Type E Botulism and Precautions When Processing Waterfowl

Type E botulism is a disease that results when a toxin, produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, is ingested, causing paralysis. This disease has been associated with fish and water-bird die-offs on Lake Michigan in recent years. Intoxicated birds may be lethargic, have difficulty holding their head out of the water or be unable to fly. Waterfowl hunters in the northern Lower Peninsula and the eastern Upper Peninsula should follow the precautions listed below.

Precautions When Processing Waterfowl

  • Harvest only waterfowl that act and look healthy.


  • Wear rubber, plastic or disposable gloves while field dressing, skinning or butchering waterfowl.


  • Remove and discard intestines soon after harvesting and avoid direct contact with the intestinal contents.


  • Wash hands, utensils and work surfaces before and after handling any meat.


  • Keep waterfowl cool (either with ice or refrigeration), below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, until butchered, then refrigerate or freeze.


  • Cook waterfowl to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooking may not destroy the botulism E toxin.