G&F urges residents to report dead grouse
By Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
July 30, 2012
The Wyoming Department of Game and Fish is asking residents to immediately report dead sage grouse so they can be tested for West Nile virus.
There is not yet any indication of an outbreak of West Nile in Wyoming this year, but past research has shown sage grouse have low resistance to the virus, which typically kills the birds.
A recent limited survey detected low numbers of Culex tarsalis, a type of mosquito, in the Powder River Basin where outbreaks have caused grouse deaths in the past. The Culex tarsalis mosquito is the primary means by which West Nile virus spreads in Wyoming.
Game and Fish officials said the highest likelihood for the disease comes during the summer months.
“Warm nighttime temperatures are thought to enhance the ability of the virus to multiply in the gut of the mosquito,” Tom Christiansen, a Game and Fish sage grouse biologist, said in a statement. “If conditions remain warm through August, we could still see the virus show up this year.”
Biologists test dead sage grouse to monitor the scope and impact of the disease across the state. Birds found in remote areas that have no obvious injuries are of the most use to Game and Fish biologists, Christiansen said. Obvious roadkills need not be reported.
The chance of contracting West Nile from handling a dead bird is remote but possible, officials warn. Dead sage grouse should be picked up with an inverted plastic sack and gloves. The bagged carcass should then be placed into another plastic bag, tied and frozen.
For information, call Christiansen at 307-875-3223.