Sage Grouse do better in 2004 with WNV
December 22, 2004
According to a report from the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, testing of dead sage grouse for West Nile Virus (WNV) this summer found only two Wyoming birds succumbing from the disease. Sixteen birds were found during sampling in 2003. Both birds testing positive were found in the Powder River Basin on the east side of the state. The decline is being attributed to cooler summer weather which produced fewer mosquitos than in 2003.
Sage grouse sampled were radio-collared birds that were detected to be dead from various studies across the state, as well as dead grouse submitted by concerned citizens. No losses due to WNV were detected in radio-collared birds that were intensively monitored near Pinedale and Lander. No WNV-positive birds were detected in samples from birds harvested by hunters.
In 2003 - the first year the virus was found in sage grouse – lab testing diagnosed 11 sage grouse from the Powder River Basin and one each from Carbon, Fremont, Park, Natrona and Sweetwater counties that died from the disease. Those results prompted the G&F to close the sage grouse season in Johnson, Sheridan and Campbell counties in 2003. The season was reopened in 2004 when spring lek breeding ground counts suggested the severe mortality observed in 2003 was localized and not widespread across northeast Wyoming.
WNV was documented in Wyoming, Montana and Alberta sage grouse in 2003. In 2004 the virus was documented to have killed sage grouse in Colorado and California, as well as Wyoming and Montana. Next summer, citizens are again urged to contact the G&F when finding a dead sage grouse.