By Mark Heinz, Outdoors Reporter
Montana wildlife agents had to put down three grizzly bears recently because the bruins were sickened by bird flu, according the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
That included a bear found sick near Kalispell, another near Augusta and a third near Dupuyer.
Agents killed the bears because they were suffering from disorientation, partial blindness and other neurological problems. Their carcasses later tested positive for a strain of avian influenza that’s been infecting and killing birds worldwide.
The bears “were observed to be in poor condition,” wildlife officials said on Tuesday. “They were euthanized due to their sickness and poor condition.”
Jennifer Ramsey, wildlife veterinarian for the department told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, that the grizzlies probably contracted the virus by eating birds who were infected with the disease.
First Time Virus Found In Griz
It’s the first time the virus has been reported in grizzlies. It’s previously been found in black bears, skunks, racoons and other mammals.
The Centers for Disease Control considers this strain of bird flu to be of “low risk” to humans. However, the CDC and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department have warned people against handling birds or animals that are acting sick or that they’ve found dead. Waterfowl hunters are also encouraged to wear gloves while processing ducks and geese they’ve killed, and to make sure that the meat from those birds is cooked thoroughly.
Egg Price Spike, Raptor Deaths
Millions of poultry have had to be killed because of bird flu outbreak, and that’s been cited as part of the reason for a recent spike in egg prices.
There’s also been concern over the virus killing raptors in Wyoming.
It was also detected in a Canada Goose near Ocean Lake in Central Wyoming, as well as in two Canada geese found dead in December in Cheyenne’s Lion’s Park.