Wildlife officials ask residents to report sick, dead birds; stop feeding in three counties

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – To enhance its investigation into unexplained bird mortality occurring in Kentucky, the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is asking the public to report encounters with sick and dead birds through a new online reporting system.

In late May, the department began receiving reports of sick and dying birds with eye swelling and crusty discharge, as well as neurological signs. Wildlife agencies in Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia have reported similar problems.

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State wildlife agencies are working with diagnostic laboratories to investigate the cause of mortality. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife has sent more than 20 samples for lab testing to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia.

More results are pending, but no definitive cause of death has been identified at this time.

In Kentucky, reports of sick and dying birds have come from Jefferson, Kenton and Boone counties. Species affected thus far have included blue jays, common grackles and European starlings, but other species may be affected as well.

The public can access Kentucky’s reporting system online at https://www.research.net/r/2021KYSickBirdReports or through the Bird Mortality Event webpage on the department’s website at fw.ky.gov.

Birds congregating at feeders and baths can transmit disease to one another. Therefore, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife recommends the public follow these guidelines:

In Jefferson, Boone and Kenton counties:

  • Cease feeding birds until further notice (when this issue has been resolved);

Statewide:

  • Clean feeders and birdbaths with a 10 percent bleach solution immediately, then weekly thereafter;
  • Avoid handling birds, but wear disposable gloves if handling is necessary; and
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a standard precaution.

If you must remove dead birds, it is recommended that you place them in a sealable plastic bag and dispose of the bag in a secured outdoor trash can.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife will post additional information on its Wildlife Health and Disease webpage and social media channels as diagnostic results become available.