Earlier today, wildlife officials discovered more than 70 dead mallards collected at the Ocean Lake Wildlife Habitat Management Area in Fremont County. They also found a single Canada goose suffering from life-threatening conditions. Unfortunately, the team had to later euthanize the waterfowl, too, bringing the total collateral to 78.
According to Wyoming Game and Fish, officials gathered the carcasses and brought them back to the lab for testing. It’s unclear just yet whether bird flu caused the shocking amount of waterfowl deaths. Other possible contributors to the strange death of the mallards could be fungi or bacteria present in the water. Without any answers just yet, the department took precautions to ensure that no other waterfowl fall victim to the same lethal condition.
“These birds were collected and some of them will be disease tested at the Game and Fish Wildlife Health Laboratory for potential causes of the die-off,” the department’s release shared. “To reduce numbers of waterfowl congregating in the area, the aerator at Ocean Lake has been turned off. Turning off the aerator will close the open water and encourage the birds to move on.”
Wyoming Officials Urge Locals to Report Any ‘Clusters’ of Deceased Mallards and Other Waterfowl
Preventing further devastation of the state’s waterfowl will require the cooperation of hunters and the general public.
“The Wyoming Game and Fish Department reminds people to continue to report clusters of dead birds to their nearest Game and Fish regional office and reminds hunters to take specific precautions when handling wildlife,” the release shared.
To keep the potential disease from spreading to other birds, Wyoming officials penned some tips for waterfowl hunters:
- “Do not handle or eat sick game.
- Field dress and prepare game outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
- Wear rubber or disposable nitrile gloves while handling or cleaning game.
- When done handling game, wash hands thoroughly with soap or disinfectant and clean knives, equipment and surfaces that come in contact with game.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke while handling animals.
- Do not feed sick/found dead carcasses/tissues to domestic animals — such as dogs and cats.
- All game should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F before being consumed.”
Meanwhile, further north, Montana wildlife officials issued their own warning to duck and goose hunters. Recently, after a calm, few summer months, bird flu cases have started to rise again. Sadly, experts claim that waterfowl species, in particular, are most susceptible to the disease.
“The current one is transmitted primarily by waterfowl. It’s highly lethal in geese, especially snow geese and Canadian geese. Ducks seem to live with it so, they’re the primary carriers and spreaders of the disease. But all birds are ultimately susceptible,” Charles Noland, a local veterinarian and bird hunter of 60 years, told KTVQ.