Illinois DNR recommends halting bird feeders/baths through May as a precaution with avian flu

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is recommending halting the use of bird feeders and baths through May 31, as a precaution against the spread of avian influenza.

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This hummingbird feeder, which I put out in the last week (yes, that’s snow in the yard), is coming down in a few minutes as a precaution against spreading avian flu. Credit: Dale Bowman

This hummingbird feeder, which I put out in the last week (yes, that’s snow in the yard), is coming down in a few minutes as a precaution against spreading avian flu.

Dale Bowman

On Wednesday, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources emailed that temporary removal of bird feeders can slow spread of HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza), commonly called avian flu.

That made me debate whether to take down my many feeders, even though I literally had just put out my hummingbird feeder and was planning to start my feeder for Baltimore orioles with the warmup.

I didn’t debate long.

Now, the Illinois DNR recommends halting the use of bird feeders and baths “through May 31 until the spread of avian influenza subsides.”

So, as soon as I finish posting this, I will take down my feeders, then clean them to have them ready to put back when the danger subsides.

Here is the word from the IDNR:

IDNR recommends halt to use of bird feeders, bird baths through May 31 until spread of avian influenza subsides SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) today issued updated public recommendations regarding wild birds and the EA H5N1 strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) currently impacting some wild and domestic bird species. While HPAI has not been detected in songbird species (passerines), IDNR recommends the use of bird feeders and bird bathsceasethrough May 31, or until HPAI infections in the Midwest subside, especially those that waterfowl may visit. During spring, wild birds will have ample food sources while bird feeders are removed. Further IDNR recommendations: •Clean and rinse bird feeders and baths with a diluted bleach solution (nine parts water to one part bleach) and put away or clean weekly if they can’t be moved away from birds. •Remove any bird seed at t he base of bird feeders to discourage large gatherings of birds or other wildlife. •Avoid feeding wild birds in close proximity to domestic flocks. If five or more deceased wild birds are observed in one location, an IDNR district wildlife biologist should be contacted. Contact information for district wildlife biologists can be found athttps://www.wildlifeillinois.org/sidebar/contact-an-idnr-district-wildlife-biologist/. USDA Wildlife Services also may be contacted at 1-866-487-3297. In addition, IDNR requests all occurrences of deceased or sick bald eagles be reported to the agency. When disposing of any deceased wild birds, rubber gloves and a mask should be worn, and the carcass should be double-bagged in sealed plastic bags. The bags can be buried away from scavengers or placed in the garbage if approved by the local waste service provider. Anyone handling deceased birds should thoroughly wash their hands and any other clothes or tools with soap and water following disposal. With spring turkey season underway, IDNR notes that wild turkeys are less likely to contract HPAI given their behavior and the habitats they occupy. However, turkey hunters can protect themselves by thoroughly cooking game meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit and implementing other guidance found here at this link: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/2015/fsc_hpai_hunters.pdf. IDNR first announced HPAI was detected in wild Canada geese in Illinois on March 10, 2022, in ajoint notice with the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Since then, wild bird mortality from HPAI has been confirmed in Champaign, Fulton, Sangamon, and Will counties with a more recent mortality event of more than 200 birds in Cook County suspected to be caused from HPAI. Wild birds impacted include waterfowl and waterbird species, as well as some raptors, including bald eagles. Detections in domestic poultry flocks have also occurred. For more information on the status of HPAI in wild birds and domestic bird flocks in Illinois and other states, visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian/avian-influenza/2022-hpai and https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/agr/Animals/AnimalHealth/Pages/Highly-Pathogenic-Avian-Influenza.aspx.

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