December 8, 2023

MN DNR Offers Advice for Turkey Hunters Re Avian Flu

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has released guidance for turkey hunters in the areas where turkey farms have experienced outbreaks of avian flu. The disease has not been found in wild turkeys yet, but on the eve of the season, hunters must take care to avoid potentially spreading the virus.

Raw Whole TurkeyWild turkeys are susceptible to the virus. There is only a low risk to humans, but people should still avoid contact with wild birds. Michelle Carstensen, wildlife health program supervisor with the DNR said in a statement, “turkey hunters can take steps to minimize the risk of spreading HPAI, and they can be excellent scouts in helping identify wild birds like raptors or turkeys that could have been affected.”

The highly pathogenic avian influence H5N2 (HPAI) has been found in these counties: Cottonwood, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lyon, Meeker, Nobles, Pope, Stearns, and Watonwan. It has only been confirmed in domestic turkey farms up to this point.

In the field, do not handle or harvest wild birds that are sick or found dead. Use dedicated tools for cleaning game. Always wear rubber gloves when cleaning game. Double bag internal organs and features, and leave your rubber gloves in the outer bag; seal that. Place the bag in a trash can that children, pets, animals, and other birds cannot access. Wash hands with soap and water immediately after handling game. Finally, wash all tools and work surfaces with soap and water and then disinfect them.

If you see birds in the field that appear sick, with ruffled feathers, swollen wattles, discoloration of the feet, and impaired balance, notify DNR staff as soon as possible and do not touch or attempt to move the birds. Mark the location by GPS as possible and tell the DNR officials the coordinates. For more questions, you can contact Michelle Carstensen at 612-390-9979.

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