The following is a news release from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) biologists are responding to reports of dead or dying geese in south central Louisiana.
One report of over 100 dead or distressed Snow Geese in the Gueydan area has been confirmed. Additionally, unconfirmed reports of dead, sick, and dying snow geese in Riceville, Kaplan, and Klondike are being investigated. A small number of affected geese have been reported in the Bunkie area.
History and gross necropsy findings are suggestive of aflatoxicosis as a cause of the mortalities. Specimens will be submitted to the Southeast Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia and to the National Wildlife health Center in Madison, WI for further confirmation of the diagnosis.
Aflatoxicosis is caused by a fungal toxin which is ingested on moldy grains. Periods of prolonged rainfall are quite often associated with aflatoxicosis, especially if large quantities of agricultural grain crops are left in the fields. The moisture predisposes the grains to fungal growth and aflatoxin production. High levels of aflatoxin can cause immediate death of waterfowl, while low levels consumed over a long period of time lead to illness, weight-loss, liver failure, and ultimately death.
Healthy, hunter-harvested snow geese are safe for human consumption. However, emaciated, sick, or dying birds or those that are found dead should not be consumed.