Wildlife specialists have spent the last three days picking up more than 3,700 dead bird carcasses from the shore in the Yolo Bypass, California.
Laurence Campling, who discovered the mass die-off explains: ‘It’s just shocking to see that kind of die off. I’ve never seen anything with that amount of birds dead in one place! Easily hundreds of bodies, hundreds of birds all along the side of this flooded field.‘
He took pictures and started to worry that something catastrophic was happening. Jeffrey Stoddard, Wildlife Manager for the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, explained that dead American Coots caught a virus called avian cholera, caused by bacteria. It doesn’t pose a risk to humans but other birds can catch it.
He explains: “It’s something that we deal with in the wildlife area fairly commonly. It’s something that they carry with them year round. It only comes out when they’re stressed. And this time, it’s a physical stress: COLD and WET WEATHER.”
Other birds like ducks, geese and herons can catch the virus too, so the most important step for wildlife experts is collecting the carcasses to keep the scavengers from spreading it around.
UC Davis has volunteered to incinerate the carcasses for FREE.