City to temporarily drain two ponds in Land Park to proactively protect birds

The City’s Department of Youth, Parks & Community Enrichment this week will begin dewatering two ponds in William Regional Land Park.

This action is a protective and preventative measure for the Sacramento Zoo in response to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife advisory notice of avian influenza detection in Northern California.

The Zoo’s animal care staff has taken steps to protect their birds, moving them indoors at the end of July and also draining the Zoo’s Flamingo Lake, which attracts wild ducks that can carry the disease.

While the virus has not been detected within Land Park’s bird population, Duck and Lily pond’s proximity to the Sacramento Zoo increases the risk of transmission. YPCE staff plans to perform maintenance work on the ponds when they are empty.

“Dewatering Duck and Lily ponds serves as a preventative measure for our neighbors at the Zoo and provides us with the opportunity to revitalize and enhance their current conditions,” said Shawn Aylesworth, the City’s park maintenance manager.

“The City of Sacramento has been a wonderful partner in the Zoo’s efforts to reduce the risk of avian influenza in the Zoo’s animals,” said Matt McKim, director of animal care for the Sacramento Zoo. “The project is a collaborative effort between the City and the Zoo to ensure best practices are used to simultaneously protect the birds and perform service to the park’s ponds during this period of increased disease risk in the Central Valley.”

During the dewatering process, the area around each pond will be fenced off as water is pumped onto the surrounding turf area. Mayor Anne Rudin Peace Pond and all other park amenities will remain accessible.

Staff conducted a biological survey to determine the relocation of existing animal aquatic life. For example, Red Eared Slider turtles that are present will be humanely collected and transferred into the care of the Sonoma County Reptile Rescue.

Once the ponds are empty, non-beneficial sediment will be removed as part of the revitalization process. In the coming months several features will be replaced and upgraded. When threat of the disease diminishes, the ponds will be refilled.

For information on the status of the Zoo’s bird population, please visit the Sacramento Zoo’s website.

City staff are asking park visitors to not feed the ducks within the enclosed areas. Feeding the ducks could potentially condition the ducks into falsely believing that the drained ponds will continue to be a viable place for their survival. City staff wish to encourage the ducks to rely on their natural instincts to seek out other water sources, including Mayor Anne Rudin Peace Pond located 700 feet away from Duck and Lily ponds.