An estimated 9,500 sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) died in Gaines County, Texas and Roosevelt County, New Mexico between 1982 and 1987. The predominant clinical sign observed in sick cranes was their inability to hold their heads erect, both while standing and flying. Multiple muscle hemorrhages and submandibular edema were the most common lesions seen at necropsy. Mycotoxins produced by Fusarium sp. growing during cold, wet weather on peanuts left in the field after harvest, the predominant foods of the dead cranes at the time of these mortality events, were identified as the most likely cause of this mortality. Rendering moldy peanuts inaccessible to the cranes by conventional tillage resulted in reduced crane mortality in these areas.
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