Bald Eagles Are Dying in Unprecedented Numbers From Bird Flu

News

This year’s bird flu outbreak is ravaging the wild bird population, including a high population of bald eagles, according to an assessment of several wildlife monitoring groups, the Associated Press reports.

  • The US Department of Agriculture has confirmed 956 cases of bird flu in wild birds across 34 states, including at least 54 bald eagles. The US Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center puts the number far higher, with 8536 recent wild bird deaths.

  • Numerous sick eagles are arriving at rehabilitation centers across the country, unable to fly and unsteady on their talons, meaning they are so far into the disease there are no treatment options left.

  • Waterfowl like ducks and geese don’t typically get infected but are getting sick with this variant and are then passing the infection on to raptors and scavengers that feed on them — so that an estimated three dozen species are affected.

  • This same avian flu outbreak has led to the culling of about 37 million chickens and turkeys in US farms since February.

  • Although it’s too soon to estimate the impact of the avian flu on the bird population in North America, a study published 3 years ago estimated that the number of wild birds had fallen by nearly 3 billion since 1970 as humans continue to encroach on their habitat.

This is a summary of the article “Bird flu takes unheard-of toll on bald eagles, other birds,” published by the Associated Press on May 5. The full article can be found on apnews.com.

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