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What do you do if you find dead birds?

DNR wildlife staff have been notified to be extra vigilant for sick or dead raptors (hawks, eagles, owls) and wild turkeys. They have received instructions on carcass handling if any are identified.

If you see a dead wild turkey or raptor or it appears sick (ruffled feathers, swollen wattles, discoloration of the feet and impaired balance), do not touch or move it to minimize any potential risk of unintentionally spreading the virus if the animal is infected.

Mark the location by GPS if possible and contact DNR with the coordinates. Contacts are:

Protocols are in place to sample these birds if it’s determined that HPAI may be the cause of mortality.

At this time, we are only looking for raptors and wild turkeys. We are not taking samples on other species of birds unless five or more are found dead in the same location.

Information for hunters

Hunters should take extra precautions when handling harvested waterfowl because they are reservoirs for low pathogenic AI virus, too. Even though waterfowl do not get sick, the virus affects other birds very differently.

Wild turkeys are presumed to be susceptible to the virus so turkey hunters should follow the same precautions.

In the field

  • Do not harvest or handle wild birds that are obviously sick or found dead.
  • Dress your game birds in the field whenever possible.
  • Use dedicated tools for cleaning game, whether in the field or at home. Do not use those tools around your poultry or pet birds.
  • Always wear rubber gloves when cleaning game.
  • 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 hands with soap and water immediately after handling game. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol wipes.
  • Wash all tools and work surfaces with soap and water. Then, disinfect them. Do not eat, drink or smoke while cleaning game.

At home

  • If you clean a bird at home, keep a separate pair of shoes to wear only in your game cleaning area. If this is not possible, wear rubber footwear and clean/disinfect your shoes before entering or leaving the area.
  • Wash all tools and work surfaces with soap and water. Then, disinfect them.
  • Avoid cross-contamination. Keep uncooked game in a separate container, away from cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
  • Cook game meat thoroughly. Poultry should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F to kill disease organisms and parasites.

The USDA has published an information sheet specifically geared to hunters; this information is particularly important if you have backyard poultry or pet birds at home as they are susceptible to avian influenza. Basic safety precautions can keep the disease from spreading and reduce the risk of exposing wildlife, your poultry or pet birds to avian influenza.

More HPAI information

Board of Animal Health

Department of Health

U.S. Department of Agriculture