Prevent Bird Flu and Save Bald Eagles
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Sponsor: The Animal Rescue Site
The highly infectious H5N1 avian influenza virus is posing a serious threat to bald eagles. Take action!
Bald eagles, the national symbol of the United States, are facing an unprecedented risk of death from highly infectious avian influenza1.
Nest failures and deaths reported due to the H5N1 avian influenza strain have reached an alarming rate, and an unprecedented number of mating pairs are disappearing.
This is a serious threat to the species, and if not addressed, could have devastating effects for decades to come.
Recent studies show that just under half of the bald eagle nests in coastal Georgia fledged an eaglet in 2022, which is 30% below average for the season2.
The influenza was documented in Georgia’s bald eagles for the first time in April 2022 after dead eagles were found in Chatham, Glynn, and Liberty counties in March3. The success rate for nests in one Florida County was 50% lower than average, dropping from an average of 86.5% to 41%.
Reports of bald eagles dying across the United States and Canada have raised concerns among researchers. The University of Georgia's Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study has diagnosed cases of the influenza in high numbers of bald eagles and other avian species from member states4. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service also revealed that the influenza is widespread in bald eagles, and federal officials suspect that eagles and other raptors contract the virus by eating other diseased birds5.
Eagles that have been monitored for years are being found dead below their nests, with their mates and chicks often passing shortly after6. If these trends continue for even a single year, bald eagle populations could be devastated for decades to come.
Since its first detection in the United States in January 2022, the H5N1 virus has infected more than 58 million domestic poultry animals, including chickens and turkeys, in 777 outbreaks. The virus has also infected at least 146 avian species and has been documented in every state but Hawaii and every Canadian province and territory7.
H5N1 has since spread to 17 other wildlife species in 22 states, including 60 red foxes, 16 harbor seals, and 14 striped skunks. Nearly half the infected red foxes were reported in Michigan and Wisconsin8.
While bird flu primarily strikes animals, it has so far been detected in four people in the United States9. Symptoms include eye redness, flu-like upper respiratory symptoms that range from mild to severe, fever, and body aches.
As individuals, we can take steps to reduce the risk of bird flu and protect the bald eagle population.
Join us in taking action to protect these magnificent birds. Sign our pledge to help prevent the spread of bird flu!
- Leigh Beeson, Phys.Org (2 March 2023), "Bald eagles are fledging fewer chicks due to avian influenza, finds study."
- Nicole M. Nemeth, Mark G. Ruder, Rebecca L. Poulson, Robert Sargent, Shawnlei Breeding, Meaghan N. Evans, Jared Zimmerman, Rebecca Hardman, Mark Cunningham, Samantha Gibbs & David E. Stallknecht, Scientific Reports volume (05 January 2023), "Bald eagle mortality and nest failure due to clade 220.127.116.11 highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza a virus."
- Leigh Beeson, UGA Today, University of Georgia (2 March 2023), "Bald eagles aren’t fledging as many chicks due to avian influenza."
- College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, "Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study."
- Wildlife Health Office, Natural Resource Program Center, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, "Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)."
- Dinah Voyles Pulver, USA TODAY (3 March 2023), "Bird flu is killing bald eagles at an 'alarming rate,' researchers say."
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) (15 February 2023), "Ask the Expert: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A(H5N1) Viruses."
- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Department Of Agriculture (27 February 2023), "2022-2023 Detections of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Mammals."
- Sage Marshall, Field & Stream, "Avian Flu Detected in Florida—Fourth U.S. State in Current Outbreak."
The highly infectious H5N1 avian influenza virus is killing an unprecedented number of mating pairs of bald eagles, leading to nest failures and deaths at an alarming rate. This is a serious threat to the national symbol of our country, and action is needed to prevent further losses.
As such, I pledge to take the following actions to reduce the risk of bird flu and protect the bald eagle population:
5. I pledge to avoid handling sick or dead birds
Bird flu is highly infectious and can spread from sick or dead birds to humans and other animals. Therefore, it is important to avoid handling sick or dead birds. If you come across a sick or dead bird, do not touch it. Instead, report it to your local wildlife agency.
4. I pledge to wash my hands thoroughly after handling birds or bird feeders
If you do handle birds or bird feeders, it is essential to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. This will help prevent the spread of bird flu and other diseases.
3. I pledge to not feed birds in areas where bird flu has been detected
Feeding birds is a popular pastime, but it can also contribute to the spread of bird flu. If bird flu has been detected in your area, it is important to avoid feeding birds until the outbreak has been contained.
2. I pledge to report sick or dead birds to my local wildlife agency
If you come across a sick or dead bird, it is important to report it to your local wildlife agency. This will help them monitor the spread of bird flu and take action to contain the outbreak.
1. I pledge to support organizations that work to conserve and protect the bald eagle population
There are many organizations that work to conserve and protect the bald eagle population. Project Peril, a program of Greater Good Charities, partners with the best non-profits devoted to combating habitat loss, stopping the illegal wildlife trade, and preventing human-animal conflict. Project Peril identifies key species on the brink of extinction and helps fund groups doing the best work to save these species around the world.
I understand that swift action is needed to prevent further losses and protect these magnificent birds, and will share this pledge with on social media to encourage others to help save our wildlife.