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DNR advises waterfowl hunters to be aware of possible highly pathogenic avian influenza surge

Indiana, along with many other states, was affected by an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza earlier this year.

Avian influenza declined through the summer months; however, some states have had a recent increase in wild bird deaths associated with the disease. DNR advises hunters to be aware of a potential resurgence of avian influenza as the waterfowl hunting seasons progress.

Indiana DNR partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services to test hunter-harvested waterfowl for highly pathogenic avian influenza during early teal season at multiple DNR Fish & Wildlife areas, including Goose Pond, LaSalle, and Jasper-Pulaski.

Symptoms of avian influenza can differ depending on the individual animal, and some animals that have the virus do not display any symptoms.

Waterfowl with symptoms will often display unusual behaviors such as swimming in circles, tremors, a twisted neck, and/or have a general lack of coordination. In addition, sick birds may display nasal discharge, a cough, sneezing, and/or diarrhea.

If you see birds displaying these signs, or if you find multiple dead birds in a single area, report the case to Indiana DNR at on.IN.gov/sickwildlife.

Hunters can several precautions to slow the spread of avian influenza:

  • Do not harvest birds that appear obviously sick or found dead
  • Process birds outdoors or in a well-ventilated area
  • Wear gloves and wash hands before and after handling carcasses
  • Disinfect all equipment used on dead birds (e.g., knives, surfaces)
  • Refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and touching your eyes during processing
  • Double-bag feathers and all bird remains before disposal. Place bird remains in the inner bag and tie it closed. Dispose of gloves in the outer bag before tying it closed.
  • Prevent contact between all parts of wild birds and domestic birds
  • Cook meat thoroughly

Read more about avian influenza at on.IN.gov/avian-flu.

SOURCE: News release from Indiana Department of Natural Resources