An unfortunate mystery is playing out at a park in Boyle Heights where ducks have been found sick, dying and dead, and now those who live near the park are looking for answers.  

Those who live nearby and others who visit Hollenbeck Park on a regular basis say the discovery of the dead and dying ducks has been heartbreaking and concerning.  

“I usually come running here around the lake and, you know, sometimes you’ll see birds, but there’s just any number of them, like at least 15 or so just washed up on the shore,” said a woman who didn’t want to give her name.  

She said she first saw the ducks Saturday, and that when she returned to the park on Sunday, there were even more, five of them that were dead and a sixth one that was struggling to survive. 

Margarito Garcia, who was visiting the park, noticed a goose hovering around the dying duck, seemingly protecting it.  

“I come every weekend to walk my dog through here,” he said. “Unfortunately, it looks like someone has been poisoning the ducks, I think, because they are dying slow.”  

  • Dead ducks found at park in Boyle Heights
  • Dead ducks found at park in Boyle Heights
  • Dead ducks found at park in Boyle Heights

What’s causing the ducks to fall ill is currently unknown. Several people who spoke to KTLA said they have reported the dead birds to animal control, but haven’t received a response, likely due to the holiday weekend.  

Howie Berkowitz, founder of the Duck Pond of Lake Elsinore, said there may be other issues at play that are causing the ducks to get sick and die.  

“One is that the water is actually contaminated and that could be either through someone has done that, or the other possibility is that there is poisonous algae out there, especially during the summer when the water gets hot,” he explained.  

Berkowitz, who has had his duck sanctuary for 10 years, added that any ducks that appear sickened need to be seen by veterinarian right away.  

“The faster they can administer some activated charcoal, the faster it’ll stop the problem,” he said.  

Another avian expert who spoke to KTLA’s Shelby Nelson said there is cause for concern because the issue could be what’s called avian botulism. In that case, a duck ingests a lethal bacteria and dies. Flies then feed on the carcass. Other animals in the area then feed on the flies and the illness continues in that cycle until it’s brought under control. The expert added that it’s impossible to know if avian botulism is the problem until a necropsy is performed on one of the dead birds.

Those who visit the park regularly are hoping the issue gets resolved quickly, so that more birds at the lake aren’t at risk of dying.  

“Hopefully it’s something small and people are not intentionally killing them,” a park visitor said.

KTLA has reached out to both the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for comment.