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Contagious bird flu confirmed in Canada geese but results pending for cackling geese in Chilliwack park

Migratory birds ‘moving through the region’ using Sardis pond as ‘stopover site,’ says federal agency
A blended family of Canada geese at Sardis Park from July 2019. (Carsten Arnold file photo)

An outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was confirmed in Canada geese at Sardis Park in Chilliwack last month, but test results are “still pending” for the cackling geese, said a spokesperson for Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

The federal agency, working in partnership with the province, has been assisting the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC), with the sampling of “both live and deceased wild birds” suspected of having this very contagious strain of avian influenza.

“Given that Sardis Park is a congregatory site for resident and migratory wild birds, particularly geese, it is assumed that HPAI is prevalent in birds using this site for extended periods,” said Samantha Bayard, spokesperson for ECCC.

RELATED: ‘Active’ outbreak of bird flu at Sardis pond

Reports of sick and dead birds at Sardis pond have been coming in since September 2022 in Chilliwack. There have been 1,484 birds confirmed to have HPAI.

One resident said she saw hundreds of impacted birds at the park in a two-week period.

City of Chilliwack staff have been “diligently monitoring” conditions, removing impacted birds, and providing weekly reports to Environment Canada officials on the status of the Park.

“The number of reported birds at Sardis pond have increased in recent weeks, as migratory birds are moving through the region and using the park as a stopover site,” Bayard added.

To see the current number and species of wild birds that have tested positive for HPAI, the public can check with the HPAI Wild Birds Dashboard.

While infection transmissions to humans are rare, they are usually acquired through direct contact with infected animals or contaminated environments.

”To minimize the risk of transmission of HPAI, do not handle or feed any wild bird by hand.”

Feeding encourages wild birds to congregate around food sources and can increase the probability of transmission among wild birds, both within and among species. Pet owners should also limit contact with wild birds and their feces.

Dead, injured or sick birds should not be touched and should be immediately reported in British Columbia to the British Columbia Interagency Wild Bird Mortality call line 1-866-431-BIRD.

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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