Midwest pheasant producers are nervous as bird flu spreads

AP News
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Posted: Apr 24, 2015 4:58 PM

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Game bird producers in the Midwest are ramping up disease prevention measures in an effort to shield their multi-billion-dollar industry from the highly contagious avian influenza outbreak sweeping the region's poultry producers.

The deadly H5N2 strain of avian influenza has cost turkey and chicken producers millions of birds but the virus hasn't affected game bird producers who supply the nation's hunting preserves.

Bill MacFarlane runs the largest pheasant operation in North America. The 60-year-old farmer has implemented strict measures to protect the $1.8 million birds he supplies annually to game bird industry.

MacFarlane says as the number of cases grows, producers are getting more stressed.

It's still not known how susceptible game birds are. The only case of the virus in pheasants so far was found in Washington state.