SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (WCCO/AP) — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants to arm itself with turkey hunters in the fight against bird flu.

The state asked hunters in five counties — Kandiyohi, Pope, Meeker, Swift and Stearns — to help figure out if the virus has spread to wild turkeys.

More than 1.6 million birds have caught the flu or had to be put down. The Minnesota DNR now wants to collect samples from wild turkeys bagged by hunters.

The agency said it would come out to meet hunters, that it would only take a few minutes, and then they can keep their birds. All hunters have been reminded to thoroughly cook turkey to kill any viruses or bacteria.

Hunters in these counties should call the following offices beginning April 20 for an appointment:

  • Sauk Rapids: 320-223-7840
  • New London: 320-354-2154
  • Glenwood: 320-634-0342
  • Carlos Avery: 651-296-5290

Meanwhile, the strain has also been confirmed at a fifth commercial turkey farm in South Dakota.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed the H5N2 strain of avian influenza in a flock of 70,000 birds in Roberts County. That’s the largest flock of turkeys found infected with the disease in South Dakota since it appeared in the state last month.

State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven says crews are beginning to euthanize the remaining birds at the farm to prevent the disease from spreading.

Oedekoven says the approximately 6-mile quarantine zone officials have set up around the farm also extends into parts of North Dakota and Minnesota.

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