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City of Trinidad closes Central Park over Avian Flu concerns

Canada Goose
Posted at 6:47 PM, Feb 08, 2023

TRINIDAD, CO — The City of Trinidad closed down Central Park and the pathways surrounding the park Tuesday.

The decision comes from multiple messages to the city regarding dead geese seen in the park pond. Due to the frozen pond, the geese will not be able to be collected until it thaws.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is actively working on collecting the geese and testing for avian flu. CPW says they have found 10-15 total dead geese in the pond at this time. CPW says they believe these geese will test positive as other geese found in the area tested positive for the virus.

The concerns and shutdowns come as a new strain of avian flu decimates wild bird populations across the United States. A new highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) strain of H5N1 emerged in North America and has been responsible for many widespread mortality incidents in snow geese, raptors, and vultures.

The strain is also concerning as it has caused mortality events in mammals across the United States and locally here in Colorado. Colorado Parks and Wildlife reported that a black bear was euthanized in Huerfano county on October 8th, 2022, after CPW rangers observed it suffering from seizures. The animal's remains were frozen and are currently being tested after a bear in Alaska tested positive for the virus in late October.

A mountain lion in Gunnison County was found dead outside of Gunnison city limits in January of 2023. Due to the necrosis on the liver of the lion testing was determined to be necessary as this is a common symptom in cats with HPAI. The results of these tests are pending.

“Similar to many local species, mountain lions move through our communities on a regular basis as they travel between seasonal ranges throughout the year,” said CPW Area Wildlife Manager Brandon Diamond. “It was only a matter of time before the first HPAI case was confirmed in Gunnison County based on known cases in adjacent counties. While this is an interesting case study with the lion, it’s important to point out that HPAI has been documented previously in a variety of mammals from across the country. In Gunnison County, CPW routinely investigates reports of sick and injured wildlife and is always interested in hearing from the public if they encounter something that doesn’t look quite right.”

Below is a map provided by the United States Department of Agriculture where mammals were found with the H5N1 virus.

Courtesy of The United States Department of Agriculture

Multiple incidents of these high-impact mortality events have happened here in Colorado. CPW reported that an excess of 1,000 birds dead on waterways in Morgan and Logan counties in northern Colorado in November of 2022.

In southern Colorado, these events were seen in November as large-scale mortality events have been witnessed in Kiowa, Bent, Otero, and Prowers counties with reports of one bird mortalities and some reports of up to 1,000 bird mortality events according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Below are recommendations from the CDC regarding protective actions around birds.

  • As a general precaution, whenever possible people should avoid direct contact with wild birds and observe them only from a distance.
  • Wild birds can be infected with avian (bird) influenza (flu) A viruses even if they don’t look sick.
  • Avoid unprotected contact with domestic birds (poultry) that look sick or have died.
  • Do not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with saliva, mucous, or feces from wild or domestic birds.
  • Do not let pets touch, or eat dead birds.

Editors Note: When we first reported on this CPW estimated 4-5 birds to be dead in the frozen pond. News5 learned Thursday that CPW estimates 10-15 birds are in the pond.
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