Avian flu: municipalities will be supported

This will be on a case-by-case basis, says Mylène Delorme, regional director of environmental control for Bas-Saint-Laurent-Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine at the Ministry of the Environment.

In the Magdalen Islands, the City Hall reached an agreement with the Ministry of the Environment and Combating Climate Change (MELCC), which will pay the bill, but will no longer be responsible for the work.

The department specifies that the recovery of dead birds remains a municipal responsibility, as carcasses are considered waste materials.

The MELCC stresses that it will continue to cooperate in order to inform municipalities and their partners about their regulations for the disposal and burial of poultry carcasses.

By entrusting the collection of dead geese to a company from the Islands, the MELCC explains having exceptionally helped the archipelago’s City Council to act quickly at the beginning of the phenomenon.

The MELCC adds that, since this first contract, the ministries concerned have clarified their framework for action.

In the Madelinot archipelago, the company Lavage Industriel Vigneau recovered 1,170 carcasses. Of the 300 kilometers of beach on the Islands, 57.5 kilometers have been cleaned.

The ministry estimates the cost of the rescue work to be approximately $35,000.

The carcasses were recovered in a small part of the archipelago’s territory, but according to the mayor there are still at least a thousand, if not more, to be collected (archives).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Isabelle Larose

The work ended on June 6, according to the Ministry of the Environment. Dead birds will be buried at the Saint-Rosaire technical landfill (LET) near Victoriaville.

The flu continues

If the operation is over, not the flu.

Starting next week, the municipality of Îles-de-la-Madeleine will be responsible for collecting poultry carcasses. The invoice will be sent to the Ministry of the Environment.

The objective is to collect as many dead birds as possible in the shortest possible time, explains the mayor, who notes the very unusual nature of the situation.

According to the mayor of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, there are still 1,000 or 2,000 carcasses in the archipelago’s territory. This week, Jonathan Lapierre urged Quebec to do more, as other birds continue to land on shores, cliffs and even inland.

The sea also spews the carcasses of dead birds into the sea.

Birds continue to fall on the banks, cliffs and even inland (archives).

Photo: Véronique St-Onge

The operation can take several days, or even several weeks. Municipal authorities will ensure they obtain certain information, such as monitoring the mortality or contamination rate, in order to plan the duration of operations.

Jonathan Lapierre warns the population that it will probably be impossible to collect 100% of the carcasses.

It’s an extraordinary situation, but as always when there was an extraordinary situation on the islands, we got out of it. »

a quote from Jonathan Lapierre, Mayor of the Magdalene Islands.

The work will once again be entrusted to Lavage Industriel Vigneau.

The island context

The approach of the tourist season also raises concern among the population, observes Jonathan Lapierre.

While waiting for cleaning to resume, the Madelinots began to collect the dead birds.

The Director of Public Health Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Dr. Yv Bonnier-Viger, reminds people that people should not touch birds with their bare hands. The idea, he says, is not to get infected with a virus that isn’t dangerous, but can become.

A northern gannet killed in the Magdalen Islands

Photo: Courtesy: Diane Hébert

The islands have no technical burial site, which complicates the task. City Hall must also coordinate its actions with CTMA crossings to ship the carcasses to Victoriaville. It’s not a simple, banal operationhighlights the mayor.

Mayor Jonathan Lapierre wants people not to put the carcasses in their dumpsters, but to deposit them in designated places. The location of collection sites is available on the City Hall website.

aerial inventory

Although geese mortality appears to be higher, other species are also affected, such as eider colonies in Bas-Saint-Laurent.

The discovery of carcasses of seagulls and cormorants has also been reported.

This is expected to gradually subside, but further mortality events are to be expected over the summer.says Frédérick Lelièvre, a biologist at the Ministry of Wildlife.

The impact of the virus on certain species will also be better evaluated over time, adds the biologist.

On the other hand, it will not be easy in the Islands to measure the ravages of avian flu among geese.

The Rochers aux Oiseaux reserve, located about 30 km from the Magdalen Islands, is home to the second largest colony of gannets in the Gulf, after Bonaventure Island.

Due to the high cliffs, the colony is only accessible by helicopter and it is forbidden to go there from April to October so as not to disturb the nesting birds.

Several thousand gannets nest in the Rochers aux Oiseaux (archives).

Photo: Ecological Reserve of Seabirds of Funk Island

The Canadian Wildlife Service, which monitors the population of the two colonies, plans to conduct an aerial survey of immature ready-to-fly geese in Rochers aux Oiseaux and Bonaventure Island in September. Photos can also help count carcasses.

With the collaboration of Isabelle Larose

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