Officials plan to exterminate all of the 2,200 pheasants at the Lewis County Game Farm because two of the birds were found to be carrying a contagious disease. Game-farm manager Ron Anthill...

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CENTRALIA — Officials plan to exterminate all of the 2,200 pheasants at the Lewis County Game Farm because two of the birds were found to be carrying a contagious disease.

Game-farm manager Ron Anthill brought some birds with runny eyes to the Washington State University Extension office in Puyallup on Dec. 10.

The office confirmed the birds had mycoplasma gallisepticum, an illness that causes watering eyes, coughing or sneezing and can affect weight gain and reproduction.

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The illness lasts for the bird’s lifetime, cannot be fought with antibiotics and spreads to the entire flock. Offspring contract the disease in the egg stage, and it could spread to the wild-bird population.

“It’s a setback, definitely, but it’s one of those steps you take to make sure the rest of the population lives,” Lewis County deputy health officer Tony Barrett told The Chronicle newspaper of Centralia.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife killed about 400 of the birds with carbon dioxide on Friday.

The disease cannot be transmitted to humans, so hunters have nothing to fear, said Mick Cope, the department’s upland-game-section manager.

The game farm raises pheasants to keep the population high for hunters. The farm holds up to 40,000 birds during the year, but was holding a brood flock of 2,200.

Eggs are collected from the flock in the spring. The farm will have to find another source for eggs, Cope said.

The farm’s three employees will remain busy through the winter.

“We’ll have to depopulate, disinfect and then start back up,” Cope said.