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On our western frontier...

Edge Wade
Columbia, MO
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Begin forwarded message:

> From: Gary Zamzow <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: Thu Sep 01, 2005  12:03:13 AM US/Central
> To: CALBIRDS <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: [CALBIRDS] Yellow-billed Magpies & West Nile Virus
>
>
> On Aug 31, 2005, at 8:14 PM, Jim Greaves wrote:
>
>> "dying by the hundreds"? Where are the data? Drops in bird numbers on
>>  local scales are normal in fall. It borders on hyperventilation to
>>  assume WNV is the cause when there could be other factors such as
>>  production in acorns to changes in vegetation to weather that could
>>  cause, either singly or in combination, local out-migrations of birds
>>  from areas where they "normally" abound. - Jim Greaves, Santa Barbara
>>
>>
>
>
> Hi Jim,
> Here is an article from the Sacramento Bee.
> The Davis Enterprise had an article today about the Yellow-billed
> Magpies, but
> it has not been posted on their web-site yet. I'll post it when they
> post it.
> Take care.
> Gary Zamzow
> Davis, CA
>
>
>
> http://www.sacbee.com/content/news/story/13405270p-14246595c.html
> W. Nile's toll on birds is soaring
>
> The yellow-billed magpie could disappear as virus spreads in north
> state.
>
> By Deb Kollars -- Bee Staff Writer
> Published 2:15 am PDT Saturday, August 13, 2005
> Story appeared on Page A1 of The Bee
> Get weekday updates of Sacramento Bee headlines and breaking news. Sign
> up here.
> As West Nile virus has moved into Sacramento County with a vengeance,
> it has killed thousands of birds and left wildlife experts worried
> about the survival of one of Northern California's more striking and
> clever birds: the yellow-billed magpie.
>
> Sacramento County has not only the highest number of confirmed human
> cases of West Nile in the state, but also far and away the highest
> number of birds that have died from the disease.
>
>    According to figures released Friday by the state Department of
> Health Services, the number of reported dead birds in Sacramento County
> was 12,198 so far in 2005, representing 17.6 percent of the total
> 69,203 dead bird reports for the state's 58 counties.
>
> Although not all the birds have been tested - state scientists stop
> testing once they've established West Nile has invaded an area - the
> state's top West Nile experts said there is no question the high dead
> bird counts stem from the disease.
>
> The actual numbers could easily be 10 times as high as those reported
> because many people do not report dead birds, said Stan Husted,
> supervising public health biologist for the state Department of Health
> Services.
>
> "It's all happening very fast," Husted said.
>
> Sacramento County's tally of confirmed human cases of West Nile
> remained at 36. Statewide that number rose from the 118 reported
> Tuesday to 174 Friday, with four people reported dead this year from
> the disease.
>
> The emerging concerns about birds came as mosquito control experts
> prepared for a second night of aerial spraying in southern Sacramento
> County. They also announced that infected mosquito counts were rising
> in Yolo County and may require insecticide treatments in populated
> areas in future days - most likely with ground rigs on city streets.
>
> "I don't think we're going to have to do aerial applications over the
> cities of Davis and Woodland," said Dave Brown, manager of the
> Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District. "We believe we
> can handle them with ground-based units."
>
> The district is doing the treatments to stop the spread of West Nile,
> which is passed by infected mosquitoes.
>
> As the new numbers rolled out late Friday afternoon, officials of the
> mosquito control district were keeping an eye on the weather. Plans to
> spray 66,000 acres south of the American River were thwarted on Friday
> night. Planes were grounded after Delta winds picked up.
>
> Sacramento County is not the only hot spot.
>
> This summer, the mosquito control district has been using ground rigs
> to control mosquitoes in cemeteries and parks in various Yolo County
> locations, as well as the fairgrounds in Woodland. Agricultural areas
> of Yolo County have been receiving regular aerial sprayings, as they do
> every year, Brown said.
>
> As of Friday morning, the district had spent about $400,000 on plane
> and materials costs for four nights of spraying. The district has about
> $1 million in reserves to cover all spraying costs.
>
> Brown said traps in the northern areas of Sacramento County showed kill
> rates of between 40 percent and 80 percent, depending on the location,
> after three nights of aerial spraying.
>
> For many people, their first and only encounter with West Nile comes
> when they stumble upon a bird that has succumbed to the aggressive
> disease.
>
> A dead jay in a flower bed. A dead crow on the bike trail. A dead
> magpie lying in the street.
>
> The images have been haunting Sacramentans, and have provided a
> sobering record of the rapid spread of West Nile.
>
> Bobbi Larsen, a retiree living near Fair Oaks Boulevard and San Juan
> Avenue, is among many who have discovered birds wobbling on the ground,
> or already dead.
>
> "In one week's time, we've had 13 dead magpies on a tiny little section
> of our street," Larsen said. "I had a scrub jay who came every day at
> lunchtime and squawked for joy in the birdbath. Now he's gone."
>
> Dawn Austin, a painting contractor who lives near Orangevale, said she
> buried one bird after another this week under an oak tree on her small
> acreage. Most were jays and magpies.
>
> "I used to fill my bird feeder every day," Austin said. "Now, it's
> every four days or so."
>
> Many have mistakenly concluded the birds are dying from the aerial
> spraying.
>
> "It's not the spray. It's the virus," said Vicki Kramer, chief of the
> state health department's Vector Borne Disease Program.
>
> Birds play a critical role in the spread of West Nile virus. Birds are
> a favorite target of mosquitoes. When bitten by infected mosquitoes,
> birds can become "reservoirs" for the virus, passing it along to
> uninfected mosquitoes that bite them. Mosquitoes, in turn, infect
> people, horses and other animals; bird-to-human transmissions do not
> occur.
>
> Some species of birds are more vulnerable than others. The "corvid"
> family - which includes crows, jays, magpies and ravens - is
> particularly susceptible. Nearly 100 percent of infected crows die,
> usually in about five days, with the other corvid types not far behind,
> Husted said.
>
> Wildlife experts are especially worried about the yellow-billed magpie,
> said Dr. Holly Ernest, a wildlife veterinarian who directs the Wildlife
> Genetics Lab at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
>
> One clue the bird is in danger is that the black-billed magpie, which
> lives throughout western North America (except in areas populated by
> the yellow-billed) has been hit hard by West Nile.
>
> The yellow-billed magpie is not listed as a threatened species. But
> because it is endemic to California, meaning it lives nowhere else, a
> large kill-off could place the bird at risk of survival, Ernest said.
> She is involved in several research projects to monitor the disease's
> impact on the local magpie, including counts being conducted by
> volunteers from Davis as they ride their bicycles.
>
> A wide range of other birds such as finches, robins, quail, mourning
> doves and certain parakeets also can become infected with West Nile.
> They survive or die at varying rates, depending on the type of bird,
> said Nicholas Komar, research biologist for the Centers for Disease
> Control and Prevention in Fort Collins, Colo.
>
> Birds remain infectious for several days. Those that become infected
> but survive become immune for life and can pass that immunity to their
> offspring, Komar said. Eventually, the disease will run its course, he
> added, but based on other areas of the country, it could take several
> years. In New York, bird deaths have been a regular summer ritual since
> West Nile first hit in 1999.
>
> The disease attacks most of the major organs and neurological systems,
> leaving birds staggering and unable to move in the final stages.
> Gauging pain levels in birds is difficult, but researchers said birds
> with West Nile almost certainly suffer. The only way to stop birds from
> becoming infected is to reduce infected mosquito populations, Husted
> said.
>
> The dead bird reports were a major clue to local officials that the
> disease was spiraling and aerial spraying was needed. "That was one of
> the triggers that told us we had a problem," Brown said.
>
> For now, he said, the district is concentrating on fully covering
> 66,000 acres targeted in southern Sacramento County, mostly with aerial
> spraying, supplemented with ground crews. If winds prevent spraying,
> the schedule may be stretched out over Sunday evening and beyond.
>
> In the light dosage being applied, the insecticide is considered safe
> for people and animals. People are advised to stay inside between 8:30
> p.m. and midnight.
>
>
> About the writer:
>
> 	The Bee's Deb Kollars can be reached at (916) 321-1090 or
> [log in to unmask]
>
>
>
>
> 	
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