When Radio-Canada Acadie spoke to him on Tuesday, the biologist was returning from an expedition in the Tabusintac region with his team. He found 109 dead birds, mostly gannets and a few double-crested cormorants, scattered about five kilometers along the coast.
On Monday, he had unearthed 102 on two other beaches in the region.
Lewnanny Richardson believes that the data from the Department of Natural Resources, which claims to have found more than 300 carcasses, is grossly underestimated. He alone counted 245 in two weeks.
Sign that the situation is worrying: there are usually about twenty in a whole summer.
” It’s starting to worry me a lot. We don’t want to cry wolf, but we see a lot of carcasses. In my opinion, the scale is underestimated. »
He explains that there are no gannets in New Brunswick. This bird nests on Bonaventure Island, in Gaspésie, and takes to the sea to feed.
Affected by avian flu which degrades its organs, the bird perishes. Sometimes it dies in flight and sometimes the dying bird washes up on the beaches of New Brunswick, mainly in the Acadian Peninsula.
Lewnanny Richardson estimates that 99% of the birds his team has found dead on the beach for two weeks have the virus.
Will it get worse? Will it slow down? We discuss it every day. Currently, it is not slowing down. I’m afraid of becoming accustomed and numb to seeing these dead birds on our beaches. But that’s not normal. The reality is that it is serious. At what point? I would not know how to say it he assures.
For two weeks now, his team has been traveling the beaches of northeastern New Brunswick and visiting islands to scan the coasts. What she sees is not reassuring, he believes.
Bird flu is transmitted through mucous membranes and excrement. The virus affects the organs. The affected bird may notably show signs of trembling before dying.
The risk of contagion to humans is very low, but it is nevertheless recommended not to handle dead or end-of-life birds. If you find dead birds, you should call the Department of Natural Resources instead.
Cases of avian influenza in gannets have been recorded in all four Atlantic provinces.