- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Bird flu restrictions are forcing a young magician to come up with new tricks in his act, because the Iowa State Fair says he can’t use his pet doves.

In May, state agricultural officials barred live bird exhibitions from county fairs and the state fair to help stem the avian influenza outbreak, which has resulted in the deaths of an estimated 48 million chickens and turkeys in 15 states.

The order presented a big problem for 19-year-old Michael Osman, of Des Moines, who’s scheduled to compete in the state fair’s Bill Riley Talent Search. Osman’s bird tricks make up the majority of his act, and he told The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1I0ZLKP ) that his doves are pets that haven’t been exposed to poultry or other birds.

But fair spokeswoman Mindy Williamson said the state veterinarian’s office has told fair officials that no exceptions could be made. And Iowa Agriculture Department spokesman Dustin Vande Hoef said Wednesday the doves “fall under the order we issued on May 21 canceling all bird shows and exhibitions in the state.”

“We feel terrible for him,” Williamson said.

Riley said he warned Osman about the restrictions and suggested that he prepare substitutes. If Osman were to use props, Riley said, the judges and the audience would be informed.

Osman, whose stage name is Mike Oz, has been brainstorming options. Among them: big goldfish.

“I thought about using fake birds or a rabbit or borrowing a rabbit from a friend,” Osman said. “I also thought about poking fun at them for not letting me use my birds by using Dove shampoo.”


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