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By ANN POTEMPA, Anchorage Daily News

Read the article here —
Published: March 25, 2006, Last Modified: March 25, 2006 at 02:53 AM

About 40 biologists from throughout the state came to Anchorage Friday to learn how to test wild birds in Alaska for H5N1, the bird flu strain that’s killed birds and people in Asia and beyond….

[the sampling protocol is linked here]

Starting in a couple of weeks, biologists and others hired for the task will scatter throughout Alaska to swab birds in what’s touted as the main avian flu surveillance project nationwide. Many live birds will be tested and released, while others will be hunted and tested after they have died….

Nationwide, the goal is to sample 75,000 to 100,000 wild birds. In Alaska, about $4 million in federal money will be allocated to study about 15,000 birds, said Bruce Woods, spokesman with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The USGS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Alaska Department of Fish and Game are working together to study live birds, birds killed during the Alaska Native subsistence hunt that begins in spring, and birds killed during the fall hunt…

Practice sampling cloaca PPE
Marc Pratt from the USDA Wildlife Service Program swabs a long-tailed duck museum cadaver Friday during a workshop to learn to test wild Alaska birds for bird flu, a virus naturally found in certain types of waterfowl and shorebirds.

[I hope he doesn’t sneeze and contaminate the bird sample. Also, would a live bird hold still so nothing flings into his unprotected eyes? Pam]