Parke, Greene counties among 50 counties reporting sick, dying songbirds

Local News

INDIANAPOLIS — A total of 50 Indiana counties, including Greene and Parke counties, have experienced sick and dying songbirds due to disease, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

DNR officials held a press conference Friday to discuss the ongoing investigation.

The DNR began receiving reports in late May of sick and dying songbirds in Monroe County. The birds showed neurological signs, eye swelling and crusty discharge around the eyes. As the disease spread to more counties, the DNR last week recommended the removal of birdfeeders and bird baths statewide.

At the time of the DNR’s recommendation, only 15 counties were reporting the disease. DNR officials said Friday that they anticipate hundreds of birds being impacted by the disease. Species most affected are blue jays, American robins, common grackles, starlings, northern cardinals and brown-headed cowbirds.

Little is known about the disease; however, all birds have tested negative for avian influenza and West Nile virus.

The disease was first detected in Washington D.C. Since then other states including Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia have had similar cases. No cases have been reported in Illinois at this time.

The public is responsible for reporting sick and dying birds. Residents who find a dead bird should remember the following:

•    Use the DNR sick/dead wildlife reporting tool at on.IN.gov/sickwildlife to alert DNR staff.
•    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.

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