The United States Department of Agriculture-Animal Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) has issued an official statement banning the importation of all hunter-harvested game birds from Canada into the United States. The statement was finally released late, after-hours, on September 2, 2022, only after inquiries from SCI, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and various Canadian hunting associations. The news came just as US hunters were departing to Canada to hunt over the long Labor Day weekend.
The policy stems from a months-long outbreak of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). APHIS states that while the agency has entered into an agreement with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to reduce restrictions on the movement of commercial poultry and poultry products, the agreements do not apply to wildlife. This means that hunter-harvested game birds must be fully finished, accompanied by an import permit, or consigned directly to a USDA approved taxidermist in order to enter the US.
“Hunter-harvested unprocessed wild game bird meat/carcasses, originating from or transiting Canada, will not be permitted to enter the United States regardless of the Canadian province from which the bird was harvested,” reads the statement. “APHIS is aware of the impact this will have on the hunting season and will provide updates if new information is received.”
Processed means the birds must be “heat-treated” (cooked), which removes the feathers required by US Fish & Wildlife Service inspectors for importation. The birds must also be certified by a CFIA veterinarian before they may be imported. CFIA has said they do not have this capacity. That makes APHIS’ directive a de facto closure on importations of hunter-taken wild birds.
The policy makes no sense, as wild birds freely migrate across the international border, and HPAI has been found in a variety of wild birds across the United States over the last six months. Watch for more news reports from SCI, including how to make your voice heard and change this ridiculous policy.