BUCKSPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Turkey hunters are preparing for their 5 week spring hunting season that starts this weekend with a Junior Day on Saturday. This year hunters will want to pay a little more attention to the game they come across with a new virus popping up in Turkeys across Maine.
Maine Wildlife officials are asking hunters to be on the look out for Turkeys with unsightly lesions around their heads and legs. The new sickness is called Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus, or LPDV. The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says several cases of it have been reported in Maine since the first case was discovered last year. When Bird Group Leader with the Maine IF&W, Brad Allen, first saw what the virus could do it wasn't a happy surprise.
"It's not pretty. It's nothing I would want to handle," said Allen.
According to Allen, the first case reported in Maine happened last year. The most serious cases found show turkeys that develop extreme lesions around their eyes and beak.
"If it does get to be a really bad case it can prevent the turkeys from seeing and obviously they can probably starve to death," said Allen.
The disease is spread between turkeys by direct skin contact or through mosquitoes bites. The virus doesn't pose a health risk to humans, but Allen still recommends hunters use caution and contact a wildlife biologist if they come across one.
"I think if I was sitting in a blind next Monday and I had a flock of turkeys and I observed something unusual in them I wouldn't shoot one," said Allen.
You can also call the Department of Public Safety in Augusta if you see or shoot a bird you believe is infected at (800) 452-4664.
The spring hunting season lasts until June 1.