Snow Geese Falling Like Snow Flakes from the skies of Idaho: Avian Cholera Suspected

Wildlife officials say, around 2000 migrating snow geese died recently from a bird disease that kills it in mid-flight in Idaho.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game staff and volunteers, near the towns of Terreton and Roberts, picked up dead birds in the last several days at the wildlife management areas.

Avian cholera could likely be the cause of death, the agency said, which causes erratic flight and convulsions.

Known for their white bodies and black wingtips, authorities are saying that the snow geese were migrating from Southwest and Mexico to their breeding ground in Alaska.

Steve Schmidt, a regional Fish and Game supervisor said, where they picked up the bacteria is unclear.  “Outbreaks of avian cholera have occurred intermittently in the region over the past few decades,” he said in a news release.

Schmidt said, “The important thing is to quickly amass as many of the carcasses as possible, as prevention from other birds on feeding on the infected birds,”

Mud Lake Wildlife Management Area biologists said, however It was unclear if the 20 eagles in the Terreton area were infected as well.

Avian cholera spreads so quickly in infected birds, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center, that even if some bird with no previous signs of the illness can die while in flight and just fall out of the sky.

Health experts say however that humans are not at a high risk of the bird infection from the virus that causes avian cholera.

Spending at least 2-3 weeks to feeding on waste grain at nearby wheat fields,   almost 10,000 snow geese cross Idaho each March to break at the state’s wildlife zones, Schmidt said. He said Tuesday, no reports of deaths of other snow geese from nearby areas in other states has been received by him.

A dead trumpeter swan was among the dead birds which likely also died of avian cholera, he ended.



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