Martha’s Vineyard Beachgoers Warned After Hundreds of Dead Birds Wash Ashore
Tisbury Animal Control has issued a warning to beachgoers across Martha's Vineyard after hundreds of dead birds washed ashore. In a recent post on Facebook, the department said: "This is extremely dangerous to us as a small island" and urged beachgoers to "please inform your local ACO (animal control officer) if you find any dead birds."
Hundreds of dead cormorants have already washed up on shore in Martha's Vineyard and their deaths are believed to be caused by the new strain of Avian Influenza (HPAI).
The avian flu has already affected the chicken population across the region and many birds on exhibit at our local zoos have been removed from public view for their safety. Now the shoreline birds are reportedly being stricken and it is hitting Martha's Vineyard in a big way.
Although avian flu is mainly spread through bird populations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the virus can affect humans if there is contact made with a contaminated bird. With hundreds of potentially contaminated birds washing up on Martha's Vineyard beaches, Tisbury Animal Control wanted the public to be forewarned.
They urge those heading to the beach to take caution when wading out in seaweed-filled waters, as "many" birds are floating unseen in the seaweed. They also ask anyone taking their dogs for walks at the beaches to keep them leashed so they do not get contaminated or spread dead birds further around the shoreline.
Avian flu has not been confirmed in any of the dead birds found on the island's shore, but animal control officers have been collecting them from all over the island to be tested by Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Tisbury Animal Control says reports of dead birds washing up in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island should be taken seriously and the public should absolutely not touch any dead bird they find. People are urged to contact their local animal control offices if dead birds are found along the shore so carcasses can be disposed of properly.
So far, mass numbers of dead birds have not been reported along the shoreline anywhere but Martha's Vineyard, but there are similar reports from the West Coast of the United States as well as overseas in Scotland. Some local experts believe more birds may be found and say the public needs to be aware while at the beaches this summer.