BC SPCA urges people to remove bird feeders as bird flu spreads

The BC SPCA is urging the public to remove their bird feeders as avian influenza continues to spread rapidly among wild bird populations.

Along with well-reported outbreaks in small and commercial poultry flocks, the SPCA says the virus has been confirmed in wild birds in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and northern regions of British Columbia.

The virus can be deadly to birds, and the organization warned that it puts birds at risk, including great horned owls, bald eagles, great blue herons, ducks and geese, and even ravens.

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“The number of confirmed positive cases is just the tip of the iceberg,” Andrea Wallace, BC SPCA wildlife welfare manager, said in a news release.

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“The number of suspected cases, dead or alive, far exceeds the capacity to test the animals. Also, many animals that die in the wild never recover.”

The organization is calling on people to remove seed and suet bird feeders to discourage birds from gathering and potentially spreading the disease.

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Bird feeders, he says, create “unnatural congregations” of birds that can pass the virus on to each other, or pick it up from other birds’ droppings on the ground below the feeder as they forage for dropped seed.

It also urges against keeping duck feeders or ponds near poultry houses, warning that they can help the virus spread between domestic and wild birds.

The virus is hardy and can survive in the wild for several months, according to the BC SPCA. Anyone who visits an area where birds congregate or has contact with wild birds should clean and disinfect their shoes and wash their clothes thoroughly, she said.

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Read more:

British Columbians urged to remove bird feeders due to bird flu outbreak

Birds that are sick with avian influenza may appear lethargic, unusually “bloated,” have a runny nose, cough and/or sneezing, diarrhea, excessively watery eyes, or swelling of the head, neck, and eyes, the BC SPCA said.

If you see a suspected sick bird, you can call the Humane Society at 1-855-622-7722 for advice on what to do or how to find a local wildlife rehabilitation center.

Sick or dead wild birds may also be reported to the British Columbia Wild Bird Mortality Investigation Protocol and Avian Influenza Surveillance Program at 1-866-431-BIRD (2473)

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