Avian reovirus killing crows

Lisa Marie Pink for weeks has been trying to get some help ridding her William Street home of hundre

Lisa Marie Pink for weeks has been trying to get some help ridding her William Street home of hundreds of crows that roost in her backyard each night.

But when she found three dead crows last week, she grew even more concerned.

“I was saying to myself, ‘I hope it’s not West Nile,’ ” she said, referring to the mosquito-borne infection that can kill animals and humans.

State officials on Thursday said another relatively new disease, a strain of “avian reovirus,” is the culprit that’s claimed the lives of hundreds of crows throughout the state recently.

The avian reovirus is not believed to be a risk to humans, officials said Thursday.

Pink said five dead crows were ultimately found on her property, and she was “a little bit” consoled to learn from state officials the birds didn’t have West Nile.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation issued a news release Thursday to inform residents of the findings.

“It seemed that there was a number of incidents within a short period of time. Within various locations, there [was] a group of dead birds, and folks are kind of concerned,” DEC spokesman Yancey Roy said.

State wildlife pathologist Ward Stone on Thursday said he’s received dead crows from numerous places in just a few weeks. “It sure as heck is killing a lot of crows over a wide geographic area,” Stone said.

“The crows are dying, and people are concerned. I think their main concern wasn’t for the crows but it was for themselves. They were worried that there may be something they could catch from those particular birds,” Stone said.

Stone said the birds from Pink’s home were found to have the reovirus. The particular strain of the virus targets the birds’ intestinal systems and can spread through their droppings.

Stone said this reovirus was considered new sometime between 2003 and 2004.

So far, the DEC reports finding the dead crows in Albany, Dutchess, Jefferson, Montgomery, Organge and Steuben counties.

The fact that the dead birds are being found in a short period of time is not surprising, Stone said, because of the season.

The birds roost “in the thousands,” he said, making it easy for them to contact feces landing on limbs and on the ground.

“I think that’s why it spread so readily from crow to crow,” Stone said.

Though there’s no scientific evidence the avian reovirus can impact the health of humans, Stone said, he suggests people use caution when handling the birds anyway.

“I’m not too worried about it going into people, but I’m a scientist and I leave a little opening. I don’t really think this is going to be a human disease,” Stone said.

“If you are going to pick them up, wear gloves and put them in bags. It may be road crews — they should wear gloves, put them in bags, and wash up with soap and water when they’re done,” Stone said.

Pink, who noted her mother is facing health problems, said she continues calling the city of Amsterdam and others hoping someone will help get rid of the hundreds of crows still roosting around her house.

“I’ve left numerous messages on their answering service. No one has gotten back to me,” Pink said.

“I’m just leery. I feel like I’m in the Alfred Hitchcock movie, ‘The Birds.’ You can hear them flutter, it’s like 3,000 out there, it’s tremendous,” Pink said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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