As the federal government warns that the so-called bird flu could wing its deadly way into the United States through migratory birds in a few months, Minnesota is gearing up to be on the look-out.
Though the virus has done much of its deadly work in Asia, where poultry populations have been wiped out and people killed, the migratory link between that region, Alaska, and the Midwest, could bring the virus here.
At the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center, they've begun monitoring raptors such as eagles because they'll often eat small birds.
"They're eating some of them, particularly the sick or dead ones. And it's possible one or two eagles might be the equivalent of sampling several hundred ducks," said Dr. Patrick Redig of the Raptor Center.
Dr. Redig has proposed to the federal government that more raptors be monitored, and that perhaps 10,000 water fowl be checked in the upper Midwest as they fly through the equivalent of a bird highway
"The interesting thing about it is that all of these flyways have some point of convergence up here," said Dr. Redig.
Redig notes that many migratory highways from both Asia and North America intersect in Alaska. That seasonal mixing begins in three weeks. And by next fall said Dr. Redig, "We will have birds coming across the continent of the United States that have spent summer in Alaska and theoretically and potentially have mixed it up with birds from Asia."