Your assistance is needed. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has released a “Checklist for Self-Assessment of Enhanced Poultry Biosecurity” and training materials as part of ongoing preparation efforts for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). These documents will assist the poultry industry in implementing effective biosecurity practices. APHIS collaborated with state, academic and industry experts to develop the checklist and training materials, which are posted on the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association website at http://www.uspoultry.org/animal_husbandry/intro.cfm.
We encourage all commercial operations that produce poultry indoors to use the self-assessment to review and improve their biosecurity plans.
During the dog days of August, when much of North America is still sweltering under intense summer heat, blue-winged teal are already beginning their long migration south.
Mature drakes are typically first to leave the breeding grounds, followed by adult hens and juvenile birds, which have only recently developed primary feathers required for flying. By Labor Day, large flights of teal are on the move, riding the cool winds of early cold fronts. For waterfowl enthusiasts, the appearance of these swift little ducks is a welcome harbinger of autumn following a long, hot summer.
The migration habits of blue-winged teal set them apart from other North American waterfowl. They not only migrate earlier than other waterfowl species-including the more cold-tolerant green-winged teal-they also journey faster and farther from their breeding grounds. Many bluewings blow through the U.S. in a matter of days, stopping only briefly along the way to feed and rest.
The majority of the population follows the Central and Mississippi flyways, with fewer numbers migrating down the Atlantic Flyway. Blue-winged teal are relatively uncommon in the Pacific Flyway, where they are greatly outnumbered by their close relatives, cinnamon teal.
In early fall, hot, dry weather can limit the habitat available for migrating teal, other waterfowl, and shorebirds. Wetlands conserved by Ducks Unlimited and its partners under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) provide critical feeding and resting areas for the birds during the fall migration, and again in the spring as they return north to their breeding grounds.
If we hope to control the spread and eventually eradicate this HPAI virus, all segments of the industry will need to follow comprehensive and stringent biosecurity practices on an ongoing basis. The steps listed below are a sound start.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is participating in a national surveillance effort to test waterfowl for the presence of avian influenza. Testing began this summer as part of IDNR’s annual waterfowl banding work and will continue with hunter harvested ducks this fall and winter.
Avian influenza in 2015 has affected more birds than any other U.S. state. However, most of those confirmed cases were in commercial egg operations and little is known about how widespread the virus has been in wild birds in the state.
The project is coordinated by the USDA Wildlife Services that is targeting watersheds by season. This fall, hunters in the Upper Mississippi, Iowa, Skunk and Wapsipinicon River watershed and the Chariton and Grand River watershed may be asked to have samples collected from their harvested ducks. Later this winter, the focus shifts to the Missouri and Little Sioux River watershed.
“We are targeting dabbling ducks – teal, gadwall, widgeon, mallards are the highest priority and hope to fill our sample quotas on the opening day of regular duck season,” said Orrin Jones, waterfowl biologist with the IDNR.
Watersheds were selected based on the likelihood that dabbling ducks would be intermingling with other ducks and were assigned quotas to determine if avian influenza is present in the watersheds: 60 samples, 80 samples and 140 samples, respectively.
Collection takes only a few minutes and no hunter information is taken. Hunters can be notified of the results if they choose.
While the sample collection is focused on specific watersheds, Jones asked that hunters from all parts of the state call the IDNR if they find five or more dead ducks in an area.
“That is a situation we would like to investigate,” Jones said.
The last case of avian influenza detected in Iowa was confirmed in a commercial egg operation on June 19.