SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Spring Turkey hunting season is coming up in Utah from May 2 to 31. Here’s what hunters need to know to keep themselves safe from Avian Flu while hunting. 

Until recently, the U.S. has not seen a major outbreak of bird flu since 2014-2015. In January of 2022, a new outbreak was confirmed in Utah. While initially only infecting wild birds, the first confirmed HPAI (H5N1) case was detected in a backyard flock of poultry in Utah County. 

The current detected strain of HPAI presents a low risk to humans, but has the potential to adapt and mutate into a strain that can harm humans. No such strain has been detected yet in Utah or the U.S. 

The US Department of Agriculture has provided extensive guidelines for hunters to keep themselves safe from avian influenza. If followed, turkey hunters should be able to feel much safer this coming hunting season. 

  • Do not handle or harvest any wild bird that is obviously sick or found dead.
  • Always wear disposable gloves when handling or cleaning game.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling game. If you are somewhere without access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer.
  • Dress game birds in the field if possible. If this is impossible, clean them in a location away from poultry and other birds.
  • Use a separate pair of shoes for your game cleaning areas. Consider using rubber shoes that you can sanitize after use.
  • Use dedicated tools for cleaning game in the field or at home. Do not use those tools for cleaning poultry or pet birds.
  • Double bag the offal and feathers from game. “Tie the inner bag, take off your gloves, and leave them in the outer bag before tying it closed. Then place the bag in a trash can that is hard to get into”
  • Wash all tools and work surfaces with soap and water, then disinfect them using a fresh mix of chlorine solution (1/3rd cup of bleach per gallon of water).
  • Do not eat, drink, or put anything in your mouth while cleaning or handling game.
  • Avoid cross-contamination between uncooked game and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Cook game thoroughly, to at least 165 degrees internal temperature.

If you have more questions about staying safe this hunting season, please visit the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources here.