Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Help protect wildlife health by reporting dead birds and other animals

MADISON – Wildlife officials working to assure healthy wildlife in Wisconsin are asking people to report unusual die-offs of wild birds, especially waterfowl and other water birds, to aid in wildlife disease surveillance. Die-offs of birds should be reported to the statewide Dead Bird Hotline 1-(800)-433-1610.
Death of a number of birds in one area is a strong indicator that disease may be present or there is a poisoning problem. Any number of dead crows, blue jays or ravens should also be reported as these species are the most likely to die from West Nile Virus (WNV), which can be transmitted to humans through mosquito bites.
“From a disease monitoring viewpoint a report of a number dead birds – rather than a single bird -- in a small area such as around a pothole, slough, bay, or section of lakeshore or within your neighborhood is a stronger indicator that a significant disease such as Avian Influenza may be present. Knowing our wildlife are healthy helps assure people remain healthy too,” said Julie Langenberg, VMD and leader of the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Health Team.
Biologists are also interested in knowing about dead mammals -- other than road kills -- that are not badly decomposed or scavenged, and any wild animals displaying abnormal behavior or showing outward signs of illness such as weight loss, disorientation, or lack of fear. These can be reported to a DNR Service Center or a DNR wildlife biologist. The DNR Wildlife Health Team routinely performs necropsies on many wild species as part of its statewide disease surveillance efforts.
Wildlife health experts say people should handle dead animals in the following manner:
Wear gloves, or a plastic bag inverted over your hand; place the carcass in a sealable plastic bag.
Avoid direct skin contact with the carcass and wash your hands thoroughly after sealing the plastic bag.
Refrigerate the specimen or place it on ice (keep it cool but do not freeze) and call the Dead Bird Hotline or DNR staff for further instructions on what to do with the carcass.

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