UPDATE: The eleven birds rescued from the fuel-polluted waters of Wildwood marsh yesterday have died. Officials said the seven goslings and three young mallard ducks were "in bad shape" when they were pulled from the polluted water.
Conservation officers have so far rescued a dozen geese and goslings in a fuel tanker explosion in Harrisburg that spilled into a wildlife sanctuary, threatening a number of endangered species.
The tanker accident and explosion on an overpass above I-81 Thursday sent 2,000 gallons traveling through a storm drain to Paxton Creek and into the Wildwood marsh, an important habitat for wildlife and plants, including endangered egrets and herons.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission responded to the marsh around noon Thursday, after a hiker in Wildwood Park called to report the spill. Field officers using canoes were able to rescue about a dozen fuel-coated ducklings and goslings from the marsh.
Efforts continue today at Wildwood Lake Sanctuary, which lies just northwest of the interchange where the tanker overturned and caught fire, the Game Commission said.
Fuel spilled at the crash site May 9 traveled through a storm drain to Paxton Creek and into the Wildwood marsh, an important habitat for wildlife and plants, including state endangered fauna and flora.
“The timeliness of the response and coordinated efforts with Wildwood Park personnel, Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, and USDA Wildlife Service’s personnel was critical to assessing the situation, beginning wildlife recovery operations and mitigating additional wildlife impacts,” said Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe.
The commission’s rescue efforts resumed today.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, has set up a propane-powered air cannon that creates intermittent blasts of sound in an attempt to deter wildlife from entering the contaminated portion of the wetland.
Wildwood Park is a feeding ground for great egrets and black-crowned night herons both of which are endangered species. Wildwood has the largest concentration of American lotus, a plant listed on the state endangered list. Wildwood also is home to a substantial numbers of muskrats and waterfowl, including mallards, wood ducks and Canada geese.
Other waterfowl incluidng northern shovelers, blue-winged teal and common snipe are visitors during migration seasons. White-tailed deer, mink, eastern coyotes red foxes and raccoons also live in the park.
The Game Commission urges anyone who sees injured wildlife in or around the park to call the southeast regional office at 610-926-3136.