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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is recommending all Hoosiers to remove their birdfeeders while they try to figure out what is causing reports of sick and dying songbirds.

The Indiana DNR now says 15 counties have reported sick or dying songbirds. These include Clark, Delaware, Hamilton, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, LaGrange, Lake, Marion, Monroe, Newton, St. Joseph, Union, Washington, and Whitley counties.

They are now working with the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and the USGS National Wildlife Health Center to determine the birds’ cause of death. So far, all samples have come back negative for avian influenza and West Nile virus.

The Indiana DNR said the affected songbirds showed neurological signs of illness as well as eye swelling and crusty discharge. They are asking Hoosiers statewide to remove their birdfeeders while they look into what may be causing the illnesses and deaths. They also recommend the following steps:

• Use the DNR sick/dead wildlife reporting tool at on.IN.gov/sickwildlife to alert DNR staff.
• Stop feeding birds until the mortality event has concluded.
• Clean feeders and baths with a 10% bleach solution.
• Avoid handling birds. If you need to handle birds, wear disposable gloves.
• When removing dead birds, wear disposable gloves and place birds and gloves in a sealable plastic bag to dispose with household trash.
• Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a precaution.