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Dead loons raise concern over West Nile virus in Minnesota

The Minnesota DNS has been investigating the deaths of three loons.

A sudden spate of loon deaths in Minnesota has been attributed to the West Nile virus, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 

Earlier this month, University of Minnesota researchers identified WNV as the cause of death in two of three dead loons found in northeastern Minnesota, the DNR said in a statement sent to BMTN.

Reports of dead loons in northeastern Minnesota have increased in the area, the press release notes.

“Minnesotans love our loons and it’s concerning for people to find them dead," said nongame wildlife specialist Gaea Crozier.

"When we start seeing multiple birds dying on a single lake, we want to know about it so we can start tracking the information and determine when further testing is warranted."

A mosquito-borne disease, WNV was first found in Minnesota in 2002 and caused its first loon death in 2005.

Birds tend to be more susceptible to dying of illness in general. Humans and other animals are more able to find off WNV, the Centers for Disease Control notes.

Lake homeowners and anyone observing two or more loon deaths on a single lake are encouraged to contact local DNR nongame wildlife staff. 

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