Fungus, Not Bird Flu, Killed 81 Ducks At Ocean Lake

It was a fungal infection, not bird flu, that killed 81 ducks at Ocean Lake in central Wyoming this fall, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department reports.

Mark Heinz

January 06, 20232 min read

Dead ducks 1 6 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

It was a fungus, not avian flu, that killed 81 mallard ducks at Ocean Lake in central Wyoming, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. 

However, the flu infected one Canada goose at the lake and killed two more at Lion’s Park in Cheyenne. 

Mass Duck Die-Off

The bird flu was suspected when dozens of dead ducks were discovered in late November at the Ocean Lake Wildlife Habitat Management Area southeast of Pavillion near the Wind River Reservation. It was initially reported that 77 ducks had perished, but the death toll was later raised to 81. 

An ailing Canada goose also was found and mercy killed by game agents. Its carcass later tested positive for bird flu. 

The duck’s carcasses tested negative for the virus, Game and Fish reports. Instead, it was discovered they had been killed from a respiratory fungal infection called aspergillosis. 

Cheyenne Geese Also Could Start Dying 

The strain of bird flu now circulating around the globe is highly contagious and extremely deadly among birds. That means Cheyenne could soon see mass goose death. Two Canada geese found dead in Lion’s Park last month tested positive for the virus, Game and Fish reports. 

The virus is considered to be a “low risk” to humans, but wildlife agents and public health officials still caution people against handling birds they’ve found dead. They also advise waterfowl and upland bird hunters to thoroughly cook meat from the birds they’ve killed. 

Effect On Food Markets

Some Wyoming waterfowl hunters and hunting guides recently told Cowboy State Daily they didn’t think the avian flu outbreak would impact their hunting season.

However, bird flu has killed millions of domestic poultry across the country, which resulted in a shortage of Thanksgiving turkeys. The virus also has been partly blamed for a recent egg shortage and spike in egg prices at Wyoming grocery stores. 

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter