Gannets dead in the Magdalen Islands: Quebec will take care of the cleanup

All departments involved are preparing an intervention protocol that will define and specify how to collect and store dead bird carcasses, how to ship and where to ship.explains the Mayor of the Islands, Jonathan Lapierre.

This protocol should be ready by Fridayhe says.

The mayor says he is satisfied with this proposal from Quebec, which was presented to him on Wednesday afternoon. He had been asking for several days for a decision to be made on who would be in charge of collecting the bird carcasses that piled up on the beaches.

Authorities are reminding the public not to touch dead birds and to ensure that pets don’t touch them either.

Photo: Courtesy: Diane Hébert

Jonathan Lapierre estimates that in the last ten days, around 1,000 gannets have died on the islands’ territory. On Tuesday, the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks (MFFP) confirmed that bird flu was responsible for these deaths.

This discussion is on the right track, now we expect concrete actions very soon. We all agree that it is important to collect the carcasses as quickly as possible. »

a quote from Jonathan Lapierre, Mayor of the Magdalene Islands

However, several details still need to be clarified about the cleaning operation. Among other things, no timetable has been set yet.

Quebec should, in particular, award the contract to a private company or organization that is capable of carrying out such an operation quickly.

In addition, the mayor is asking the government to assume the costs of the operation, but after Wednesday’s meeting, it has not yet been decided whether the bill will go to one or more ministries, or which ones.

Jonathan Lapierre in front of the sea.

Mayor Jonathan Lapierre estimates the cleanup operation will be triggered quickly (files).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Elisa Serret

Mr. Lapierre had already indicated that it was out of the question for the management of these carcasses to fall to the Municipality.

We don’t have the human resources, material resources or financial resources to collect hundreds and hundreds of carcasses throughout the archipelago.he explained earlier on Wednesday.

In addition, Îles-de-la-Madeleine does not have an incinerator or landfill.

The deputy for the Islands, Joël Arseneau, has also increased pressure on the government in recent days for a decision to be taken in this process.

Beaches need to be cleaned up immediately.he hammered in a Wednesday morning interview.

Close-up of Joël Arseneau at a press conference.

Joël Arseneau fears the virus could spread to livestock and poultry farms in the rest of Quebec (archives).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Sylvain Roy Roussel

Mr. Arseneau is particularly concerned that wild animals will feed on gannet carcasses and thus spread the virus to livestock and poultry farms in other parts of Quebec.

Farms must be protected so that there is no risk of contact between foxes, coyotes or pets that could spread the virus. »

a quote from Joël Arseneau, deputy for Îles-de-la-Madeleine

He points out that in Estrie, duck farmers were hit hard by bird flu in April. More than 200,000 birds had to be culled and thousands of eggs sacrificed to contain the spread of the virus.

Domestic chickens at risk

In the Magdalen Islands, the co-owner of the Bourgeois Dumont farm, which has 10,000 chickens, is not too worried.

Bourgeois-Dumont agricultural installations

The chickens on the Bourgeois Dumont farm do not go outside, which prevents them from coming into contact with potentially sick wild birds (archives).

Photo: Courtesy of Bourgeois-Dumont Farm

We have known for years that bird flu exists, that we have biosecurity measures in place and that we are always on the lookoutexplains Jeanne Bourgeois.

She adds that no disease has entered the barn since the farm was established in 1982.

It doesn’t worry us more than it should for the farm, wild birds don’t have access to our farm, chickens don’t come out. »

a quote from Jeanne Bourgeois, co-owner of the Bourgeois Dumont farm

Mrs. Bourgeois, however, says she is more concerned about citizens who have domestic chickens that roam freely on their property.

They are much more at risk than we are because wild birds have access to their land. These people will have to be carefulshe warns.

Analysis still in progress

To date, five gannets have been collected in the Magdalen Islands for analysis at the Quebec Wildlife Health Center and the laboratories of the MAPQ.

even if the MFF confirmed that the five birds collected were infected with avian influenza, analyzes are continuing.

Further analyzes will continue on these birds to check for lesions characteristic of avian influenza.says the biologist of the fauna biosafety and health division MFFAriane Masse.

Three dead geese on a beach.

On social media, the Madelinots are impatient to see that no one is picking up the hundreds of decomposing bird carcasses.

Photo: Courtesy: Francine Renaud

The biologist also wants to reassure the population.

Knowing that it is avian flu, which is difficult to transmit to humans, is still one less worry on the shoulders of the people of the Islands who were worried that this is an unknown mortality. »

a quote from Ariane Massé, biologist in the Biosafety and Wildlife Health Division at MFF

It does not rule out the possibility of other specimens being removed from the Islands, but reminds that the priority of the MFF was to identify the cause of these mortalities, which is now done.

Mrs. Massé adds that it is still too early to say whether gannet mortality will continue in the coming weeks and months.

It is true that for birds that live in colonies, the risks of transmitting the virus between birds are greater, as the birds are all glued together.she admits.

For now, the MFF received no reports of gannet mortality on Gaspésie, and no cases of avian influenza were reported on Bonaventure Island.

With information from Isabelle Larose and Bruno Lelièvre

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