As reports of mourning and Eurasian collared dove die offs in the Kuna area filter in to Fish and Game offices, forensic testing on several dead birds from the area has pinpointed the cause of death as pigeon paramyxovirus, a strain of paramyxovirus that is common to pigeons and doves.
Similar dove die offs were recently reported in the Idaho City area, while a large pigeon die off occurred during summer in Mountain Home due to a different strain of paramyxovirus.
The disease poses no health risk to humans or pets, but can impact other domestic poultry. Persons with backyard chickens are encouraged to keep their birds isolated from wild doves and pigeons and not feed chickens in areas frequented by wild doves or pigeons.
The mourning dove hunting season is closed, but invasive Eurasian collared doves continue to be harvested. Upland hunters should avoid harvesting any live birds found on the ground that appear weak or sick. As a precaution, potentially sick birds should not be handled by hunters or hunting dogs, because while there is no risk to humans or pets, birds infected with the virus could have other diseases as well.
Kuna-area residents feeding birds are advised to stop feeding doves for the next few weeks to reduce further transmission of the virus to other birds. All persons feeding birds should practice good feeder hygiene, which includes removing waste, or excess feed, every week, cleaning feeders and feeding areas using a 10-percent bleach solution followed by rinsing in clean water, and also maintaining any watering areas in clean condition.
People noticing multiple dead pigeons or doves at, or near, bird feeders can report the event at idfg.idaho.gov/report/doves. Because Fish and Game staff are aware of the outbreak, no follow-up calls will be made.
In the event that dead birds are encountered, wear rubber gloves or use plastic bags to handle the carcasses, which can be disposed of with other household trash. While bird virus outbreaks are occasionally seen in Idaho, they tend to be localized, affect a relatively small number of birds, and are short lived.