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As fall continues, Fish and Game officials warn of avian flu. Here's how to slow the spread.

Posted at 5:08 PM, Sep 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-29 15:38:40-04

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Fall is known for cooler temperatures, which means migration for many birds.

Avian Influenza was first detected back in April and this was the first year in Idaho it was detected in domestic flocks. In order to combat the spread of this highly contagious fowl killer, Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) is asking hunters to do their part to slow the spread.

“Even small steps can help slow the rate of spread. It’s in the environment right now. It’s going to be here for a while. We’re expecting an uptick as the weather cools,” said Mike McDonald, regional wildlife manager for IDFG.

Steps like avoiding dead or sick birds in the wild help slow contamination of clothes, equipment, and other ways of spread. Avian flu is passed through bodily fluids. Using protective gloves and field dressing waterfowl in the field are other ways IDFG says can help combat the disease.

“We have not had high path avian influenza in Idaho before in domestic birds so there have been outbreaks in the U.S. previous to this but they were focused farther east and you just haven't seen that in Idaho,” said Chanel Tewalt, deputy director at the Idaho State Department or Agriculture (ISDA).

Concern is raised because of this first time detection in domestic birds and ISDA doesn't take this occurrence lightly.

“It is a highly contagious disease which is why you will see a very rapid regulatory response from our agency and that is what you see across the nation among all states and across USDA as well,” said Tewalt.

Fish and Game want to make every precaution so this disease doesn't make it to poultry farms. Avian flu is highly contagious and fatal in birds making it hard to recover flocks once the flu is detected.

“It’s extremely fatal if it gets into facilities like that so anything we can do to contain this virus, prevent further spread will be good for all,” said McDonald.

For more information on best practice while bird hunting, click here. For updates on detection in Idaho, click here.