Video shows unusual circling behavior of a brant goose filmed by a local hunter near Golovin, Alaska. Although the cause is unknown, this type of behavior is according to USGS, "highly suggestive" of an infection with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).
Observation shared by area resident Hunter Gray with help from Gay Sheffield:
Attached is a video of a brant with neurological issues that was taken 26-May by Hunter Gray of Golovin at the mouth of Reindeer Slough in Golovin Bay. Both the video and account were reported to Eric Taylor of the USFWS as well. Katya and Hunter Gray gave approval to share this video to be shared with the LEO Network and others to help get the word out and show what to look for. Credit: Hunter Gray. Please let me know if you have any questions or need more info from this end of things.
LEO Editor Comment:
The cause of the bird's behavior is unknown, but given the emerging cases of avian flu in birds around Alaska, paying special attention to bird behavior and health is advisable. Avian influenza (flu) is very serious for birds, but very low risk for people. The USFWS and the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council recently put out a fact sheet (attached) which provides the following advice for bird hunters and gathers:
- Do not harvest game that appears sick or are found dead.
- Wear rubber or disposable latex gloves when handling and cleaning game.
- When done handling game, wash hands thoroughly with soap and disinfectant, disinfect knives, equipment and surfaces that were in contact with game.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke when handling game.
- Cook game (and eggs) thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 degrees (F).
Note: dogs are at low risk for avian flu, but it is advisable to prevent them from eating sick or dead birds.
You Can Help. If you see a bird that is sick or behaving strangely, note the location (lat/long coordinates are particularly helpful) and any details, and take picture or video. Don't touch or collect a sick or dead bird that you find. USFWS requests this information be submitted to the Alaska Sick/Dead Bird Hotline: 1-866-527-3358. You can also share your observations, images and video to LEO Network.
This observation has been shared with local, state, and federal health and wildlife agencies. Mike Brubaker
Comment by Andy Ramey, USGS:
Highly pathogenic avian influenza is a specific type of ‘bird flu’ that may cause severe disease or death among infected wild and domestic birds. North America is experiencing a geographically widespread outbreak of highly pathogenic avian in both wild and domestic birds. As of 25 May 2022, there have been 18 confirmed detections of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Alaska reported by the Office of the State Veterinarian as part of the ongoing outbreak, most of which have been identified in wild Canada geese or bald eagles. Characteristic signs of highly pathogenic avian influenza in these species have been lack of coordination and death.
The apparent neurologic signs displayed by the goose in this video are highly suggestive of infection with highly pathogenic avian influenza. I strongly encourage anyone witnessing bird behavior similar to that depicted in this video to submit their observations, with detailed location information, to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Alaska Sick/Dead Bird Hotline (1-866-527-3358). Follow up investigation and diagnostic testing are important for confirming or ruling out of infection of birds exhibiting similar behavior with highly pathogenic avian influenza.
Guidance on best practices for the handling and preparation of hunter-harvested wild birds can be found on websites maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Additional information on how the current outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza pertains to human health and safety is available from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.
Comments by Angela Matz, USFWS:
The Alaska Sick/Dead Bird Hotline is receiving calls from people throughout the State - from Southeast to the far north. If you call, please give as much detail as possible about your observation, such as latitude, longitude, and specific location description; behavioral observations of the bird(s) or a positive confirmation of mortality; the species or type of bird; and the time and date of your observations. The person who answers the phone will ask you other questions to get a better idea of what you saw. Please note that the response is determined on a case-by-case basis, and may not include collection of all sick or dead birds reported. If we cannot collect the birds, we will work with the caller to determine a path forward. Some of the criteria that will guide the response are bird species, number of individuals, time since the observation was made, current condition of the carcass(es), and location. Please understand that resource agency personnel may be unable to respond to some reports from remote areas before sick or dead birds are scavenged.