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Hunters can bring most birds shot in Canada back to U.S.

U.S. ban on hunter-harvested fowl applies only to a few areas of Canada where avian influenza continues.

lab retrieving duck
Most birds shot by hunters in Canada this fall will be allowed to be imported into the U.S. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says only birds taken in avian influenza zones in Canada are banned from entry into the U.S. Only a few of those zones remain.
Steve Kuchera / 2019 file / Duluth News Tribune
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The decline in highly pathogenic avian influenza cases across North America in recent weeks has led to a loosening of restrictions on bringing hunter-harvested birds from Canada into the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture now says only birds taken from an active quarantine zone in Canada are banned from entering the U.S.

Because only a few of those quarantine zones remain, and because they are very small, most wild birds shot in Canada can be legally imported into the U.S.

“Whole wild game birds harvested outside of highly pathogenic avian influenza control zones can be brought into the United States,’’ Mike Stepien, a spokesman for the USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, told the News Tribune.

Stepien said a new rule exempting all hunter-harvested birds taken in Canada from import restrictions may be forthcoming. (Critics of the ban noted it made little sense because the same birds will freely fly across the border into the U.S. in coming weeks as they migrate south. The same issue arose in 2015, the last major avian flu outbreak.)

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Hunters can go to the Canada website at inspection.canada.ca and find an interactive map to show where active quarantine zones remain. As of Friday only a few zones near Edmonton, Ottawa and Quebec City remained. There were none in Manitoba or northwestern Ontario.

That’s good news for Northland hunters who travel to Canada to shoot upland birds and waterfowl. And with Ontario’s Canada goose season starting Sept. 1 and duck season on Sept. 10, the relaxation of regulations came just in time.

Anyone crossing the border should remember to leave their uncooked chicken or eggs at home as they still can’t be imported into Canada or brought from Canada into the U.S.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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