Wyoming Game and Fish Urges Proper Precautions When Handling Game Birds | Big Horn Basin Media

Wyoming Game and Fish Urges Proper Precautions When Handling Game Birds

Written by on January 11, 2023

Highly pathogenic avian influenza is spreading through Wyoming’s birds, so Wyoming Game and Fish wants to ensure the virus doesn’t pass to any hunters this winter.

Waterfowl hunting season is in full swing. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department would like to remind hunters to take precautions to minimize their risk of contracting highly pathogenic avian influenza.

Wyoming’s first case of H.P.A.I. was confirmed in a flock of domestic birds in Johnson County in March 2022. Since then, the virus has been detected in songbirds and raptors across the state.

Game and Fish has recently observed large waterfowl die-offs due to H.P.A.I. in the Cheyenne and Wheatland areas. As a result,  Waterfowl hunters can expect to encounter additional sick or dead birds.

northern pintail duck

Courtesy Unsplash & Pete Nuji

Although rare, H.P.A.I. is considered a zoonotic disease – it can infect humans unless proper precautions are taken while handling dead or infected birds.

Game and Fish urges hunters who are in the field and handle game meat to take specific precautions.

  • Only harvest game that appears healthy. Do not handle or eat sick game.
  • Field dress and prepare game outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
  • Wear rubber or disposable nitrile gloves while handling or cleaning game.
  • When done handling game, wash hands thoroughly with soap or disinfectant and clean knives, equipment, and surfaces that come in contact with game.
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke while handling animals.
  • Do not feed sick/found dead carcasses/tissues to domestic animals such as dogs and cats.
  • All game should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F before being consumed.

According to the Wyoming Department of Health, people exposed to birds potentially infected with avian influenza should monitor for illness for ten days after their last exposure.

If concerned about exposure or illness in pets, please consult your veterinarian.

To learn more about the distribution of the disease in Wyoming, anyone who encounters clusters of three or more waterfowl species or any single raptor, grouse, or wild turkey exhibiting signs of neurological impairment or found dead with no apparent cause should contact their regional Game and Fish office.

To report clusters of dead birds, fill out the online form or call the nearest Game and Fish Regional Office. For more info on H.P.A.I. and to track cases in wild birds, visit the Wyoming Game and Fish website.

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