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Feeders are an excellent way to enjoy backyard birds, but they need to be kept clean.

Feeders are an excellent way to enjoy backyard birds, but they need to be kept clean.

Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of an early spring require a few extra preparations are needed by people who enjoy feeding songbirds.

Many avian diseases can spread through a crowded feeder if it is not kept clean, especially in warm, wet weather. Karen Rowe, Nongame Migratory Bird Program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, says the situation is similar to a cold spreading quickly at a school or office.

“Birds are flocking to feeders, and are in close contact with each other,” Rowe said. “This makes it easy for a virus or bacterial infection to be spread. Many highly contagious, naturally occurring diseases within bird populations also can remain on the feeder itself if it isn’t cleaned properly.”

Concentrations of birds at a feeder can make it easier for diseases to spread if you don't keep the area sanitary.

Concentrations of birds at a feeder can make it easier for diseases to spread if you don’t keep the area sanitary.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center, feeders should be washed once to twice a month using a 10 percent bleach solution and room-temperature water. It’s also important to check the birdseed to make sure it is dry and doesn’t contain any mold or mildew. Placing multiple feeders with different types of seeds in the yard also can prevent crowding.

Even the cleanest and most well-maintained feeders can transmit infections from bird-to-bird. According to Rowe, finding a few dead or lethargic songbirds near a feeder within a week shouldn’t be a cause for panic, but it is time to take action. All feeders should be taken down and disinfected with a 10 percent bleach solution. Bird baths also should be emptied and disinfected. The seeds and hulls on the ground also should be raked up, bagged and thrown away.
After disinfection, new food or water shouldn’t be placed in the area for at least 10 to 14 days, so birds will disperse and those that have already been infected won’t continue to spread the disease so rapidly.

“Not feeding the birds for up to two weeks during winter can seem like a drastic step,” Rowe said. “But it is the only way you can be a responsible bird conservationist and prevent the disease from lingering and continuing to infect birds your feeders attract.”

Visit the USGS National Wildlife Health Center’s web page to learn more about feeder-transmitted diseases and how you can prevent them.

Wet, warm springs can cause birdseed to mold and can stress backyard birds, making them more susceptible to disease.

Wet, warm springs can cause birdseed to mold and can stress backyard birds, making them more susceptible to disease.

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Freezer full? Donate a deer to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry.

Learn how the AGFC and Arkansas hunters are making a difference in their communities.

Learn how the AGFC and Arkansas hunters are making a difference in their communities.

Arkansas deer hunters have provided millions of servings of protein to needy families across Arkansas. Learn how you can help the AGFC and Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry keep food banks throughout The Natural State stocked with venison during the holiday season.

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The Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry truck will be at the Little Rock Bass Pro Shops  to collect wild game meat donations at 10 a.m. Sept. 27.

The Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry truck will be at the Little Rock Bass Pro Shops to collect wild game meat donations at 10 a.m. Sept. 27.

To celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry and Bass Pro Shops will be partnering for a special event to benefit AHFH. The event will be held at the Little Rock Bass Pro Shops on Sept. 27 beginning at 10 a.m. Congress established National Hunting and Fishing Day to recognize hunters and anglers for their leadership in fish and wildlife conservation.

AGFC deer biologists and wildlife officers will be available from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. to answer questions about Arkansas’s upcoming deer seasons. The Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry truck will be available for meat donations. AHFH is a successful program that has provided more than one million meals to the state’s most needy citizens.

There will be a drawing to win a $100 Bass Pro Shops gift card. Shoppers are encouraged to enter the contest by donating commercially processed and packaged meat, buying a hunting license and donating to AHFH or by making a cash donation to AHFH. For more information on AHFH, go to http://www.arkansashunters.org.

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Urban Deer Hunt Applications available April 1-May 1, 2014. Click here for more information.

Urban Deer Hunt Applications available April 1-May 1, 2014. Click here for more information.

The first step in a unique but demanding form of Arkansas hunting – urban deer hunts – opens April 1. Potential hunters can register online at http://www.agfc.com/licenses/pages/permitsspecialurban.aspx.

Hunts will be held Sept. 6 through Jan. 31, in eight communities – Fairfield Bay, Bull Shoals, Russellville, Fort Smith-Barling, Horseshoe Bend, Lakeview, Heber Springs and Cherokee Village. Hunting is with archery equipment only – longbows, recurve bows or compound bows. Crossbows are not allowed.

The hunts are cooperative events with the communities, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Arkansas Bowhunters Association. Registration closes on May 1.

Hunters also must meet a list of requirements:

  • Attend an urban hunt orientation and pay the $50 annual confirmation fee, which includes membership in the ABA for liability insurance purposes. A portion of the registration fee also goes to support Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry.
  • Pass the International Bowhunter Education Course. A list of scheduled IBEC classes and orientations can be found at http://www.agfc.com.
  • Pass a shooting proficiency test.
  • Possess a valid Arkansas (resident or nonresident) big game license. Hunters must be at least 16 years of age.
  • Possess a valid Urban Bowhunting Permit issued by AGFC. The permit will be valid for all the urban deer hunts for the year.

The urban hunts themselves have more requirements, such as:

  • Hunters must hunt on public land or have written permission from landowners.
  • Hunters must shoot from stands that are at least 10 feet above the ground.
  • No walking, stalking or use of ground blinds is allowed.
  • Hunting must be at least 50 yards from designated trails or parks.
  • Without written permission, hunting must be at least 50 yards from any occupied dwelling.
  • The first deer taken must be a doe, and must be donated to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry. All other deer harvested may be either-sex.

There are some unique perks to participating in one of the seven urban deer hunts:

  • There is no bag limit or antler restriction.
  • Deer harvested in urban deer hunts are considered bonus deer and do not count toward the hunter’s seasonal bag limit.

For a complete list of urban deer hunt rules and scheduled IBEC classes and orientations, visit http://www.agfc.com.

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The annual Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry bass tournament will be held March 29 at Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs. Click here for details.

The annual Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry bass tournament will be held March 29 at Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs. Click here for details.

The annual Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry bass fishing tournament will be held March 29 at Lake Hamilton near Hot Springs. All proceeds from the tournament go to the organization toward its mission of feeding less fortunate Arkansans while promoting needed harvest of deer in areas where the herd is out of balance.

Prizes include $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place, $500 for third place and $250 in merchandise from Zimmerman’s Sport Center for fourth place. The Entry fee is $100 per boat.

For more information, contact Steve Wilson at 501-304-6305 or Ronnie Ritter at 501-282-0006. Tournament sponsors include No-Way Pulpwood, Greeson’s, Zimmerman’s Sports Center, Legacy Printers and Supplies, and Academy Sports and Outdoors.

Entry forms are available at online at www.arkansashunters.org.

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Hunters Feeding the Hungry

The annual Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry team fishing tournament will be held March 16 at DeGray Lake near Arkadelphia. All of the proceeds from the tournament will go to the organization that helps to feed those less fortunate in Arkansas.
Prizes include $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place. Entry fee is $100 per boat.
For more information, contact Steve Wilson at 501-304-6305 or Ronnie Ritter at 501-282-0006. Tournament sponsors include No-Way Pulpwood, Greeson’s, Hope Auto, Legacy Printers and Supplies, and Academy Sports and Outdoors. Entry forms are available at online at www.arkansashunters.org.

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