USDA Walks Back Controversial Import Ban After Backlash From American Hunters

by Lauren Boisvert

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced an import ban on waterfowl from Canada on September 2, and hunters were not too happy about that. Now, the department is retracting its statement and the ban after backlash from the hunting community. The ban on bringing waterfowl back to the US from Canada was a measure intended to slow the spread of avian flu.

Now, instead of outright banning the transfer of birds over the border, APHIS is allowing hunters to bring their catches back under strict limitations. According to Field and Stream, the rules are as follows.

Birds must meet the following conditions to be allowed to come over the border from Canada:

  • Viscera, head, neck, feet, skin, and one wing must be removed.
  • Feathers must be removed, except for one wing, which is required to remain attached by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for species identification.
  • Carcasses must be rinsed with clean, potable water before being packaged. They must not show any signs of contamination by blood, dirt, or feces.
  • Carcasses must be stored in leak-proof packaging, which must be stored in a leak-proof container.
  • Carcasses must be chilled or frozen.

Additionally, APHIS asks hunters to make sure their boots, clothing, and hunting equipment are free of contamination from blood, dirt, or feces, as stated above. They are also not allowing processed bird meat either.

“Cooked or cured meat and meat products (for example, sausage, jerky, etc.) will not be an allowed import as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requirements cannot be met to identify the species of wild bird,” explained the department. Also, if you want your bird mounted, you must do it at a USDA-approved taxidermist, but only in Canada, before you cross the border.

Hunters Outraged At Waterfowl Ban, USDA Backtracks the Regulations

Hunters were upset with the timing of the band, which came one day after hunting season opened in Canada. Many hunters who were already in the field had to leave their trophies behind. Because of this, the meat was wasted, which hunters intended to process for consumption. Not only was it becoming a problem for hunters, but it was a problem from a conservation standpoint as well. Meat should never be left to rot or wasted.

Now, with the alterations to the ban, hunters can bring their waterfowl back to the US. However, they still must follow the rules. The USDA is attempting to slow the spread of bird flu that broke out in January in South Carolina. Since then, it has killed 46 million domestic birds and countless wild birds. The week of September 10, the USDA had to euthanize 6 million chickens after the flu swept through an Ohio farm. Officials predict the bird flu will worsen this fall, hence the USDA’s attempts to slow the spread with the import ban.