Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Experts tell Alaskans how to handle wildfowl most likely to carry avian flu virus

Very good article in todays Anchorage Daily News by ANN POTEMPA. Photo by SUBHANKAR BANERJEE / The Associated Press.

Bird biologists are targeting 28 species of waterfowl and shorebirds flying to Alaska this spring and summer in one of the country's largest projects looking for the H5N1 bird flu virus.

Their goal is to study about 15,000 eiders, geese and other wild birds once they arrive in Alaska. Many will be caught live, studied and let go. Others will be examined after they've been hunted and killed.

"It's going to be a challenge," said Tom Rothe, waterfowl coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "Nothing's been done on this scale before to capture so many live birds."

The 28 bird species given priority in Alaska were ranked according to their presence and population size in Asia and Alaska, their proximity to areas where H5N1 has been detected, habitats and likelihood of getting a representative sample through catching and testing the birds, said Bruce Woods, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. One of the main ways to test these birds for H5N1 is to swab their anal openings and test the specimen.

This work will be done by trained professionals, but government officials are asking all Alaskans to be on the lookout. People who see sick or dead birds that appear unusual in any way should call a new state hot line: 1-866-527-3358. They can call about suspicious birds of any species, not just the 28 given priority by biologists.

Read the rest of the article here.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News

7 comments:

John said...

I wonder what a capture program will do to their breeding success? Getting tested for H5N1 has got to be stressful for the birds.

Dave said...

Good question John. I think finding out about H5N1 has priority.

Britt said...

I agree that H5N1 has priority, but it will be interesting to see what affect this will have on the birds normal patterns in life. Kinda reminds me of 9-11's affect on airport security.

Britt said...

Now that I have thought about this at bit more, do we know the government plans? Do they plan to release the birds they find don't have bird flu, back at the place they retrieved them from? Just a thought.

Dave said...

I have no idea what the actual release plans are. Most of the birds will have to be released back from where they were taken. They have to stay with their own and can't be released and left by by themselves. I doubt it will have any long term effect on the birds as long as there is no accidental damage done to the birds when they are taken.

Anonymous said...

With bird flu (h5n1) maybeing around on migrating birds during the springsummer months.. Finding any injured or sick birds around should be avoided by the public touching or making any contacted bared handed. Safety is better than risking if not sure...

Tom

Dave said...

I agree Tom. If you find an injured or sick bird, call USF&W, local animal control, local rehab center, state fish & game, etc.