Bird flu detected in South Dakota for first time since 2015

Two Charles Mix County poultry operations reported outbreaks of avian flu, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department said on Friday. Canadian and Snow Geese also have been infected.

A small flock of Canada geese flies across cloudy skies above Red Lake near Wagner, South Dakota, in this undated file photo.
Chris Mueller / Republic
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PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota officials confirmed on Friday, March 18, the first infection of bird flu in the state — both in wild and domestic birds — since 2015.

"This particular strain appears to be more severe in that it impacts wild birds and is more transmissible among these wild bird populations," said Rocco Murano, senior waterfowl biologist with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks department.

Both Canada geese and snow geese have been impacted, according to a release from GFP officials, who also noted that two turkey plants in Charles Mix County saw confirmed cases.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed instances of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a commercial poultry operation in Charles Mix County.

On Friday, South Dakota Public Broadcasting reported that 85,000 birds in Charles Mix County were euthanized at the two farms. Forum News Service has sought confirmation from state and federal officials on the culling of any commercial flocks in South Dakota.


Murano stressed bird flu rarely jumps to humans, but he encouraged caution in interacting with dead or sick birds. He also asked that residents contact GFP if they spot unusual behavior, such as loss of coordination, in birds.

"The good news is that like the human flu, as the weather gets warmer, the virus is less present," Murano said.

When bird flu struck South Dakota in 2015, the first confirmed case hit a commercial turkey farm in Beadle County.

Christopher Vondracek is the South Dakota correspondent for Forum News Service. Contact Vondracek at , or follow him on Twitter: @ChrisVondracek .

The state's biggest political leaders have touted inbound migration, so-called "blue state refugees" who flooded South Dakota. But the biggest driver of partisan races this coming summer and fall appears to be a redistricting process, log-jamming Republicans in primaries and opening up new turf for Democrats.

Christopher Vondracek covers South Dakota news for Forum News Service. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @ChrisVondracek.
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