By Mark Heinz, Outdoors Reporter
Widespread outbreaks of bird flu this year have wiped out some domestic flocks and also killed wild waterfowl, but two Wyoming duck and goose hunters says they’re not concerned about it having any impact on this year’s hunting seasons.
Instead, they’re focused on expected winter storms to the north, which should drive waterfowl down into the Torrington/Goshen County area, which is Wyoming’s duck and goose hunting hot spot.
“The goose hunting here in Goshen County is a good as anywhere in the country,” Michael Kahler told Cowboy State Daily, and the bird flu outbreak won’t change that.
He runs WyoBraska Waterfowl outfitting and said his business is booked full from the first scheduled hunts beginning Saturday through the last goose seasons in February.
“All the hunters north of here that I follow on social media are doing well,” Wheaton Kremke of Torrington told Cowboy State Daily. “They’re still smoking them (ducks and geese) up in Canada.
The bird flu hasn’t put any damper on plans for Torrington’s Two Shot goose hunt and banquets, a longstanding tradition that is scheduled for Dec. 9-10, said Kremke, one of the event’s organizers.
That event also is fully booked, he said.
He and Kahler said they have high hopes that storms predicted later this week in the north country and into Wyoming will bring with them the annual bounty of huge flocks of geese and ducks.
Low Risk To Humans
The strain of bird flu now circulating has taken a heavy tool on domestic flocks, causing shortages and rising prices on poultry, just in time for Thanksgiving.
It’s also potentially transmissible to humans and can cause severe, or even fatal, illness in people, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. However, the risk for large outbreaks among humans remains low.
Even so, the CDC recommends that waterfowl hunters take extra precautions this year, such as wearing gloves when gutting their kills and making sure that wild ducks and geese are thoroughly cooked before eating them.
Kremke said he hasn’t heard of any concern among waterfowl hunters about getting infected with bird flu. Kahler said his clients also are unconcerned.
If the bird flu has been killing any Canada geese, it hasn’t been enough to squelch the anticipated numbers that should start pouring in once the storms produce their expected results, Kahler said.
Goshen County has all the right elements for great goose hunting, including ample grain fields and large swaths of wetland habitat that have been set aside as bird refuges and are closed to hunting, he said.
The refuges are particularly important, he said, adding that, “The birds need a place where they can go and rest.”