A sick Merlin brought to the Centre this week.
© Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
A sick Merlin brought to the Centre this week.
Concerns are being raised over the number of dead birds showing up this summer in Manitoba. This has prompted Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre near Ile des Chenes to make a request to Manitobans.

Lisa Tretiak is President of the Centre. She says it is very typical for there to be animal deaths in summer. Often it is a bird that falls to its death while learning to fly or a young animal that can not survive the harsh world it lives in. But Tretiak says this year, there seems to be a trend towards the death of birds, and very specific breeds. According to Tretiak, a lot of Crows and Merlins are dying this summer. In fact, she says they have seen between 30 and 50 dead of each type.

Tretiak says many of the sick birds being brought to the centre are shaking and showing neurological signs; some of them are in good weight, while others are not.

"We're just wanting to sort of figure out if there is something new that has come into the province," she says. "Or if it is something that has already come into the province, we will be able to help treat them better."

A sick Merlin brought to the Centre this week.
© Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
A sick Merlin brought to the Centre this week.
Tretiak says one possibility is that they are dying of West Nile Virus. According to Tretiak, Crows, Ravens and Bluejays are very sensitive to the virus and don't always have the means to fight it off. But she says the Merlins that are dying, are coming in with symptoms not familiar to West Nile. And further to that, Tretiak says West Nile Virus is passed through mosquitoes and yet the mosquito population has been extremely low this summer, making it tough to believe that all of these birds are dying from that.

The Centre is now working on getting these dead birds tested. Tretiak says they are currently collecting samples and it could take several weeks before any results come in.

"I think we are concerned enough we're seeing a very large die-off that it'd be interesting to know what is going on," she says.

Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is now asking the public to report any birds that look sick or ones that have died very recently.

"We don't want (dead) animals that have been sitting out in the sun for days," she explains. "We like to look for fresh animals so something that you just sort of saw flop over or if it's still sick, we definitely want those ones to come in."

Tretiak says if a bird dies while in their care, they can place it directly into the fridge for testing. She notes animals are better tested for viruses and diseases if they aren't frozen.

To reach the Centre, dial 204-510-1855.