In the wake of the much-hyped “aflockalypse” – the term coined for the series of mass wildlife die-offs over the past two weeks – I discovered this U.S. Geological Survey site that compiles recent wildlife mortality events (which are actually quite common, experts say, though not to be ignored).
The site shows a couple hundred black-tailed deer in central Oregon and in the central Coast Range died of the viral infection adenovirus hemorrhagic disease in mid-2010. In September, it shows about 500 birds – including Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon and Northern Shoveler – died of suspected drowning.
In Washington, it shows more than 100 little brown bats died in Walla Walla County of an undetermined cause in July of 2010 (let’s hope it’s not white-nose syndrome). It also shows some mortality events among brown and white pelicans in other parts of the state.
The agency also keeps a list of all the recently reported die-offs across the country (with emphasis on reported because many mass deaths are not). Here, there are a couple other incidents in Oregon, Washington and California, including the emaciation of 2,750 Northern Fulmar from November to December.
Over the past several years, brown pelicans have been staying longer than usual on Oregon’s north coast, and have died by the hundreds after getting caught in winter storms when they attempt to make a late southern migration. It has a lot of scientists scratching their heads and wondering if their late migration can be attributed to climate change. The Wildlife Center of the North Coast in Olney is a good resource for all kinds of wildlife illness issues.