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Towels for rescued waterfowl

Rescued waterfowl should be placed on sheets or towels, not hay. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

BY Sarah smith

A Massachusetts veterinarian who read about a locally rescued loon online advises not placing rescued waterfowl on hay beds.

“I really enjoyed seeing your online article and hats off to the folks who rescued the loon,” wrote Dr. Mark Pokras of the Wildlife Clinic & Center for Conservation Medicine at Tufts University.

“But there’s a related public service you might want to get out there,” he continued. “For people who rescue such waterbirds, it’s very important to never put these birds on or near bedding like hay or straw or most wood shavings.  Such bedding contains the spores of fungi - and these birds are extremely sensitive to a fatal respiratory disease caused by these fungi (called aspergillosis).”

That is what killed the loon rescued on Upper Bottle Lake last month.

“So if people rescue loons or other waterbirds, please advise them to put them on bedding such as thick, soft towels.  That way we’ll know that our rescues are really successful in the long run.”


Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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