Letter: Take care not to spread avian flu in domestic, wild birds


We at Ballydídean Farm Sanctuary in Clinton implore commercial and domestic custodians of any kind of birds (chickens, quail, ducks, geese, turkeys and more) to take preventative biosecurity measures against the current wave of “avian flu”. H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is an extremely deadly virus that is sweeping across the U.S. and has already killed over 20 million commercial, domestic, and wild birds.

HPAI is spread by wild migratory birds sharing air, food, and water with commercial and domestic birds. It sets in quickly with respiratory and neurological symptoms and kills 90-100% of infected hosts. Because it is so deadly and having such a large impact on the human food supply chain, if HPAI is found, the state will euthanize all birds on the property regardless of infection.

Until recently, it hadn’t passed the Rocky Mountains into the “Pacific Flyway”, but we now have confirmed cases in Pierce, Whatcom, Clallam and Pacific countries. Less than 72 hours after the first sign of infection, 99% of a flock of chickens, ducks and geese in Tacoma were dead and the state euthanized the survivors this week.

To keep your flock safe: (1) don’t let birds free range (2) cover runs on the sides and top with white row cover or another translucent medium that will stop tiny wrens, finches, and sparrows from entering or poop falling from above (3) keep a pair of shoes and a set of tools inside the run and only use those (4) be VERY mindful of the potentially contaminated material you bring in, including your shoes, feed, unwashed garden scraps, etc.

From WSDA: “Report unusual, multiple deaths or illness among domestic birds to the WSDA Avian Health Program at 1-800-606-3056. Report dead or sick wild birds to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife at 360-902-2936”

Finally, if you don’t have any birds, take in bird feeders and empty bird baths. We want migratory birds to spread out as little as possible and move on as quickly as possible.

Thank you for doing your part to keep the birds of Whidbey Island safe this spring.

Ansel Santosa