Facts about Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus-2 (RHDV-2) in Oregon

RHDV-2 rabbits oregon
  1. RHDV-2 was first seen in a Portland area neighborhood
  2. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) are working on determining the source and extent of the outbreak in Oregon.
  3. RHDV-2 is a highly pathogenic and contagious calicivirus that affects all rabbits (domestic and wild) and closely related species.
  4. Central Oregon
    1. No confirmed cases as of yet, but ODFW, ODA, and the USDA are in the process of testing several domestic and feral rabbits from Central Oregon. No results yet. 
  5. RHDV-2 was first identified in Europe
    1. Seen in the US since early March 2020. It has been found in:
      1. Arizona
      2. California
      3. Colorado
      4. Florida
      5. Montana
      6. NevadA
      7. New Mexico
      8. Texas
      9. Utah
      10. Wyoming
    2. RHDV-2 has caused extensive mortalities in Jackrabbit and Cottontail populations.
  6. RHDV-2 is persistent in the environment for long periods of time
    1. On surfaces of objects
    2. Clothing
    3. and tissues
  7. Method of Transmission
    1. Inhalation
    2. contact with contaminated equipment
    3. contact with flies and other insects
    4. contact with urine or feces from infected rabbits
    5. contact with feces from predators that have eaten infected rabbits
  8. No specific treatment
    1. Often fatal (75%-100% of those affected)
  9. Symptoms
    1. Rabbits that don’t die immediately
      1. Poor appetite
      2. Inactivity
      3. Fever
      4. Bloody Nose
  10. What we can do:
    1. If you encounter sickly or dead rabbits please contact either the district ODFW office or Think Wild (541-241-8680) so it can be reported and appropriate action can be taken.
    2. Do not handle the rabbits
      1. If you do, wash every surface they may have come to contact with a 10% bleach solution
      2. Wash all clothes that may have come into contact

Rare Great Gray Owl Returned to the Wild

Local Wildlife Hospital and Conservation Center, Think Wild, has released a great gray owl back into the wild after the successful rehabilitation and treatment of its injuries following a window strike. The owl, an Oregon Conservation Strategy Species, suffered from an eye injury when it struck a window in the Sunriver area.

Photo by Kermit Williams

Dr. Donna Harris, a retired veterinarian in the Sunriver area, found the owl after watching it hit a window. That evening she met with Kelli Neuman, Animal Program Coordinator for the Sunriver Nature Center, and brought the bird into her care. It was transported to Think Wild in Bend the following morning, where veterinarian Dr. Laura Acevedo performed an intake exam. Dr. Acevedo found hemorrhaging in the right eye but determined it was otherwise in good condition.

After a few days of anti-inflammatory treatments, Think Wild determined that the great gray owl was ready for release by administering a live prey test to ensure that the owl could successfully hunt on its own. On Friday night, wildlife hospital staff released the owl back to the wild for a second chance at life. Think Wild invited Dr. Harris and her husband and bird photographer, Kermit Williams, to join the release.

“The story of its injury, its capture, its transport to, and ultimate care at Bend’s Think Wild was seamless, thrilling, and heartwarming in the end to all of us who love and value the wildlife around us. It could not have ended better for the Great Gray Owl and for those of us who treasure our wildlife,” said Dr. Harris. “Attending its release was one of the brightest spots for me in this past year of uncertainty and sadness.”

Photo by Kermit Williams

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife lists great gray owls as an Oregon Conservation Strategy Species. This designation is given to species with small or declining populations, that are at-risk, and/or are of management concern. Great gray owls are Oregon’s largest owl species and require large forested areas with montane grassland clearings.

Window strikes are a common cause of injury and mortality for wild birds. They cause the death of an estimated 1 billion birds in the U.S. each year. During the day, birds may fly into windows when they see the reflection of vegetation or sky or if they see through the window to plants while looking for a safe place to land. At night nocturnal migrants may fly into lighted windows, especially if diverted from their migration path by artificial light.

To help protect wild birds from the dangers of window strikes, avoid putting bird feeders right next to windows. You can also apply decals or screens to your windows so that birds can recognize them as a barrier.

Oftentimes when a bird hits a window, it might just need an hour or two to rest before flying away. If there is no sign of injury, gently place the bird in a well-ventilated box and put it in a quiet, dark, and warm location for one hour. Do not try to give it food and water, and resist handling it. After one or two hours, gently take the box outside and open it. If the bird flies away, then all it needed was a little bit of time to recuperate, and no further action is necessary. If the bird does not fly away, please call Think Wild’s hotline number at (541) 241-8680.

Local Bike Shop Helps Saves Raptors with Upcycled Bike Tires

Spring in Central Oregon brings abundant wildlife and human visitors, and with them an increase in the number of injured or orphaned birds in need of help. At local bicycle shops, spring means an increase in tune-ups and discarded tires. These coinciding events have created a unique community partnership, as Hutch’s Bicycles found a way to upcycle their used tires for use as perches for rescued raptors at local wildlife hospital, Think Wild.

By donating their used tires to Think Wild, Hutch’s saved them from the landfill and helped to protect local wildlife. Think Wild volunteer, Ann Jamison, pictured, originally reached out to Hutch’s Bicycles about their used tires after being tasked with making perches. Recent intakes to Think Wild have included a long-eared owl, saw-whet owl, barred owl, and red tailed hawk, all of which have used the donated tires for perches. Strong perches that protect the feet of large raptors are crucial to their rehabilitation and health.

“We are excited to see creative applications for the reuse and upcycling of used bicycle products like tires, saving them from the recycling process or the landfill, and supporting Think Wild’s care of Central Oregon’s wildlife,” said Aaron, Westside Hutch’s manager.

Common causes of injury to raptors include car strikes, window strikes, entanglement in barbed wire, and poisoning from lead or rodenticides. At Think Wild, four new raptor enclosures, several raptor hutches, the center’s ICU, and an under-construction raptor flight cage are all making use of the tires.
Here are ways you can help raptors in Central Oregon:

• If you find a raptor that you suspect is injured or orphaned, call Think Wild's wildlife hotline: (541) 241-8680
• Removing or capturing wildlife from the wild and keeping it in captivity without a permit is against the law. To ensure their best chance for survival please seek help from a qualified licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
• Use natural forms of pest control and non-lead bullets to prevent lead and rodenticide poisoning of native birds of prey. Owl nest boxes on your property are a great way to promote natural pest control by predation.
• Remove barbed wire fencing. Sam Bachman at Deschutes County Juvenile Community Justice offers a free barbed wire fence removal, just call 541‐ 322‐ 7650.
• The average cost of care for one raptor from intake to release is anywhere from $100- $500. To support Think Wild’s efforts in caring for raptors as they enter the busiest season for intakes, donate funds or supplies at www.thinkwildco.org/donate or mail to PO Box 5093 Bend, OR 97708

This list is non-exhaustive, but we hope that you find it helpful. If you ever have any questions, Think Wild’s wildlife hotline, (541) 241-8680, is available seven days a week from 8 AM to 5 PM. Think Wild is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and tax-deductible donations can be made at www.thinkwildco.org/donate or mailed to PO Box 5093 Bend, OR 97708.


Think Wild, a Wildlife Hospital and Conservation Center, provides wildlife education, conservation, and rescue & rehabilitation in Central Oregon. Think Wild seeks to reduce the incidents of human-wildlife conflict through prevention education and community outreach. When conflicts do occur, Think Wild will provide veterinary treatment and care at its Wildlife Hospital. For more information or to donate, visit www.thinkwildco.org or email info@thinkwildco.org. Follow us on www.Facebook.com/ThinkWildCo for the latest updates.

Help Keep Wild Birds Safe from Salmonella

Central Oregon has seen an increase in the number of wild, seed eating birds suffering from an outbreak of salmonella. Such outbreaks commonly occur during the winter months and can spread as birds like pine siskins and finches congregate at feeding sites where they can come into contact with infected birds or contaminated food or water. Salmonella infections in birds can become critical or fatal.

Oregon Wildlife Hospital and Conservation Center, Think Wild, has received a significant number of calls and intakes related to salmonella infections in pine siskins and finches in the past few weeks. The wildlife hospital is urging residents to clean all bird feeders and baths regularly, or even more effective, take them down until April, to minimize birds from congregating. By practicing this “social distancing” for wildlife, residents can help prevent the disease spread.

Salmonella enterica or similar bacterial species cause these infections, which spread as birds or other animals shed the organism in their feces, contaminating food or water. These outbreaks can cause high mortality across large areas. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife state veterinarian, Colin Gillin, informed Think Wild that he estimates that millions of songbirds are likely affected by salmonella at bird feeders. This current outbreak has spread as far north as British Columbia and as far south as San Francisco and is affecting the entire state of Oregon.

“Signs of birds affected by salmonella include lethargy, ruffled feathers, diarrhea, emaciation, and possible plaques in the mouth and crop,” said Pauline Baker, Think Wild Director of Wildlife Rehabilitation. “Salmonella is transferable to humans and pets, so if you find a lethargic or deceased bird, we encourage the use of gloves and thorough hand washing after contact.”

Here are tangible ways that you can help native birds by mitigating the outbreak:

  • To minimize disease spread and prevent future outbreaks, disinfect bird feeders at least once a week by soaking or spraying them with a 10% bleach solution, rinsing them, and allowing them to dry.
  • Empty and clean bird baths daily.
  • If unable to clean feeders and bird baths regularly, take them down until April.
  • Avoid platform-style feeders, which can collect bird droppings where birds feed.
  • Avoid wooden bird feeders, which are difficult to disinfect.
  • Wearing gloves, remove deceased birds from areas surrounding birdfeeders. Call Think Wild (541) 241-8680 if you suspect a bird is sick or injured.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling feeders or baths.

This list is non-exhaustive, but we hope that you find it helpful. If you ever have any questions, Think Wild’s wildlife hotline, (541) 241-8680, is available seven days a week from 8 AM to 5 PM. Think Wild is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and tax-deductible donations can be made at www.thinkwildco.org/donate or mailed to PO Box 5093 Bend, OR 97708.