The story is not timely. However, it is good to be reminded that the possibility of pandemic influenza (highly pathogenic avian influenza) still exists. For us, it is still good to be reminded to take the usual precautions with wild game that have been shared at this blog.

This story will be published tomorrow. It is located at the LA Times website

and at the KTLA TV website

Currently the video is flaky (unstable).

A few things to point out. Although the Feds had know about the sampling plan for over a year (sampling started in 2005) the news was not known until after the 2006 sampling and news coverage began. See early March,


The flyers came out in mid-March, just after the news announcements of the 2006 sampling.

The strong effort to advertise there is no bird flu and that birds can be hunted, continued even after bird flu, including H5N1, was confirmed in the tested birds. This information has not been as widely disseminated. There has been little follow-up on local preparedness.

Alaska villagers living in bird flu’s flight path
What has brought the Eskimos sustenance for generations now may carry the deadly virus into North America

By JIA-RUI CHONG, Times Staff Writer, October 22, 2006

Soon, latex gloves appeared on store shelves and Wild West-style posters started popping up around town: “Wanted: Birds of the Delta.” Researchers camped out in the town’s tribal council offices, preparing for trips to nearby Kwigluk Island with vials, swabs, nets and needles.

They came bearing a warning: The wild birds that the Yup’ik have hunted for millenniums may be carrying the first traces of the deadly bird flu virus from Asia into North America….

The nervousness has waned through the summer, said the 58-year-old ex-Army sergeant, but still, “We don’t joke about what we eat here.”

…The coastal location is one reason health officials chose Kipnuk as one of 10 villages for testing. The other main reason is the vigor of its hunters.

Kipnuk villagers hunt intensely through the summer, stocking up on birds, which they usually roast into a crispy meal or boil into a soup made with onions, rice and macaroni. Peter keeps two freezers stuffed with various birds — some plucked, some not….

…The health corporation began preparing residents in the spring with a newsletter outlining some of the dangers of bird flu.

The newsletter’s advice was simple: Don’t eat, drink or smoke when cleaning birds, and cook the meat thoroughly.

This has caused some problems.

One of the delicacies of tundra life is half-cooked eider. ..

As a chill set in, he disemboweled his birds in the traditional style: hooking one finger into the cloaca and tearing out the intestines with one motion.

He wiped his hand on the damp grass.

Peter said he was worried, but not that worried, yet. “Nobody’s gotten sick,” he said…. Video– “Drawing a line in the Tundra” [sic]

cleaning geese

I found the newstory had a mixed voice; an element of sympathy but also exoticism. Untouched by the reporter and by us is the necessary larger discussion of “tradition” vs “modernism”. [If tradition weren’t evolving it wouldn’t be tradition and we would be extinct as a community. If Cabela’s and shotguns and freezers are indigenous hunting tools (and they are) so too are hand sanitizers and safe food handling. We know from our own history that once people get sick, in 1918, in 1950s, in 2005, it is too late for prevention. Part of tradition is getting ready; we need our institutions to catch up.]

It’s interesting, too, that The Birds are again the harbingers of human disasters (see

). We forget to our peril that, to paraphrase Pogo, we have seen the environment and it is us.

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