Capital Clicks

State lifts ban on bird exhibitions at fairs

By: - June 3, 2022 11:28 am

Deadly bird flu has not been detected in Iowa in the past month. (Photo by Jared Strong/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

The state-mandated moratorium on live bird exhibitions, imposed during this spring’s avian flu outbreak, ended Friday, paving the way for county fair competitions.

There have been no new detections of the highly contagious avian influenza in Iowa in 30 days, allowing the moratorium to end.

“Today’s announcement is a welcome sign of continued progress in our state’s efforts to effectively manage the outbreak of avian influenza and protect Iowa’s poultry flocks,” said Mike Naig, the state’s agriculture secretary. “While efforts will continue to prevent additional virus spread, we are pleased to resume poultry sales and exhibitions — a step made possible by our ability to respond quickly from the start.”

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship temporarily banned the exhibitions in March as part of its efforts to stem the virus’ spread. The virus was most likely carried into the state by wild, migratory birds.

A priority for IDALS was to prevent flock-to-flock transmissions of bird flu. Such transmissions were a problem for Iowa in 2015, when more than 30 million birds were culled in the state.

The virus rarely affects humans, but it is fatal to domestic poultry. When the virus is detected in a flock, all of its birds are destroyed. Some of Iowa’s egg-laying chicken flocks have millions of birds.

IDALS has not identified any flock-to-flock transmissions this year, and the state’s death toll is about 13.4 million birds this year. The virus was detected in 15 commercial flocks and four backyard flocks.

Still, Iowa has had the most culled birds of any state this year. Nebraska is a distant second with 4.9 million birds killed. The virus has been detected in 36 states for a total of about 38 million birds.

The earliest county fairs in Iowa begin in less than two weeks.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register. His investigative work exposing police misconduct has notched several state and national awards. He is a longtime trustee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which fights for open records and open government. He is a lifelong Iowan and has lived mostly in rural western parts of the state.