U of M Raptor Center confirms hawk has died of bird flu

(ABC 6 News) – The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota on Wednesday confirmed a red-tailed hawk has died due to bird flu.

The Raptor Center said it’s their first HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza)-positive raptor since January.

This sick bird, an adult female red-tailed hawk, was presented to the hospital on Saturday, March 25th. The bird was very quiet and unable to fly, according to the Raptor Center. She was admitted to the triage and quarantine area and tested for HPAI on admission. She was kept in isolation overnight, as the care team kept her comfortable and awaited test results. Sadly, the hawk passed away during the night and was later confirmed to have been suffering from HPAI.

The Raptor Center said they cared for over 200 HPAI-positive birds in 2022; only one bird survived. The highly contagious virus is quite deadly in eagles, hawks, owls, vultures, and falcons.

This comes as bird flu has returned to Minnesota less than four months after the deadly poultry disease was last detected in the state, the Board of Animal Health said Monday.

The detection was confirmed earlier this week in a backyard mixed flock in Le Sueur County of south-central Minnesota, the board said. The site was quarantined and the 114 birds on the premises — mostly chickens — were destroyed to prevent the spread of the disease.

Minnesota’s last previous detection was in a backyard flock in Redwood County of southwestern Minnesota in December.

The outbreak began last year, driving up egg and poultry prices, and forcing the slaughter of more than 58 million birds across the country to limit the spread of the virus. With the outbreak entering its second year, and the spring migratory season for wild birds looming, there is no end in sight. And there is little farmers can do beyond the steps they have already taken to try to keep the virus out.

Officials say bird flu doesn’t represent a significant threat to human health.