The USDA is banning hunters in Canada from bringing goose and duck meat into the United States in an attempt to curb the spread of the bird flu.
The department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced the news on September 2. It came one day after waterfowl hunting season began in Canada.
“Hunter-harvested unprocessed wild game bird meat/carcasses, originating from or transiting Canada, will not be permitted to enter the United States regardless of the Canadian province from which the bird was harvested,” the department wrote in a press release. “Hunter-harvested wild game bird trophies entering the United States from Canada must be fully finished, or accompanied by a VS import permit, or consigned directly to a USDA Approved Establishment.”
Because of the timing, hunters had to leave birds behind. And they’re forced to waste what they had intended to process for the winter, reports Outdoor Life.
“I’m not even sure if everyone up here knows about this yet. But I know people are upset about it,” Mike McLane, the owner of Prairie’s Edge Outfitting in Saskatchewan, told the publication. The first two groups we had were not happy—they were planning to take home all the birds they shot.”
The USDA Expects the Bird Flu Outbreak to Worsen This Fall
The USDA made the decision due to the High Path Avian Influenza (bird flu) outbreak that began in January. The disease was first detected in South Carolina. And it has since killed over 46 million domestic birds and an uncountable amount of wild birds in North America.
This week alone, the U.S. agricultural industry euthanized 6 million chickens and turkeys after the disease hit an Ohio farm. Around the same time, farmers in Wisconsin, North Dakota, Indiana, and Minnesota also reported bird flu. And officials predict that a larger outbreak will hit this fall.
While the bans are in place to keep domestic and wild birds safe, people are wondering if they are necessary. Because the birds are migratory, they will eventually cross the border on their own accord. Once the animals fly into the United States, hunters can kill and process them with no restrictions. So several hunting organizations, including Ducks Unlimited are asking the USDA to rethink its recent decision.
“Hunters are left to wonder why APHIS would reverse course on such a consequential decision, announced after hours on a holiday weekend—with zero notice or opportunity to be heard from stakeholders,” Adam Putnam, CEO of Ducks Unlimited said on Sept. 3. “DU members are justifiably upset by the absence of science and the total lack of transparency around this sweeping regulation.”