ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is warning people about dangerous birds they may encounter when out hunting this season.

Officials said they have been monitoring for outbreaks of the bird flu for this fall migration season. They said the virus was found in Canadian geese last year. This strand is more contagious than past versions.

This year, IDNR wants people — especially those looking for waterfowl — to avoid handling sick or dead birds in the field.

“For hunters this time of year, it’s going to get colder here and lots of waterfowls are going to come down,” said Mike Ward, University of Illinois Ornithology Professor. “Big concentration of waterfowl can lead to the prevalence of the explosion of avian influenza which can kill lots of animals very quick. And it’s not just killing waterfowl, it can also kill, and it’s not good for, the poultry industry.”

Officials said people cooking game meat should be sure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. They encourage people who see groups of 20 or more dead birds to call a local IDNR wildlife biologist.