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Deer and COVID-19 – What is Going On?

Hello Wild Side Readers,

Have you seen headlines in the news lately about deer with COVID-19? Some of these headlines are a bit misleading. Check out the below information on what is really going on.

 

SARS-CoV-2 and Deer

In a late August press release, the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory announced confirmation of the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) in wild wild-tailed deer in Ohio. Earlier studies have shown that deer can be experimentally infected with the virus, and that wild deer (from samples in IL, MI, NY, and PA) had antibodies to the virus.

  • The deer tested were positive for the virus (SARS-CoV-2) but were not diagnosed with the illness (COVID-19). Some headlines you may see (including the above press release) are misleading! Currently, it appears that deer are asymptomatic carriers of the virus.
  • According to the Ohio Department of Health, there is no evidence that animals, including deer, play a significant role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to people.
    • Based on the available information, the risk of animals spreading SARS-CoV-2 to people is low.
  • Currently, it is unknown how the deer contracted the virus, though typically the route of infection is from human to animals.
    • Infections have been reported in a small number of other wildlife species, mostly in animals that had close contact with a person with COVID-19. More info here.

Is hunter-harvested game meat safe to eat?

  • According to the Ohio Department of Health, there is no evidence that people can get SARS-CoV-2 by preparing or eating meat from an animal infected with SARS-CoV-2, including wild game meat hunted in the United States.
  • Hunters should always practice good hygiene when processing animals.

Additional actions to stop virus transmission:

  • To limit deer-to-deer transmission, the Ohio Division of Wildlife continues to urge homeowners and hunters to avoid concentrating deer at backyard feeders or in hunting situations. In addition to SARS-CoV-2, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and bovine tuberculosis (bTB) remain on the list of diseases that could be easily transmitted from deer to deer under these situations. CWD was confirmed in two wild deer in Wyandot County during the 2020-21 deer hunting season (see here for more information on CWD in Ohio’s deer herd). Ohio’s herd remains bTB-free.

More information:

  • Contact the Ohio Department of Health for questions about the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from white-tailed deer to humans; 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634) or odh.ohio.gov.
  • Contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture for questions about the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to pets or livestock; 614-728-6201 or agri.ohio.gov.
  • Press release on Deer with Antibodies to SARS-CoV-2
  • FAQ on Deer with Antibodies Study – also has food safety recs for hunters processing animals

 

Thanks for reading!

Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

Update – Bird Illness and Feeding Recommendations

Hello Wild Side Readers,

Good news on the bird illness front – check it out below!

The Ohio Division of Wildlife is lifting its previous recommendation to stop feeding birds. However, caution and vigilance are always necessary to help prevent further spread of diseases at bird feeders.

  • Reports of sick or dead birds possibly affected with the mysterious bird illness in Ohio have slowed considerably. A majority of birds reported with the illness were immature or fledgling birds, and the breeding season is now primarily over.
  • There is still no diagnosis on the cause of the mysterious bird illness. Research is ongoing at multiple labs.
  • Many other songbird diseases can be passed through feeding. It is important to keep feeders clean: use a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach, 9 parts water), rinse, and let dry at least once a week. Take a break (7-10 days) from feeding if you see sick or dead birds. This prevents birds from congregating and passing transmissible diseases.
  • Symptoms of diseases such as house finch eye disease and salmonellosis include reddish or crusty eyes, and neurological conditions such as poor balance and coordination.

The Division of Wildlife would still like reports of dead birds to be reported HERE.

If you find or observe a sick bird, please contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

 

Thanks for all you do for wildlife!

Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

Moles, Voles, and Other Holes – What is Digging in My Yard??

Hello Wild Side Readers,

I had the pleasure of recently being a part of the Lakeside Chautauqua Lecture Series. I was asked to present on managing moles, voles, and other critters that leave small holes in yards and landscapes. Below are the slides to my presentation, as well as additional resources on dealing with moles and voles in your backyard. I hope you find them helpful!

Powerpoint Slides – Moles, Voles, and Other Holes – What’s Digging in My Yard?

Publications:

Online Resources

 

Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

Update: Mysterious Bird Illness Strikes Ohio

Hello Wild Side Readers,

I wanted to share a small update on the illness impacting birds in Ohio and surrounding states.

  • There is still no cause of illness or death.
  • People are encouraged to report sick or dead birds.
  • The following pathogens have NOT been detected, based on results received to date: Salmonella and Chlamydia (bacterial pathogens); avian influenza virus, West Nile virus and other flaviviruses, Newcastle disease virus and other paramyxoviruses, herpesviruses and poxviruses; and Trichomonas parasites.
  • No human health of domestic livestock and poultry issues have been reported.
  • The recommendation remains to take down feeders and baths until this illness subsides.
    • WHY? Bird feeders and baths are places where birds congregate and possibly transmit disease to one another. Taking down feeders and baths prevents these gatherings and the risk of disease transmission.
  •  Recommendation to keep pets (including pet birds) away from sick or dead birds (as a standard precaution).

Please see the below handout for more information. While the bulk of the reports are coming in from SW and Central Ohio, other parts of the state are not immune. Please remain vigilant and report any cases you see – thank you!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Resources:

Update from the USGS National Wildlife Health Center

ODNR-Division of Wildlife’s Page on the bird illness

 

Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

Mysterious Bird Illness Strikes Ohio

Hello Wild Side Readers!

Have you seen or heard about an illness in Ohio affecting songbirds? If so, the attached handout has some information on the mysterious disease. At this time, biologists are unclear as to what is causing birds to get sick, but diagnostic laboratories, including the National Wildlife Health Center, are on the case. Check out the below publication for more information and what you can do to help.

In addition, the Ohio Division of Wildlife has created a new webpage for sharing updates and easy access to their reporting websites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Going on with the Birds? Mysterious Illness Affecting Ohio Birds

 

Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

Dealing with the Modern Day Bambi

Hello Wild Side Readers,

This evening I had the pleasure of speaking with some residents of Butler County about managing deer in urban and rural areas. There is no question that deer are one of the species that I get the most questions about. White-tailed deer are very comfortable living among us, whether we live in rural or urban Ohio. The webinar I gave is posted here, if you would like to watch it.

In the presentation, I discussed a number of management options from repellents to scare tactics to modifying the attractant (usually food) to hunting. Throughout the presentation, I referenced several publications and sources of additional information. You can find them all below. Enjoy and good luck with all your Bambi encounters!

Info on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD):

Wildlife Crop Damage Publications:

Managing Deer Conflict:

Resources for Community leaders:

For help managing your woods for deer:

For more webinars and learning opportunities on managing woodlands and wildlife:

Burrr it’s cold…How do animals survive winter?

Hello Wild Side Readers,

For many, winter is a time for huddling in warm blankets and sweaters, and dreaming of warmer weather. Of all the seasons, I hear the most complaints about winter. It makes me wonder, without being overly anthropomorphic, if wildlife species share the same dour attitudes towards Old Man Winter. Or is winter to them just another time of the year that requires certain strategies to be successful?

For some species, winter can indeed be challenging. Fortunately, wildlife have many adaptations that help them survive winter. In the below presentation, I discuss a few. From down jackets to frozen frogs, the abilities Ohio wildlife employ during the cold winter months are nothing short of impressive!

Winter Wildlife Adaptations recorded presentation

During the presentation, I shared several resources to learn more about winter wildlife adaptations:

The Great Migration video – Sandhill crane stopover at Audubon Nebraska’s Rowe Sanctuary

Birdcast – migration maps and live tracking of migration

Migration Science article – from Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds website

White-nose Syndrome website – U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Webinar on Creating a Living Landscape for Wildlife in Your Backyard 

Nest Box Plans for Wildlife – ODNR, Division of Wildlife

Recommended Books:

  • Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner – for the kiddos
  • Life in the Cold by Peter J. Marchand
  • Winter World by Bernd Heinrich

Enjoy and stay warm out there! Spring is just a month (or so) away!

Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

 

 

Nest Boxes for Wildlife

Hello Wild Side Readers,

Did you know how important dead trees are to wildlife? When a tree dies, it’s starts the next chapter in it’s life as habitat for insects and other invertebrates, fungi, lichen, moss, birds, mammals, and a host of other organisms. I recently gave (as in 1 hour ago) a webinar on the Important of Dead Wood to Wildlife. Check it out here if you have the chance. I strongly encourage any woodland owners and homeowners to think of ways to incorporate dead wood into your properties if attracting wildlife is one of the goals for your woods or backyard.

Nest boxes are a tool we can use to provide a feature of dead trees and live trees that wildlife go crazy for – cavities! Many species utilize cavities, from birds and mammals big and small, to reptiles and amphibians, native bees, and honeybees. Below are some slides I’ve put together on different nest box specification for wildlife – where to place them, tips on construction, and maintenance recommendations.

Nest Box Specifications for Species 

Here are additional resources on nest boxes, including plans for building your own! The great thing about nest boxes is that you don’t have to be a skilled wood worker to build a nest box – I speak from experience. Thankfully, the wildlife won’t care if they aren’t perfect. This makes this a great activity for kids, too. Monitoring the nest boxes also makes for a great activity. For some boxes, like those for bluebirds or tree swallow, the boxes are within reach and can easily be viewed. For those that are mounted higher, you might consider a wildlife/trail camera. These types of cameras are readily available and can be set up facing or even inside the nest box to get some great pics and footage of who is using the box.

ODNR, Division of Wildlife – Nest Box Plans

Bat House Plans

Enjoy!

Marne Titchenell
Wildlife Program Specialist

Ssssssnakes and Other Ohio Reptiles

Hello Wild Side Readers!

I had the pleasure of putting together a reptiles of Ohio presentation for the State Master Gardener Volunteer Conference. The presentation got me thinking that I also needed to do a blog article sharing some resources on these critters, as I frequently get ID questions on them. Below are some of my go-to resources when it comes to Reptile ID (I know there are others out there, so let me know in the comments of others I should add to my list).

Reptile ID resources:

If you want to learn more:

  • Check out this presentation by Brian Hackett, Wildlife Specialist with the Knox County Soil & Water Conservation District. I’ve learned so much watching Brian’s presentations.
    • Ohio Snake Identification
    • This presentation was made the 2020 Farm Science Review Online. Visit here a full list of wildlife related talks from this year’s FSR.

Enjoy!

Marne Titchenell

Wildlife Program Specialist

The Benefits of Bats

Hello Wild Side Readers!

ICYMI – check out the short 4-minute video I created for the virtual Farm Science Review on the benefits of bats and how to attract them to your farm or woodland! Below are some additional resources and videos – enjoy!

Videos:

Publications & Websites:

Thanks for learning more about bats!

(Psssst…don’t forget! National Bat Week is coming soon – October 24th – 31st, 2020! Be sure to check The Ohio Bat Working Group website for additional ways to learn about bats!)

“The last word in ignorance is the person who says of an
animal or plant: What good is it?” ~ Aldo Leopold