Bird feeder warning issued |

Bird feeder warning issued

Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily Tribune The state Department of Fish and Game have requested bird feeders be taken down to curb the spread of Salmonellosis. While disease rarely transfers from birds to mammals, this squirrel and birds will need to look elsewhere for food.

The state Department of Fish and Game wants Northern Californians to remove their bird feeders for at least a month because of isolated reports of salmonellosis, a bacterial disease affecting small brown birds like pine siskins.

The yellow-winged birds that live primarily in wooded areas can be found in the Lake Tahoe Basin, but wildlife managers are unaware of any current Tahoe threat.

Ginger Huber of the El Dorado County Environmental Management Department cited a problem with the disease three to four years ago.

“We did have an outbreak of salmonella up here,” she said of the bacteria Thursday.

A handful of dead birds found last summer in the Lake Tahoe Basin were tested positive for West Nile virus. The Asian bird flu, also a virus, has not been detected in the U.S.

Fish and Game has asked homeowners to take down their bird feeders for 30 days to slow the salmonellosis outbreak. The state received reports in Grass Valley, Eureka and Santa Cruz.

Wildlife biologists at the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit are unaware of any reports here. “Bird feeders tend to exacerbate the problem,” Fish and Game spokesman Patrick Foy said.

Pine siskins eat seeds concentrated in feeders. When birds defecate on the seed and others eat it, the disease is spread through the fecal matter.

Fish and Game suggests residents treat feeders with household bleach in water and replace wooden ones with plastic or metal. Wood harbors salmonella bacteria.

If a dead bird is found, officials recommend that it be handled with gloves. Handlers should wash with anti-bacterial soap.

“It’s never been known to be a problem (spreading to mamals), but it could happen,” Fish and Game wildlife biologist and veterinarian Pam Swift said.

This is the second time in less than a year Fish and Game has requested feeders be removed. Last July, the agency was concerned about trichomoniasis in mourning doves and pigeons.

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