WY Game and Fish Seeks Dead Grouse for West Nile Testing
Written by Andrew-Rossi on July 14, 2020
If you see a dead grouse, call it out.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is asking the entire state to be on the lookout for deceased sage grouse – excluding roadkill – and then calling in their discovery to their Game and Fish regional office. Particularly, any sage grouse found in remote areas that have no obvious injuries that might have resulted in their death. This might be due to another deadly virus you may have forgotten about – West Nile. The disease that originates and spread by mosquitoes is especially dangerous to our grouse, who have little resistance to it. With the wet, warm weather Wyoming has been experiencing this season, the conditions are right mosquitoes to breed and for the virus to flare up and spread. Testing dead birds can help biologists and wildlife officials see if West Nile is prevalent and, if so, how its spreading.
If you happen to encounter a goner grouse, the main thing to be aware of is quick timing so the bird can be tested before it decays or gets scavenged. Collecting the dead birds is entirely voluntary, and there’s little chance of getting West Nile from the carcass. Regardless, picking up the birds with an inverted plastic sack while wearing gloves is recommended. The bagged carcass should then be placed into another plastic bag, preferably a trash bag, tied, and taken to a Game and Fish Regional Office. If it can’t be delivered quickly to Game and Fish, the bird should be frozen.
Evidence of West Nile Virus has been reported in past years in northeast Wyoming and in surrounding states, including a sage grouse in North Dakota. At this point, nobody should be taking chances with viruses – including our sage grouse.