A recent press release from the Wyoming Game and Fish asks everyone, especially landowners, to report dead sage grouse so the birds can be tested for West Nile virus. There are no signs of an outbreak, but Game and Fish asks people to report annually to aid in the management of Wyoming sage grouse. 

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

Evidence of West Nile virus has been reported in past years in northeast Wyoming and surrounding states. West Nile virus is spread by certain mosquitoes, and according to the Wyoming Game and Fish press release, sage grouse have low resistance to the disease, which is often fatal to the birds. 

Nyssa Whitford, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s sage grouse/sagebrush biologist, said that while this spring started out wet, the summer has been drier and less favorable for mosquitoes.

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

Whitford added that obvious roadkills should not be reported but emphasized the need to 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.

The chance of getting the virus handling a dead bird is remote, but the Wyoming Fish and Game recommends handling dead birds with an inverted plastic sack while wearing gloves. Place the bagged carcass into another bag, preferably a trash bag, tied, and take to a Game and Fish Regional Office. If it can’t be delivered quickly to Game and Fish, the bird should be frozen.

 

The public can help decrease the risk of West Nile Virus by dumping standing water in small receptacles — like flower pots, discarded tires, small plastic swimming pools and wheelbarrows — where mosquitoes tend to breed.

The White Wolf Saloon, Douglas Wyoming

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