Illinois DNR suspects bird flu in deaths of 300 waterfowl

Wildlife officials are warning hunters to be aware of sick or dead waterfowl.
Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 6:56 PM CST
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CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - Wildlife officials are warning hunters to be aware of sick or dead waterfowl.

According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Avian influenza is likely the cause of at least 300 waterbird deaths at public hunting areas in southern Illinois.

Mike Eichholz, a waterfowl, wetland ecologist at Southern Illinois University, says that while there is a low risk for people, you should still take precautions.

”It’s probably more dangerous to go shake your neighbors hand than it is to the likelihood of getting the bird influenza from hunting. But you know it’s probably good to just take additional precautions,” Eichholz said. “When you think about the precautions it’s just don’t like your fingers, maybe use gloves while you’re cleaning the birds, but it’s not something you need to worry about.”

IDNR says hunters are urged to avoid handling sick or dead waterfowl they find. This includes keeping their hunting dogs and other pets away from eating birds that have died from unknown causes.

Wildlife experts say avian flu has impacted almost every state, with over 52 million chickens and turkeys being slaughtered because of the disease.