West Nile Dangerous for Sage Grouse
With the first case of West Nile virus (WNV) already reported last month in Campbell County, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is asking that dead sage grouse be reported to regional offices in an attempt to monitor the species population.
WNV is usually fatal to birds. However, research shows that sage grouse in particular have a low resistance to the virus.
As of yet, there’s no sign of an outbreak of WNV in the bird population, according to sage grouse/sagebrush biologist Leslie Schreiber. However, the amount of precipitation and warm weather this spring makes perfect conditions for mosquitoes, which can carry the virus.
“Warm nighttime temperatures are thought to enhance the ability of the West Nile virus to multiply in the gut of the mosquito. If conditions are warm between now and the end of August, we could see the virus show up this year,” Schreiber said in a press release.
She added that there’s no need to report obvious roadkill. Testing dead birds help WGFD monitor the scope of WNV across the state
“We are particularly interested in sage grouse found in remote areas that have no obvious injuries that might have resulted in their death. These may occur near water holes or hay fields on private lands,” Schreiber explained.
For individuals willing to collect carcasses, WGFD suggests picking up the dead birds with an inverted plastic sack while wearing gloves. Place the bagged carcass inside another plastic bag, such as a trash bag, and take it to the nearest Game and Fish regional office. If the bird can’t be delivered quickly, it should be frozen to prevent deterioration to the point it can no longer be tested.