As HPAI, aka “bird flu,” continues to spread in Michigan, officials say there can be a simple fix to help reduce the spread.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recommends that bird lovers temporarily remove their bird feeders. The department states that this isn’t a general recommendation, but simply a suggestion, as removing these food sources can help protect domestic and wild birds, as well as yourself.
“Current research suggests songbirds are less susceptible to highly pathogenic avian influenza and are unlikely to play a significant role in spreading the virus,” says wildlife veterinarian Megan Moriarty. “However, much remains unknown, and surveillance and testing for HPAI in this group of birds is less common, resulting in a knowledge gap.”
The DNR states in a news release that if you have high-risk species living around you, such as Blue Jays or Ravens, you should consider the recommendation.
“With warmer springtime weather on the way, too, birds will have more natural food sources readily available to them, so chances are many people will be taking down feeders in a few weeks anyway,” says Moriarty.
For those considering removing their bird feeders, the DNR recommends these guidelines:
- Thoroughly clean your bird feeders with a diluted bleach solution (and rinse well) once per week.
- Clean up any birdseed below the feeders to discourage other large wildlife from congregating around your bird feeder.
- Don’t feed wild birds near domestic flocks.
If avian influenza is suspected, contact MDARD immediately at 800-292-3939 (daytime) or 517-373-0440 (after-hours).
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