We have an update on this story. See below.
Originallly published Dec 21, 2013
Concerning. Utah wildlife officials confirm that 12 bald eagles have died in northern Utah just this month and the cause is unknown.
A fifth bald eagle suffering from a mysterious malady has been euthanized, a sixth is receiving treatment — and the outbreak now includes seven more eagles found dead in the wild.
As the mystery persists. Erickson is afraid “what we are seeing is only the tip of the iceberg.”
Preliminary results from the first birds’ tests for illnesses including West Nile virus, lead poisoning and avian cholera are expected to arrive late this week or early next week from the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis.
Results from more thorough testing to hone in on the exact cause of the deaths will likely not be available until after Christmas.
The animals suffer from tremors and lower body paralysis. Surrounding states have not reported similar incidents and the official fear whatever the disease is, it may be transmissible as the birds migrate to Utah for food. Also reported are mass bird deaths of approximately 1,000 eared grebes on the Great Salt Lake and 150 northern shovelers on Interstate 80 just south of the Lake.
Report sick birds to your state wildlife agency.
Utah wildlife experts believe they have solved the mystery of what killed at least 29 bald eagles over the last month: West Nile virus.
The majestic birds, the national symbol of the United States, apparently became infected after eating smaller birds with the disease, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Wildlife officials think that they may have been infected from eating grebes, since a recent die-off of eared grebes that stop at Utah’s Great Salt Lake determined that they died from something other than usual causes. The good news is, this is containable and probably does not pose a widespread threat.