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Prevent Avian Influenza with Wildlife Management Practices

Avian influenza swept through the Midwest this spring causing 223 outbreaks in the worst bird-flu epidemic in U.S. history. The virus was carried by migratory waterfowl and spread through their droppings, although authorities are still evaluating how much biosecurity lapses and environmental factors contributed.

It’s been over a month since the last outbreak was confirmed, but a new wave of outbreaks could start when fall migration begins. There are two important things you can do now to prepare. The first is to ensure you are consistently using appropriate biosecurity measures. The USDA and its industry partners provide a list of recommended measures.

The second recommendation is to follow wildlife management practices that help prevent wild birds from coming into direct contact with your poultry and droppings from being accidentally transported by boots or equipment to your birds. The USDA suggests following these three practices.

1. Reduce wildlife attractants
Water will be your biggest enemy in terms of attracting wildlife. You should remove standing water whenever possible. Use deterrents such as wire grids or scare devices to keep waterfowl from using water ponds or basins near poultry barns. Do not use untreated surface water for watering poultry or cleaning barns as it may be contaminated.

Reduce food sources by keeping feed structures on clean pads and cleaning regularly. Cut back on natural wildlife feed, such as grass seeds, insects, and fruit trees by mowing frequently, removing fallen fruit, and not piling used litter near barns.

Also, it’s important to keep all waste covered.

2. Prevent wildlife access
Remove unnecessary ledges or horizontal surfaces where wildlife can perch, and install netting, screens, and perch deterrents like bird spikes. Repair holes and tears in barn walls. Before nesting season, remove old nests.

3. Add wildlife deterrents
Move and replace scare devices frequently to make them more effective.

For more tips, see the USDA’s new biosecurity flyer.

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