Pa. Game Commission lifts recommendation of not feeding birds, new guidelines for birdfeeders and baths

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(WTAJ)– With the number of sick and dead birds reducing, the Pennsylvania Game Commission lifts the recommendation of not feeding birds.

Officials still do not have much information on what was killing the birds or making them sick since late May. Pennsylvania was one of at least 10 states that was affected by the mysterious rise of sick and dead birds according to a release.

Even though the cause of the illness is unknown yet, research officials have ruled out other possibilities. Officials also found no correlation between feeding the birds or birdbaths and feeders to the rise of sick and dead birds. Birdbaths should be clean since birds like to gather at the birdfeeders and baths along with these other guidelines according to the Pa. Game Commission:

  • Clean feeders and bird baths with soap and water, then disinfect with a 10% household bleach solution. After allowing 10 minutes of contact time, rinse with clean water and allow to air dry. Cleaning and disinfection should be done at a minimum weekly basis or more frequently when soiled to prevent potential spread of any infectious diseases between birds and other wildlife, as well as remove spoiled food.
  • When feeding birds, follow expert recommendations such as those listed in Audubon International’s Guide to Bird Feeding.
  • Remain vigilant and report any sick or dead wild birds to your local Pennsylvania Game Commission office.
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead wild birds.
  • Avoid handling wild birds. If you must do so, wear disposable gloves or use inverted plastic bags on your hands to avoid direct contact. Dead birds can be disposed of in a closed plastic bag in household trash or buried deeply (> 3 ft.) to prevent disease transmission to other animals.

The issue of the disease seems to be taking care of itself, but the Game Commission along with other wildlife agencies still say how the community impacts wildlife health.

“The public plays a vital role in wildlife health surveillance”, said Game Commission Wildlife Veterinarian Andrew Di Salvo. “They are often the first to notice and report injured, sick, or dead wildlife. All those extra sets of eyes and ears enables us to respond as quickly as possible and resolve or investigate the situation. We certainly appreciate their vigilance and look forward to continue to work closely with them into the future.”

Other wildlife agencies in the affected areas are still working with diagnostic labs to find out the cause of the sickness and deaths in birds. The USGS National Wildlife Health Center, the University of Georgia Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, the University of Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program, the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and other state labs are involved.

The following pathogens have not been found in the birds:

  • Salmonella
  • Chlamydia
  • Avian influenza virus
  • West Nile virus
  • Newcastle disease virus
  • herpesvirus
  • poxivirus

For more information visit the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s website.

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