The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is asking wild turkey hunters who go afield beginning April 15 to notify the agency if they find dead turkeys — toms, jakes or hens. The H5N2 strain of highly pathogenic bird flu first surfaced about a month ago in Minnesota at a domestic turkey breeding farm in Pope County. The same virus has since appeared in commercial turkey farms elsewhere in the state. The virus is believed to be carried by migrating waterfowl, which aren't affected by the disease.
Michelle Carstensen of the DNR said it's unclear whether or how the virus might affect wild turkeys, though it's suspected these birds are less vulnerable to the H5N2 strain of bird flu than domestic birds, which live in relatively sterile facilities. Wild turkeys, by contrast, "are exposed to all kinds of bacteria throughout their lives,'' Carstensen said.
"Still, we want to get the word out to turkey hunters that if they do find dead birds to contact us,'' Carstensen said. The toll-free DNR phone number is 1-888-646-6367.