Millions of large birds like sandhill cranes and pelicans will make their temporary homes in Iowa and Nebraska early next year, and one expert fears their migration could bring avian flu to the Midwest.
Caroll Sheldon, a long-time bird watcher, says the concerns aren’t unfounded. Sheldon says the Department of Health and Human Services needs to “get up front on this. They didn’t do it on the West Nile virus and a lotta’ people died from that and that’ll be small change compared to what could happen here.”
Several lakes and waterways across eastern Nebraska and western and central Iowa are nesting grounds for the migrating fowl every spring and he worries they’ll become a major health risk. Sheldon says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control doesn’t appear to be moving very quickly with an action plan.
Sheldon says the C-D-C has warned other nations but no one really knows what to do. He favors drastically thinning out the flock of sandhill cranes with an open season on hunting them year-round, and restricting, not expanding their habitat. He comments on the chances avian flu will be flying into the heartland early next year.
Odds are good, he says, as the birds take a flight path that carries them through Europe, across Russia, down the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and into the mainland U.S. Sheldon says something like ten-million waterfowl nest in our region between early March and early April.