ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota conservation officials say there's a small, but noticeable increase in loon deaths and the likely cause is West Nile virus.
The Department of Natural Resources says the virus was confirmed as the cause of death in two of three loons from northeastern Minnesota earlier this month.
Minnesota Public Radio News says the agency is asking lake property owners and others using the lakes to contact a wildlife office if they see two or more dead loons with no obvious injury or cause of death.
West Nile was first confirmed in Minnesota in 2002. The virus is spread through mosquito bites. Most people and animals fight off the virus and develop antibodies against future infection. The DNR says loons and crows, however, are especially susceptible to the infection.