SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Monte James was out looking for pheasants on public land along the Missouri River Sunday afternoon when he noticed a lot of white along the shoreline. 

What James found was what he called “piles and piles” of dead and dying snow geese. He took multiple videos of the scene near Yankton, like the one you can see in the player above where a snow geese appears to be experiencing a head tremor. 

James said there appeared to be very little rotting so he believed many of the dead birds died recently. 

James did not reach out to officials with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department about what he found, but shared his story with KELOLAND News. 

According to the GFP website, symptoms of the Avian Flu for wild birds are edema or swelling of the head, nasal discharge, decreased activity, inability to swim/walk or take flight, ruffled feathers, diarrhea and tremors. South Dakota reported its first case of avian influenza in a commercial turkey farm in Beadle County in 2015. 

Rocco Murano, the senior waterfowl biologist with the state’s Game Fish and Parks Department, told KELOLAND News snow geese are the big carriers of avian flu this fall in South Dakota.

“Snow geese are the vector for the virus,” Murano said. The cases have been significant in the past two weeks, he said. Murano said from looking at the video, those snow geese most likely had avian flu. The GFP did not test those birds, he said.

Murano said the public should contact the GFP if they see a dead or sick bird. The GFP may not test that bird but the mortality will be documented, he said.

In March 2022, avian influenza was confirmed in two commercial turkey farms in Charles Mix County and in both snow geese and Canada geese in South Dakota.

GFP is working with the South Dakota Animal Industry Board and other state and federal agencies to respond to additional outbreaks. 

In October, state veterinarian Dr. Beth Thompson told KELOLAND News there were 43 reported incidents of avian flu in commercial flocks and six in backyard flocks. 

In Nebraska, the state’s 13th case of bird flu was found in Dixon County, the state’s most northeast county that borders South Dakota. That case will prompt 1.8 million chickens to be killed.