems?

Adam- Well, you know how if you move fish from one fish tank, you was suppose to ease them into a new fish tank? You have them in a bag of the old fish water, sitting in the new fish tank for an hour or so, before you completely move them. Well, we never do anything like that with the ducks, maybe they`re having trouble adjusting.

Judy- Well, as of right now, we are exploring the idea that a certain kind of bacteria could be the source of the problem.

Adam- Spokeswoman Judy! What do you know about the dam being approximately 0.5m below its normal level?

Judy- That is due to the water being drained to permit an inspection.

Adam- So…the water keeps being changed out…just like I said….very interesting…

Holly- What exactly are you getting at?

Adam- Perhaps the adding and subtracting of water has led to a turnabout . All the bacteria, or whatever it is that Judy is exploring, as moved to the top of the water, where the ducks swim, and all the freshwater moves to the bottom.

Jake- I still think you people feed them too much! I once saw a duck that was so fat, he just fell over while walking!

Holly- I still think you`re nuts! Maybe you`ve been going down there to shoot them all!

Jake- How would I be able to shoot that many ducks without being seen?

Holly- Well, you did say you were a “frequent visitor”…

Judy- Alright citizens, you are getting too excited again. Be rest assured, we will review the situation, and find the cause of these dying and dead ducks.

Supplemental Information

Teacher’s notes:

It is advised that after reading this with the class, you lead an open-ended discussion about what the students think happened to the ducks.

After the group comes to somewhat of a consensus, it may be revealed the true cause, or it can be assigned as a homework project ( looking up what may have done it, and give reasons why they think so).

The true cause for the death of these ducks is avian botulism. Avian botulism is a disease that can cause birds to be paralytic if they ingest a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum, a bacteria which is commonly found in soil. It can become active in decomposing vegetation and in invertebrates with warm temperatures. When birds ingest the toxin, either directly or indirectly (eating the invertebrates, who carry the toxin but are not affected themselves), it causes a cycle. The bird dies, fly larvae feed on the carcass, other birds eat the larvae.

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