Mid-April in Minnesota means the start of the spring turkey season for hunters, and this year, with HPAI H5 viruses having been detected in at least 16 states, local authorities are both warning hunters of the risks of (see Minnesota DNR Offers Bird Flu Safety Advice To Hunters) – and enlisting their aid in monitoring – these avian flu viruses.
With 26 farms hit in Minnesota alone (as of 4/16), and the bulk of those sitting in 5 centrally located counties (Kandiyohi, Pope, Meeker, Swift and Stearns), the DNR is asking hunters – starting on Monday – to make the turkeys they take available for testing for the avian flu virus.
The USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories has a list with (as of 4/15/15) 55 infected wild birds sampled from across 10 western states, but thus far Minnesota has not reported HPAI H5 in any wild or migratory birds. It is hoped that testing the birds taken by hunters this spring will answer some important questions about how the virus is spreading.
This press release from the Minnesota DNR.
(Released April 17, 2015)
Successful wild turkey hunters in Kandiyohi, Pope, Meeker, Swift and Stearns counties can help determine if highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is present in Minnesota wildlife by allowing a sample to be collected from their turkeys.
“HPAI has not yet been found in wild turkeys, but it has been found in domestic turkeys in these and other Minnesota counties,” said Michelle Carstensen, wildlife health program supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “We chose those five counties to enlist the help of hunters because they have sufficient wild turkey populations.”
Starting Monday, April 20, the DNR is asking successful hunters in these counties to call to schedule an appointment at one of the participating wildlife offices and allow a sample to be collected from their turkey. Samples will include a swab of the trachea and, if the bird has not yet been field dressed, a swab of the cloaca as well. Successful turkey hunters in these counties must call the following offices beginning April 20 to schedule an appointment:
- Sauk Rapids, 320-223-7840
- New London, 320-354-2154
- Glenwood, 320-634-0342
- Carlos Avery, 651-296-5290
Sampling only takes a few minutes and the hunter will retain the bird. Hunters are asked to keep wild turkeys in their vehicles, and DNR staff will come out to take the samples at the vehicles. Hunters also will be asked to provide their contact information, harvest information and approximate harvest location.
The 2015 spring wild turkey season is open until Thursday, May 28. The DNR hopes to collect 300 total samples from turkeys to test for HPAI. At this time, the DNR will not be sampling wild turkeys harvested in other counties. Unless their bird is found positive, individual hunters will not be notified of results.
The DNR recommends turkey hunters practice good hygiene while field dressing their birds and cook the meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any viruses and bacteria.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to people from HPAI infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low. No human infections with the virus have been detected.
More information about safe handling of wild turkeys and other information on avian influenza in Minnesota is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/ai.
Find more topics related to avian influenza on the Minnesota Board of Animal Health website at www.bah.state.mn.us/avian-influenza.