A weekly report from The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota details the devastating toll of avian flu on Minnesota's wild birds.
From March 28 - April 26, the center identified 65 positive cases out of 146 raptors tested. At the time of the report, 30 tests were still pending.
All but one of the birds admitted with a positive test died or was humanely euthanized, the center reported last week.
The 65 positive birds included:
- 32 great horned owls
- 20 bald eagles
- 10 red-trailed hawks
- 1 barred owl
- 1 Cooper's hawk
- 1 turkey vulture
"This is a devastating outbreak for these birds and a difficult time to be in wildlife rehabilitation," the center shared. "Our work continues, and we are doing our best to learn as much as we can about this virus, how it presents in each species, how it may spread, and how we can best respond."
The current strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is almost always fatal in raptors and causes severe neurological illness.
HPAI is spread through feces and respiratory secretions and can be shed by birds, such as waterfowl, without any symptoms, according to The Raptor Center. The outbreak is also sickening other wild bird species, including geese, blue jays and crows.
The Raptor Center says it will be providing weekly updates on the outbreak and how it's affecting wild birds, saying: "We want to be transparent and give others a better view into how this outbreak is impacting raptors in our area."