July 17, 2007

Bright Bills Fading Away: Magpies in Decline; West Nile Virus Might Be Culprit
The Daily Democrat - dailydemocrat.com
16 Jul 2007
DM Olson
Photo courtesy of DM Olson
Area: California USA

California's yellow-billed magpie - a loud and colorful bird that lives nowhere else in the world - is harder to find these days, researchers say, and the West Nile virus is to blame. Statistics from three separate studies - the Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Count, the U.S. Geological Survey's Breeding Bird Survey and the California Department of Health Services Dead Bird Surveillance Program - suggest more than 30 percent of yellow-billed magpies may have been killed by the disease since 2004. "It looks like things are really going downhill for magpies throughout their range," said Scott Crosbie, a Ph.D. student at UC Davis who has been studying the birds since 2003. "There are no other factors that we know of to cause this decline. It happened suddenly, and it happened as soon as West Nile appeared in their range."

A chatty, highly social bird, yellow-billed magpies live only in the Central Valley and lower elevations of the central Coast Range. A rough estimate by the Audubon Society puts their pre-West Nile population at 180,000 - which means the virus may have killed nearly 60,000 of the birds over the past three years. Experts caution, however, that the Audubon Society's estimate is unconfirmed, and that only now are studies being done to determine how many yellow-billed magpies are left. Originating in Africa during the 1930s, West Nile virus is carried primarily by birds.

Chief Vet Warns Farmers of New Bird Flu Threat
The Times - timesonline.co.uk
16 Jul 2007
V Elliot
Area: Britain United Kingdom

The Government has given warning that wild birds migrating to Britain over the next few weeks may be carrying the H5N1 strain of avian flu. Debby Reynolds, the Chief Veterinary Officer, is ready to order birds to be kept indoors if farms are deemed to be at risk. A risk assessment published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs states that the highest risk is from birds that have passed through the Czech Republic, Germany and France. Last month there were three outbreaks of the flu strain in the Czech Republic, and three cases in southern Germany.

There was also an outbreak in France this month and experts expect more cases. The greatest threat is believed to be from the blackheaded gull, which returns to Britain from the area around the Baltic Sea. About 50,000 to 100,000 pairs of these gulls breed in the Czech Republic before leaving for other parts of Western Europe, including Britain. These birds could appear this month.

White Bass Dying in Waurika
Ada Evening News - adaeveningnews.com
16 Jul 2007
Area: Waurika, Oklahoma USA

Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation have received reports of a number of dead white bass at Waurika Lake, and though recent heavy rains and lake conditions have limited research opportunities, biologists are working to understand just what killed the fish. “We want people to know that we are aware of the white bass kill at Waurika Lake, and we are monitoring the situation closely,” said Larry Cofer, southwest region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “The disease that was killing them seems to have run its course because there doesn’t appear to be any significant number of fish continuing to die. The bigger problem right now is that recent weather is limiting the amount of research we can do on the water.”

Cofer said biologists cannot thoroughly research the loss of white bass — one of Oklahoma’s most popular sport fish — because boat ramps have been closed due to heavy rains, and lake access is currently limited to shorelines. “Based on the signs and the fact that only white bass seem to have been killed, we can rule out pollution. Similar fish kills have affected other state lakes in the past, such as Tenkiller, Texoma, Foss, Altus-Lugert and Ft. Cobb, and lakes have been affected in Kansas and South Dakota” Cofer said. “In these cases, the condition has run its course and not returned.

Anthrax, Bovine, Wildlife - USA (Texas) - ProMED Mail Archive Number 20070713.2246
ProMED Mail

13 Jul 2007
Area: Texas USA

The Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory has confirmed [today - 13 Jul 2007 - Mod. MHJ] a positive anthrax culture on an animal necropsy specimen that was submitted from Tom Green County due to a cattle and deer die off that was reported by a private veterinarian on [6 Jul 2007] to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Disease Ravages Oregon Bighorn Sheep
KOIN News 6 - koin.com (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
16 Jul 2007
Area: Oregon USA

A disease is ravaging Oregon's remaining wild bighorn sheep. Wildlife biologist Craig Ely says a bacterial strain of pneumonia, which is common but not usually deadly in domestic sheep, has spread into the wild herds, where it's much deadlier. According to a report in The Oregonian, some Hells Canyon bands have been wiped out by the pneumonia. Others haven't been affected yet, but the disease is still spreading. A few sheep managed to survive it.

Other Wildlife Disease News

More Should Be Done to Manage Deer Population [Editorial]

Deer in the Clear ... for Now

Mysterious Illness May Be Tularemia

Journal Article(s) of Interest

Developing a Research Agenda and a Comprehensive National Prevention and
Response Plan for Rift Valley Fever in the United States
Emerg Infect Dis. 2007 Aug; [Epub ahead of print]
SC Britch and KJ Linthicum

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