INDIANAPOLIS — After the Department of Natural Resources received multiple reports of sick and dying songbirds from several counties, they are now recommending that all Hoosiers remove their bird feeders statewide.
“What’s been happening is that we first got the reports in a certain area, but as we informed our population, they noticed it more, so they’re reporting it now. So I wouldn’t consider it spreading throughout Indiana. It’s probably been around, but we’re being informed more about it," Allisyn-Marie Gillet, DNR ornithologist said.
What started as five counties is now up to 15 as their investigation continues. The impacted counties are as follows:
- St. Joseph
“Birds, just like humans, they need to socially distance, especially when they have a disease we don’t know anything about," Gillet said.
The DNR is still working with the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and the USGS National Wildlife Health center to determine the birds' cause of death.
The affected birds showed neurological signs of illness, as well as swelling of the eyes and a crusty discharge. Previous bird samples that have been submitted tested negative for avian influenza and West Nile Virus.
Gillet said public reporting of not only dead birds, but birds with symptoms is critical in understanding exactly what is happening.
“A lot of the reports that are occurring are from people’s backyards — that’s private property, we don’t have access to that. We’re not going to be able to go to every person’s yards to look for sick and dying birds," Gillet said.
In the meantime, the DNR is recommending people take the following steps statewide:
- Use the DNR sick/dead wildlife reporting tool at on.IN.gov/sickwildlife to alert DNR staff.
- Stop feeding birds until the mortality event has concluded.• Clean feeders and baths with a 10% bleach solution.
- Avoid handling birds. If you need to handle birds, wear disposable gloves.
- When removing dead birds, wear disposable gloves and place birds and gloves in a sealable plastic bag to dispose with household trash.
- Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a precaution.