American Hunters Cry Fowl Over Canada Border Ban
Americans who hunt waterfowl in Canada were up in arms this month, caught off guard by a surprise U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) order that prohibited them from returning to the United States with their fresh kills. This week, though, facing strong criticism from hunters and outdoors advocates, the USDA reversed the ban. That was welcome news to hunters—especially those who’d traveled to Canada to hunt waterfowl when the season opened earlier this month.
The import ban was intended to help stem an enormous, ongoing outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu in North America that’s seen thousands of wild birds confirmed to be infected and millions of commercially raised chickens and turkeys culled after also becoming infected. To dent the outbreak, the USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a mandate to waterfowl hunters in June. It banned them from bringing live birds and raw meat into the United States from specified “control zones” in Canada and required hunters to cook any meat they intended to bring back across the border.
“The importation ban only pertains to birds that fly through or are killed within the boundaries of specified control zones,” Outdoor Life reported in July. “These are areas that have a high incidence of bird flu.” The report also noted the mandate was confusing to hunters, who can’t realistically “know if those birds [they’ve killed] flew through a control zone.”
Earlier this month, Field & Stream reported that things got even more confusing when APHIS decided to ban hunters from bringing virtually any waterfowl they’d taken back into the United States. The ban’s impact was immediate. Delta Waterfowl noted last week that the ban had “functionally shut down all import of birds from all Canadian provinces.” The Meat Eater reported the ban “forc[ed] many American hunters to leave their meat north of the border.”
Critics hit back at APHIS over not just the ban but the agency’s opacity and seeming duplicity in adopting it. After all, the APHIS ban came just days after the agency had assured hunters it would not issue such a ban.
Ducks Unlimited, a leading waterfowl and wetland conservation group, blasted the timing of the APHIS announcement, issued late on a Friday that heralded the arrival of the Labor Day holiday weekend in the United States and the s
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