Bird hunting season is approaching – how to avoid avian influenza

August 2/2023

The Finnish Food Authority recommends not hunting waterfowl in areas or places where mass deaths of birds have occurred or avian influenza has been detected. It is common to use dogs for hunting birds. For this reason, it is best not to hunt in obvious avian influenza areas to protect the health of both humans and dogs. This recommendation applies to all of Finland.

The Finnish Food Authority also recommends not hunting gulls or corvids at all this year for the purpose of training dogs now or later. Viruses can remain infectious in frozen meat, and although infections in dogs have been globally rare, the possibility of infection cannot be completely ruled out. 

You should not give dogs uncooked parts or meat from game birds. You should make sure that dogs do not get an opportunity to eat or chew on animals you have hunted or on birds or other animals that have died on their own. If a pet has managed to play with or eat a dead or diseased wild bird and the pet’s general condition deteriorates, you should seek veterinary care. If a cat or dog has clearly dirtied itself with bird faeces, you should wash the pet carefully and make sure to use personal protection while doing so.

How to handle the birds you have hunted

Even when plucking and cleaning healthy game birds, you should wear disposable gloves and wash your hands afterwards. Otherwise it is enough to observe normal cooking hygiene and to fully cook the meat. You must never eat birds that are diseased or that have died on their own. You can also prevent the spread of avian influenza by making sure that your hunting gear is clean and by avoiding visits to poultry farms after hunting trips. People who look after poultry or other birds should avoid hunting waterfowl and having other contact with wild waterfowl.

If you find several dead birds or birds with symptoms indicating a serious disease, contact your local municipal veterinarian. In this kind of situation, hunting waterfowl in that area is no longer recommended. You also should not attract a large amount of birds to one place by feeding them. This advice is in line with the Finnish Hunters’ Association’s position on attracting game birds with food. Even when feeding other birds than game, you should do it in a way that does not attract large numbers of gulls or corvids to the feeding place.


Further infomation

Avian influenza (in Finnish)
THL: Avian influenza (in Finnish)
Recommendation of the Finnish Hunters’ Association (in Finnish)