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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Arthropod-borne Animal Diseases Research

Title: Exertional myopathy in a pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) subsequent to capture.

item Ruder, Mark
item Noel, Brandon
item Bednarz, James
item Keel, M.

Submitted to: Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/4/2011
Publication Date: 4/16/2012
Publication URL:
Citation: Ruder, M.G., Noel, B.L., Bednarz, J.C., Keel, M.K. 2012. Exertional myopathy in a pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) subsequent to capture.. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 48(2): 514-516.

Interpretive Summary: It is common and essential for scientists to capture and handle wildlife in order to better understand certain aspects of their ecology and biology. However, this is not without risk to the animal. This report describes exertional myopathy in pileated woodpeckers after they were captured for an ecological study. This disease is caused by over-exertion and stress during capture and handling. This represents the first report of this disease in this species and serves as a reminder to consider this disease during the design of field studies.

Technical Abstract: Out of 33 Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus) captured and fitted with radio-transmitters, 12 were later found dead. Three carcasses were recovered and submitted for necropsy. One bird had large pale foci in multiple muscles. Microscopically, skeletal muscle in all three had evidence of severe coagulative necrosis, consistent with capture myopathy.

Last Modified: 10/18/2017
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