File photo

This pileated woodpecker enjoys a feast from a bird feeder. Cases of dying birds have been identified in 69 counties including Benton, Cass, Jasper, Pulaski, Carroll, Tippecanoe and White.

WHITE COUNTY — The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has located the songbird illness in 69 counties including White, Carroll, Cass, Pulaski, Jasper, Benton and Tippecanoe.

According to Allisyn Gillet — state ornithologist for Indiana DNR — more than 280 sick or dead songbird reports have been made across Indiana.

In a press conference with Gillet, the ornithologist stated the labs testing the birds have not found a direct connection between the birds’ illness and their cicada consumption. Birds have also tested negative for influenza and West Nile virus.

The DNR is working with the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center to track and identify the illness.

Federal agencies and nonprofits including the Smithsonian are also involved due to reports of the illness in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.

The DNR asks Hoosiers to remove all bird feeders and baths to encourage avian social distancing.

“The whole reason for this is because we want birds to be able to socially distance naturally,” said Gillet. “When there are feeders, they are immediately attracted to them. They don’t have that know-how to think that [congregating] is not okay when there is a disease going around.”

Once removed, bird feeders and baths are to be cleaned with a 10% bleach solution and air dried.

Any sick or dead birds are to be reported at on.IN.gov/sickwildlife.

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