INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has a surprising announcement for Hoosiers: “Stop feeding birds.”
The request comes in the wake of several reports of sick and dying songbirds across five counties in Indiana. Monroe, Clark, Jefferson, LaGrange and Lake counties have all reported birds showing “neurological signs of illness as well as eye swelling and crusty discharge.”
“Several species are being affected,” Natural Resources ornithologist Allisyn-Marie Gillet said in a news release, “including blue jay, American robin, common grackle, Northern cardinal, European starling and a few others.”
Natural Resources is working with the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center to determine the cause of the birds’ deaths, said a statement from the department.
In addition to halting bird-feeding until the wave of deaths has concluded, Natural Resources provided recommendations for those who have sick or dead wild birds on their property:
- Use the DNR sick and dead wildlife reporting tool to alert DNR staff.
- Clean feeders and baths with a 10% bleach solution.
- Avoid handling birds — but if it’s necessary, wear disposable gloves.
- When removing deceased birds, wear disposable gloves and place birds and gloves into a sealable plastic bag to dispose with the household trash.
- Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a precaution.
Natural Resources said it would share additional information when it receives final diagnostic results.