Hundreds of birds reported dead across GTHA, carcasses being tested for Avian Influenza
Posted March 17, 2023 3:22 pm.
Last Updated March 18, 2023 9:22 am.
Public health officials from across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) are looking into the recent sudden deaths of hundreds of birds, with carcasses being tested for possible Avian Influenza, known as bird flu.
On Friday, officials in Brampton confirmed dead waterfowl were found in the areas of Professor’s Lake and Duncan Valley Foster South.
The city said the cause of death remains undetermined, noting that Brampton Animal Services is monitoring the situation.
Samples were sent to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative to test for bird flu. If the dead birds test negative, a necropsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.
The City of Vaughan later confirmed with CityNews that animal services responded to a distressed wildlife call at Toll Bar Park on Friday around 1 p.m. A spokesperson said eight geese were found dead, and one goose was severely ill and humanely euthanized. All the geese are presumed to have bird flu.
“As is always recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada, members of the public should not handle sick or dead wild birds or other wildlife, as they may be infected with diseases that can spread to humans,” said spokesperson Justin Gaul.
The risk of Avian Influenza spreading to humans is extremely rare, and there is no danger to the public at this time.
Flocks of dead birds spotted across GTHA
CityNews received tips from concerned citizens that have spotted dead birds washed up along a shoreline or near a pond in their communities. One was made by a Bolton resident, who claimed that several geese had been found dead.
A social media post has circulated alleging over 100 geese have died in Bolton recently.
On Friday, the Town of Caledon shared updates on social media, confirming its bylaw team was investigating potential avian flu in a stormwater pond in the Coleraine Drive and King Street area, noting the presence of dead and sick geese.
“While avian influenza is a threat to birds, the risk to humans is very low,” said Dr. Nicholas Brandon, Acting Medical Officer of Health in Peel Region.
“Most cases of human avian flu have been traced to handling infected poultry or their droppings. Residents are asked to follow the recommended guidance to limit the spread of avian flu and protect the health and safety of residents and pets.”
Hamilton residents have also taken taken to social media contending dead birds have been spotted along local beaches. CityNews has reached out to the City of Hamilton for comment.
Various GTA cities have shared tips on keeping pets safe, including keeping animals away from waterfowl or fecal matter and not feeding waterfowl. Officials also urge pet owners not to let cats wander outside and to keep dogs on a leash.
A highly pathogenic type of H5N1 avian flu has been tearing through Canadian flocks since early 2022, killing millions of birds and infecting a record number of avian species.
A recently confirmed case of bird flu at a chicken farm in the Niagara Region prompted the Toronto Zoo to take steps to protect its birds. The zoo said the positive case was “within 200 kilometres” of the wildlife park.
The zoo said its aviaries would be closed or significantly modified, and behind-the-scenes tours of the areas will be suspended. Zoo animals will not be fed poultry in the meantime.
With files from Jordan Omstead of The Canadian Press