The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has issued an “all clear” notice regarding bird feeders and baths, effective June 1.
The department’s wildlife biologists had advised against the use of feeders and baths due to an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). With spring migration of non-resident waterfowl and other birds largely complete, the risk of deadly bird flu spread has now decreased among wild bird populations, officials said.
To date, the strain of avian influenza hasn’t been detected in songbirds.
“The IDNR would like to thank the public for their assistance and cooperation in potentially reducing the spread of HPAI during this critical time,” Chris Jacques, the agency’s wildlife disease program manager, said in a statement.
Regular cleaning of feeders and baths is still recommended, and people who keep backyard chickens should remain vigilant, the department said.
Because bird flu may still occur in resident waterfowl — the geese and ducks who live in Illinois year-round — department officials said to avoid feeding these birds.
“Even under normal conditions, feeding waterfowl can lead to nuisance problems and, consequently, increase rates of disease transmission in wild bird populations,” officials said.
Avian influenza was first detected in wild migratory Canada geese in Illinois in March. Since then, the disease has killed wild eagles, double-crested cormorants, snow geese, American white pelicans, red-tailed hawks, mallard ducks, redhead duck, lesser scaup, Canada geese, Ross’s geese and turkey vultures in various counties across the state.