Shovels full of geese carcasses

On Wednesday morning, the team from Lavages Industriels Vigneau, a company in the archipelago mandated by the Ministry of the Environment, was busy at Sandy Hook beach in Havre-Aubert.

Earlier this week, the company inspected the beach at Dune-de-L’Ouest, which connects the island of Cap-aux-Meules to the island of Havre-Aubert, as well as collecting the carcasses that litter the beaches of the Bassin and Corfu sector. beach, in the Étang-du-Nord sector.

Teams roam the beaches of the Islands in search of dead birds.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Isabelle Larose

Last week, the Ministry of the Environment to Combat Climate Change (MELCC) had proposed a total of 300 carcasses to be collected, but that number has already been reached in less than three working days, a sign that Quebec underestimated the extent of mortality. of the birds.

A man in protective gear carries a dead gannet on the end of a fork.

This is an unusual operation that requires some protection, although bird flu is rarely transmitted to humans.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Isabelle Larose

Cleaning limited to 60 km of beach

While the archipelago has about 300 kilometers of beach, the cleaning operation is limited to 60 kilometers on the 17 most frequented beaches identified in collaboration with the City Council.

Sick or dead gannets were also seen inside, but the company mandated by the Ministry of the Environment was not given the mandate to recover them.

The Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks also detailed precautions to be taken before collecting the dead birds.

A person catches a Bassam Booby with a shovel on a road in the Magdalene Islands.

A gannet was recovered at the Chemin des Caps in Fatima

Photo: Courtesy of Stéphane Longuepée

The MELCC it does not indicate whether more than one pass will be made on each of the beaches if other carcasses return to be washed there. Several fishermen still see many dead birds floating in the sea, which suggests they could end up on the shores after the cleanup crew has passed.

The Ministry of the Environment and Combating Climate Change (MELCC) has not established a timetable for the operations.

It’s hard for us to have an allotted time. You have to understand that we don’t have the exact number of dead birds. All work will be done until the carcasses are recoveredFrédéric Fournier, spokesman for the MELCC.

The cost of the operation has not yet been determined.

dead birds everywhere

There are many people who no longer want to walk on the beaches with their dog because they are afraid that their dog will taste the carcass. becomes a problemcomments Madelinot Henri-Paul Bénard.

Madelinot Henri-Paul Bénard standing on a beach in Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

Madelinot Henri-Paul Bénard claims to have counted 315 dead birds during a single walk

Photo: Radio-Canada / Isabelle Larose

The latter claims to have counted 315 dead birds during a single 15-kilometer walk in MTB on Cormorandière beach in Havre-aux-Maisons. Le Madelinot recorded a video of his journey (New window).

A man carries a dead bird onto the shovel of a tractor.

After discussions between City Hall and Quebec, a company from the Islands was mandated to do the work.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Isabelle Larose

Most of the carcasses, 295, were gannets, but Bénard also saw corpses of gullemots, gulls and crows.

It was very sad to see it, it’s like an open graveyard. »

a quote from Henri-Paul Bénard, resident of the Magdalene Islands

He feels that the cleanup operation took a long time to take place, as several carcasses are now silted up and difficult to detect. He fears that several carcasses remain on the beach. The problem, he says, is that it will silt up and they won’t see them and with other storms it will come out of the sand.

Two men in white overalls standing in the cab of a tractor whose shovel is full of dead birds.

About 100 birds were caught on Sandy Hook beach in Havre-Aubert.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Isabelle Larose

Gusts of 60 km/hour were also expected on Wednesday.

under surveillance

It is still too early to fully assess the impact of gannet mortality on the Quebec and Atlantic colonies, according to François Fournier of the Canadian Wildlife Service.

However, he recalls that these colonies, especially those in Quebec, total thousands of individuals.

The carcass of a northern gannet on a beach.

The presence of the H5N1 virus was confirmed in Quebec on April 1. Last week, analysis of five gannets confirmed contamination in the Magdalen Islands.

Photo: Radio-Canada

Wildlife and Habitat Assessment Manager Fournier says provinces are responsible for monitoring the virus.

As the global outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus appears to be affecting migratory seabirds, your service is also on the lookout.

With information from Isabelle Larose

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