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Calvert County Administrator signed agreement okaying euthanasia of juvenile ospreys

Who’s to blame for two juvenile ospreys being euthanized in late July in Calvert County so that maintenance could be done on ball park lights?

Calvert County officials have consistently maintained, since this to story came to light (I was the first to report the birds were euthanized), they didn’t know the birds would be euthanized under an agreement they signed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services (USDA APHIS WS).

Let’s take a look at that agreement.

Maybe Calvert County Administrator Mark Willis didn’t read what he signed? Maybe he missed the part in the agreement that states, “If relocation of the nest is not possible or deemed appropriate, then WS will dispose of the eggs or young.”

Or maybe he thought he’d be consulted once USDA APHIS WS had the agreement signed and their employee was on the lift taking the birds?

So, who’s to blame?

The birds being taken from the nest and subsequently euthanized would have happened had Calvert County not requested help from APHIS.

It doesn’t matter what Calvert County had seen in the past, as mentioned in a recent Washington Post article about the incident – this agreement, signed by Willis, gave USDA APHIS WS the authority the euthanize the birds.

The birds might not have been euthanized had Calvert County done any due diligence about USDA APHIS or the agreement they signed. I wrote about this in a recent editorial.

And it would not have happened if APHIS WS wasn’t getting blanket depredation permits approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

As for the excuse that an osprey nest was posing a hazard to humans – until someone can show evidence of anyone being injured or killed by an osprey nest, that excuse just doesn’t fly.

Thanks to Chris Hoffman for the photos he shared that originally brought all of this to light. And for sharing the photos with me also.

Donna L. Cole is an award-winning investigative and multimedia reporter. She’s also a volunteer bird of prey rescuer.




Editorial: public outrage following euthanasia of ospreys is warranted. I’m outraged and heartbroken too.

In an inexplicable act of cruelness, the federal government euthanized two juvenile ospreys in Calvert County Monday and while officials have offered statements that attempt to explain why it was done, many people remain outraged – I am one of them.

Calvert County officials have released multiple statements in the wake of two juvenile ospreys being euthanized because of maintenance to ball park lights at Cove Point Park in Lusby – this after the county itself “requested assistance” from the arm of a federal agency that often kills wildlife.

The first of these statements reads, “Calvert County requested assistance with removal of an osprey nest from a light pole from USDA APHIS-WS, as the location of the nest posed a risk to the health and safety of people, including youth, using the ball fields at Cove Point Park.”

What risk to humans does an osprey nest on a light pole pose?

A branch/stick might fall on or near a human, but I’m not entirely sure this has ever happened.

It’s also possible during a high wind storm, such as a hurricane or tornado, that a nest could be blown down and a human could be hit with many sticks/branch or maybe even a juvenile osprey.

Normally, humans aren’t using ball fields during high wind storms, such as hurricanes or tornados.

Even during the tornado that hit Edgewater in 2020, the one that took out the South Riverkeeper’s boat, the osprey nest at the base of the South River Bridge remained perfectly fine – the ospreys had likely already migrated south.

Calvert County’s statement continued, “USDA Wildlife Services determined that nest relocation was not possible. Newer light poles being installed include osprey nesting platforms to more safely accommodate the presence of ospreys at county parks. These platforms have already been installed at Dunkirk District Park, Hallowing Point Park and Cove Point Park and are in use by osprey at these locations.”

Cove Point Park in Lusby. Calvert County photo.

Following receipt of this statement, Calvert County was asked, “The next question that everyone will ask is why couldn’t this wait until the juvenile ospreys fledged?”

No reply was received.

The reason no reply was received was likely because no one has a good answer. There is no rational answer – the light maintenance could’ve waited.

Ospreys migrate to Maryland and other points north in early spring to mate, have young and raise them before moving back to southern areas in the late summer, early fall.

While in Maryland, ospreys construct their nests and do constant maintenance on them, mate, sit on eggs and finally, if the eggs hatch, they feed their chicks until the birds are old enough to fledge. This is a laborious process that only happens once a year.

Calvert County officials admitted they “requested assistance with removal of an osprey nest from a light pole from USDA APHIS-WS.”

But what due diligence did the county do before requesting assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services?

According to its website, “The mission of USDA APHIS Wildlife Services (WS) is to provide Federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist.”

A large part of resolving “wildlife conflicts” means eradicating wildlife and the APHIIS Wildlife Services is given that authorization by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) – even with migratory birds protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

According to a release from Center for Biological Diversity and using data directly from APHIS, ” The arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture known as Wildlife Services killed approximately 1.2 million native animals in 2019, according to new data released by the program this week.”

The release states, “According to the latest report, the federal program last year intentionally killed 301 gray wolves; 61,882 adult coyotes, plus an unknown number of coyote pups in 251 destroyed dens; 364,734 red-winged blackbirds; 393 black bears; 300 mountain lions; 777 bobcats; 124 river otters plus 489 killed “unintentionally”; 2,447 foxes, plus an unknown number of red fox pups in 94 dens; and 24,543 beavers.”

The release continues, “According to the new data, the wildlife-killing program unintentionally killed more than 2,624 animals in 2019, including bears, bobcats, mountain lions, a wolf, foxes, muskrats, otters, porcupines, raccoons and turtles. Its killing of non-target birds included ducks, eagles, swallows, herons and turkeys.”

Yes, it is illegal for everyone else to kill these birds, but it’s okay for APHIS Wildlife Services to do it and as in this case, they did it without input from wildlife rehabilitation facilities that would have been able to keep the ospreys until they were ready to fledge or renest them at another location with another set of parents (this is done regularly with success).

Information about APHIS Wildlife Services is easily accessible on the internet. In other words, it’s not a secret what APHIS Wildlife Services does or how they do it.

I don’t want to give the impression that APHIS Wildlife Services only kills wildlife.

This interview with APHIS Wildlife Services personnel, which was done in August of last year is about the invention of a device, which reduces the number of collisions between vehicle and deer, was done in August 2020.

Calvert County released another statement, this one to the public, following outrage over the euthanasia of the juvenile ospreys. The blame was put on USDA APHIS Wildlife Services or as stated, “Calvert County Government was not consulted or informed as to why or how the decision was made to euthanize the juveniles in the nest rather than relocate.”

In other words, Calvert County requested help and had an agreement with the arm of a federal agency that often kills wildlife, while still maintaining “the presence of the nest could endanger visitors.”

Cathy Lemp, of Rockville, was outraged over the euthanizing of the ospreys.

She sent sent an email to Calvert County Administrator Mark Willis stating, “I volunteer with a raptor rehabilitator in Montgomery County that would have been happy to help ensure these ospreys fledged successfully, and there is simply no excuse for this sort of wanton destruction of our precious wildlife. I urge you to prevent anything like this from happening again.”

Willis replied, “While I appreciate your personal opinion, it was wrongly directed.  However, as the County Administrator, I will take responsibility to ensure the federal agency that conducted this action is consulted.  This type of maintenance has occurred in the past and in those cases, the raptors were placed in proper care until release.  We had no reason to believe this would not be the case here.  Like you, I believe in protecting all wildlife.”

The email thread continued back and forth, with Lemp apologizing to Willis and he replied to her.

“No apologies necessary … I love the passion.  Please know that we have already pushed back on the USDA folks to follow our county’s “no kill” desires.  While I realize there may be a time when an animal may require euthanasian (1.), this was clearly not one of them.  We have raptor experts on staff that could and will in the future manage situations of this nature…until such time as a more humane solution is found.

1.       The painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma.

Keep up the fight and know that I and the Board of County Commissioners support correcting this situation.”

Mark Willis

Calvert County Administrator

With these statements, Calvert County is creating more questions than answers, as is the revelation that they have “raptor experts.”

Was there any due diligence done by Calvert County about what APHIS Wildlife Services does? About osprey behavior or when they fledge? Or even a call placed to their “raptor experts?”

I’ve seen mention, though I don’t know for sure, that the nest has been on this light pole for years.

But let’s say this was just a recent decision by Calvert County. The birds begin to nest in spring. If maintenance is needed do it before or after nesting season – it’s as simple as that.

Why, with less than a few weeks, from when these birds would’ve fledged, couldn’t this work wait?

The bottom line here – don’t hire a hit man if you don’t want someone killed (don’t hire a hit man period – it’s illegal).

Chris Beasley, of Calvert County, sent an email to APHIS Wildlife Services with several questions. He forwarded me the response received from David S. Reinhold, wildlife biologist and director, operational support.

“Thank you for contacting Wildlife Services (WS) and for your concern about the osprey nest and the immature birds removed from Cove Point Park earlier this week.  WS provides federal leadership and expertise to resolve conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist.  The WS program uses an integrated approach to solving conflicts, such as those associated with osprey, and considers a wide range of lethal and non-lethal methods. We respect your concerns and appreciate the opportunity to respond.     

At the request of Calvert County Parks (CCP), a WS biologist removed an osprey nest with immature birds located on a light fixture at CCP’s Cove Point Park in Lusby, MD.  The County requested the removal due to human health and safety and property maintenance concerns. WS removed the nest and euthanized two immature birds under the authority of a depredation permit issued to Wildlife Services by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  WS estimated the immature birds to be 30-days of age and not close to fledging. 

WS works closely with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the US Fish and Wildlife Services to ensure sound management decisions.  Osprey population recovery has been a conservation success in this region. Once nearly extirpated before the 1970s due to use of certain pesticides, the Chesapeake Bay area is now home to more than 2,000 nesting pairs.  As trained and dedicated wildlife management professionals, WS carefully considers the decision to remove individual birds and lethal removal is done with consideration for the population of the species as a whole.  

WS appreciates the outpouring of offers to assist with rehabilitation and/or transport to a rehabilitator.  WS has a history of working successfully with rehabilitation programs and will partner with third party entities with permitted authority, as appropriate, to handle migratory birds in future projects.”

David S. Reinhold

wildlife biologist and director, operational support.

In other words, APHIS Wildlife Services rationale was because there’s enough ospreys right now, we can kill the babies after the osprey parents successfully made the trip from their winter homes (possibly as far away as South America) to Maryland, then readied their nest, then successfully mated, then successfully laid eggs, then successfully incubated the eggs, then successfully saw the chicks hatch, then successfully raised their chicks – just short of fledging.

They just saw no need to contact a wildlife rehabilitator who have ability to renest/relocate juvenile ospreys.

Make no mistake, this was cruel and completely unnecessary.

With all the outrage, many have asked who to contact that might be able to help prevent it from happening again.

An email from a reader asks, “Why don’t you put any links in your article so people can complain? The tone of the article was obviously one of derision so why not give out the contact info of all the people that participated so other people can voice the contempt.”

I appreciate the question and the desire to know who to direct your questions and complaints to about the euthanasia of the two ospreys.

In a news story, the job of a journalist is to present the facts and I did that with the article that brought this story to light. I can’t tell you that you should complain – that would be biased and we’re supposed to be unbiased.

In an editorial, we can share opinions. This is an editorial.

As for my opinion, I’m outraged, horrified and so very heartbroken this happened. This warrants people letting their elected representatives and bird-related conservation organizations know how you feel.

That said, I don’t have the time to look up contact information for all of these people and nonprofits. In addition to being a journalist, I’m a busy mom and a bird of prey rescuer. I do this stuff every day. During osprey fledging season (which it is), it’s been nonstop busy and on top of that, there’s a neurological issue impacting hawks – I’ve been rescuing those too.

This morning (Friday), I’ve just returned from two, juvenile osprey rescues.

Waterlogged juvenile osprey I rescued recently in Crownsville

But since people want to know who to reach out to, elected officials at the federal and county levels, as well as bird-related conservation organizations, would my best suggestions. This is not a state issue.

At the local level, the Calvert County Administrator seems to be responsive to emails.

At the federal level, this would be those serving in Congress. You can look up who these are here.

Two government agencies were directly involved – Calvert County and USDA APHIS Wildlife Services.

The USFWS gives authority to APHIS Wildlife Service to do what they do.

An email I sent to USFWS states, “A lot of people, including me, would like to know what part, if any, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service played in this decision? If USFWS was aware of it, why couldn’t this wait two weeks for the birds to fledge? And if USFWS wasn’t consulted, will there be any action now?”

This will be updated if a response is received. I’m told one is forthcoming.

Update – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided the following:

“Here are the responses to your questions from our Migratory Birds program:

Q. What part, if any, did the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service play in this decision? 

R. Beyond issuing an annual depredation permit to MD USDA Wildlife Services, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not play a direct role in this decision. 

Q. If USFWS wasn’t consulted, are you planning any follow-up action? 

R. We are working closely with USDA and evaluating the situation to address any potential issues.”  

Donna L. Cole is a award-winning investigative and multimedia reporter who works for WNAV News. She’s also a volunteer bird of prey rescuer.




Sick and dying hawks being found in Maryland and crows in Washington, D.C. – unknown if related to songbird mass mortality issue

Multiple sick and dying Cooper’s and red-tailed hawks are being found in Maryland – all are juveniles (young birds that recently fledged from their nest) and all have debilitating neurological issues.

It’s not known if this hawk sickness, which results in seizures and an inability to fly, is related to the similar, mass mortality issue being experienced with songbirds in several states and Washington, D.C.

Songbirds are often consumed by hawks.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and several state conservation agencies, including the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), released an interagency statement about the songbird mass mortality issue with one update thus far.

Neither agency has released any information to the public about sick hawks being found in Maryland.

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Sick Cooper’s hawk, just before capture, in Hyattsville, Md.

In the most recent request for information earlier this week, the email to the USGS and DNR reads –

“Is anyone from the USGS or DNR planning to release a statement that another mortality issue with neurological symptoms is being seen in hawks and that it may or may not be related to the similar issue with songbirds? I think the public has a right to know what’s going on – if for no other reason than to ensure the safety of their pets, but also because these sick birds should be taken to rehabbers.”

Marisa Lubeck, USGS public affairs specialist responded, “I’ll have to defer to the state agencies on this since I don’t have updated information from the USGS end to report out. We don’t have additions to the interagency statement at this point. It’s up to the jurisdictions whether they want additional reports of raptors or any other birds, and how the jurisdictions will follow up (by submitting carcasses to labs or not) will likely depend on the state.”

No response has been received from DNR thus far.

In Washington, D.C., which seemed to be the early epicenter of the songbird mortality issue, there aren’t as many hawks being seen at City Wildlife.

“We haven’t seen the hawks lately — none at all since the 21st — but we had been getting a higher than usual number of them in the first half of July.  We tested some of them for West Nile, but those tests came back negative,” emailed Jim Monsma, director of City Wildlife.

But City Wildlife is still seeing songbirds with neurological issues.

Monsma explained, “We are however seeing three or four sparrows each week who are showing neurological signs reminiscent of the symptoms we were seeing in late May and early June.”

And there’s more bad news for another species.

Monsma emailed, “The biggest problem at the moment is thin and neurological crows (both American and Fish), usually two to three a day, about forty of them since late May with the majority of them in July. Some have oral trichomoniasis, but we are also awaiting test results for West Nile.  Few survive despite our treatments, but we mostly get the birds when the condition is very advanced and the bird is very, very sick.”

According to the Audubon California website, “While crows can be wary of people, they can be rough on other birds, predating other species’ nests. While some birds have adapted to lay more eggs to compensate for this, nest predation from crows has prompted the populations of some sensitive species to reach perilously low levels.”

Earlier this week, in the Eastport neighborhood of Annapolis, three Cooper’s hawks were found, likely from the same nest and all had neurological issues – one was transported to Owl Moon Raptor Center, one was transported to Frisky’s Wildlife and Primate Sanctuary and one died – it was taken to the SPCA of Anne Arundel County.

Just after capturing one of the Cooper’s hawks, an unleashed dog was sniffing the area where the bird had been. The owner of the dog was cautioned to get his dog away from the area. Not far away was a full bird feeder and bird bath. The property owner was cautioned to remove both.

While there are several diseases that have been ruled out with the songbird issue, there’s still not a definitive cause and it’s not known if it’s communicable. People have been asked to keep pets away from sick/dead birds and remove bird feeders/baths – all of which could spread disease.

Nancy McDonald, a volunteer bird of prey rescuer, let people know about the hawk issue on the IDEA Birders of Maryland & DC Facebook group. She wrote, “I want to give you all a heads up. We are now picking up hatch year Cooper’s Hawks that are going full blown neurological. At the moment, to the best of my knowledge, the mortality rate is 100%. If you or anyone you know sees one and is going to handle it, please glove up, as I don’t know if it’s contagious to humans. If you are out walking your pet, please keep it leashed up and don’t let it come in contact with any of these birds, should you find any on your walk about. Otherwise, please let me, Donna Cole, any local wildlife rehabber that has experience with raptors or Owl Moon Raptor Center know. If you do pick one up and box it, please feel free to go ahead and transport it. Please call ahead to any rehabber you choose, to make sure they are open to receive the bird. My understanding is that DNR is also getting a ton of calls about neurologically impaired Coopies as well. Please feel free to DM me with any questions you may have. I know this is a lot of pleases – thank you.”

Just after capturing one of the Cooper’s hawks in Eastport, an unleashed dog was sniffing the area where the bird had been. The owner of the dog was cautioned to get his dog away from the area. The night before, in the same area, was a full bird feeder and bath. The property owner was advised to remove both.

For sightings of any sick birds in Maryland, including hawks, contact a licensed wildlife rehabber.

Donna L. Cole is an award-winning investigative and multimedia reporter who works for WNAV News. She’s also a volunteer bird of prey rescuer.




Two juvenile ospreys euthanized for maintenance of Calvert County ball park lights

Two juvenile ospreys were taken from their nest Monday at Calvert County’s Cove Point Park in Lusby, then euthanized – this because of maintenance on lights.

Juvenile ospreys are currently in the process of fledging from their nests in Maryland or within days/a couple of weeks of doing so.

But these ospreys never had the chance to fledge.

Cove Point Park ballfield. Calvert County photo.

According to Tanya Espinosa, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection (USDA APHIS), “Under a Cooperative Services Agreement with the county, Wildlife Services removed the birds as they were impeding the replacement/repair of the lights.”

Quite often, ospreys will nest atop lights or utility poles, but many will wait for nesting season to be over before doing any type of maintenance.

Espinosa continued, “Cooperators are given the opportunity to determine whether or not to involve a wildlife rehab facility. In this situation, they decided not to involve a wildlife rehab facility.  The birds were humanely euthanized using methods approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association.”

While no wildlife rehabilitator was contacted about the two juvenile ospreys, the president of Maryland Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (MWRA) wished they would have been.

“Any one of the rehabilitators would have been happy to take care of them and that they probably only had another week to go … which means the work could have been postponed,” explained Kathleen Woods, MWRA’s president and executive director of Phoenix Wildlife Center.

Photos of the ospreys being captured were shared Monday on the MD Birding Facebook group in a since deleted post – several people questioned why it happened, as ospreys are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in coordination with APHIS, can issue depredation permits for legally taking protected migratory birds in some situations.

According to the APHIS website, “Although the USDA Wildlife Services Program is not a regulatory program, we have a role in some regulatory processes. Wildlife Services biologists conduct damage evaluations to provide information to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state wildlife agency as part of their permit processes. WS provides technical assistance to callers with migratory bird conflicts. In some cases, lethal take may be required to resolve these issues or reinforce the effectiveness of non-lethal dispersal. In such cases, WS biologists complete an evaluation form (Form 37) that describes the incident and documents our recommendations for management options. When lethal take is recommended, those forms are forwarded by the applicant with applications and application fee for Federal Migratory Bird Depredation Permits.”

In the Facebook post, there were several people wearing shirts from a company called Lighting Maintenance, along with a man wearing a shirt and hat with the USDA logo – he was photographed putting the ospreys in a pet transport container.

Ospreys migrate to Maryland from southern areas, such as Florida, Central and South America, to mate and raise their young, before going back to warmer areas for the winter.

For these two adult ospreys, these were their only young born this year.

“Ospreys are not considered threatened or endangered or a species of concern in the State of Maryland,” offered Espinosa.

Even so, this decision isn’t sitting right with many people, including Woods.

“So sad they didn’t reach out,” she said.

“Calvert County requested assistance with removal of an osprey nest from a light pole from USDA APHIS-WS, as the location of the nest posed a risk to the health and safety of people, including youth, using the ball fields at Cove Point Park,” according to Sarah Ehman, public information program manager for Calvert County.

Ehman continued, “USDA Wildlife Services determined that nest relocation was not possible. Newer light poles being installed include osprey nesting platforms to more safely accommodate the presence of ospreys at county parks. These platforms have already been installed at Dunkirk District Park, Hallowing Point Park and Cove Point Park and are in use by osprey at these locations.”

Lighting Maintenance opted not to release a statement.

___

Update – Calvert County released another statement Wednesday –

“The Calvert County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has issued the following statement regarding the removal of an osprey nest from a light pole at Cove Point Park:

“We have received a number of comments and questions regarding the removal of an osprey nest from a light pole at Cove Point Park.

Because the nest was located in an area adjacent to a ball field, the nest posed a risk to the safety of the public; the light pole at Cove Point Park is not equipped to accommodate the presence of ospreys. The presence of the nest could endanger visitors to Cove Point Park with the risk of falling sticks or other nesting material.

Calvert County Government enlisted the services of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services, through a cooperative services agreement, to remove the nest. Due to the nature of this agreement, Calvert County Government was not consulted or informed as to why or how the decision was made to euthanize the juveniles in the nest rather than relocate. For the safety of the birds we often enlist the services of USDA.

Moving forward we will work to ensure that any ospreys removed from county property will be relocated and will communicate this position with USDA. We appreciate and value the outpouring of concern for our county’s natural resources. The county is in the process of installing lights equipped to safely accommodate the presence of ospreys at our parks, to enable wildlife to coexist in our recreation spaces.”

Donna L. Cole is an award-winning investigative and multimedia reporter who works for WNAV News. She’s also a volunteer bird of prey rescuer.




“Cease feeding birds until this wildlife morbidity/mortality event subsides” – still no cause(s) identified says Maryland Department of Natural Resources

“No definitive cause(s) of illness or death have been determined at this time” in the mystery illness that has sickened and killed birds in several states, as well as Washington, D.C., according to a Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) statement issued Friday.

According to DNR, “The following pathogens have not been detected in any birds tested, based on results received to date: Salmonella and Chlamydia (bacterial pathogens); avian influenza virus, West Nile virus and other flaviviruses, Newcastle disease virus and other paramyxoviruses, herpesviruses and poxviruses; and Trichomonas parasites.”

DNR indicated additional tests are ongoing – these include transmission electron microscopy, microbiology, virology, parasitology and toxicology diagnostic tests.

According to the DNR, “In late May, wildlife managers in Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky began receiving reports of sick and dying birds with eye swelling and crusty discharge, as well as neurological signs. More recently, additional reports have been received from Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.”

It was first reported here the mystery avian illness is limited to young birds.

“While the majority of affected birds are reported to be fledgling common grackles, blue jays, European starlings, and American robins, other species of songbirds have been reported as well,” according to DNR.

It should be noted other species have also been affected – northern flickers, a member of the woodpecker family, have been seen with this illness too. Flickers are often seen sourcing food from the ground.

Photo by Donna L. Cole

In other words, if you see a sick bird of any species with eye/neurological symptoms, you should report it and if the bird is still alive and in need of help, contact a wildlife rehabilitation facilitation too.

“Birds congregating at bird feeders and bird baths can transmit diseases to one another,” according to DNR and as such, precautions are being advised:

  • Cease feeding birds until this wildlife morbidity/mortality event subsides.
  • Clean feeders and bird baths with a 10% bleach solution (one part bleach mixed with nine parts water), rinse with water, and allow to air-dry.
  • Avoid handling birds unless necessary. If you do handle them, wear disposable gloves. 
  • If picking up a dead bird, place an inverted plastic bag over your hand to avoid direct contact with the bird. To dispose of dead birds, place them in a plastic bag, seal, and discard with household trash or alternatively bury them deeply. 
  • Keep pets (including pet birds) away from sick or dead wild birds as a standard precaution.

If you encounter sick or dead birds, contact your state or District wildlife conservation agency for further instructions and to help them track this event. Maryland residents can contact the DNR/ USDA Wildlife hotline at 877-463-6497.

If you find any wildlife in need of immediate help in Maryland and there’s no response at the number above, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitation facility.

According to DNR, “no human health or domestic livestock and poultry issues have been reported.”

(Cover photo courtesy of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources)