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Wildlife health

The wildlife health program maintains a strong program of wildlife disease monitoring to detect the introduction of new diseases, changes in disease patterns and significant impacts on wildlife populations. The wildlife health team's mission is to investigate, manage and educate about disease and other health issues affecting wildlife to help conserve Wisconsin's rich wildlife heritage.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

At the end of March, EA H5 Avian Influenza, a strain that is highly pathogenic for poultry, was detected in wild birds in Wisconsin. View the complete news release. Currently the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) Eurasian H5 strain is causing illness and death in some species of wild birds including raptors (especially bald eagles), shorebirds and waterfowl throughout the country. Findings of the virus in Wisconsin can be found on the wildlife diseases page under the Avian influenza tab. In mid-March, HPAI was detected in domestic poultry in Jefferson County, Wisconsin.

The Department has increased monitoring and response to wild bird mortalities to sample for avian influenza. Monitoring for HPAI is focused on the species that are known to be hosts for avian influenza viruses or most susceptible to disease in natural settings, which includes: waterfowl, waterbirds, raptors (especially bald eagles) and avian scavengers (crows, ravens, gulls).

  • Please report any of these species observed with neurologic signs such as circling, tremors or holding their heads in an unusual position.
  • These reports can be made to the DNR Wildlife Hotline by emailing DNRWildlifeSwitchboard@wisconsin.gov or calling 608-267-0866.

Based on research findings, songbirds are considered a low-risk species for infection when in their natural environment. At this time, we are not recommending that people take down their bird feeders, however, if waterfowl are attracted to bird feeding sites, we recommend discontinuing those feeders during this HPAI event. More detailed information on avian influenza viruses can be found on the wildlife disease page under the Avian influenza tab. Resources for avian influenza in domestic poultry can be found by visiting Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP): Avian influenza [exit DNR].

Report sick or dead wildlife

Help monitor the health of Wisconsin's wildlife by reporting your sightings of sick or dead wildlife to the DNR Wildlife Hotline by emailing DNRWildlifeSwitchboard@wisconsin.gov or calling 608-267-0866. You will need to leave a message for hotline staff to return your call. In your message, please include the number of animals, the species (such as raccoon or Canada goose), if they were sick or dead, the specific location where you saw them, including the county and your contact information.

Observations of five or more sick or dead birds or three or more sick or dead mammals in one area are of particular interest. In addition to groups of wildlife, the DNR has disease monitoring programs for the specific wildlife species listed below.

Individual dead birds that are not on the list below can be discarded in your regular trash. To dispose of a bird carcass, use gloves or an inverted plastic bag to place the carcass in a garbage bag. Do not handle dead wildlife with bare hands.

Report observations of single sick or dead animals of the following:

  • banded loons, eagles and osprey;
  • peregrine falcons;
  • trumpeter swans that have leg bands or neck collars;
  • greater prairie chickens, ruffed grouse and sharp-tailed grouse;
  • bats: you may also enter reports of sick or dead bats electronically using the Reporting Form [exit DNR] found on the Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Program's website [exit DNR];
  • wolves;
  • American marten;
  • raccoons;
  • snakes, especially those with skin lesions;
  • bear, especially bear cubs; and
  • elk and deer.