Be on the lookout for symptoms of Avian Flu and take extra precautions while hunting.
Turkey hunting in Minnesota could be riskier this year. While bird flu hasn’t been discovered in the state’s wild turkeys yet, 13 farms have reported outbreaks and almost 1 million domestic turkeys were killed to prevent the virus from spreading.
The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus, H5N2, was first identified in March in a Pope County turkey farm.
The Minnesota DNR is encouraging hunters to be in the look out for ill birds. Hunters are advised not to touch any wild birds, not limited to turkeys, showing any symptoms including ruffled feathers, swollen waddles, discolored feet or problems walking and to contact DNR immediatly.
Although there is little risk to the public according to Minnesota’s Health Department, contact with or transportation of sick birds can put other birds at risk.
What you need to know from the Minnesota DNR:
Note the location by GPS if you can, and contact the DNR with the coordinates. The contacts are:
- Wildlife Health Program Supervisor Michelle Carstensen at 612-390-9979
- Wildlife Health Specialist Erik Hildebrand at 612-597-8141
You can also contact your local area wildlife manager. At this time, the DNR is only looking for raptors and wild turkeys.
In the field
Do not harvest or handle wild birds that are obviously sick or found dead. Be sure to dress your game birds in the field whenever possible, to help avoid contamination.
Use dedicated tools for cleaning game, whether in the field or at home. Do not use those tools around other poultry or pet birds. Wear rubber gloves when cleaning game birds.
Double bag the offal and feathers. Tie the inner bag, and be sure to take off your rubber gloves and leave them in the outer bag before tying it closed. Place the bag in a trash can that poultry and pet birds cannot access. This trash can should also be secure against access by children, pets or other animals.
Wash your hands with soap and warm water immediately after handling game birds. Use alcohol wipes if soap and water are not available.
Wash all tools and work surfaces thoroughly, then disinfect them. Avoid eating, drinking or smoking while cleaning game.
If you clean a bird at home, pay particular attention to your shoes. If possible wear shoes dedicated solely to the bird-cleaning process. If you can’t manage that, wear rubber shoes and thoroughly clean them before leaving the area. Wash all tools and work surfaces with soap and water and disinfect them.
Avoid cross-contamination by keeping uncooked foods away from other edibles. Cook game meat thoroughly; be sure that poultry reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F before consuming.
The USDA has also published an information sheet specifically for hunters, and it’s well worth the time to check it out.