3 Grizzly bears have tested positive for having a highly pathogenic form of the Avian Flu. These young bears were observed displaying unusual behaviors and the Montana FWP managed to test them. All three bears were positive for HPAI.
The bears displayed symptoms of being partially blind, disorientation, and other neurological symptoms. The 3 bears were in 3 different areas. One bear was in Kalispell, another in Augusta, and the third in Depuyer.
The disease is spread from contact with dead or infected birds. Wild birds are also infected. Contaminated feces and respiratory secretions also spread the Avian Flu.
Over 57 million domestic birds have fallen to this current flu. 6,000 wild birds have tested positive. The infected bird issue has raised the prices on poultry and eggs.
The bears were probably infected by contact with Canada Geese that were migrating in the Fall. Nose to nose contact with other bears can easily spread the disease.
The MTFWP euthanized the 3 bears to prevent further spreading of the flu. The bears’ behavior could have also endangered other humans. Only one human has ever tested positive for HPAI. The MTFWP has also found the disease in many other wildlife species including black bears, dogs, cats, skunks, foxes, and coyotes. Critters that feed on dead critters can easily acquire the disease.
Avoid handling any dead critters!