An unusually high number of dead Canadian geese in and around Coaldale, Alta., is causing concern for the Birds of Prey Foundation.
Manager Colin Weir said they are being cautious because he believes the deaths could be from avian influenza.
“It’s a respiratory ailment,” he said. “It’s spread that way and it can also apparently be spread on the bird droppings as well.”
Avian flu cases have already been confirmed in Alberta and Weir suspects two birds in particular may be bringing the illness to the Coaldale area.
“We believe it’s spread through ducks and geese… they are flock birds and they do congregate quite often (and) socialize quite close to one another, and since they are highly migratory… they are the main creatures spreading this across North America.”
Coaldale Mayor Jack Van Rijn said he has reached out to provincial and federal agencies to have the dead birds monitored and possibly tested.
The town is advising residents to be careful if they find a carcass.
“We are asking anyone that comes across a dead bird on town property to please phone our town line: 403-345-1300,” Van Rijn said.
Weir said there are not any documented cases of avian flu spreading to people from wild birds, but it is a serious risk to any confined operations or flocks.
“It should be a concern for anybody who has birds, and that’s from chickens in the backyard to people who have zoological facilities like ours,” he said. “And of course, bigger situations, you’ve got commercial poultry farms in the area too.”
The Birds of Prey Foundation is keeping a close eye on the situation as it plans to open before the May long weekend. But a lot of that will depend on the risk level.
Weir said they are taking measures to ensure avian flu does not enter the facility.