The migratory period of wild birds is a season the game hunters usually look forward to with glee. New flocks enter the peninsula from outside sources, and they include bird varieties we don’t get to see everyday. This has added another level of thrill for game bird hunters in the continental United States.
This year, however, the enthusiasm for such a migratory period has diminished. The main culprit for the decrease in the excitement for such a season is the bird flu scare in Asia and Europe. Bird flu is the common term for avian influenza, a disease that is quite common to birds but has recently been proven to affect humans as well, with fatal efficiency at that. This has caused a worldwide panic of a possible outbreak, considering that some wild birds do transfer from one place to another come mating season or to escape harsh climates in their native lands.
But the bird flu scare is just that: a scare. It shouldn’t ruin your bird hunting enjoyment. Though there are some legitimate reasons that should cause some concern, most of the prevailing fears were just magnified by lack of education, more than anything else. Let’s take a look at the facts, so that we could separate them from the myths that have formed in the minds of most people.
• Avian influenza is a common – yes, a common – disease that strikes birds of all types and kinds. Often, such a disease is fatal for birds, and in the event of an outbreak in the said poultry, it is recommended that such poultry be burned to prevent further contamination. Hence, governments of hardly hit areas are doing their best to curtail the spread of the disease. In fact, some of the hardly hit areas have shown remarkable progress in eliminating the dangers of avian influenza.
• Avian influenza greatly weakens the infected bird. The same may not even make the intercontinental flight. Though country to country travels are quite possible, hence the spread of bird flu in the Southeast Asian region, going from continent to continent can be quite taxing from the already suffering bird. This is why, up to this point in time, the reported cases of avian influenza which is farthest from the country of origin (believed to be China) are some remote sectors of the European continent which are proximate to Asia.
• Avian influenza has affected only 100 people since 1997. It is quite a low number, if we are to consider the pandemonium associated with the disease. Though human infection is likewise fatal, it is most commonly observed in workers dealing with poultry and the care of birds. Avian influenza is transmittable through the secretion, like saliva and other bodily fluids, of infected birds and the ingestion of the same in the human body.
• Avian influenza, given the foregoing facts, has a small likelihood of an outbreak among humans. The virus is not airborne. It can only be contracted through close contact with infected birds.
• A hunter who shoots down some game birds would be relatively safe, even in the event of avian influenza entering the United States’ territorial area of responsibility. For as long as the hunter does not eat the fowls he shoots down, and he minimizes his contact with the same, there should be no worries.
Nonetheless, it is better to be safe than sorry, as many people say. Though an outbreak of avian influenza in the US is possible, there is only a small probability of its happening. But this shouldn’t mean that the game hunter should refuse to practice some safety precautions. Be careful on how you deal with fowls you gun down. If possible, wear some gloves when disposing of them once they fall to the ground. It’s your best defense against any contingencies.