Avian flu spreads among nearly 100 birds at sanctuary resulting in euthanization

Nearly 100 birds were euthanized after staff at a popular Owen Sound sanctuary noticed they started exhibiting symptoms of avian influenza.

“Ninety-six birds were disposed of,” said Adam Parsons, Harrison Park manager.

The city called on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to confirm the illness. It collected samples to be tested, and two days later, confirmed the birds were infected.

The CFIA took immediate action to control the spread.

“The primary focus is to limit the spread of this disease within Canada,” the CFIA stated, noting the avian flu is “highly transmissible.”

“Any birds that do not die from the virus are humanely euthanized and disposed of to prevent the spread of the disease,” it continued.

The deaths came as a shock to locals, including the mayor.

“This is devastating news to the community,” said Owen Sound Mayor Ian Boddy.

Britany Stevenson has fond memories of visiting the park with her mother as a child. Now, she shares the experience with her son.

The situation with the birds brought her to tears. “I’m trying not to look. It’s awful,” she said. “It’s beyond anybody’s control, but it’s horrible.”

Stevenson is trying to raise funds to replace the birds for future generations to enjoy.

ROYAL SWANS SPARED

Six swans with royal bloodlines were spared, with a lineage dating back over 100 years when their ancestors arrived in Owen Sound as a gift from King George V.

“On May 7, 1912, a crate showed up to the docks in Owen Sound with a return address of Buckingham Palace, and when they opened the three crates, they found royal swans,” Parsons shared.

The CFIA said the swans would be isolated, quarantined and monitored for at least 14 days.

City employees who may have come into contact with the birds are also being monitored.

“Illness in humans is quite rare, so risk locally to folks visiting the park is very low,” explained Gillian Jordan, public health manager with the Gray Bruce Health Unit.

The city has placed the site under a 120-day quarantine. Once over, the city said it would begin plans to revitalize Harrison Park and potentially enhance the bird sanctuary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.