Nasty rumors abound that the "powers that be" are considering cancelling the 06/07 season to help prevent the possible spread of bird flu.
in a nut shell, the theory is that by keeping us from hunting waterfowl they will somehow prevent bird flu from rearing its ugly head on the west coast of the USA. Migratory waterfowl from alaska sometimes co-mingle with birds on the asian continent..then migrate down the pacific flyway through WA, OR and CA. in theory, they make a decent, however painful to hunters, point.
but here are my problems with this theory.
1) H5N1 (the virus responsible for avian flu) has yet to be shown to transfer from human to human. it is the threat of it's mutation that is the real problem. if and when it does mutate, it will spread rapidly enough through person to person contact to make any restrictions on waterfowling be moot at best. The scare tactics involving "What If" are being used to toute a possible pandemic...not the possiblity itself.
2) In almost every instance of human contraction of H5N1, domestic fowl is to blame. ie: humans working closely with poultry in unsanitary conditions. I don't believe that there is a single documented case of a human coming down with Avian Flu from contact with a wild bird. not that it COULDN'T happen...it just hasn't yet that i am aware of.
3) Studies have shown that the spread of H5N1 follows major trade routes for commercial sales and trade of domestic fowl. ie: one country sells infected chickens to another. hence the spread to that area. While migration routes are certainly a possible avenue for spread, thusfar it appears that international sales and distribution is more to blame.
4) What is the real risk? In the USA there is very little interaction between migratory fowl and domestic fowl. by "domestic" i am referring to farm rasied birds for distribution on a large scale. (Not grandmas 2 pet ducks out on the pond.) The real risk, according to experts, is minimal at best for a large scale outbreak in the states.
5) Consider the source. Liberal rags such as the Daily Fish Wrapper (aka "The Oregonian") are touting the scare and singing the possibilities of a waterfowl season closure in the best interest of public health. Bill Monroe's recent article alluding to such a possibility was nothing more than paragraph after paragraph of catch phrases and sensationalisms ment to scare the uneducated into believing that if we have a waterfowl hunting season, we were all going to die of Avian Flu. (like the birds aren't coming here anyway...) While Bill certainly seems to be on the side of the sportsman, his recent articles and ideas for management leave me wondering whose side he is really on. Sporstmen Beware. If enough "regular joes" get freaked out about the idea that waterfowling=massive human deaths. guess who gets to sit at home next year while the anti's are throwing a party? Journalism such as this has no purpose aside from frightening people who have no interests in anything other that what the media tells them to be interested in. unfortunately, most of these people vote.
I am not minimalizing the risks and possiblities of the dangers that H5N1 poses if it were to mutate into a strain that is capable of be contracted through human/human contact. Just please be aware that there are people out there who will jump at any opportunity to take away our rights and recreation simply because they have contrary beliefs. use your head and get the facts.
Closing the waterfowl season next year, or any year, will have little or no impact whatsoever on the possibilities of an H5N1 outbreak. If it mutates into a human/human strain, then anything short of a complete halt on all international travel isn't going to prevent it's spread to our shores.
Friends Don't Let Friends Shoot Mossbergs.