Doves are dying in North Dakota due to a contracted deadly virus.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is working to document the extent of the disease outbreak. However, there are still so many unknowns.
“Why this year? Where did it come from originally? Will it be around next year?” asked Dr. Charlie Bahnson, veterinarian with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
Dr. Bahnson is hoping to find the answers to those questions. He said the virus was first discovered in the United States in 2009. But until now, it had never been reported in North Dakota.
“It’s called pigeon paramyxovirus type 1, which is a mouthful, but the virus seems to be specific to primarily Eurasian collared-doves, but also pigeons — maybe morning doves,” Bahnson explained.
He said at this point, it seems to be specific to the Bismarck-Mandan area. In one week, there were 40 reports of bird deaths. But now, many more dead doves are coming into the lab.
“The first report was from some concerned backyard bird watchers,” said Bahnson. “They noticed a number of Eurasian collared-doves that were fine one day and dead the next.”
Bahnson said the dead birds they’ve examined just ate a lot of food and have good fat storage, which helps the birds survive the winter months, so those factors are not of issue. What’s killing them, he said, is a very fast, acute disease.
Game and Fish continues to look for answers to questions like, why the flare-up and why now?
Here’s what they do know: Humans and pets are not considered susceptible to the virus.
If you have a birdbath in your yard, clean it to help prevent the spread of the disease, and help Game and Fish with its investigation by reporting what you find.
“There’s no treatment or cure, so we’re monitoring how widespread it is,” said Bahnson.
In order to understand the full extent, the Game and Fish Department is asking anyone who has observed three or more dead birds in North Dakota over the last two months to email the department. Include where you live and the number of dead birds you find.
You can submit your information online by CLICKING HERE.