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Remove the bird feeders: Kentucky wildlife officials ask people in 3 additional counties to remove their bird feeders

Wildlife officials said they're continuing to investigate reports of sick and dying birds. They want Kentuckians to remove bird feeders until further notice.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky wildlife officials are asking residents in three more counties to remove bird feeders as they investigate reports of sick and dying birds.

Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources veterinarian Christine Casey told the Lexington Herald-Leader that people in Bullitt, Campbell and Madison counties were asked to join those in Jefferson, Boone and Kenton counties in removing bird feeders until further notice.

The advice comes as the agency reviewed findings from people in those areas who have reported encountering sick or dying birds. 

Birds most commonly affected include blue jays, common grackles, European starlings and American robins.

Wildlife officials started asking for the removal of bird feeders in June after reports of sick and dying birds. The agency said the reports were coming in and started increasing in May. 

At that time, the investigation centered in Jefferson, Kenton and Boone counties.

The department said individuals are making these calls after finding birds with eye swelling and crusty discharge. Some of the birds also showed neurological issue signs. No definitive cause of death in the birds has been identified.  

RELATED: How to report dead, sick birds in Kentucky and Indiana

Why remove bird feeders?

The agency says birds congregating at feeders and baths can transmit disease to one another.

Additionally, Fish and Wildlife is calling on Kentuckians to take these precautions:

  • Avoid handling birds, but wear disposable gloves if handling is necessary
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a standard precaution

If a dead bird is found, place them in a sealable plastic bag and dispose of the bag in a secured outdoor trash receptacle.

Similar issue in Indiana

Wildlife agencies in surrounding states like Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia have received similar reports.

Indiana DNR is able to rule out some possible causes of the mysterious illness killing songbirds around Indiana and other states, but it still does not know the cause.

Through testing, the DNR learned the illness is not West Nile or avian flu. They currently have a dozen samples undergoing extensive testing to try and determine a cause. That testing could take a long time, so prevention and tracking is key at this point.

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