Over 2,000 snow geese fell out of the sky dead while flying over Idaho during the weekend. According to wildlife managers they had been migrating to Alaska. Dozens of workers and volunteers from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game spent the weekend collecting and burning carcasses of snow geese found near water and a wildlife management area.
The birds are believed to have died from avian cholera, given the way they died. Some of the carcasses were taken to a state wildlife lab to be tested for the disease. It is extremely contagious and caused by bacteria that can survive in water and soil for as long as four months. While humans might be susceptible to the disease, it is far more dangerous to local wildlife that were near the carcasses. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, avian cholera is the most serious disease affecting North American wild waterfowl.
Authorities are not yet sure how or where the snow geese might have contracted avian cholera. The Real Deal says that birds had spent the winter in Mexico and the American Southwest and had been flying north. Avian cholera outbreaks have occurred periodically in the United State and elsewhere.
Snow geese owe their name to their white plumage and their habit of breeding in the far north in places like Alaska, Siberia and Greenland.