Wild birds are in the middle of a Bird Flu epidemic. This disease is spread from domestic turkeys, chickens, and pet birds. Sadly, it also spreads into wild bird populations. Waterfowl tend to carry the disease readily without showing any symptoms. With the current season opener and annual migration, the flu will spread. The first cases showed up in April, here in Montana.
Not all birds look sick. Some species can be more resistant but may still have the virus. Since wild game birds are not wearing little face masks and lining up for booster shots, it’s hard to know if they are sick. If you observe any birds that appear sickly or find dead birds, avoid handling them.
Birds of prey easily get the Avian Flu. They prey on waterfowl, which are prime carriers of the disease.
Assume that all the waterfowl, doves, pheasants, grouse, and Huns are flu carriers. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Use rubber gloves when gutting and / or cleaning the birds. Avoid eating, drinking, or smoking when processing and handling birds. Keep wild birds away from backyard flocks. Rinse thoroughly and make sure that you thoroughly clean your hands and tools after handling them. A sanitary spray is helpful.
Birds spread the disease to each other by close contact. This means that bird feeders are viral hot spots. Feeding the birds could kill them rather than make them fat and happy.
When cooking birds, make sure to cook them completely. Proper internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F.
Dispose of carcasses and dead birds properly. This means bury them or throw the bagged and sealed remains into the trash for pick up. Don’t just dump them into a stream, pond, or field.
For more info. Search https://fwp.mt.gov/conservations/diseases/avian-influenza.
Stay Flu Free!