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Kentucky Fish & Wildlife investigating disease affecting bird population

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 8:43 PM CDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WBKO) - The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife has received at least 70 reports of birds found sick or dying. The birds are showing symptoms of blindness, puffy eyes, crusty eyes, and neurological problems like seizures and poor balance.

“They’re often very easily approached, they don’t fly when you approach them like they should,” Avion Biologist Kate Slankard said.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is asking the public to report encounters with sick and dead birds through a new online reporting system here.

“So far, we know that this is a problem for Blue Jays, Grackles, and Starlings, but we’re especially interested to know what other species it’s affecting,” Slankard explained.

Wildlife agencies in Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia have reported similar problems. Here in Kentucky, reports are so far coming from Jefferson, Boone and Kenton counties.

To help stop the possible spread of the disease, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officials are asking people in those Kentucky Counties to stop feeding birds.

Statewide, officials recommend cleaning feeders and birdbaths with a 10 percent bleach solution immediately, then weekly after that, avoid handling birds, but wear disposable gloves if handling is necessary and keep pets away from sick or dead birds.

State wildlife agencies are working with diagnostic laboratories to investigate the cause of mortality. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife has sent more than 20 samples for lab testing to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife will post additional information on its Wildlife Health and Disease webpage and social media channels as diagnostic results become available.

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