Photo Credit: Joe Ravi, Creative Commons, CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Photo Credit: Joe Ravi, Creative Commons, CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Canada

The Canadian Wildlife Service has issued a notice regarding the highly pathogenic avian influenza that is being found in wild birds across Canada. Avian influenza was first discovered in December 2021 on the east coast and has since spread across Canada and the U.S. The virus doesn’t just affect wild birds, but can also spread to domestic poultry, and possibly humans. No human transmission has ever been reported in Canada.

It is important to be cautions while on the land hunting wild game or handling domestic birds. Symptoms to watch for include nervousness, tremors, lack of coordination, any swelling in the neck, head or around the eyes; birds will appear lethargic and may not move, they may cough, gasp for air, or sneeze. Diarrhea and sudden death are also possible.

What should you do if you suspect a bird has avian influenza? Do not handle the bird and call your local ENR office or the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative at 1-800-567-2033.

To date, avian influenza has been found in waterfowl, gulls, corvids, and raptors. While no cases have been reported yet in the NWT, this is likely to change with the upcoming spring migration. For anyone harvesting birds it is important to be safe while hunting, handling, and eating them. The Public Health Agency of Canada considers it safe to eat healthy game birds; however, proper handling of birds is important, and harvesters are encouraged to be cautious. For more information on handling, tracking the avian influenza, and additional information you may find helpful, please see the links below.