State officials say that residents in Illinois can resume using bird feeders and birdbaths after telling residents last month to halt use due to an influenza outbreak that was killing birds.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) made the announcement in an update Tuesday.
The department previously said the EA H5N1 strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) was impacting some wild and domestic bird species.
While HPAI was not detected in songbird species, IDNR recommended the use of bird feeders and birdbaths cease through May 31 or until influenza infections in the Midwest subside, especially those that waterfowl may visit.
The IDNR said that wild birds would have ample food sources while bird feeders were removed this spring.
Wildlife biologists at the IDNR advised that it was safe to resume the use of bird feeders and birdbaths effective Wednesday.
With the annual spring migration of non-resident waterfowl and other migratory bird species complete, the risk of further disease outbreaks among wild bird populations has been minimized.
HPAI has not been detected in songbird species.
“The IDNR would like to thank the public for their assistance and cooperation in potentially reducing the spread of HPAI during this critical time,” said Chris Jacques, the agency’s wildlife disease program manager.
The department recommends that residents clean and rinse bird feeders and baths weekly.
HPAI may still occur in resident waterfowl, people should avoid feeding ducks and geese, the IDNR said.
Even under normal conditions, feeding waterfowl can lead to nuisance problems and increase rates of disease transmission in wild bird populations.
The IDNR first announced that HPAI was detected in Canada geese in Illinois in March.
Experts have since documented HPAI-related mortalities in wild eagles, double-crested cormorants, snow geese, American white pelicans, red-tailed hawks, mallard ducks, redhead duck, lesser scaup, Canada geese, Ross’s geese and turkey vultures in Champaign, Cook, Fulton, Lake, Madison, Peoria, Sangamon and Will counties.