SPRINGFIELD – At least 300 waterbirds, primarily snow geese, have died of suspected avian influenza at public hunting areas throughout southern Illinois, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has confirmed.
Deceased wild birds have been found at Baldwin Lake, Pyramid State Recreation Area, Rend Lake, and Carlyle Lake in recent days.
IDNR will continue to monitor for ongoing outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, during the fall bird migration. Members of the public are encouraged to report large concentrations of 20 or more deceased birds at one location. Reports can be made to the local IDNR district wildlife biologist at the following link: https://www.wildlifeillinois.org/sidebar/contact-an-idnr-district-wildlife-biologist/.
IDNR first announced HPAI was detected in wild Canada geese in Illinois in March 2022 in a joint notice with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
IDNR continues to remind waterfowl hunters to take precautions by thoroughly cooking game meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit and implementing other guidance found here: Hunters-Protect Your Poultry and Pet Birds from Avian Influenza (usda.gov).
Hunters also should avoid handling sick or dead waterfowl found in the field, and they should not allow dogs or other pets to consume waterfowl that died from unknown causes. Further guidance for hunters can be found at: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/fsc_hpai_hunters.pdf.
Rubber gloves and a mask should be worn when disposing of any deceased wild birds, and carcasses should be double-bagged in sealed plastic bags. The bags can be buried away from scavengers or placed in the garbage if approved by the local waste service provider.
Anyone handling deceased birds should thoroughly wash their hands and any other clothes or tools with soap and water following disposal.