Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, in collaboration with USDA Wildlife Services and several other state and federal agencies, is sampling waterfowl across Montana as part of a national effort for the early detection of avian influenza. Testing on ducks at Anaconda’s Washoe Park Duck Pond will begin in November and continue intermittently through December.
"The AI team will collect ducks in swim-in traps, sample them and release them unharmed," said Rose Jaffe, FWP's avian influenza coordinator in Bozeman.
Jaffe said visitors to the popular waterfowl pond can continue to enjoy watching the birds, but she asks that visitors refrain from feeding waterfowl while the tests are being conducted.
Although more than 140 different avian influenza viruses are commonly found in wild bird populations, the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain seen in Asia, Africa and parts of Europe has not been detected in any wild bird in North America. In addition, the virus does not move easily between birds and other species, and there is only one suspected case of human infection from wild birds world wide.
"We are collecting 1,500 samples statewide this fall and early winter from areas where waterfowl concentrate, including urban duck flocks and duck banding operations on national wildlife refuges. We will also sample again this year at hunter check stations," Jaffe said. "Montana’s participation in the early detection effort will supply information used to create a national database to track avian influenza information collected from wild birds throughout the country."
For more information about the project, visit the FWP website fwp.mt.gov, or call FWP at (406) 994-6967.