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Lab tests pending after dozens of dead birds seen in Chilliwack Park

Animal control reps, district staff ‘collecting and disposing of carcasses,’ over weekend, says city
Last year this time a worker removes dead geese from Sardis Pond in Chilliwack on Nov. 23, 2022. (Anne Dickey file photo)

Residents who live around Sardis Park in Chilliwack say dead geese and other waterfowl are being fished out of the pond again.

Testing in government labs will confirm if it’s an active avian influenza outbreak as suspected, or not.

Animal control staff and Fraser Valley Regional District personnel have been “collecting and disposing of carcasses,” said Jamie Leggatt, of City of Chilliwack director of communications.

Samples collected over the weekend went to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food for analysis.

“They have not confirmed that the cause is avian flu, but given the increase of infected flocks throughout the region, it seems to be a possibility,” Leggatt said.

Last November at this time there was a similar outbreak in the same Chilliwack park, and it was a confirmed, active avian influenza outbreak that killed Canada geese and ducks.

Longtime Sardis Park resident Anne Dickey snapped a photo of dead birds being fished out in November 2022, and again this fall said more deceased birds at Sardis Park are piling up every day.

“It’s just so sad to see them all dead,” she said.

The resident saw a couple of kids fishing in the pond with others walking about the park as usual.

Workers had to remove carcasses that other creatures like crows had begun pecking at, and Dickey said she noticed very few dog walkers out in the park, possibly avoiding the dead birds.

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Resident John Man contacted The Progress to say he saw dozens of ducks and geese dying at Sardis Park.

He wondered why the park was not closed and was concerned about kids and animals walking through a “potential biohazard or poisoning,” since there was no official word yet on what was killing the waterfowl.

Officials say the risk of avian influenza spreading to people and companion animals (such as dogs and cats) is considered “low.”

The provincial ministry recommended these precautionary steps last year after the outbreak was confirmed:

• Stay away from the park if you have contact with poultry or birds;

• Keep pets leashed when in the park and away from waterfowl habitat, water and areas contaminated by bird droppings;

• Clean, dry footwear and pet’s paws and fur after visiting the park;

• Do not touch, pick up, or allow your pet contact with dead bird carcasses.

The ‘wild bird mortality’ hotline is 1-866-431-2473, to report incidents of dead wild birds and seabirds found by the public.

Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

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