(Dan Cepeda, Oil City File)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department said in a news release Monday that five cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have been confirmed in wild birds in the state, and is asking for the public’s help in monitoring the outbreak.

Two great horned owls from Park County, one Canadian goose from Bighorn County and two Canadian geese from Fremont County have tested positive for the virus.

The detection of the disease in the wild birds comes about two weeks after HPAI was identified in domestic flocks in Johnson County amid a national outbreak. Since that March 29 detection in the flock of 39 birds in Johnson County, HPAI has been identified in domestic flocks in Park County (flock of 40 birds on March 30), Fremont County (flock of 47 birds on April 1), Sheridan County (flock of 45 birds on April 5) and again in Park County (flock of 100 birds on April 6), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

“We expected to see HPAI in wild birds after it was identified in domestic flocks in Wyoming,” said Hank Edwards, Wildlife Health Laboratory supervisor. “Game and Fish is relying on reports from the public to learn more about the distribution in our state — especially from hunters and people who spend a lot of time outdoors.”

Anyone who finds clusters of three or more dead wild birds — waterfowl, grouse, turkeys and raptors — are encouraged to contact their regional Game and Fish office.

Wild birds can carry HPAI and not appear sick, Game and Fish said. Some birds might exhibit signs of neurological impairment or may be found dead with no apparent cause.

HPAI is considered a zoonotic disease, which can infect humans as well as domestic birds, like chickens and turkeys. Game and Fish reminds the public to not touch or handle sick or dead birds, and to not allow domestic animals like dogs and cats to feed on sick or dead birds.

For more info on HPAI and to track cases in wild birds, visit the Game and Fish website.