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Alberta Birds of Prey Centre to open with precautions amid avian flu

The Alberta Birds of Prey Centre is located in Coaldale, Alta. Eloise Therien / Global News

Each spring in mid-to-late May, the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale opens its doors to public.

The facility serves as a working conservation centre that helps injured and orphaned birds return to the wild.

Visitors can interact with trained owls, view flying demonstrations and observe a variety of native bird species in display aviaries.

According to Colin Weir, the organization’s managing director, some biosecurity measures are being put in place to protect the animals this year as it prepares to open on Saturday.

Read more: Avian flu suspected to be cause of geese deaths in Coaldale

“The only thing that will be significantly different — a bit of a disappointment to the children — is we’re not going to have our flock of pet ducks out for kids to feed,” he explained.

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“That’s just out of an abundance of caution because of the avian influenza that’s been found around southern Alberta,” Weir said.

Normally, there are 50 to 100 of the ducks on site. They’re currently being kept at an acreage away from the centre.

Another change is the inability to accept injured birds at the facility.

“If someone has an injured bird, the best thing to do is to give us a call and we can have someone meet you out front in our parking lot and then we’ll deal with it at another location.”

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After struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions it brought in 2020 and 2021, Weir said the avian flu is another obstacle the centre will just have to navigate.

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Weir explained it mainly affects ducks and geese but can also impact species like hawks, falcons and even foxes.

“There’s nothing we can do to stop it, but hopefully it’s something that might be peaking now because of the spring migrations.”

Alberta Birds of Prey Centre will be open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting May 21 through to Labour Day.

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