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Colonies of endangered pelicans in Northern B.C. test positive for avian flu

Reports of sick pelicans in the Cariboo at Williams Lake, Alkali, Puntzi and Bouchie lakes.
The B.C. Government has received reports of suspected avian flu in pelicans across the Cariboo. (Kelly Sinoski photo — 100 Mile Free Press)

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) confirms that a pelican from Alkali Lake has tested positive for the highly pathogenic avian flu and says the province of B.C. has received reports of sick pelicans in the Cariboo at Williams Lake, Alkali, Puntzi and Bouchie lakes.

The reports were received through the Wild Bird Mortality Investigation Reporting toll-free hotline, which accepts reports of sick and dead wild birds from the public, said a B.C. Ministry of Forests spokesperson.

A more recent report received by agencies is of a dead pelican at a colony in Quesnel, which may or not be related to Bouchie Lake.

The worrisome bird flu strain could threaten conservation.

The American White Pelican in B.C. is on the provincial Red List, meaning it is at risk of being lost.

The large water bird migrates from the southern United States to nesting colonies in Canada from B.C. to western Ontario. Its only nesting colony in B.C. occurs in the Cariboo region at Stum Lake, northwest of Williams Lake on the Chilcotin Plateau.

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“To date, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been confirmed in multiple wild bird species including gulls, waterfowl, raptors and corvids,” an ECCC spokesperson said in an email to Black Press Media.

Dead, injured, or sick birds should not be touched and should be immediately reported to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative information line at 1-800-567-2033 or the B.C. Wild Bird Mortality Investigation Program hotline at 1-866-431-2473.

For more information on avian influenza in wild birds visit the Government of Canada website

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