New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Media contact: Dan Williams, (505) 476-8004
Public contact: (505) 476-8000
dan.williams@state.nm.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, OCT. 5, 2007:

EXTRA YOUTH-ONLY DUCK HUNTS AVAILABLE OCT. 15 FOR BERNARDO WILDLIFE AREA
DEPARTMENT CONTINUES TO MONITOR FOR AVIAN INFLUENZA


EXTRA YOUTH-ONLY DUCK HUNTS AVAILABLE OCT. 15 FOR BERNARDO WILDLIFE AREA

SANTA FE -- Young duck hunters who missed the September drawing deadline have another chance to snag a special opportunity to hunt waterfowl on the Bernardo Wildlife Management Area this fall and winter. The Department of Game and Fish will offer 114 permits online or over-the-counter at Department offices beginning at 10 a.m. Oct. 15.

Permits for hunters age 17 or younger will be available for various hunt dates from Oct. 27, 2007, to Jan. 27, 2008. Hunters must have passed a certified hunter education class, be fully licensed and accompanied by a non-hunting adult age 18 or older. Permits will be sold first-come, first-served for a $6 application fee on the Department website, www.wildlife.state.nm.us , or at Department offices in Albuquerque , Santa Fe , Las Cruces , Raton and Roswell .

For more information about the youth waterfowl hunts and other New Mexico small-game and waterfowl hunting opportunities and rules, please see the 2007-2008 Small Game & Waterfowl Rules & Information booklet, available at license vendors statewide or at www.wildlife.state.nm.us.

DEPARTMENT CONTINUES TO MONITOR FOR AVIAN INFLUENZA

The Department of Game and Fish and other government agencies continue to monitor wild and domestic poultry and waterfowl in the state for avian influenza, including the H5N1 "bird flu" virus that has spread through birds in Asia, Europe and Africa .

On Sept. 27, poultry at a commercial farm in Saskatchewan , Canada , tested positive for the H7N3 virus, a strain that is highly pathogenic to poultry, but not humans, and has not been associated with wild migratory birds. In response, the U.S. Department of Agriculture placed a temporary ban on the importation of poultry and commercial shipments of live birds, hatching eggs and unprocessed avian products from Saskatchewan . No importation ban was issued for hunter-harvested wild birds.

However, U.S. Customs interpreted the Sept. 27 USDA ban to include wild birds, and mistakenly confiscated, destroyed or ordered hunters to dispose of more than 4,000 legally harvested ducks and geese before crossing the border into the United States. When informed of the error Sept. 28, U.S. Customs began letting hunter harvested birds across the border again.

To date, the H5N1 virus has not been detected in the U.S. or any country in the western hemisphere. Due to recent increased surveillance in both wild birds and poultry, many states have found various low-pathogen avian influenza strains in wild birds. These strains are no threat to human health.

Avian influenza viruses occur naturally in wild bird populations, but New Mexico has not had any recent outbreaks in domestic poultry. New Mexico does not have live bird markets like those associated with outbreaks in other states.

For more information about avian influenza, please visit the website, http://www.nmbirdflu.org .

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