Public asked to report dead birds
In May and June, dead birds, mostly murres, have been washing up on beaches on St. Lawrence Island, Shishmaref and east Norton Sound.
During the past two weeks, reports have escalated, according to Gay Sheffield, UAF-Alaska Sea Grant, told Nome Port Commission.
Some of the sea birds reportedly were “struggling to stay upright in the water.”
“We sent one bird from Shishmaref to a lab in May,” Sheffield said. “It was starved.”
No disease was found in that specimen.
More murres and one kittiwake from Shishmaref and Gambell are on the way to a top federal lab, the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, which studies big bird issues, as the avian cholera in 2013.
“They will test them and give us results. We are looking for fresh carcasses of dead birds,” Sheffield continued. “We are trying to understand the scope and range of the die-off.”
Don’t wait, she said. Please report dead birds.
Sheffield asks that folks finding dead birds report them to her at 907-1149 at Alaska Sea Grant, or Brandon Ahmasuk, 907-443- 4265 at Kawerak in Nome, or United States Fish and Wildlife Service at 866-527-3358 for USFWS in Anchorage.
Meanwhile, for your safety:
Do not eat birds that have died from unknown causes.
Wear rubber gloves when picking up dead birds.
Wash hands in warm soapy water to prevent infection through cuts in your skin or from touching your mouth.
Wash or throw away your gloves after use.
Please take photos using your cell phone and call in what you see. Please report date, location, species, number of birds.