The following is important news and updates about Avian Influenza from the Maryland Department of Agriculture and Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
From the Maryland Department of Agriculture:
Background: Avian influenza is a viral disease that can affect bird species throughout the world. The disease can vary from mild to severe, depending on the virus strain involved. The most severe strain is called highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). High path flu is characterized by high, fast moving fatality rates (more than 75%) within infected flocks. Since December 2014, USDA has confirmed many cases of HPAI in both commercial and backyard flocks. There are currently no known or reported cases of High Path Avian Influenza in Maryland.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections to be low. This strain is spread by wild migratory birds but may also have other sources as well. Flock owners are urged to practice enhanced biosecurity to protect their flocks. If you have more than one sick bird or if several have died suddenly, contact MDA Animal Health at: 410-841-5810.
“This strain of avian influenza could very well bring economic disaster to our largest agricultural sector if we don’t take steps to protect the birds now. We have every reason to believe that HPAI will enter Maryland this fall, and we are making every effort to keep it out of our commercial chicken houses and backyard flocks. I strongly encourage all flock owners and managers to take this disease as seriously as they have ever taken anything and to practice enhanced biosecurity at all times.” — Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder
When HPAI is confirmed, the state works with USDA and other federal partners to execute a response plan. Existing USDA avian influenza response plans follow five basic steps:
- Quarantine: Restrict movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area;
- Eradicate: Humanely euthanize the affected flock(s);
- Monitor region: Test wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area;
- Disinfect: Kill the virus in the affected flock locations; and
- Test: Confirm that the poultry farm is AI virus-free. USDA also is working with its partners to actively look and test for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations.
Poultry Exhibitions Update: To do everything possible to mitigate the risk of HPAI from infecting Maryland poultry flocks, MDA will prohibit poultry exhibitions at all fairs and show after Aug. 25, 2015. MDA has also issued an order requiring all hatching eggs and poultry entering from out of state to be tested within 10 days or come from certified clean sources. This quarantine order will remain in effect until at least June 30, 2016. Any questions, please call the MDA Animal Health Program at 410-841-5810.
From the Maryland Department of Natural Resources
The key is biosecurity at the farm and poultry house level to prevent access by rodents and mammals like raccoons, as well as migratory birds. We have advised DNR wildlife staff to avoid visiting poultry farms on and off duty and to adhere to basic biosecurity requirements.
Information below allows farmers to address the nesting of Canada geese on their farms:
Resident Canada Goose Depredation Assistance Available to Maryland Landowners
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services are coordinating to offer Maryland property owners and farmers the necessary tools to manage problems caused by Resident Canada geese.
Under the Nest and Egg Depredation Order, private landowners and public land managers may now destroy Resident Canada goose nests and eggs on property under their jurisdiction between March 1 and June 30 if necessary to resolve or prevent injury to people, property, agricultural crops, or other interests. Before any goose nests or eggs may be destroyed, landowners must go on-line to register with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Landowners must register employees or agents that may act on their behalf. Registration is valid for one nesting season and must be renewed each year before nests and eggs may be destroyed. There is no fee for registration. No State permit is required to destroy nests or eggs in Maryland.
The Agricultural Depredation Order allows agricultural producers including landowners, operators, and tenants actively engaged in commercial agriculture to use certain lethal methods to control Resident Canada geese on lands that they personally control and where geese are damaging agricultural crops.
State authorization is required to conduct this control. A federal permit is not required.
Goose nests and eggs may only be destroyed between March 1 and June 30, and geese may only be taken between May 1 and August 31. All management actions must occur on the premises of the depredation area. Geese may not be taken using hunting methods such as decoys and calls.
Agricultural producers can apply for a free State permit, in person or by telephone at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, 1568 Whitehall Road, Annapolis, MD 21409, Tel. 1-877-463-6497.
Past efforts have shown Canada goose depredation control is most effective when a combination of techniques are used in concert: hunting seasons (special early and regular Resident Canada goose seasons and liberal bag limits), nest and egg destruction, non-lethal treatment methods like hazing with propane cannons, pyrotechnics and lethal alternatives.
For additional information about Resident Canada geese and other Maryland waterfowl visit the DNR web site at http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/waterfowl.asp.