WISCONSIN (WFRV) – With the start of multiple waterfowl seasons and the fall bird migration ramping up, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking hunters to follow simple precautions when harvesting and handling wild birds.

The reason officials with the DNR are asking hunters to be cautious is due to the presence of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the state of Wisconsin.

The current HPAI strain was first detected in Wisconsin and other midwestern states in March 2022. Recent findings of the virus in domestic and wild birds this fall illustrate that the virus is still present and circulating.

Waterfowl are considered more susceptible to HPAI than other gamebirds, so hunters are advised to follow the precautions listed here:

  • Do not handle or eat sick game
  • Field dress and prepare game outdoors or in a well-ventilated area
  • Wear rubber or disposable latex gloves while handling and cleaning game
  • When finished handling game, wash hands thoroughly with soap or disinfectant
  • Clean knives, equipment and surfaces that came in contact with game
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke while handling animals
  • All game should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F before being consumed

The DNR is also asking hunters to be mindful that the virus may be transported from hunting equipment and clothing. For hunters who have backyard poultry, basic biosecurity measures are recommended.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the strain of HPAI does not present an immediate public health concern.