USDA APHIS revises rule following scientific consultation with Ducks Unlimited
WASHINGTON, D.C. – September 12, 2022 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), after several discussions with waterfowl scientists from Ducks Unlimited (DU), has revised their previous rule banning the import of game birds from Canada.
On September 8, 2022, DU provided science-based information to USDA APHIS to advise their decision to revise import restrictions, while maintaining strong measures to prevent the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Under the new restrictions, unprocessed hunter-harvested wild game bird carcasses, originating from or transiting Canada, must meet the following conditions:
- Viscera, head, neck, feet, skin, and one wing have been removed; and
- Feathers have been removed, with the exception of one wing, as required by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for species identification; and
- Carcasses must be rinsed in fresh, clean, potable water prior to packaging and must not have visible evidence of contamination with dirt, blood, or feces; and
- Carcasses must be imported in leak-proof plastic packaging and stored in a leak-proof cooler or container during transport and import; and
- Carcasses must be chilled or frozen during transport and import.
“We appreciate USDA’s willingness to hear the concerns from DU and revise this rule in a practical and scientific manner,” said DU CEO Adam Putnam. “This revision is not only a win for American waterfowlers but also for the application of sound science. Now, waterfowlers who’ve already departed north of the Canadian border have clear guidance on how to limit the spread of HPAI and bring their harvested game birds back into the U.S. safely.”
This decision reverses a previous APHIS regulation, announced on September 2, 2022, which immediately disallowed game birds taken by hunters in Canada from entering the United States, regardless of the province in which they were taken. Over the last week, DU scientists held several discussions with USDA APHIS, making the case there’s little existing evidence this regulation would have meaningful impact on the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the U.S.
“We certainly understand and appreciate the importance of limiting the spread of HPAI in the U.S.,” said DU Senior Waterfowl Scientist, Dr. Mike Brasher. “But based on data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service, U.S. hunters and their harvested birds imported from Canada pose relatively minimal risks in this regard. DU will use this opportunity to communicate with waterfowl hunters about these new import restrictions and USDA APHIS voluntary guidelines that will provide additional safeguards against the spread of HPAI this fall and winter.”
For more details on restriction criteria and additional USDA APHIS recommendations for hunters, please visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/newsroom/stakeholder-info/sa_by_date/sa-2022/canada-wild-bird-game-carcasses.
For more information, visit www.ducks.org, and be sure to Follow DU’s Twitter feed – @DucksUnlimited and @DUConserve – to get the most up-to-date news from Ducks Unlimited.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world ‘s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.