The Wyoming Game and Fish Department asks the public, especially landowners, to report dead sage-grouse so the birds can be tested for West Nile virus, according to a press release.

While there are no signs of an outbreak, the Department makes an annual request for reports to help manage the state’s sage-grouse populations.

Mosquitoes spread the virus.

Research shows the birds have a low resistance to the virus, which can be and is usually fatal. Evidence of the disease has been reported in past years in northeast Wyoming and in surrounding states.

Nyssa Whitford, Game and Fish’s sage-grouse/sagebrush biologist, said the continuous rainfall this spring and summer has contributed to an increase in standing water and mosquito populations.

“We haven’t had an outbreak of West Nile in sage-grouse since 2003 in northeast Wyoming. But monitoring for the disease is still important,” Whitford said.

Testing dead birds helps Game and Fish monitor the scope and impact of the disease.

“We are particularly interested in sage-grouse found in remote areas that have no obvious injuries that might have resulted in their death," Whitford said. "These may occur near water holes or hay fields on private lands."

Obvious roadkills should not be reported, she said.

However, people need to immediately report dead birds to local Game and Fish personnel quickly so the birds don’t deteriorate to the point they can no longer be tested, Whitford added.

The chance of getting the virus from handling a dead bird is rare.

But those who are willing to collect carcasses should pick them up with an inverted plastic sack while wearing gloves.

The bagged carcass should then be placed into another plastic bag, preferably a trash bag, tied and taken to a regional Game and Fish office.

If it can’t be delivered quickly to an office, the bird should be frozen.

People can help reduce mosquitoes and West Nile virus by eliminating standing water in receptacles like flower pots, discarded tires, small plastic swimming pools and wheelbarrows where mosquitoes tend to breed.

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water and only take five to seven days to complete their life cycle.

Touring Dan Speas Fish Hatchery with the Boys & Girls Club

30 June 2023

Staff Members at the Wyoming Game and Fish Share Spring Photos

Photo Essay: Rejuvenation. Springtime 2023. You can subscribe to Wyoming Wildlife to see more like these.