Hunter Harvested Game Birds from Canada Still Blocked by APHIS According to Border Agents

Bird hunters from the United States heading to Canada should be aware that they may still be barred from returning home with harvested game birds due to the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). Although the United States Department of Agriculture-Animal Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) had not yet issued an official position statement or updated restriction as of September 2, border agents with the USDA were telling hunters that any hunted birds brought across the border would be confiscated and destroyed if they were taken in Alberta, Ontario or Quebec. Birds from other provinces, they said, must be cooked and certified by a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) veterinarian.

APHIS is the regulatory body that monitors and responds to animal and plant disease issues in the US, blocking the importation of animal and plant products from abroad that are experiencing pest or disease outbreaks. Earlier this year, APHIS shut down importations on all bird products from Canada, identifying 64 zones of infection scattered across the country. That number was down to 10 zones and three provinces in late August. The current APHIS memo on importation, dated August 24, 2022, had removed restrictions on all but those 10 zones, seeming to open the way for hunters to bring home their harvested birds from most of Canada.

Calls to various ports of entry along the border, however, uncovered an unannounced directive contradicting the August 24 memo. This directive requires completely barring all bird products from the three provinces where HPAI still exists (Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec). It also requires that birds from all other provinces 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’ unofficial directive a de facto closure on importations of hunter taken wild birds that otherwise migrate freely across the international border.

SCI and its partners are currently seeking an official announcement on this policy and will release more information upon receiving it from APHIS. Watch for subsequent reports on this developing issue.

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