On Monday, November 18th, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) reported results that confirmed three ruffed grouse submitted for testing were infected with Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).
The grouse were taken in Itasca county and submitted to the DNR for testing by hunters. The hunters noted the birds seemed unable to escape or fly. They also appeared emaciated, having significant muscle and tissue loss. Like West Nile Virus, ruffed grouse become infected with EEE when bitten by mosquitoes carrying the disease.
The full release from Minnesota DNR can be read here. Despite these recent findings in Minnesota, the RGS/AWS mission remains the same and the need for conservation support for ruffed grouse has never been greater.
“We are concerned about this news and will add EEE to the list of mosquito carried diseases, like West Nile Virus, that deserve attention and monitoring through DNR efforts.” said Ben Jones, President and CEO of the Ruffed Grouse Society.
“There is a growing body of evidence that supports habitat management as the best defense against West Nile Virus. As we pursue additional information about EEE, we will continue to prioritize habitat management as the best course of action.”