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West Nile Virus killing Ruffed Grouse

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West Nile Virus killing Ruffed Grouse

Old 04-29-2017, 05:36 AM
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Default West Nile Virus killing Ruffed Grouse

The following is an excerpt from the PA Game Commission's recent annual report to the General Assembly:

Another disease challenge we face is the ongoing impact of West Nile Virus, particularly as it relates to Pennsylvania’s state bird, the ruffed grouse. West Nile Virus is a mosquito-transmitted virus native to Africa that affects many wild-bird species. It was first identified in North America during the summer of 1999 and found in Pennsylvania in 2002.

The Game Commission has been at the forefront of research into this disease and its impact on the grouse population. It now seems likely that West Nile Virus is at least partly responsible for causing precipitous declines in grouse populations. The impact of West Nile Virus, coupled with the loss of young-forest habitat across the state, have conspired to reduce Pennsylvania’s grouse population estimate to its lowest point in 50 years".
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Old 04-29-2017, 08:10 AM
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If I understand correctly, this is not only explaining population decline in the past couple years, but also going back some 17 years, now.
Aside from making better habitat, I can't imagine there's much else the states can do. I hate that in some places (like Tennessee and I think also Georgia), lumber cannot be harvested from state and national forest lands.
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Old 04-29-2017, 10:08 AM
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West Nile hit North America 1999 and was discovered in PA in 2002, it started killing crows and other birds in the Corvid family as well as horses. I am not sure they even know how long it has been killing grouse but you are correct that the big dip in the grouse population is a combination of death in grouse from the virus and the loss of good grouse habitat which is young regenerating forests. The Ruffed Grouse Society has been working closely with the Pa Game Commission in the planting of trees and shrubs in areas on game lands across the state in areas being managed for grouse. Pa does log on state game lands and other lands for both habitat and income. The double whammy of loss of habitat and the WN virus has been a kick in the teeth, we can do something about the habitat, controlling mosquitoes is a lot harder. Just one more problem caused by importing things from other countries and especially 3rd world countries.
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