West Nile Virus Killing Minnesota Loons – Northland Outdoors

Lake property house owners reporting extra lifeless loons than regular this summer season.

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West Nile virus seems to be the offender behind a current enhance within the variety of lifeless loons exhibiting up round Northeastern Minnesota Lakes, the Department of Natural Resources reported Thursday, July 18.

The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory on the University of Minnesota confirmed West Nile virus as the reason for loss of life in two of three lifeless loons from lakes in Northeastern Minnesota earlier this month – together with Arrowhead Lake close to Britt, Bass Lake close to Biwabik and Loon and Horseshoe lakes east of Eveleth.

“We’re getting much more stories of lifeless loons than we’re used to getting, however most have been too decomposed to find out the reason for loss of life,’’ stated Gaea Crozier, DNR non-game wildlife specialist.

The lethal virus, unfold by mosquitoes, was first confirmed in Minnesota in 2002 and was documented as a reason for loon mortality in Minnesota as early as 2005. The virus additionally has been confirmed to kill crows, ravens and jays in Minnesota and is being studied as a doable offender for current declines in ruffed grouse numbers. It’s additionally been present in moose, and horses are particularly susceptible.

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It will not be unusual for individuals, animals and birds to be uncovered to the virus in Minnesota, land of many mosquitoes. Most individuals, birds and animals efficiently combat off the virus and develop antibodies towards future an infection. But some birds, like loons, crows and jays, are particularly prone to the an infection.

“With animals and birds, as with individuals, it’s normally a person that’s already health-compromised in a roundabout way that finally ends up succumbing to West Nile virus,’’ Crozier stated.

So far the variety of loons discovered will not be trigger for alarm, the DNR stated. A protracted-term research exhibits the state’s loon inhabitants has been steady over current many years, though particular lakes the place a number of loons die from West Nile might even see fewer of the state birds for a number of years.

“Minnesotans love our loons and it’s regarding for individuals to search out them lifeless. When we begin seeing a number of birds dying on a single lake, we need to learn about it so we will begin monitoring the knowledge and decide when additional testing is warranted,” Crozier stated.

While there’s no therapy to cease West Nile virus from killing birds, the DNR needs to rule out different preventable causes of mortality to “be certain it’s not one thing that’s contagious. People need to know that it’s not one thing unhealthy within the water,’’ Crozier informed the Duluth News Tribune.

Arno Wuenschmann, professor of pathology within the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary drugs who has been monitoring West Nile virus in Minnesota for 15 years, stated the loon deaths means the virus is lively this summer season. That means individuals ought to take precautions for themselves, like avoiding peak mosquito occasions outdoor and utilizing repellent if exterior – and in addition bear in mind to vaccinate their horses. In 2015 there have been 2,175 human circumstances of West Nile virus nation-wide with 9 confirmed circumstances in Minnesota, in line with the Minnesota Department of Health.

Lake owners and different lake customers who observe two or extra lifeless loons on a single lake with no apparent harm or reason for loss of life are requested to electronic mail the closest DNR non-game wildlife workers:

– Bemidji/northwest space: Christine Herwig, christine.herwig@state.mn.us
– Grand Rapids/northeast space: Gaea Crozier, gaea.e.crozier@state.mn.us
– Metro/Central Minnesota: Lori Naumann, lori.naumann@state.mn.us
– New Ulm/southern Minnesota: Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer, lisa.gelvin-innvaer@state.mn.us

Individual fowl carcasses could be disposed of by burial or within the trash. There is not any proof individuals can contract the virus from contaminated birds, however gloves or a plastic bag are beneficial when dealing with any lifeless animal.

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