Hunters across the Central Flyway have seen notable die-offs of snow geese, but it’s too early to diagnose the prevalence, and lethality, of this year’s avian flu in wild birds
Greg Kottsick, a waterfowl hunter from South Dakota, spent last weekend picking up dead snow geese—but he wasn’t hunting. Kottsick and a group of buddies were cleaning up two lakes on the west side of Eureka that were littered with snow and blue geese, all dead or dying from what they suspected was avian flu. Based on recommendations from state fish and game officials, Kottsick and his buddies wore gloves, masks, and Tyvek suits.
“The lakes are right in town,” Kottsick says. “Cats and racoons were dragging carcasses up on the bank. Plus, people were concerned because we had some track and field events going on and there were sick geese near the field and park. It was pretty gruesome. People were worried about their dogs getting into them. So, we got a bunch of guys together to pick up as many as possible.”
By the end of the day, Kottsick and his buddies had picked up 462 dead birds and piled them in a front-end loader. They buried the waterfowl in a pit at a nearby farm. There were another 200-300 dead or dying geese that the volunteers couldn’t get to, Kottsick says.