Ten days after announcing an import ban on hunter-harvested game birds from Canada, the United States Department of Agriculture-Animal Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) has lifted the restrictions, allowing US hunters to bring home their harvests again. The change in policy came after a deluge of comments from hunters and pressure from legislators on both sides of the border regarding the faulty science behind the policy and its effectiveness in preventing the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) from wild birds to commercial poultry farms in the US.
SCI initially broke the story on the APHIS policy back in June. After negotiations between APHIS, Canadian authorities and a group of hunting and conservation organizations resulted in a more relaxed directive, APHIS returned to a complete ban on the eve of the Labor Day weekend. SCI immediately warned hunters through its news blog and launched an alert through its Hunter Advocacy Action Center allowing hunters in the US and Canada to encourage policy makers to rescind a policy that blocks hunter harvested birds while millions of live birds fly freely across the border.
In a new policy statement issued on September 12, the agency says it will allow the import of unprocessed hunter-harvested wild game bird meat/carcasses under the following conditions:
- Viscera, head, neck, feet, skin, and one wing have been removed; and
- Feathers have been removed, with the exception of one wing – as required by US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for species identification; and
- Carcasses must be rinsed in fresh, clean, potable water prior to packaging and must not have visible evidence of contamination with dirt, blood, or feces; and
- Carcasses must be imported in leak-proof plastic packaging and stored in a leak proof cooler or container during transport and import; and
- Carcasses must be chilled or frozen during transport and import.
- APHIS further recommends that boots and any equipment used to process the carcasses should be clean and visibly free from dirt, blood, tissue and feces.
Cooked or cured meat and meat products (such as sausage, jerky, etc.) will not be allowed import as FWS requirements cannot be met to identify the species of wild bird.
As for game bird trophies entering the United States from Canada, they must be fully finished, or accompanied by a Veterinary Services import permit, or consigned directly to a USDA Approved Establishment. Hunters may find an approved taxidermy establishment by visiting the Veterinary Services Process Streamlining (VSPS) search page and searching for a taxidermist with the HPAI product code in your state.
For questions regarding import of animal products and by-products, contact Animal Product Imports at 301-851-3300 or send an email to [email protected]. For US Fish and Wildlife requirements for the hunter harvested wild game birds from Canada, go to www.fws.gov.
See the upcoming October issue of Safari Times for a full report on this development.