National Wildlife Health Center

...advancing wildlife and ecosystem health

USGS National Wildlife Health Center
Quarterly Wildlife Mortality Report
October 2008 to December 2008

Reported
State
Location Dates Species Mortality Diagnosis Reported
By
AR Bald Knob NWR, Lawrence County, Poinsett County 11/25/08-12/03/08 Lesser Snow Goose, Greater White-fronted Goose, Northern Pintail, Mallard 1,000 (e) Avian cholera NW
AR Lawrence County, Sharp County 10/24/08-10/31/08 Unidentified Deer 25 (e) Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease suspect UNK
AZ Maricopa County 10/01/08-ongoing Northern Flicker, Mourning Dove 26 Open NW
CA Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District 11/01/08-11/03/08 American Coot, Western Canada Goose 16 Botulism suspect NON
CA Hayward Shoreline Park, Alameda County 09/10/08-11/17/08 Northern Pintail, American Coot, Mallard, Ruddy Duck, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Cinnamon Teal 450 (e) Botulism suspect NON
CA Klamath Basin NWR 12/02/08-12/07/08 Lesser Snow Goose, Greater White-fronted Goose 30 (e) Avian cholera NW
CA Lassen Volcanic National Park 09/23/08-10/31/08 Boreal Toad, Long-toed Salamander 111 (e) Viral Infection: Ranavirus NW
CA Los Angeles County 12/15/08-01/15/09 California Brown Pelican 400 (e) Emaciation/ Starvation, Frostbite, Anemia CAF, NW
CA Redwood National Park, Humboldt County 12/19/08-12/31/08 American Coot 300 (e) Undetermined UCD
CA Sutter NWR, Butte Sink NWR 12/19/08-02/14/09 Gadwall, American Wigeon, American Coot, Ruddy Duck, Eared Grebe 682 (e) Avian cholera NW
CAN Hudson Strait, Northern Hudson Bay 12/03/08-12/31/08 Common Eider 1,500 (e) Avian cholera CCW
GA Hart County 09/28/08-10/04/08 Brown-headed Cowbird 20 (e) Toxicosis: Famphur SCW
ID Ammon, Bonneville County 12/29/08-01/02/09 Mallard 200 (e) Aspergillosis ID
KS Barton County 12/29/08-01/15/09 Greater White-fronted Goose, Canada Goose 243 Avian cholera NW
KS Rice County, Canada Goose, Mallard 12/16/08-12/23/08 Greater White-fronted Goose 190 Toxicosis: strychnine, Toxicosis: salt NW
KY Marshall County 12/09/08-12/10/08 Mallard, American Wigeon 15 Predation NW
MN Lake Winnibigoshish, Bowstring Lake 10/20/08-11/04/08 Lesser Scaup, American Coot, Redhead Duck, White-winged Scoter 857 (e) Parasitism: Cyathocotyle bushiensis, Parasitism: Sphaeridiotrema globulus, Parasitism: coccidiosis NW
MN Mallard Lake 10/04/08-10/23/08 Ring-necked Duck, Redhead Duck 12 (e) Lead poisoning NW
ND Bowdon, Wells County 10/28/08-10/31/08 Mallard, Canada Goose 20 (e) Impaction: soybean NW
ND Stump Lake, Nelson County 10/31/08-11/05/08 Mallard 30 (e) Aspergillosis NW
NJ Hibernia Mine, Mount Hope Mine, Delaware Water Gap NRA 12/28/08-ongoing Little Brown Bat, Northern Long-eared Bat 10,000 (e) Fungal Infection: White-Nose Syndrome, Emaciation NW
NY Clinton County 10/21/08-10/30/08 Canada Goose 12 Aspergillosis NY
NY Hudson River, Washington County 12/05/08-12/31/08 Greater Snow Goose, Mallard 58 Parasitism: Sphaeridiotrema globulus NW, NY
OH Stark County 10/24/08-10/30/08 European Starling 200 (e) Emaciation, Toxicosis suspect NW
OK Burlington, Alfalfa County 11/06/08-11/08/08 Lesser Sandhill Crane 109 Trauma: storm NW
OK Cherokee, Alfalfa County 10/19/08-10/20/08 Common Grackle 100 (e) Trauma NW
OK Cleo Springs 12/28/08-12/29/08 Lesser Sandhill Crane 24 Mycotoxicosis suspect NW
OR Ashland, Jackson County 12/01/08-12/31/08 Black-tailed Deer 12 (e) Viral Infection suspect OR
OR Yamhill County 12/09/08-12/10/08 Canada Goose, Taverner's Canada Goose, Western Canada Goose 20 (e) Open NW
OR Jefferson County 12/09/08-12/10/08 Mallard 23 (e) Open NW
OR Ankeny NWR 09/04/08-09/05/08 Bullfrog 12 Viral Infection: Ranavirus NW
OR Staats Lake, Marion County 10/24/08-ongoing Cackling Goose 20 (e) Aspergillosis NW, OR
PA Shindle Iron Mine, Dunmore Slope Coal Mine 11/25/08-ongoing Eastern Pipistrelle, Little Brown Bat 375 (e) Fungal Infection: White-Nose Syndrome, Emaciation NW
Updates and Corrections:
Reported
State
Location Dates Species Mortality Diagnosis Reported
By
AZ Tumacacori National Historic Park 05/25/08-07/31/08 Bewick's Wren, Lucy's Warbler, Yellow Warbler 8 Undetermined NW
CA Tule Lake NWR 08/10/08-09/08/08 Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Mallard 1,000 (e) Botulism type C NW
CAN St. Lawrence Estuary, Gulf of St. Lawrence 08/05/08-08/31/08 Beluga Whale, Harbor Porpoise, Smelt, Northern Gannet, Common Eider, Northern Fulmar, Double-crested Cormorant, Shad, Gray Seal, Harbor Seal, Razorbill 1,000 (e) Toxicosis: Saxitoxin OT
CT New Milford, Winchester, Roxbury 03/17/08-05/01/08 Big Brown Bat, Northern Long-eared Bat, Little Brown Bat 7 Fungal Infection: White-Nose Syndrome suspect, Emaciation NW, UCT
FL Brandon 05/02/08-05/14/08 Muscovy Duck 21 Duck plague SCW
FL Davie 09/15/08-09/17/08 Muscovy Duck, Mallard 13 Open: botulism suspect UNK
FL Pinellas County 05/07/08-05/08/08 Muscovy Duck 2 Duck plague FL, OT, SCW
FL Sanford 06/12/08-06/26/08 Mallard 11 Botulism type C FL, NW
MA Chester Mines, Egremont 01/15/08-05/01/08 Eastern Pipistrelle, Northern Long-eared Bat, Little Brown Bat 300 (e) Open NW
MN Apple Valley 09/08/08-09/30/08 Mallard 37 Botulism type C NW
NY Hailes Cave, Williams Preserve Mine, Williams Hotel Mine, Schoharie Cave 01/01/08-05/01/08 Big Brown Bat, Little Brown Bat 5775 (e) Fungal Infection: White-Nose Syndrome, Emaciation COR, NW
NY Main Graphite Mine 9/28/08-9/30/08 Little Brown Bat 7 Open: trauma suspect, Parasitism: intestinal NW
OK Major County 02/04/08-02/07/08 Unidentified Sandhill Crane 85 (e) Mycotoxicosis suspect, Trauma NW
OR Crook County 03/26/08-06/08/08 Golden Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk 11 (e) Toxicosis: Famphur NW
VT Aeolus Cave, Elizabeth Mine, Brattleboro, Pomfret 01/01/08-05/01/08 Little Brown Bat, Northern Long-eared Bat, Big Brown Bat, Eastern Small-footed 10,000 (e) Fungal Infection: White-Nose Syndrome, Emaciation/ starvation NW
WA Moses Lake 03/20/08-03/24/08 Ring-billed Gull 50 (e) Undetermined NW
WI Pools 7, 8, 9 Upper Mississippi River NFWR 09/15/08-11/17/08 American Coot, Lesser Scaup, Blue-winged Teal 1163 (e) Parasitism: Cyathocotyle bushiensis, Parasitism: Sphaeridiotrema globulus NW
WI Milwaukee Harbor,Egg Harbor Beach 09/10/08-11/13/08 Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Double-crested Cormorant 50 (e) Botulism type E NW, WI, WVL
WY Yellowstone National Park 07/14/08-08/20/08 Tiger Salamander 7 Genetic malformation NW

(e) = estimate, *** Mortality estimate not available at this time, "suspect" = Diagnosis is not finalized, but field signs and historic patterns indicate the disease.

California Animal Health Food Safety Lab Network (CAF), Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Center (CCW), Cornell University (COR), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FL), Idaho Wildlife Health Laboratory in Boise (ID), No diagnostics pursued (NON), USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NW), NY State Department, DEC, Division of Fish, Wildlife & Marine Resources (NY), Oregon State Diagnostic Laboratory (OR), Other (OT), Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCW), UC Davis (UCD), University of Connecticut Wildlife Laboratory (UCT), Unknown (UNK), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Health Lab (WI), Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (WVL)

Written and compiled by: Anne Ballmann - Eastern US, Krysten Schuler - Western US, and Julia Hoeh - Technician

To report mortality or receive information about this report, please contact the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, 6006 Schroeder Road, Madison , WI 53711

Eastern United States


Anne Ballmann
Wildlife Disease Specialist
Phone: (608) 270-2445
FAX: (608) 270-2415
Email: aballmann@usgs.gov

Western United States


Krysten Schuler
Wildlife Disease Ecologist
Phone: (608) 270-2447
FAX: (608) 270-2415
Email: kschuler@usgs.gov

Hawaiian Islands


Thierry Work
Wildlife Disease Ecologist
P.O. Box 50167
300 Ala Moana Blvd., Rm 8-132
Honolulu, HI 96850
Phone: (808) 792-9520
FAX: (808) 792-9596
Email: Thierry_work@usgs.gov

Quarterly Mortality Reports

Leucistic Tiger salamanders in Yellowstone National Park (WY)
Tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum melanostictum) were monitored and collected from Slough Creek area of Yellowstone National Park as part of a summer survey. Large numbers of apparently healthy tiger salamanders were found in pools, some of which had severely reduced amounts of black pigment (melanin) in the skin of their heads, bodies and limbs. This condition is known as leucism or leucistic variation, where melanin in skin cells is severely reduced. Leucism is different than albinism where the skin pigment, melanin, is completely absent. Leucism occurs in a variety of different species. Partial leucism is seen occasionally in other species of wildlife and is referred to as “piebald.” During the monitoring of this population of tiger salamanders, a die-off of the aquatic larvae occurred. Healthy animals collected prior to the die-off, sick, and dead salamanders were submitted to NWHC for diagnostic examinations. A ranavirus was isolated from one of the sick salamanders and is the presumptive cause of the die-off. Additional diagnostic tests are in progress. Ranaviral infections are a well-recognized cause of mortality in free-living larval tiger salamanders in Western States and Canada (from Arizona to Saskatchewan). This tiger salamander population in Yellowstone National Park appears to have a unique genetic composition, and this mortality event may be the first occurrence of ranavirus-associated deaths in salamanders within the Park.

Multiple Sandhill crane mortality events in north central Oklahoma (OK)
Lesser sandhill cranes in north central Oklahoma were plagued by a variety of mortality events this winter. Biologists from Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge responded to a die-off of over 100 cranes in early November. Carcasses examined at NWHC were found to have experienced extreme trauma and had multiple fractures and lacerations without any external evidence of injury. Severe winds during a storm event were the likely cause of death. In late December and mid-January, two separate events occurred with cranes being found dead in peanut fields. The first event involved about 24 birds and the second was 160 birds. The cranes were consuming the peanuts and are suspected to have died from mycotoxin poisoning. Mycotoxins are produced from fungus that grows on the peanuts in appropriate conditions. These fields normally have waste peanuts plowed under the soil, but wet conditions prevented farmers from tilling the fields.

Unusual mortality event in California brown pelicans (CA)
In mid-December, a higher than normal number of California brown pelicans were being submitted to rehabilitation facilities. Sick and disorientated pelicans were being found along the coast from San Francisco down to Los Angeles. The International Bird Rescue and Rehabilitation Center estimated that 300-400 pelicans, both adults and juveniles, were affected. Carcass testing by multiple state and federal labs revealed a variety of findings, including infarcts on the feet (suggestive of frostbite), anemia, and emaciation. Many sick pelicans responded to supportive care in rehabilitation. Field information from Oregon indicated that substantial numbers (~5,000) of brown pelicans were present on East Sand Island at the Columbia River in Oregon in December when typical migration is mid-November. Extremely cold weather during the week of December 10 occurred around the same time that the pelicans started to move south. Corroborating pathology findings and field data indicate that severe winter weather and subsequent forced migration were responsible for some of the observed morbidity and mortality. California brown pelicans have recently been proposed for delisting so understanding impacts of mortality events is critical for continued overall population health.

Soybean impaction in North Dakota waterfowl (ND)
A concerned citizen found nearly two dozen mallards and Canada geese sick and dead in Wells County, North Dakota at the end of October and reported them to North Dakota Game and Fish. The birds appeared to be engorged with soybeans and were emaciated. Sick birds had limp necks, but some were still capable of flying. Examination of carcasses at NWHC found that each bird had a severely distended esophagus with moist soybeans causing pressure necrosis. Blood vessels in the neck above the blockage were swollen with blood suggesting that the obstruction was preventing venous return. Soybean impaction has been previously described in waterfowl when soybeans dry in the field and swell with water after ingestion. This area of North Dakota had weather conditions reported as a wet summer with a dry fall.

Bat White-nose syndrome expands range in Mid-Atlantic states (NJ, PA, WV)
Bat white-nose syndrome(WNS), which was first recognized near Albany, NY in 2006, has been confirmed at hibernacula in 3 new states (NJ, PA, WV) so far this winter. Suspect cases from VA and NH are also currently under investigation (See Weekly Mortality Report Update). Previously, the condition appeared only in hibernacula in CT, MA, NY, and VT. Mortality has been variable at the new sites, but is expected to increase as the season progresses. NWHC has confirmed WNS in little brown bats, northern myotis, eastern pipistrelles, and endangered Indiana bats. Since its discovery, white-nose syndrome may have resulted in the death or disappearance of hundreds of thousands of insect-eating bats in the northeastern United States. Characteristics of the syndrome include behavioral and physical changes, such as large shifts of the roosting bat population to the front of the hibernaculum; day flying activity in suboptimal temperatures; delayed or absent arousal response; white fungal growth on the muzzle, ears, and/or wing membranes; emaciation; and increased winter mortality rates. Center scientists identified a novel, cold-growing fungus, Geomyces sp., invading the skin of bats examined from affected sites. Pathogencity and transmission studies are currently underway. (Blehert et al. 2009. Bat white-nose syndrome: An emerging fungal pathogen? Science 323:227; http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/white-nose_syndrome/index.jsp)

Infected faucet snails detected at Lake Winnibigoshish (MN)
For the second consecutive year, Lake Winnibigoshish experienced avian mortalities this autumn due to intestinal trematodes infections with Sphaeridiotrema globulus and Cyathocoytle bushinesis. Mortalities also were detected at nearby Bowstring Lake (MN) for the first time. An estimated 857 birds died, primarily lesser scaup and American coots. Snail surveys conducted this summer at Lake Winnibigoshish found the invasive host snail, Bithynia tentaculata. Parasite infection rate for snails was between 0-93% with the highest prevalence occurring near shore. All 3 trematodes, S. globulus, C. bushinesis, and Legyonimus polyoon were detected. In some instances, a single snail was infected by more than 1 species of metacercariae, the intermediate life stage of the parasites. Trematode-related waterfowl mortalities in the Upper Mississippi River NWR (WI) also occurred this spring and fall; mortality estimates were 2500-3500 birds, representing a decrease of 80% from 2007 mortality estimates. One possible reason is that lesser scaup were observed flocking in greater numbers at lower pools of the refuge where Bithynia populations are lower. Trematodiasis events have occurred annually at Upper Mississippi River NWR since 2002 with the death of between 50,000-60,000 individuals since its discovery in 2002.

Botulism E bird mortalities down for the Great Lakes in 2008
Avian mortalities attributed to botulism type E in the Great Lakes between Jun - Dec 2008 were significantly less than last year’s estimated total of 17,125 birds despite similar beach survey efforts. Carcass tallies for Lake Ontario were 162 birds and estimate 1628 dead. Lake Erie reported 458 carcasses with estimates of mortality as high as 2005 birds. Lake Michigan reported 234 carcasses. Although total mortalities were low in 2008, the distribution of affected birds expanded further south (Emmet County, MI) along the western shore of Lake Michigan than previously recorded. Lakes Huron and Superior reported no bird mortalities attributed to botulism E. Common loons and various gull species remain the primary birds affected. Type E avian botulism has caused the deaths of thousands of fish-eating birds per year since 2000. Carcasses were received by NWHC for confirmation of botulism type E in 2008 from Lakes Michigan (MI, WI) and Erie (PA), including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan. Botulinum type C toxin also was identified as the cause of death at some locations including the Kingston, ON (CAN) area and Presque Isle State Park (Erie, PA), earlier in the summer before Type E intoxication was detected.

Avian cholera die-offs in AR waterfowl and Arctic sea ducks (Nanavut)
A die-off event of over 1000 waterfowl, including primarily lesser snow geese, greater white-fronted geese, mallards, and northern pintails, occurred in 3 northeastern Arkansas counties beginning in late November and lasted several weeks. Carcasses were found at a water impoundment area at Bald Knob NWR as well as harvested rice fields in Poinsett and Lawrence counties. Avian cholera was determined to be the cause of death. This is only the second avian cholera die-off recorded from AR. The last event in 2001 involved 206 birds at a private duck club. Another large avian cholera outbreak occurred in Hudson Strait and East Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary on Southampton Island in the northern Hudson Bay (Nanavut, CAN) colonies this winter. An estimated 1500 common eiders died. According to the National Wildlife Research Centre (Ottawa), East Bay accounts for 1/3 of all breeding female eiders and there is potential for population impacts.

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