Iowa (KCAU) — The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and its partners are now monitoring the presence of avian influenza in Iowa’s wild birds.
Avian influenza is a naturally occurring disease found in certain waterfowl and shorebirds. It is highly transmissible, and strains can range from causing no harm to strains that are lethal to domestic birds. The disease can exist in a deceased bird for several weeks, depending on environmental conditions, according to a Friday release from the DNR.
“Bird loss in the wild is a natural occurrence, so seeing one dead bird shouldn’t be cause for alarm,” said Wildlife Veterinarian with the Iowa DNR Dr. Rachel Ruden, “but if someone is finding a number of dead birds, especially ducks, geese, or raptors, we want to know about it.”
Ruden said residents who discover five or more dead wild birds within one week should report it to their state conservation officer or local wildlife biologist. Contact information can be found under the ‘About’ tab on the Iowa DNR homepage.
“We are encouraging the public not to handle sick or dead birds or to take sick birds to a wildlife rehabilitator to avoid unintentionally spreading avian influenza in the event that the bird is positive,” said Dr. Ruden.
Ruden added that backyard bird feeders are not yet of concern unless mallards are actively using the feeder. Avian influenza has less of an impact on upland birds such as wild turkeys. The release specified that this is because their behaviors and habitats make them less likely to encounter the disease.
Spring turkey hunters can find information on handling and preparing wild turkeys here.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided an online database that tracks avian influenza by state.