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post #1 of 50 (permalink) Old 02-17-2018, 03:07 PM Thread Starter
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Bird Questions

Ok I am not an active avid bird hunter in Pa and only somewhat of an opportunist in other states. However I use to enjoy grouse and woodcock hunting without bird dogs when I located good cover. As far as pheasants go I have not actually went out intentionally hunting them since the first few years in the 80's. Back than 5 of us would walk in line on the farm fields hunting whatever was flushed or jumped. On to the questions.

If West Nile Virus is hurting our wild birds such as the grouse and some song birds, Was WNV a factor in the failed attempt to bring back wild pheasants? Was this looked at as a factor or overlooked? Was it just poor timing that doomed the effort?

Were or are our pheasant growers having any issue with WNV? What about other states?

The reason I ask is because even if I don't hunt birds it would be great to have a wild hunt able population of both grouse and pheasants. It is hard to understand how states in the snow belt areas of the upper mid west could have such abundant bird numbers and we have zero. I fully understand farming has changed but it changed in the mid west as well. Not many kernels get left behind today with the profit margin so tight for farmers. So how could states that measure snow in feet for many months only to have flooding follow out produce PA which in many areas don't get feet of snow when it is all added up let alone only lasting a few days or weeks before it is all gone. Waugh!

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post #2 of 50 (permalink) Old 02-17-2018, 03:30 PM
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JB, our pheasants started to go south before we had west Nile, many wildlife biologists believe it was the avian flu in conjunction with disappearing habitat and modern farming practices that rang the death knell for our wild pheasants. Some of the best pheasant areas in PA also happened to be where large chicken raising operations are located for both meat and eggs, Things were already going down hill for the pheasant but it seemed like after the avian flue hit they hit bottom. I have not read anything abut west Nile and pheasants, but that doesn't mean it isn't affecting them.
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post #3 of 50 (permalink) Old 02-17-2018, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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I never heard of the connection between our decline and any disease. Most everyone and everything pointed to the changes in our farming practices most notable the open field for higher yield practice of removing many fence rows.
Of late there is even more talk about the herbicides and pesticides that eliminated a lot of weed seeds we never noticed and a lot of bugs the birds depend on to survive. This has merit but again I point to the mid west farm belt states and toss up those farmers use the same practices as us only on a much larger scale.
Thanks for your input but I still can't see the connection to why we can't have a recovery of a wild population at least in the areas that still have the larger farms and the habitat surrounding like the mid west. Waugh!

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post #4 of 50 (permalink) Old 02-17-2018, 04:05 PM
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My nephew raises pheasants, quail and chuckars commercially. I never heard of WNV being a problem. We don't have close to the cover they have in some areas of the mid west. The areas there that have good wild bird also have huge chunks of CRP. The areas there that don't have the cover don't have birds either.
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post #5 of 50 (permalink) Old 02-17-2018, 09:04 PM
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Pheasants were long gone before WNV here in PA.
Habitat was the demise of pheasants.
Pheasants are not affected by WNV as is so with other birds.

WEST NILE VIRUS CONFIRMED IN IOWA PHEASANTS | | globegazette.com
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post #6 of 50 (permalink) Old 02-17-2018, 09:49 PM
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From the article
Quote:
A joint study by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine last fall found that nearly 20 percent of the rooster pheasants examined had been exposed to West Nile Virus at some point in their life. The study examined 80 hunter shot rooster pheasants from across Iowa.
Isnt that the same percentage of WNV positive grouse in Pa? And then this:

Quote:
It is not possible from this study to determine how many pheasants contracted the disease and died. WNV has been confirmed in 138 species of birds and some popular game animals like squirrels and deer.
So its quite possible if they infected pheasant chicks at 5 weeks of age the mortality rate would equal the grouse experiment?

So it was concluded:

Quote:
Other studies on pheasants and closely related birds, like wild turkeys and quail, so far indicate the birds are highly resistant to the disease and that WNV is not through to be a threat to survival.
So we know exactly the same thing about wild pheasants and grouse, yet it has been concluded that pheasants are not vulnerable to WNV, but WNV is slowly killing our grouse population.

Totally amazing how we have the exact same numbers for two different wild bird populations and those in charge can come up with two totally different conclusions.
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post #7 of 50 (permalink) Old 02-18-2018, 12:30 AM Thread Starter
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"It is not possible from this study to determine how many pheasants contracted the disease and died."

They tested 80 birds in Iowa and found 20% had contacted the disease and survived but could not tell how many contacted the disease and did not survive. But it also tells us 80% did not contact the disease because they did not have the antibodies.

What does this really tell us? All it tells me is that 80% of the birds in Iowa never had the disease and that 80% is more than enough to sustain the wild population in Iowa.
It also tells us that 20% had the disease and survived adding to the 80% that never had it helping sustain the population.
It don't tell us what percent of the total population or what percentage of the hens or chicks that did not survive.

Here in Pa we had a small population and the impact on chicks and hens would be more telling than the results of the roosters.

Like LA said. Which conclusion is correct. At least the study on chicks indicated lost recruitment. The Iowa study seems to make a conclusion based on birds that are already recruited into the population. I don't think it is correct to compare the two studies like LA is doing.
I'll have to see if I can find the study itself to see if the article doe it any justice. Waugh!

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post #8 of 50 (permalink) Old 02-18-2018, 07:31 AM
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If you take out the experiment with 5 week old grouse chicks, there is no difference; well other than Pa have 500 blood samples for their data.

More to chew on, other than the mosquito cesspool of State College and a few other urban areas, WNV, and dead birds arent showing up until early August, at that time grouse chicks will be 9-10 weeks old. Again dead birds are showing up around the urban areas and now in the areas we typically find grouse. It isnt until September when horses start to show up with WNV, showing that the disease has now reached the more rural areas. By that time grouse chicks are almost full grown.

So all we really know so far is we can kill grouse chicks in a lab at 5 weeks old, wanna bet we can do the same thing to pheasant chicks? If the experiments were done at 9 & 13 weeks for both grouse and pheasants, what would the results be? But as of right now, everything is being based off 1 experiment at an age when WNV is still not present in the wild.

Plenty of scouting and good habitat makes for a great hunt.

Jeff
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post #9 of 50 (permalink) Old 02-18-2018, 07:27 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by LostAgain View Post
If you take out the experiment with 5 week old grouse chicks, there is no difference; well other than Pa have 500 blood samples for their data.

More to chew on, other than the mosquito cesspool of State College and a few other urban areas, WNV, and dead birds arent showing up until early August, at that time grouse chicks will be 9-10 weeks old. Again dead birds are showing up around the urban areas and now in the areas we typically find grouse. It isnt until September when horses start to show up with WNV, showing that the disease has now reached the more rural areas. By that time grouse chicks are almost full grown.

So all we really know so far is we can kill grouse chicks in a lab at 5 weeks old, wanna bet we can do the same thing to pheasant chicks? If the experiments were done at 9 & 13 weeks for both grouse and pheasants, what would the results be? But as of right now, everything is being based off 1 experiment at an age when WNV is still not present in the wild.
I think what the dead birds showing up tell us more than anything is that the mosquito are increasing in numbers as the season progresses. but we always knew that early on there were less sketters than there are in the fall. It also tells us the sketters have a jump start in the urban areas mainly because of water temps but also because of still water that is not moving or being disturbed.

However I do follow your logic that small chicks receiving the same dose as an older bird stands less of a chance of survival. I agree.
I also agree that when most chicks are hatched there are less sketters and thus less chances of WNV infection.
What we don't know is if older chicks have the same mortality rate.
So someone must have done a test on some type of foul that were older and has results to compare. I know chickens are used as indicator birds.

Another good point is in the Iowa study we have no idea at what age the roosters were infected.

My whole point in asking about the pheasants is to see if anyone even looked at the possibility.

Lost, what makes you say WNV is not present in the wild when the grouse chicks are born. I say it is there but the vector we all point to is in low numbers but still there.
Another point is that in urban areas more dead birds are found because the chances of being seen on a lawn is better than in the bush and more eyes in the area than in rural areas. The other factor is there are more critters feeding opportunistically on the dead birds in the bush than in the city and towns. Waugh!

Yes I had to use spell check to use that big word LOL.

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post #10 of 50 (permalink) Old 02-18-2018, 09:54 PM
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Lost, what makes you say WNV is not present in the wild when the grouse chicks are born. I say it is there but the vector we all point to is in low numbers but still there.
When they did the mosquito study last summer, it didnt show up in the mosquitoes until July. If you use the information from DEP, there occasional positives in urban areas earlier than that, but sporadically. Just using the data that is given. So to say it is in the wild before that would go against all the current data.

Quote:
Another point is that in urban areas more dead birds are found because the chances of being seen on a lawn is better than in the bush and more eyes in the area than in rural areas. The other factor is there are more critters feeding opportunistically on the dead birds in the bush than in the city and towns.
I'm not expecting to find dead birds in the grouse woods, but why arent they showing up in Bradford, Wellsboro, Coudersport, or Marienville? Looking at the horse positives there were none even close to "grouse" counties, yet we know there are plenty of horses in those counties.

Plenty of scouting and good habitat makes for a great hunt.

Jeff
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