Idaho Snow Goose Deaths

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In March, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) reported that staff and volunteers collected the carcasses of approximately 2,000 migrating snow geese that appeared to have succumbed to avian cholera and died while stopping at Mud Lake and Market Lake Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).

The carcasses were collected to be incinerated so that other predatory and scavenger birds do not ingest the deadly bacteria. Samples from the die-off were sent to the IDFG Wildlife Laboratory in order to definitively confirm avian cholera.

The carcasses of a small number of snow geese were first reported at Camas National Wildlife Refuge near Dubois, Idaho. Subsequent inspections by biologists indicated higher numbers of dead birds at the Mud Lake WMA Area near Terreton, Idaho and a lesser amount at Market Lake WMA near Roberts, Idaho.

The migratory birds were on the return leg of their migration from the southwestern United States and Mexico to their breeding grounds on the northern coast of Alaska. It is unknown at this time where the geese may have picked up the suspected bacteria. “Outbreaks of avian cholera have occurred sporadically in the region over the past few decades,” said Upper Snake Regional Supervisor Steve Schmidt.

According to Schmidt, “The important thing is to quickly collect as many of the carcasses as possible, to prevent other birds from feeding on the infected birds.” In the case of Mud Lake WMA, biologists observed about twenty eagles in the vicinity of some of the carcasses. Because of a delayed incubation period it is uncertain where these eagles might be located, if and when the avian cholera affects them.

IDFG urges the public to not handle dead birds because of the potential for unintentionally distributing the disease to other wildlife.

source: Idaho Department of Fish and Game