DU Helps Reverse Canada’s Captured Game Bird Import Ban

USDA APHIS revises rule after scientific consultation with Ducks Unlimited

WASHINGTON, DC – September 12, 2022 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), after several discussions with Ducks Unlimited (DU) waterfowl scientists, has revised its previous rule prohibiting the importation of game birds of Canada.

On September 8, 2022, DU provided science-based information to USDA APHIS to advise its decision to review import restrictions, while maintaining strict measures to prevent the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Under the new restrictions, unprocessed hunter-harvested wild game bird carcasses originating in or transiting Canada must meet the following conditions:

  • The viscera, head, neck, legs, skin and one wing have been removed; Y
  • Feathers have been removed, with the exception of one wing, as required by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for species identification; Y
  • Carcasses must be rinsed with clean, fresh potable water prior to packaging and must be free of visible evidence of contamination with dirt, blood, or feces; Y
  • Carcasses must be imported in leak-proof plastic containers and stored in a leak-proof cooler or container during transportation and importation; Y
  • Carcasses must be refrigerated or frozen during transportation and importation.

“We appreciate USDA’s willingness to listen to DU’s concerns and review this rule in a practical and scientific manner,” said DU Executive Director Adam Putnam. “This review is not only a victory for American waterfowl hunters, but also for the application of sound science. Now, waterfowl hunters who have already set out north of the Canadian border have clear guidance on how to limit the spread of HPAI and safely bring their game birds back to the US.”

This decision reverses a previous APHIS regulation, announced on September 2, 2022, that immediately prohibited 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 have had several discussions with USDA APHIS, arguing that there is little existing evidence that this regulation would have a significant impact on the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the US.

“We certainly understand and appreciate the importance of limiting the spread of HPAI in the US,” said Dr. Mike Brasher, DU senior waterfowl scientist. “But based on data from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service, US hunters and their captured birds imported from Canada pose relatively minimal risks in this regard. DU will take this opportunity to communicate with waterfowl hunters about these new import restrictions and the USDA APHIS voluntary guidelines that will provide additional safeguards against the spread of HPAI this fall and winter.”

For more details on additional USDA APHIS restriction criteria and recommendations for hunters, visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/newsroom/stakeholder-info/sa_by_date/sa-2022/canada-wild-bird -game- corpses.

For more information, visit www.ducks.org and be sure to follow DU’s Twitter account: @DucksUnlimited and @DUConserve for the latest Ducks Unlimited news.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world The largest non-profit organization in North America dedicated to the conservation of rapidly disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 15 million acres thanks to the contributions of more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of enough wetlands to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information about our work, visit www.patos.org.