Duck Hunting and Mutton Birding Avian - Influenza Risks.

​​​​Is it safe to eat wild game birds such as wild ducks​​or mutton birds?

It is generally considered safe to consume wild game birds and mutton birds providing they are handled with good hygiene and cooked properly. Only birds that appear healthy should be caught. People should never eat sick looking birds, or ones that are found dead, even if still fresh.

How should wild game species and mutton birds be handled?

Normal sanitary precautions should always be followed when handling any wild birds.

Wild birds, particularly of the duck family, are considered the natural host for avian influenza viruses, however the strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) that is currently circulating overseas has crossed into many species of birds and mammals. Surveillance continues throughout Australia on circulating strains of avian influenza, and currently we remain free of HPAI.  

If HPAI is detecting in Australia, safety measures for handling game will need to be adjusted to minimise risk of infection or spread of disease. For now, it is sensible to use normal hygiene precautions when handling game birds and mutton birds:

  • Wear rubber gloves or food-prep gloves while handling and cleaning birds.

  • After handling or cleaning birds, wash hands thoroughly with soap or disinfect with alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

  • Discard intestines soon after harvesting and avoid contact with intestinal contents.

  • Cook birds thoroughly before eating.

  • Avoid any birds that appear sick or are acting abnormally. Only harvest healthy birds.

  • Ensure that equipment, clothing, boots etc are cleaned thoroughly with soap or detergent., and where appropriate, disinfect with household bleach at a dilution of 1:10 with water for at least 10 minutes. 

What should I do if I see something unusual in wild birds?

​If you come across a large number of dead or sick wild birds or any other circumstances that look unusual, you should immediately phone the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888. Sick and dead birds should not be handled without proper personal protection equipment.


Animal Disease Enquiries

13 St Johns Avenue,
New Town, TAS, 7008.