State conservation officials say pneumonia caused the death of approximately 300 mallard ducks in Scotts Bluff County earlier this month.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reports the mallards died of a fungal infection known as Aspergillus fumigatus.
The National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, WI performed necropsies on six of the carcasses and confirmed the disease to Game and Parks today.
A hunter discovered the dead mallards January 7th along a 2- to 3-mile stretch of Ninemile Creek, which is located just east of Lake Minatare.
Game and Parks’ disease research program manager, Todd Nordeen, says the ducks likely contracted the disease from eating moldy grain.
Nordeen says the disease will likely not spread to other flocks, because it is not contagious.
“It appears to have subsided,” Nordeen said in a statement released by Game and Parks. “As long as the grain or source is cleaned up, it will end.”
Birds which contract the disease exhibit signs of weakness, such as a lack of coordination. Game and Parks requests anyone who observes such behavior or finds dead birds to contact an area conservation officer.
Hunters should not eat the sick or dead mallards and should not handle them with bare hands, according to Game and Parks.