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FWP: Turkeys found dead near MSU Billings died of avian flu

turkey billings js.jpg
Jess Sheldahl
Yellowstone Public Radio
A tom walks near the Montana State University campus in Billings. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks says out of several turkeys found dead in a neighborhood near MSUB, three were confirmed to have died from the avian flu.

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks says turkeys found dead near the Montana State University Billings campus earlier this month died from avian influenza.

FWP game wardens found seven dead turkeys in the neighborhood west of MSUB after a resident reported finding carcasses in his yard. This week, testing confirmed the avian flu in three dead tom turkeys from the campus flock.

FWP spokesperson Robert Gibson says these are the first lab-confirmed avian flu deaths in non-domesticated turkeys in the U.S.

Gibson says the long-term outlook for the campus turkey flock depends on how people in the neighborhood treat them. He says people should remove any food attractants that encourage turkeys to congregate and always disinfect hands, shoes and clothing that come into contact with birds.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza transmits easily between birds through direct contact or contact with infected droppings. Montana confirmed this year’s first cases of bird flu in poultry found in Judith Basin and Cascade Counties in early April. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 76,000 birds have been affected by avian flu in Montana this year.

FWP encourages anyone who finds a dead bird to call the agency to report the carcass.