Minnesota Department of Natural Resources – With some waterfowl hunting seasons starting Saturday, Sept. 3, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is advising hunters to take precautions for avian influenza when handling harvested birds.
“Waterfowl hunters can take steps to minimize the risk of spreading the virus,” said Michelle Carstensen, DNR wildlife health program supervisor.
“We’re already getting reports of highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild and domestic birds before fall, so the virus is currently present in Minnesota.”
While the virus presents a low risk to humans, it is important to avoid contact with sick birds and be mindful that virus may also be transported by your hunting equipment. If you hunt waterfowl and have backyard poultry, plan for added biosecurity measures PDF (link is external) to keep your flock healthy.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service makes the following recommendations for hunters to protect themselves from avian influenza: [while many of these recommendations appear to be basic commonsense, they probably would not be listed if it weren’t for people doing these things in the past. – HH]
- Do not handle or eat sick game.
- Field dress and prepare game outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
- Wear rubber or disposable latex gloves while handling and cleaning game.
- When done handling game, wash hands thoroughly with soap or disinfectant, and clean knives, equipment, and surfaces that came in contact with game.
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke while handling animals.
- All game should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before being consumed.
Minnesota has a variety of waterfowl seasons that open in September:
– the experimental early teal season is Saturday, Sept. 3, through Wednesday, Sept. 7;
– early goose season is Sept. 3, through Sunday, Sept. 18; the youth waterfowl hunt is Saturday, Sept. 10 through Sunday, Sept. 11;
– the main waterfowl season opens Saturday, Sept. 24.
Waterfowl hunters might see DNR staff at some landings during the season where voluntary sampling for avian influenza will be happening.
In addition to waterfowl hunters, the DNR reminds all hunters to use precautions when handling any harvested game. Anyone concerned about avian influenza in waterfowl can find more information on the avian influenza page of the DNR website. SOURCE
Avian Influenza Information Page
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) had been detected in domestic poultry, wild birds and wild foxes in Minnesota.
Summer weather tends to reduce virus activity and cases dropped markedly from June to August. Recent detections in both wild birds and domestic poultry suggest HPAI cases may increase this fall.
Avian influenza, sometimes called bird flu, is caused by viruses that can infect poultry and wild birds, especially waterfowl.
The DNR is coordinating with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant and Animal Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) to conduct surveillance for HPAI in wild birds. After a marked decline in reports of sick or dead wild birds in late May 2022, DNR has shifted its testing priorities to assisting USDA APHIS with sampling live waterfowl through summer banding programs and fall hunting.
- The DNR is collaborating with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health to share information regarding potential wild bird and poultry HPAI infections in Minnesota.
- DNR or USDA wildlife services staff may ask waterfowl hunters if harvested birds can be sampled for HPAI testing.
- DNR is receiving and addressing sick and dead wild bird reports that are consistent with possible HPAI infections. Cases where five or more dead wild birds of any kind found in one location during the same timeframe should be reported to local DNR wildlife staff or the DNR information center at 888-646-6367.
- DNR will submit birds suspected of potentially carrying HPAI to the National Wildlife Health Center or the Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for testing.
Check back for updates on our HPAI response. SOURCE