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1 April 2018 A RETROSPECTIVE SUMMARY OF RAPTOR MORTALITY IN ONTARIO, CANADA (1991–2014), INCLUDING THE EFFECTS OF WEST NILE VIRUS
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Abstract

The causes of mortality of free-ranging raptors range from anthropogenic (e.g., trauma) to dynamic environmental conditions that may affect habitat suitability and prey availability. The province of Ontario, Canada, is vulnerable to anthropogenic and environmental changes because of its northern latitudes and expanding human populations, both of which may impact wildlife. We retrospectively evaluated diagnostic data from raptors submitted to the Ontario/Nunavut node of the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) from 1991 to 2014 (n=1,448). Submissions encompassed 29 species, most commonly the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis; n=308) and Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus; n=237). Trauma (n=716) accounted for the majority of deaths among all species, followed by emaciation (n=241). Traumatic deaths were most commonly attributed to collisions with stationary objects, and the odds of a diagnosis of trauma were significantly higher in adult versus immature raptors. The odds of being diagnosed with emaciation were significantly higher in males than in females but not in any age class or season. Mortality was less commonly attributed to infectious diseases (n=214), for which West Nile virus (WNV) was the most common etiology, making up 53.1% of infectious diagnoses after its 2001 arrival in Ontario. The odds of a raptor being diagnosed with an infectious disease were significantly greater in summer and fall versus spring. Immature Red-tailed Hawks had significantly greater odds of being diagnosed with WNV compared to adults. These results reveal that human- and potentially environmentally-associated deaths (e.g., trauma and emaciation, respectively) are commonly diagnosed among Ontario raptors submitted to the CWHC. Infectious diseases are less commonly diagnosed, but WNV may have underlying, ongoing impacts on the health of some raptor species.

© Wildlife Disease Association 2018
Kathryn A. Smith, G. Douglas Campbell, David L. Pearl, Claire M. Jardine, Fernando Salgado-Bierman, and Nicole M. Nemeth "A RETROSPECTIVE SUMMARY OF RAPTOR MORTALITY IN ONTARIO, CANADA (1991–2014), INCLUDING THE EFFECTS OF WEST NILE VIRUS," Journal of Wildlife Diseases 54(2), 261-271, (1 April 2018). https://doi.org/10.7589/2017-07-157
Received: 4 July 2017; Accepted: 1 September 2017; Published: 1 April 2018
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