Wild Bird Mortalities

Guidelines from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

— Submitted by Anne Lichtenwalner, DVM Ph.D., University of Maine Associate Professor of Animal and Veterinary Sciences and Director of the UMaine Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Posted with permission of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW).

We are seeing increased wild bird losses associated with avian influenza in our region. Please follow these guidelines when you (or others) encounter dead wild birds.

Note: the general public should NOT handle these birds. Notification of local or state personnel about the mortalities is a great idea, and please keep an eye out for more information from the DIFW.

  • At this time, all dead birds located on the town or public beaches should be collected and disposed of by park staff or town public works employees. Care should be used to handle them with non-permeable rubber gloves and two trash bags for birds found. Staff should attempt, to the best of their abilities, to keep account of the numbers of individuals collected.
  • For towns/groups with Beach Management Agreements on Piping Plover beaches, please be aware of the ongoing need for spotters on the beach when collecting dead birds with any mechanized equipment.
  • Birds found sick are to be left alone as human contact is discouraged. No members of the public should handle any birds. The National Wildlife Disease Program recommends NOT handling deceased or injured wildlife. Although these birds have not been confirmed to have HPAI, they should be treated in the same manner.
  • PLEASE DO NOT transport sick birds to any rehab facility. Many are already full and are refusing to treat because of the caseload of birds.
  • Birds found dead on private land and/or beaches can be removed by the homeowner at their discretion. If removed, we are encouraging the use of masks and gloves when doing so. The dead bird should be buried or can be bagged and placed into the trash. Sick acting birds are to be left alone.
  • Eagles found dead are to be collected by MDIFW staff only. If an eagle is found, please call Maine Police dispatch at 207.624.7076 or the Gray Regional Office at 207.287.2345.
  • Avian influenza, or bird flu, refers to a respiratory disease caused by infection with a type of influenza virus.
  • Avian flu viruses normally spread among wild water birds, like ducks and geese. These viruses can spread to domestic poultry, like chickens, ducks, geese, and guinea hens.
  • Avian flu viruses do not normally make humans sick but human infections with avian flu viruses have occurred. People who have regular contact with poultry or wild birds are most at risk.

For more information, click to visit the:

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) page (Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry)