A USDA ban on imported raw wild waterfowl meat from Canada stands to create confusion on the border when American waterfowlers return from Canada this fall. In June, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) banned the import of eggs, live birds, and uncooked wild waterfowl meat from many parts of Canada. It’s an attempt to mitigate the spread of the highly pathogenic avian flu that has already been found in several states and provinces and has caused some poultry producers to euthanize their flocks in an effort to stop the spread.

The APHIS declaration means that hunters coming back to the U.S. from certain parts of Canada where the virus has been found must bring any waterfowl meat back fully cooked.  It’s not clear if the rule stipulating one feathered wing be left on any transported carcass will apply. If so, cooks will have to get creative. Hunters who shoot a bird that theyd like to mount must take it to a USDA-licensed taxidermist in Canada who will dispose of the meat and properly sterilize the mount before returning it to the customer.

This isn’t a blanket ban. It applies only to birds taken from avian flu “primary control zones,” or hotspots, which can be located on this interactive map. The primary control zones aren’t large, but they are subject to change as waterfowl move around. As of June 22, there were 54 primary control zones all across Canada.

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After two years of COVID restrictions, American hunters are eager to go to Canada again, and Canadian outfitters are eager to have us back. This new ban could complicate or change many American hunters’ plans this year, but with luck, the ban may be lifted by the time waterfowlers start making early fall trips to Canada in September.