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Game Commission lifts recommendation to not feed birds

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Gardening Feeder Wars

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has lifted its recommendation against feeding birds after reports of sick or dead birds have declined.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has lifted its the recommendation not to feed birds.

Reports of sick and dead wild birds have declined, the commission said.

Much is still unknown about what caused the illnesses and deaths documented in Washington, D.C., and at least 10 states, including Pennsylvania, since late May. No definitive cause of illness or death has been determined. But research has ruled out many potential causes and there is no indication that feeding birds or maintaining bird baths were factors, the commission said.

No health issues for humans, livestock, poultry or pets have been documented.

Natural resource management agencies in the affected jurisdictions continue to work with diagnostic laboratories to investigate the event. The USGS National Wildlife Health Center, the University of Georgia Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, the University of Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program, the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, and multiple state labs have been involved.

Because birds congregate at bird feeders and baths, the standard recommendation to keep that equipment clean remains in place, along with additional guidelines:

  • Clean feeders and bird baths with soap and water, then disinfect with a 10% household bleach solution. After allowing 10 minutes of contact time, rinse with clean water and allow to air dry. Cleaning and disinfection should be done at a minimum weekly basis or more frequently when soiled to prevent potential spread of any infectious diseases between birds and other wildlife, as well as remove spoiled food.
  • When feeding birds, follow expert recommendations such as those listed in Audubon International’s Guide to Bird Feeding
  • Report any sick or dead wild birds to your local Pennsylvania Game Commission office.
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead wild birds.
  • Avoid handling wild birds. If you must do so, wear disposable gloves or use inverted plastic bags on your hands to avoid direct contact. Dead birds can be disposed of in a closed plastic bag in household trash or buried deeply (greater than 3 feet) to prevent disease transmission to other animals.
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