West Nile Virus has been around our part of the world for more than a decade. We have become accustomed to its presence in the environment, but this year it is in the news once again because of numerous human cases, primarily in Texas. However, human cases have also been reported in Nebraska and you can see where, here: http://diseasemaps.usgs.gov/wnv_ne_human.html. With more West Nile Virus coverage, people are increasingly having questions about dead birds and surveillance efforts. As you probably know, birds are also suspectible West Nile Virus and when the disease first made it way across North America it hammered certain species’ populations. If you find a dead bird or birds or if you have questions about whether there are testing efforts going on in your area , please contact your local county health department. These are the folks that test for West Nile Virus; Game and Parks does not. A complete county run-down can be found at this link:
Birds die all the time, so encountering a dead bird is not unusual and should not cause alarm. If the county health department is not interested in collecting the bird, you can dispose of the carcass by either burying it or placing it in a plastic bag and throwing it in the trash. As a precaution, wear gloves or if using a plastic bag, pick up the bird without coming into direct contact with the carcass. If you bag your dog’s poop, you know the routine, use the back like a glove and then enclose the dead bird. Finally, wash your hands thoroughly when finished. Do not keep the carcass or any parts, such as feathers, of the bird. Possession of bird parts for almost all native species is a violation of federal law.
Finally, in any instance you come across a mass die-off of birds, or really any other wild animal, where an obvious explanation cannot be had, then contact Game and Parks or another agency. In the least, let someone know! It could be a serious health concern for both the animals and humans.