Idaho Fish and Game personnel continue to find and collect dead waterfowl from an avian cholera outbreak in the Parma area, and officials now estimate more than 4,200 birds have died since the outbreak started in early February.
The outbreak has occurred on private land, and the disease has killed mostly ducks, but also some geese and other birds. Fish and Game crews and volunteers are collecting the dead birds and burying them at nearby Fort Boise Wildlife Management Area to prevent, or reduce, further spread of the disease.
“We’re trying to minimize the impact,” said Tyler Archibald, Fish and Game habitat biologist at Fort Boise Wildlife Management Area.
Avian cholera is the result of infection with the bacterium Pasteurella multocida. The bacterium kills swiftly – sometimes within 6 to 12 hours – and is released into the environment by dead or dying birds, or by birds carrying the disease.
Avian cholera is not considered a high-risk disease for humans, according to the National Wildlife Health Center. It is fairly common in Idaho, but this is a larger-than-usual outbreak.
"Outbreaks of avian cholera have occurred annually in the area over the past decade," Archibald said.
Tight waterfowl concentrations can enhance disease transmission among healthy birds. Archibald said when more ponds, reservoirs and lakes thaw and waterfowl disperse, cholera outbreaks tend to diminish and eventually end.
If people see numerous dead birds, they are asked to call and report the location to Fish and Game’s Nampa Regional Office at (208) 465-8465.