avian flu

Illinois Officials Recommend Residents Take Down Bird Feeders, Baths Due to Avian Flu

A highly-virulent strain of avian flu has led to mass-bird deaths in several locations, including Cook County

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Illinois residents are being encouraged to take down bird feeders and bird baths through the end of May to help combat the spread of a virulent strain of avian flu that has been devastating wild and domestic bird populations in the state.

According to a press release from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, residents are being asked to discontinue the use of bird feeders and baths through May 31.

IDNR says the EA H5N1 strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is currently impacting wild and domestic birds in the state.

While the strain has not yet been detected in songbird species, the department is still recommending that residents take down bird feeders and bird baths, especially those that waterfowl may visit.

The first reported infections in the state impacted wild Canadian geese on March 10, according to the Department of Agriculture. Wild bird deaths have also occurred in Champaign, Fulton, Sangamon and Will counties, and officials say that a recent mass-death event occurred in Cook County, with more than 200 birds succumbing to the virus.

Domestic poultry and wild waterbirds, including bald eagles, have also been found to have been infected by the virus.

The department is also recommending that residents

-Clean and rinse bird feeders with a diluted bleach solution (nine parts water to one part bleach), and to put the feeders away until recommendations change.

-Remove any bird seed at the base of feeders to discourage large gatherings of birds.

-Avoid feeding wild birds in close proximity to domestic flocks.

If residents observed five or more deceased birds in one location, it is recommended to contact a wildlife biologist with the department. That can be done through the department’s website.

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