MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) — Following the detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Menominee County, state wildlife officials are making suggestions to help prevent the spread of the virus.
The avian flu is a highly contagious virus that can be spread from flock to flock, including by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, by equipment and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Brian Roell, a biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, explained how avian flu can spread among wild birds, specifically those who congregate, like vultures or eagles at a kill site.
“Any of these birds that congregate are susceptible. Particularly waterfowl — that would be the most suspect animals. Right now, we recommend if you do feed waterfowl of any type … this would be the year, for the safety of the birds and your own safety, that you’re not attracting that waterfowl to your yard,” Roell said.
He said avian influenza is not typically seen in songbirds, but it is possible that it could be spread at backyard bird feeders. He suggested skipping the feeders this year. With warmer weather moving in, birds are able to find their own food sources.
For those who do keep backyard flocks, including birds like chickens or turkeys, Roell suggested monitoring how you feed your birds.
“You would want to make sure your chickens are not associated with any wild bird. So if wild birds are able to feed from the same trough or pail that your domestic chickens are, that would be something you’d want to stop right now for the safety of your own birds,” Roell added.
If you come across wild birds that you suspect could be infected with avian influenza, call the DNR and don’t touch them, especially if you have birds at home.