WINC Info during Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

*Updated on April 30th, 2024*


Biosecurity protocol for avian admissions during HPAI:

WINC will be admitting adults of most species (with standard exceptions for: mustelids [skunks, all species of weasels, mink, fisher, otter], bobcat, lynx, bats, deer, bears, wolves, red fox due to DNR Covid restrictions).

Due to HPAI, WINC will be admitting a limited number juvenile/subadult waterfowl (ducks, geese, swans) this season. Admissions will be through the main/front door.


Admission of waterfowl (ducks/geese/swans):

Adults – ok

Subadults (hatchling to juvenile ages) – WINC will be taking a limited number of juvenile waterfowl (based on space and quarantine needs).

The following (previously limited) species are ok for admission through the front/main door. No age or quarantine limitations for these species:

  • Raptors, eagles, osprey
  • Corvids (jays/crows/ravens)
  • Vultures
  • Wading birds – egrets, herons, cranes
  • Wild turkeys and pheasants
  • Waterbirds – loons, grebes, coots, pelicans, gulls, cormorants, kingfisher

For calls regarding hatchling/infant/juvenile waterfowl, AC staff will update when admissions are closed. At that time, if re-uniting/fostering attempts have failed or are not feasible, calls should be referred to the DNR Wildlife Hotline by emailing or by leaving a voicemail message for a return phone call at 608-267-0866.


For species we will not admit:

Reporting of possibly sick birds from the public – The DNR asks the public to email or call with reports of waterfowl, waterbirds, raptors (especially bald eagles) and avian scavengers such as crows, ravens and gulls showing neurological signs which may include tremors, swimming or walking in circles, moving the head in a “jerky” motion, and holding the neck and head in an unusual position (more drastic than simply drooping), unable to stand or walk. These symptoms may be a sign of HPAI. These reports can be made to the DNR Wildlife Hotline by emailing or by leaving a voicemail message for a return phone call at 608-267-0866. Directions from the DNR – anyone who observes sick or dead birds should minimize contact with them. Do not touch dead birds or wildlife with your bare hands. If you must touch a dead bird, wear gloves, or use a plastic bag to put it in the garbage. Wash your hands with soap and water after handling and throw away any gloves. WINC will not be accepting alive or dead birds for testing for HPAI. Refer people who ask about testing to DNR.

If bird is species WINC does not admit and the finder wants to try to find another wildlife rehabilitator to admit the bird, refer people to the DNR wildlife rehab directory or call the DNR call center at 888-936-7463. Other rehabbers may have different criteria than WINC. But restricting bird movement also helps restrict disease so rehabbers may be less likely to take birds outside their local area.


Avian Flu FAQs

What is avian influenza?

Avian influenza, or “bird flu,” is a contagious viral disease that occurs naturally among birds. Wild birds worldwide can carry viruses without becoming sick; however, some avian influenza strains can cause serious illness in some domesticated birds, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys. Avian influenza viruses are highly species-specific but have on rare occasions crossed the species barrier to infect humans. The current strains are not known to cause illness in humans.


How is the disease transmitted?

The bird flu can be transmitted through contact with the feces, saliva or nasal discharges of infected birds.  Birds may become infected through direct contact with infected waterfowl or poultry or through contact with contaminated surfaces. There is no evidence that properly cooked poultry or eggs can be a source of infection.


What are the implications for human health?

Per the CDC, the current strains of HPAI are rarely known to cause illness in humans.


Is there a vaccine against bird flu?

Currently there are no vaccines effective against HPAI for use in wildlife.


What is the Wildlife in Need Center doing to prepare for bird flu?

Our first emphasis is on biosecurity, prevention, and protection of our ambassadors as well as our avian patients currently in rehabilitation.