Helena, Montana – According to a news release from Montana’s Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department, three juvenile grizzly bears who were euthanized after displaying signs of severe sickness tested positive for pathogenic avian flu (HPAI). According to the state agency, the bears “were observed to be in poor condition and exhibited disorientation and partial blindness, among other neurological issues.”
FWP Wildlife Veterinarian Jennifer Ramsey explains how experts believe the bears were infected:
“We suspect these mammals probably get the virus from consuming infected birds.”
Other animals, including a coyote, black bear, raccoons, skunk and a fox, have also tested positive for HPAI.
The avian influenza occurs naturally in birds and is categorized by its severity and transmission. A low pathogenic virus causes only minor symptons, but a highly pathogenic influenza (HPAI) is often fatal to both domestic and wild birds, and it is highly infectious.
According to the CDC, humans are at low risk of contracting the avian flu, but the agency recommends that people avoid sick or deceased wild animals, and wear gloves if an animal must be handled for disposal.
FWP staff would like to know about unusual or unexplained cases of sickness and/or death of wild birds and animals by calling their local wildlife biologist or the wildlife lab in Bozeman at 406-577-7880 or 406-577-7882.
(Stock images via Pixabay)
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