New Brunswick Tribune

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

A biologist feels avian flu is to blame for the huge number of dead birds found on N.B.

A biologist suspects avian flu is to blame for the staggering number of dead birds discovered on N.B.

Key Takeaways:

  • Lewnanny Richardson has never seen as many dead birds in his 22-year career as a biologist as he has in the previous three weeks on the Acadian Peninsula’s coast.
  • He added that the province’s Department of Natural Resources retrieved 196 dead birds off the beach on Friday.

In his 22-year career as a biologist, Lewnanny Richardson has never seen as many dead birds as he has in the past 3 weeks on the coast of the Acadian Peninsula.

In an interview on Monday, the Species at Risk Program Director for Nature NB, a conservation non-profit, said he first spotted many dead gannets when surveying the Facterie-à-Bastien beach in late May as part of his research on piping plovers.

“On the first day, we saw three people” (dead birds). We saw 22 the next day on a two-kilometer beach. “After that, it started getting into the huge digits like 100 and 150,” he explained.

While he isn’t concerned about how this would affect the big gannet population, he is concerned about the sheer volume of dead birds he’s seen in such a short period.

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He believes avian flu is to blame after investigating the unusual behavior of a live gannet he saw.

“I’ve even seen birds I’ve never seen in my life, such as the common murre,” he remarked.

“The last time we were on the beach, I counted 20 of them.” Imagine if I hadn’t seen them in 22 years and then saw 20 of them dead on the same day.”

On Friday, he said that 196 dead birds were removed off the beach by the province’s Department of Natural Resources. He only saw three or four dead birds on Monday morning.

“We usually see several northern gannets flying daily, but there were none (Monday) morning.” “That’s not typical,” he explained.

The province’s Department of Natural Resources rejected an interview with Global News instead of providing a statement saying that the public should report sightings of dead birds to their Department, which will handle them individually.

Avian influenza suspected as hundreds of dead birds found on N.B. shores |  CBC News
A biologist suspects avian flu is to blame for the staggering number of dead birds discovered on N.B. Image from CBC News

While avian flu has been a source of concern for poultry farmers since its first appearance in Canada in the 1960s, Lisa Bishop-Spencer, communications director for the Chicken Farmers of Canada, said this strain is particularly concerning because there are presently active cases in 8 provinces, which has never happened before.

In a Monday interview, she stated that this strain of avian flu is extremely pathogenic.

“So if it gets into the barn as a highly pathogenic form, it may swiftly wipe out a flock,” she explained.

Farmers throughout the country are taking extra precautions, like securing their fields and cleaning any entering cars.

“From a financial standpoint, it’s quite difficult for me” (the farmers). They’re attempting to prevent the additional stress of an assault on their actual farm; therefore, whatever steps are necessary are justified.”

Canadians, on the other hand, do not need to be cautious about eating fowl, according to her.

“The chances of (avian flu-infected chicken) ever making it into the food supply are exceedingly remote, and even if it did, frying it kills (the virus),” she said.

Source: Global News

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