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This past Tuesday, Wyoming Fish and Game Department (WFGD) personnel discovered 77 dead mallards at the Ocean Lake Wildlife Habitat Management Area, in Fremont County. They suspect the birds may have been killed by avian influenza. The personnel also discovered one sick Canada goose that they euthanized. 

The news comes amidst an avian influenza outbreak affecting the whole country. Hunters, guides, and conservation officials are reporting die-offs of waterfowl in every North American flyway. The CDC is tracking cases, and as of November 28, 52 million birds across the country have died of bird flu. The outbreak is being called the deadliest in U.S. history

Biologists with the Wyoming Fish and Game Department are investigating what killed the mallards at Ocean Lake. It will likely take two weeks to test the carcasses and get an answer. For the time being, the WFGD has turned off a water aerator at the management area so the water will freeze and migrating waterfowl will move on. 

Read Next: Feds Reverse Import Ban on Waterfowl Taken by American Hunters in Canada

Though the risk of contracting avian influenza is low for humans, most state game agencies recommend hunters take the following precautions while hunting and processing waterfowl this season: 

  • Harvest only game that appears to be healthy.
  • Do not handle sick game – report to your state wildlife agency.
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves, and eye protection when handling and cleaning game.
  • Field dress game outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
  • Do not feed carcass parts to pets or leave them behind for other wild animals to scavenge. 
  • Seal carcasses and unwanted organs in plastic bags for disposal in the trash.
  • After handling game, wash your hands thoroughly, and clean and disinfect all equipment and surfaces that came into contact with game.
  • Do not eat, drink, or smoke when handling game.
  • Properly cook any game meat you eat to an internal temperature of 165° F to kill the virus.

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