Bird flu turns up in Montana wild birds; turkey hunters cautioned as season starts

Although wild birds are much more likely to survive bird flu than domestic fowl, Montana wildlife officials are still noticing fatalities.

In a press conference Friday, employees of state Fish, Wildlife and Parks said that while waterfowl seem likely to survive Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, wild turkeys are dying. The discovery comes as the state’s male wild turkey season begins. Hunters are advised to avoid birds that appear sick.

“It appears these birds, at least the ones in Montana, these animals, several of them died in one location. So, it might be highly fatal to them,” said Jennifer Ramsey, FWP veterinarian.

Ramsey said infected birds appear to be getting tired from the virus, though waterfowl can carry the virus without developing symptoms.

The current strain of bird flu is highly contagious, with infections confirmed in domestic birds in at least 29 states. HPAI is deadly to domestic birds and flocks are quickly and deliberately killed to prevent further spread of the illness. More than 28 million domestic birds have been killed to prevent influenza spread so far.

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