August 27, 2007

West Nile Takes Heavy Toll on Bird Population
The Star Phoenix (Posted by
25 Aug 2007
C Kyle
Photo courtesy of
Area: Canada

Zoo loses four owls; northern birds more susceptible

Forestry Farm Park and Zoo staff have confirmed the deaths of four beloved owls at the zoo were caused by West Nile virus. Test results received this week confirmed three snowy owls and one great grey owl died from the virus -- which is spread by virus-carrying Culex tarsalis mosquitos -- at the facility two weeks ago. Zoo manager John Moran said the results add to a collection of evidence that points to the summer of 2007 being one of the worst in history for West Nile cases. "It's been in the city for a number of years now and this is the hardest that we've ever been hit.

I think you can see there is a direct correlation, we're seeing a higher number of human cases of West Nile virus this year in the city and the province than last year," Moran said. "Wildlife has always been the sentinel species out there, and primarily birds. They're the ones who would succumb to it faster than humans." Northern species of birds, he explained, like owls and members of the crow family are more susceptible to the virus than those that come from more southern climates.

Judge Upholds Elk Feeding
The Associated Press -
25 Aug 2007
B Moen
Area: Wyoming USA

A federal judge ruled Friday against several environmental groups in their attempt to stop Wyoming's program of testing elk for brucellosis and killing those with the disease. U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson also denied the groups' request to order an environmental study of a dozen feedgrounds the state operates to help elk survive the harsh winters. Tim Preso, the attorney for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance and the Wyoming Outdoor Council, said the organizations were still studying the ruling and no decision had been made on whether to appeal. "This ruling doesn't change the fact that the elk feeding in Wyoming is creating a serious disease problem and none of the federal or state agencies are addressing it," Preso said in a telephone interview Friday.

Wyoming Attorney General Pat Crank said that he hadn't read the entire ruling but that he was pleased. The lawsuit ultimately would have forced the state to shut down the feedgrounds in question, an act that would have been detrimental to the elk, Crank said. At issue is how the state deals with controlling the spread of brucellosis, a bacterial disease that can cause pregnant elk, cattle and bison to abort their fetuses. Wyoming began its so-called "test-and-slaughter" program last year with the idea that culling diseased elk would slow the spread of brucellosis.

Ingestion of Lead Threatens Waterfowl, Birds of Prey
The Edmonton Journal (Posted by
27 Aug 2007
D Dekker
Area: Alberta Canada

Lead poisoning is killing the first bald eagles to nest in River City -- and endangering the California condors that were recently brought back from the brink of extinction. At a time when the potential health hazard of lead paint in toys imported from China has been a major topic, news of the local eagles' poisoning is a reminder that accidental ingestion of lead is also an insidious peril for wildlife. Particularly affected are waterfowl that dredge up shotgun pellets from the bottom of lakes and streams, but spent ammunition can also be lethal for birds of prey that scavenge the remains of shot animals. The most vulnerable species are our most majestic raptors, namely the bald eagle and the California condor.

I suspect that the paralyzed eagle featured in a recent Journal front-page story picked up its poison from the carcasses of gophers killed with .22-calibre bullets that are made of lead. The Edmonton Wildlife Rehabilitation Society is to be commended for its efforts in nursing this sick bird back to health and releasing it again into the wild. This particular eagle may well be one of the small population that is now breeding in central Alberta. In 2002, a pair of bald eagles even nested within the boundaries of Edmonton. But unfortunately -- as reported by provincial wildlife biologist Gordon Court -- a male eagle was subsequently found poisoned near the same location.

Rabies in Animals Escalates
The Detroit News -
27 Aug 2007
C Cain
Area: Michigan USA

State health officials find most cases since 1950s

State health officials say they are discovering rabies in more animals this year than at any time since the late 1950s, and most of the positive rabies tests involve bats. "We have had a huge amount of bats that are testing positive for rabies," said Dr. Mary Grace Stobierski, public health veterinarian with the state Department of Community Health. "So far this year, we have had 142 rabies-positive animals in Michigan, and 135 of them were bats. That's an unprecedented number of bat rabies cases."

Last year, there were 39 cases of bats with rabies, she said. Workers at the state lab in Lansing got so backed up in conducting rabies testing that a second shift was added temporarily last week. More than 100 bats a day were arriving at the lab for testing, an all-time high. August is the peak month for rabies testing in Michigan.


State to Probe Residents' Reports of Bird Corpses

Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Cases Confirmed in Ontario


Detection of Avian Influenza Virus Using an Interferometric Biosensor [online abstract only]
Anal Bioanal Chem. 2007 Aug 21; [Epub ahead of print]
J Xu et al.

A Natural Case of Chronic Wasting Disease in a Free-ranging Moose (Alces alces shirasi) [free full-text available]
J Wildl Dis. 2007 Apr; 43(2): 309-14
LA Baeten et al.

Susceptibility of the Endangered California Tiger Salamander, Ambystoma californiense, to Ranavirus Infection [free full-text available]
J Wildl Dis. 2007 Apr; 43(2): 286-290
AM Picco et al.

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