The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announced Wednesday a Great Black-Backed Gull that was found seriously ill on a beach in South Kingstown on June 23 has tested positive for bird flu. Following up on their advisory last month, they recommend that the public stays clear of sick or dead birds on seashores and report any cases of waterbird deaths to the Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife.
A relatively small number of waterbirds such as Cormorants, Gulls, Shearwaters, and Terns washing up dead on beaches is normal in the summer, but in the past six weeks multiple locations along the Atlantic Coast, including Rhode Island, have seen higher than usual numbers. DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, which is collecting reports from the public, currently counts 40 dead waterbirds reported this summer, excluding the separate mortality event of Shearwaters that is now thought to be unrelated to HPAI. Wildlife biologists advise, however, that reports coming in from the public tend to be underestimated, especially if there is not a large die-off of birds.
While risk of bird flu to humans is low, the public is urged not to touch dead birds and to keep dogs on leashes and away from carcasses.
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