Avian Flu in New Brunswick

Northern Gannets

Nature NB Biologist Suspects Bird Flu in 1000’s of Bird Deaths

What You Can Do | Additional Resources

Lewnanny Richardson, biologist and our Species at Risk Program Director, has never seen this many dead and dying gannets in such a short period before. He recounted to Global News how unusual it is not to see Northern gannets flying overhead daily.

While executing our Piping Plover Species At Risk program, Lewnanny’s research team began encountering dead gannets washing ashore. 

After observing one gannet displaying avian flu (H5N1) behaviour, Lewnanny encountered a deceased common murre – a bird he had never seen before. This is all very unusual.

While the Northern gannet population is expected to withstand these mortalities in the coming years, it remains disturbing to see this happening in large numbers over such a brief period. This also leaves us concerned for many coastal species at risk. If you come across dead or dying birds, we recommend reporting them to 1-833-301-0334.

Nature NB will continue the vital work of its recognized Piping Plover Species at Risk Program., and the Coastal Guardian Program will continue to monitor, maintain, and protect the Piping Plover’s nesting grounds along the Acadian Peninsula. You can learn more about Lewnanny’s and Nature NB’s important work here.

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What You Can Do

If you have found the carcass of a dead wild bird, you have several options for disposal of the carcass:

  1. If in the forest or other wildlands, the carcass can be left on the landscape for natural decomposition and/or scavenging by other wildlife.
  2. The carcass can be buried on-site to a minimum depth of 20 cm using a shovel.
  3. The bird carcass can be double-wrapped in plastic bags and placed in household garbage.

If you encounter 5 or more dead birds at one location, please contact your nearest Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development office.

Please ensure to:

  • Keep pets, children, and yourself away from sick or dead birds.
  • Wear gloves or use a doubled plastic bag and avoid contact with blood, body fluids, and feces IF contact is unavoidable. Then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • Immediately advise a healthcare provider if you have had direct contact with wild birds and develop flu-like symptoms

For more information on bird handling guidelines and food safety for members of the public, including hunters, bird banders, aviculturists, and wildlife rehabilitation centers, please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

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Additional Resources

  1. Report dead or dying birds to 1-833-301-0334
  2. Public Health Agency of Canada: Wild birds and avian influenza – Handling guidelines
  3. Natural Resources & Energy Development: Advisory Notice Regarding Avian Influenza

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