Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist 50:5-15; 2018


Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society. Used by permission.


Causes and impacts of disease outbreaks in wild bird populations are rarely studied beyond documentation of large epizootic events. In Kansas, USA, a central disease surveillance and reporting protocol currently does not exist within the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, which has led to a lack of available knowledge of disease occurrences that could be used to predict and manage future outbreaks. We compiled historic records of documented waterbird disease outbreaks in Kansas from 1967–2014 and related the frequency of outbreaks with light geese (Ross’s goose [Anser rossii]; Snow goose [A. caerulescens]) populations from 1970–2014. We found 32 reports across 16 counties that documented various outbreaks of avian cholera, avian botulism, aspergillosis, renal coccidiosis, West Nile, aflatoxicosis, and mycotoxicosis across multiple waterbird taxa. Avian cholera and avian botulism represented nearly 70% of documented disease outbreaks. Frequency of disease outbreaks increased across the time period with a positive relationship between annual Midwinter Waterfowl Survey counts of light geese and number of reported of avian cholera outbreaks in Kansas. Changes in the continental abundance and distribution of light geese has resulted in increasing residence times in Kansas during winter, potentially increasing risk and severity of avian cholera outbreaks. Disease mitigation efforts by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) should strategically plan for future avian disease outbreaks.