St. Francis Wildlife stops taking birds after flu found in Tallahassee - petsitterbank

St. Francis Wildlife stops taking birds after flu found in Tallahassee

Because of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), our local wildlife rehabilitation center, St. Francis Wildlife, temporarily will not accept injured, orphaned or sick wild birds. HPAI has just been confirmed in a duck that was brought to St. Francis Wildlife in Quincy, Florida.

Confirmed and presumptive cases of HPAI have recently been documented along the East Coast of Florida from Palm Beach County to Duval County and on the West Coast in Charlotte County.

Infected birds have been aquatic species (ducks, gulls, herons, terns and pelicans), raptors (great horned owls and bald eagles) and scavengers (vultures). Birds on their northern spring migration may have carried the virus into our area.

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Last year, the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza traveled from Europe into Canada. Then migratory waterfowl carried it down the Atlantic Flyway, infecting birds along the way.

Lesser Scaup ducks, like these, appear to be one of the species most susceptible to this HPAI bird flu, according to the Fish & Wildlife Research Institute.

An unprecedented outbreak

Two months ago, on Jan. 22, when a hunter showed up at a boat ramp in Palm Beach County with two blue-winged teal ducks, a USDA-Wildlife Services employee swabbed them. No one suspected the birds were sick; it was just routine surveillance. Their tests were positive for HPAI.

In February, dozens of dead lesser scaup ducks and other aquatic species, as well as birds that scarfed up those free meals — black vultures, bald eagles and great horned owls — were identified along Florida’s east coast and in Charlotte County with this extremely infectious new bird flu. It was reported that wildlife officials suspect there are “hundreds more” unconfirmed cases.

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