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Bird Flu Cases Drop As Temperatures Warm, But Experts Warn Cases Could Rise Again In The Fall

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - The latest data from the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center shows that bird flu cases in their raptors have dropped dramatically since late April.

Data from the week of May 9 - May 15 showed there were 16 positive cases at the Raptor Center. That's down from 37 positive cases the week prior.

It means about 50% of the raptors are testing positive for bird flu, but it was 100% of the incoming birds at the peak.

Raptor Center's Executive Director Dr. Victoria Hall says it's thanks to the warmer weather as well as the birds continuing to migrate out of Minnesota.

"As the weather gets warmer and drier we know the virus doesn't survive in the environment as long," Dr. Hall said.

However, Dr. Hall said it is possible this strain of avian flu will come back up again in the fall because of the amount of virus prevalent in the community.

The Center has to take extra precautions with every bird that comes in as the highly pathogenic avian flu has particularly affected owls, eagles, and hawks.

Since March 28th they've taken in 169 birds that tested positive. Only one of them, a great horned owl, survived.

There's also been debate over whether you should or shouldn't you put up a bird feeder.

The DNR has not given a recommendation to take down bird feeders this spring. The Raptor Center recommended taking them down as an extra precaution.

Dr. Hall said the center will likely update its recommendation at the start of June as cases continue to go down.

"It becomes much safer for birds to gather like bird feeding," she said.

Dr. Hall said if anyone finds a sick bird, you should call the Raptor Center before interacting with the bird.

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