Above: Raptors that eat waterfowl, such as Peregrine Falcons, are susceptible to HPAI. Photo Credit: Bill Harris
It’s Bird Health Awareness Week! Did you know that highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is deadly to raptors and domestic poultry? You can help prevent the spread with a few simple measures:
- Report sick, dying, or groups of dead birds to your local wildlife agency.
- Don’t touch or allow your pets to come into contact with suspected infected birds.
- If you have backyard chickens, ducks, or turkeys, protect them from transmission by limiting visitors, washing your hands before and after contact with them, and by limiting attracting wild birds to your coop (e.g., clean up food spills).
- Infections in songbirds are very minimal, less the 2% of all cases. Since there is currently low risk of an outbreak among wild songbirds, there is no official recommendation to take down feeders unless you also keep domestic poultry, according to the National Wildlife Disease Program. However you should always keep your feeders and baths clean to reduce the likelihood of any illness spreading.
What are we doing at TRC to prepare for HPAI cases?
Last year, the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole provided a micro-grant to TRC to bolster our PPE and biosecurity with the arrival of HPAI in Teton County. Despite our best efforts, this deadly disease made its way into our facilities. To decrease the possibility of this happening again, and with additional support from the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole, we are converting one of the outdoor enclosures into a semi-permanent quarantine zone. By doing so, we can continue to admit injured, ill, and orphaned birds, while also protecting the rest of the birds. One of the current raptor enclosures is nearby but separate from the main Clinic building, with its own entrance, making it an excellent choice for a quarantine zone.
With this recent grant support, we will convert the enclosure into an ideal quarantine zone by covering the sand floor with a plastic membrane followed by a plywood floor and an easy-to-clean linoleum surface. We will also cover the exterior slats of the enclosure with a sheet of plexiglass to keep the space warmer but allow light in. We will then convert the vestibule to a mini-clinic stocked with medical and husbandry supplies as well as PPE for our staff and volunteers. By taking these measures, we can efficiently quarantine and care for new rehab patients while awaiting their HPAI test results and at the same time, protect all the other birds we care for at Teton Raptor Center.
Thank you to the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole!