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Avian flu spreads to wild birds in Oregon’s Willamette Valley

 Mallard Ducks at Delta Ponds in Eugene
Tammy Heckathorn
Mallard Ducks at Delta Ponds in Eugene

Officials say this is the first finding of the highly pathogenic illness in wild birds in Oregon.

UPDATE: On May 19th, the USDA established a regional quarantine for avian flu in Lane County. This prevents the movement of poultry from within the area while official conduct surveillance to ensure no additional cases exist.

A map of the outbreak areas in Linn and Lane Counties and the quarantine area in Lane County is available online. Interested parties may enter their address to determine whether they are included in the quarantine area.

 Map of outbreak and quarantine areas in Lane and Linn Counties for Avian Flu.
Map of outbreak and quarantine areas in Lane and Linn Counties for Avian Flu.

Avian flu has spread to more locations in the Willamette Valley. Last week it was detected in backyard poultry in Linn County.

Now, several Canada goslings at Eugene’s Alton Baker park have tested positive for avian flu. Officials say this is the first finding of the highly pathogenic illness in wild birds in Oregon.

Michelle Dennehy with Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife said they’ve also found it in an osprey and a red-tailed hawk in the Eugene area. She said if you come across a sick bird don’t touch it. But do contact ODFW or the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Dennehy said there’s a very low risk to human health, but backyard chickens could be at risk.

“If you’re raising chickens in your backyard, you kind of need to think about how they might interact with wild birds because they could pick it up from there,” she said. “So ODA’s site has a lot of great information on that.”

Dennehy says it’s never a good idea to feed wild ducks & geese, but it’s an especially bad idea now.

“It’s really important that you don’t feed ducks or geese, which I know is popular, and it’s popular at Alton Baker where those birds died,” she said, “What is does is it kind of congregates animals. It gets them closer together. So it becomes easier for the avian flu to spread between animals.”

If you see sick or dead wild birds, do not collect or handle them but report the incident directly to ODFW at 866-968-2600 or Wildlife.Health@odfw.oregon.gov. ODFW staff will be conducting surveillance and collecting/testing sick and dead wild birds to monitor for the presence of the disease. Also note that Oregon’s wildlife rehabilitators are not accepting sick ducks and geese at this time in order to protect other avian patients and education birds in their care.

If you have domesticated backyard birds such as poultry, increase your biosecurity and keep your birds separated from wild birds, especially waterfowl. If you have poultry that appears sick or has died of respiratory or neurological disease call 503-986-4711 (Alt Phone: 1-800-347-7028). For more tips visit the Oregon Department of Agriculture website at https://oda.direct/AI or en español at https://oda.direct/AIESP
Copyright 2022 KLCC.

Rachael McDonald is News Director at KLCC. She’s been with the station for more than 10 years. Previously, she established the Richland, Washington bureau for the Northwest News Network. She also worked as News Director at KAZU in Monterey, California. Rachael has won numerous awards for her reporting.