Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
In this undated photo released by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, shows a bald eagle, in Utah. State wildlife officials say West Nile Virus appears to the mystery illness that's caused more than two dozen bald eagles to die in Utah this month. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says results of laboratory tests on some of the first birds found indicate they died from West Nile. Officials say 27 bald eagles have died since Dec. 1, and six others are being treated at a wildlife rehabilitation center. DWR says in a statement that it believes the eagles ate grebes that were infected with the virus. The agency says the migration of the aquatic birds should be over soon so eagle deaths should stop. They say the birds do not pose a risk to human health but people should not handle eagles if they find them. (AP Photo/Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Lynn Chamberlain)
Now 40 eagles dead, but West Nile outbreak may be in decline
Wildlife » Fewer sick, live eagles are appearing.
First Published Jan 06 2014 02:27 pm • Last Updated Jan 06 2014 10:01 pm

The number of known dead bald eagles in northern Utah is now at 40 and five remain in wildlife rehabilitation centers with what biologists have identified as West Nile virus.

Leslie McFarlane, wildlife disease specialist with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), said reports of sick eagles have diminished and that could be a good thing.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"I think we may be done seeing sick birds," she said. "It seems that everything coming in now is dead so I believe that we are not actively transmitting any more."

Utah officials with the agencies overseeing wildlife, health and agriculture announced last week that the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis., had confirmed West Nile virus as the cause of the eagle deaths.

The virus had been suspected when sick and dead eagles started to show up in northern Utah in early December. But wildlife officials were reluctant to identify the mosquito-borne virus as the culprit because it has never been reported so late in the year.

It is believed that the afflicted bald eagles had consumed dead eared grebes on the Great Salt Lake. It is not known whether the grebes died from West Nile virus or served as a carrier for the disease.

Health officials say people and domestic livestock should not be at risk from this West Nile virus outbreak because the disease is almost always transmitted by a mosquito bite.

DaLyn Erickson with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah in Ogden said all four bald eagles currently at her facility continue to show signs of improvement.

A juvenile female taken to the center on Dec. 28, the 10th to arrive at the Ogden center, died late last week.

"She was just too far gone," Erickson said. "We are working to move three of the eagles into a larger area, but we are being careful to quarantine them and prevent it from spreading to other birds here."

story continues below
story continues below

The fourth live eagle is regaining his vision, but it is a slow process.

Erickson said only time will tell if the eagles can be released back into the wild.

"The eagles that died showed signs of heart damage," she said. "We need to watch and see how they do and see if they have the stamina and can handle physical exertion before we make that decision."

brettp@sltrib.com Twitter: @BrettPrettyman

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.