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Loon population faces deadly disease

GRAND RAPIDS, MN– A deadly disease is taking a toll on the Minnesota state bird.

Minnesota Conservation specialists say there’s a small but noticeable increase in Loon deaths, due to West Nile Virus.

The West Nile Virus has been impacting Minnesota’s Loons since 2005 when the first case was detected.

But this June reports starting pouring in, more birds were dying.

Non-game Wildlife Specialist Gaea Crozier says locals in the area first started detecting something was wrong with the birds when they were dying more than normal.

Crozier says, “There’s been a group of citizens who took the initiative to collect some of them and submit them for testing.”

The reports are mostly coming from the central parts of St. Louis County.

“What’s going on this year that’s causing this uptick? We’re not exactly sure, Loons are one of the species that are most susceptible,” says Crozier.

Wildlife experts aren’t sure why but are conducting tests on dead loons and say you can help.

If you see more than two dead loons, officials ask you to contact your local wildlife specialists.

Normal behavior for these birds is spending time under the water, preening their feathers, and being very active.

Crozier says when a Loon has contracted the disease, they tend to be very slow and lethargic.

Experts say despite the increase in deaths, there’s no threat to the overall loon population.

 

Emma Quinn

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