PE Ledger

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Feeding and touching birds could aid spread avian flu, specialist alerts


Key takeaways: 

  • ‘We are recommending that individuals not do anything that drives birds to gather.’
  • Wildlife specialists are preventing people on P.E.I. from feeding wild birds.

Avian flu is a significant issue in P.E.I.: 

A wildlife professional on P.E.I. stimulates people to watch but not touch — or feed — wild birds on P.E.I. to help stop the spread of avian flu in the province.

The virus, which can spread to humans, has been authorized this month in two birds on P.E.I. — a bald eagle and a crow. There are verified cases in all four Atlantic regions, including several birds, such as a blue jay in Nova Scotia, that frequent backyard feeder.

Megan Jones, provincial director of Canadian Wildlife Health Co-operative for the Atlantic region, stated avian flu on P.E.I. did not shock.

“We wish it to spread for a while,” she said. “We know roaming birds are going back to their summer grounds now, so what we expect is it will taper off, and then hopefully we’ll never see it again, but nothing is assured.”

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Coming in contact with birds may result to Avian Flu

Jones said individuals could help mitigate the spread by setting their feeders away.

“We are advising that people not do anything that induces birds to assemble,” she said. “If they gather naturally, there’s nothing we can do regarding that, but why pull them together? That’s a chance that I don’t think is required right now.”

Feeding ducks and shorebirds, susceptible to avian flu, is discouraged.

“If you’re out observing birds or something like that and not handling them, that’s fine,” Jones said. “Watching birds is a great thing to do. And when you’re outdoors at a lovely, safe distance, that’s fine.”

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