A botulism outbreak at the Game and Fish Downer Bird Farm near Yoder has killed more than 2,700 pheasants in recent weeks and will affect the number of pheasants available for release during hunting season this fall. Game and fish spokesman Al Langston says the disease is spread through association of healthy birds with dead and dying birds.

To help reduce the risk of transmission, workers at the bird farm have been walking the pens multiple times each day removing dead and sick birds.  Botulism is not related to the bacterial infection psittacosis that resulted in removal of pheasants from the farm last spring.

At this time it is not known what effect the disease will have on pheasant stocking this fall.  The Game and Fish anticipates stocking the usual number of birds for the special Springer pheasant hunt and Glendo hunt.  The effect of stocking on walk-in areas is not known at this time, but due to drought conditions, cover on some of the areas normally stocked is very sparse and would likely have not received birds for the 2012 hunting season. The Downer Bird Farm typically produces 15,000-18,000 pheasants each year.