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More on the Avian Flu Epidemic: 12000 Birds In The Wild Die of the Flu in Colorado Alone – And That – A Conservative Estimate.

March 8, 2023

Juvenile Bald Eagle. Jim Baker Reservoir. Sunday, March 5, 2023. (R. Prince photo).


The real kicker here is that the virus itself is constantly “changing.” The more accurate term for the process is mutating – a term that the mainstream media assiduously avoids. Why I wonder? Because it suggests evolution?


Last night a friend, bearing a dozen donuts, stopped by. We offered him our chicken, wild rice,salad dinner and his preferred soft drink (orange Izzy) talked about the usual wide ranging series of topics – his business, which is picking up, the state of Kaiser in Colorado (not good – losing members all the time), the troubled state of affairs in Ethiopia (also not good) and finally about the Avian Flu epidemic that is spreading through Colorado – and the world. Like most people I associate with, he knew nothing about the latter and was a bit intrigued as to what it’s all about and why I am interested. And then he had the usual epiphany ‘ That’s why the price of eggs has doubled, tripled.” –

Yes, that and the usual profit taking of agribusiness making a financial killing on the crisis.

The current strain of Avian Flu continues to ravage both wild and domestic bird population. It has gotten so bad that even the staid Denver Post ran a decent article on the epidemic in their Sunday, March 5, 2023 edition., “Avian Flu Has Killed 12,000 Wild Birds.” A quick “Google search” reveals that the article was reprinted in a number of local papers all over the state.

The 12,000 wild birds referred to are all in Colorado; they are a small portion of both domestic and wild birds dying worldwide by the new and more potent variety of the virus that mutated from earlier versions a few years ago. State wildlife officials (of the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife) list among the most recent victims of these “die offs”.

  • more than 1000 Geese in two separate northeast Colorado reservoirs, one place being the Jumbo Reservoir (between Sedgewick and Crook) and the other at the Prewitt Reservoir (between Merino and Hillrose both northeast of Brush).
  • Other die offs of sizeable numbers include most of the reservoirs in the Lamar area. On social media, one commentator on the Colorado Field Orthnotholgist Facebook page) noted numerous dead geese at the pond behind Belmar Civic Center and Library in Lakewood. I have personally noted seeing dead birds with a Northern Harrier hawk pecking at one of them on the South Platte River ten miles northeast of Denver (88th and S. Platte River Trail) several weeks ago.
  • The death toll is likely “a significant underestimate”of the accurate number of Colorado wild birds infected and killed by the virus, this according to Travis Duncan, spokesperson for Parks and Services division (according to the Post article). But even this number pales in contrast to the number of commercial poultry euthanized in Colorado to stem the tide of the epidemic. According to an earlier article in the Colorado Sun published in January (2023), some 6.4 million domesticated chickens and geese have been slaughtered in the state alone leading to an egg shortage and a dramatic rise in egg prices.

The Post article, based on information provided by both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state’s wildlife division claimed that incidents of Avian Flu have been reported on 30 of the state’s 64 counties. Among the species most effected are Canada and snow geese, great horned owls, red-tailed hawks and five bald eagles. In Denver the virus has killed two Chilean flamingos (classified as captive wild birds), a swan goose and a scaly-sided merganser. along with geese, ducks and owls in the main. While state and federal authorities have been able to somewhat contain the epidemic among the domesticated flocks through mass slaughter campaigns, there are no such checks, limits on birds in the wild where the epidemic continues to wreak havoc. Furthermore, many of the effected birds are migratory and over the course of the year often go the length of the Americas. Prevention and containment of bird flu through so many countries with so many different environmental protection standards is virtually impossible.

The real kicker here is that the virus itself is constantly “changing.” The more accurate term for the process is mutating – a term that the mainstream media assiduously avoids. Why I wonder? Because it suggests evolution? Dunno. To date some of these mutations have jumped from birds to mammals. The number of mammals infected with Avian Flu appear to be few and far between. In Colorado only three cases are cited – that of a mountain lion, a black bear and a skunk. It does not appear that the mutations include the ability for the infected mammals to spread the condition among their ranks, at least not as yet, but as the virus continues to mutate – and viruses do do that – it could happen. In the same vein, there have been very few – two I believe – cases of Avian Flu that have infected humans in Colorado, again, without the ability to transmit the condition to other humans … yet. But such transformations both in mammals in general and humans in particular are not impossible, not at all, as viruses have shown a flexibility in jumping from their species of origin to other living things.

The unanswered question: Did this more recent, virulent strain of Avian Flu evolve “in Nature” or was it the creation of some bio-weapon research that escaped from a lab? No clear answer here but in future posts, let’s explore what has been going on. Stay tuned.

Common Merganser at Jim Baker Reservoir – close relation to the Scaly-sided Mergansers of Asia (R. Prince photo) 

6 Comments leave one →
  1. William Conklin permalink
    March 8, 2023 12:33 pm

    Interesting questions in the article and hopefully we will know more in the future. Viruses generally mutate to be less virulent to the species they infect because they cannot afford to kill the host, or they will die out since they depend on the genetics of the host to survive and reproduce. I am not convinced that killing a million chickens will do anything other than starve the primates of their chicken dinners.

  2. Phil Jones permalink
    March 8, 2023 2:41 pm

    According to the NY Times, the Biden admin is considering launching a massive vaccination program for chickens. I confess that vaccinating birds had never seemed a possibility to me before reading that article. And I wonder how one vaccinates all the chickens.

    However, on my morning walk I found a dead Canada goose lying near the path. I’ve seen dead geese before, but it’s rare, and I suspect the virus might be here in Maryland.

    Change of subject: I am very happy client of Kaiser P here in Maryland where I think it’s doing quite well. What is the cause of the decline in membership in Colorado? ………….Phil

    • March 8, 2023 3:38 pm

      Phil – was thinking of you. Hope all is well. 1. Kaiser – personally mixed record – the surgeries fine, some of the less invasive visits a bit less so. In any case – I don’t know all the details – part of it is that other HMO’s have ganged up to prevent Kaiser from opening its own hospital in Colorado. Kaiser must share facilities with other hospitals and apparently it’s cutting into the profits quite a bit. Colorado Kaiser lost $200 million last year. Place is under staffed – cannot keep its doctors – and over worked.. Probably more too it than that. Haven’t looked into all the details and for the moment have no interest in changing providers. 2. Am aware of the program to vaccinate birds although I need to look into it more carefully (and will). Problem seems to be the interaction between the wild birds who are carriers and completely or almost completely unchecked and the domestic populations they infect. Will check to see if the virus has spread to Maryland. Don’t know.

      • jpjones33 permalink
        March 8, 2023 6:29 pm

        $200 million? Dear god, numbers are getting huge everywhere these days. I just read an article that said Arizona State U has 80,000 students on its campus. I just can’t quite bend my head around these numbers.

        • March 8, 2023 6:32 pm

          But …. Overall Kaiser profits nationally was if I remember right $4 billion so the corp could easily cover the Colorado losses if they want to

  3. William Watts permalink
    March 8, 2023 4:22 pm

    Very informative

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