MICHIGAN, USA — In an attempt to slow the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), commonly referred to as “bird flu," the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is suggesting Michiganders temporarily remove bird feeders from their yard.
While this is not a formal recommendation, the DNR says the temporary removal of these food sources could be helpful, especially for anyone who has highly susceptible species living near their home. Some species considered highly susceptible are domestic poultry, raptors or waterfowl.
The DNR is suggesting the removal of feeders for the next couple of months, or until the rate of HPAI spread decreases.
“If you’re concerned about this virus and want to act from a place of abundant caution, removing your bird feeders for now makes sense, but it isn’t yet a critical step,” said Megan Moriarty, the state wildlife veterinarian with the DNR. “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.”
If people choose to continue using their bird feeders, please keep this guidance in mind:
- Thoroughly clean bird feeders with a diluted bleach solution (and rinse well) once per week. Regularly cleaning helps protect birds against other infections, including salmonella.
- Clean up birdseed that has fallen below the feeders to discourage large numbers of birds and other wildlife from congregating in a concentrated area.
- Don’t feed wild birds, especially waterfowl, near domestic flocks.
In early April, the John Ball Zoo put some of their avian exhibits on hold due to the spread of the bird flu.
You can follow the current status of HPAI in Michigan counties at Michigan.gov/BirdFlu.
Domestic bird owners and caretakers should watch for unusual deaths, a drop in egg production, a significant decrease in water consumption or an increase in sick birds. If avian influenza is suspected, immediately contact MDARD at 800-292-3939 (daytime) or 517-373-0440 (after hours).
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