SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WREX) – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is advising the public to remove bird feeders and baths due to the spread of avian flu.
The IDNR says the spread of the EA H5N1 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, is impacting wild and domestic birds across the country, particularly in the Midwest.
Authorities say bird flu has yet to be detected in songbird species, but recommend those with feeders or birdbaths remove them until May 31, or until that infections in the Midwest disappear.
IDNR biologists also recommend cleaning and rinsing feeders and baths with a diluted bleach solution (nine parts water to one part bleach) and storing them. If they can’t be moved, clean them weekly.
Remove all bird seed from the base of feeders to discourage large gatherings of birds or other wildlife. Also, officials say, avoid feeding wild birds near domestic flocks.
IDNR first reported HPAI in a flock of wild Canada geese in Will County in March. Wild bird deaths from avian flu have been confirmed in Champaign, Fulton, Sangamon and Will counties with an investigation into the death of 200 birds underway in Cook County.
Wild birds affected by the avian flu strain include species of waterfowl and aquatic birds, as well as certain raptors, such as bald eagles. Cases have also been reported in domestic poultry farms.
IDNR says if you see a dead bird, especially bald eagles, contact them. If five or more dead birds are seen at one location, a wildlife biologist should be contacted. Contact information for Illinois District Wildlife Biologists is available here.
Biologists say that if you must dispose of a dead bird, wear rubber gloves and a face mask, line the carcass in sealed plastic bags and throw it in the trash. Anyone handling dead birds should thoroughly wash their hands and any clothing or tools after disposing of the bird.
Wild turkeys, according to the IDNR, are less likely to come into contact with bird flu due to their contacts and habitats. However, turkey hunters can be better protected by thoroughly cooking game meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
More information on the status of HPAI in Illinois is available on the IDNR website.